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University of Waterloo -- Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
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Wednesday, May 28, 1997

A warm day for congratulations

Spring convocation ceremonies start today, as graduates in applied health sciences, environmental studies and independent studies will receive their degrees. The big event starts at 2 p.m. in the main gymnasium.

Today's convocation also features the installation of UW's new chancellor, Val O'Donovan, who will give the main speech.

There will be honorary degrees for Sylvia Ostry, the past chancellor, and her husband, public servant Bernard Ostry. A distinguished teacher award will be presented to Ian McKenzie, of the department of geography. Alumni gold medals for highest standing in their respective faculties will go to David Westwood (kinesiology) and Brenda Fooks (environment and resource studies).

And a good day for memories

Convocation begins right on the heels of the Founders event yesterday, in which UW historian Ken McLaughlin talked of the university's early days. Four of the "founders" -- the earliest board of governors members -- were on hand to receive warm applause, along with some 70 family members of other founders who are no longer living to see the university they built.

In his lecture in the Theatre of the Arts, McLaughlin emphasized the degree to which UW's innovation, determination and unique ways of doing things were driven by the businessmen who decided to create a university. Speaking later at a reception, former president (and early dean of engineering) Doug Wright picked up on that theme. He said the founders provided the determination, and brought in faculty members and others with the expertise to design new programs. "We knew what needed to be done," said Wright, who arrived as dean in 1958. "We had no uncertainty."

A plaque listing those early board members was unveiled, and will eventually find a public home near the university's main entrance. "Within the next year the entrance at South Campus Hall will be reconstructed and reconfigured," said president James Downey, and the plaque will be installed there.

Medal awarded for innovation

Computer innovator Jim Mitchell will receive UW's J. W. Graham Medal in Computing and Innovation at Saturday's convocation, and will be on campus Friday to give a seminar about his work.

Born in Kitchener-Waterloo, Mitchell received a BSc in mathematics from UW in 1966 (there was no faculty of math until 1967). While still an undergraduate he and three colleagues developed the first Watfor compiler, a software system that revolutionized the teaching of computer programming, and first brought international recognition to UW. Leader of the Watfor project was Wes Graham, "the father of computing at Waterloo", for whom the medal is named.

Mitchell is now a Sun Fellow and vice-president of technology and architecture for JavaSoft, a unit of Sun Microsystems, in California, and is known for many contributions to the computer field since the days of Watfor. During the 1970s and early 1980s at the Xerox Research Centre, he was heavily involved in the development of interactive computing and personal computers as they exist today. At JavaSoft, Mitchell is leading research and development work that is, some observers say, letting the Java programming language "redefine the the computer". Java is "a complete application programming platform covering almost all computing devices, from smart cards to mainframes" -- in other words, a program can be written once, delivered over the Internet and expected to work on just about anybody's computer.

The medal that he will receive on Saturday is given each year to a mathematics graduate who "exemplifies the qualities" shown by Graham. Graham established teams of experts that created the software for which UW is renowned, and developed the model under which numerous companies have made use of the university's research and innovation.

Mitchell's seminar, entitled "Java: Where You Want To Be Tomorrow," starts at 2:30 p.m. Friday in Davis Centre room 1350. It promises a brief history and overview of Java, plus a demonstration of "some of the capabilities coming to Java in the near future. In addition, everyone attending the seminar will receive a personal copy of Java." The talk is jointly sponsored by the math faculty and the UW InfraNet project.

Nobel winners will speak

Two Nobel prize winners are receiving honorary degrees from UW on Friday, and both of them are giving lectures about their work while they're here:

Meanwhile, back at the ranch

The Employee Assistance Program presents "The Benefits and Burdens of Elder Care", a workshop led by Peter Naus, at noon today in Math and Computer room 4045. It's aimed at staff and faculty who are balancing care for their parents with care for their children (and maybe even care for themselves).

Jobs for co-op students continue to appear: posting #5 will be available at noon today. Employer interviews for the fall work term start Monday.

The Jewish studies chair sponsors a lecture at 3:30 today by Leo Davids of York University on "Canada's Jews: Faith, Families, Future". Says a notice: "Using Canada's census as his main data source, [Jacobs] will provide an overview of this country's Jewish communities, from earlier this century up to the year 2000. Who is counted, age groups, intermarriage trends and other facts will be discussed." The talk will be given in Humanities room 334.

David Wang of electrical and computer engineering will speak this afternoon on "The 21st Century Engineer". He says: "The profession of engineering is in a state of transition as we enter the 21st century. For example, companies are downsizing, technology is rapidly changing and the days of holding one's engineering position for the majority of one's career is becoming an obsolete practice. The IEEE has recently conducted extensive studies into how the practising engineer must change in order to stay relevant in the years to come." Wang's talk begins at 5:30 in Davis Centre room 1302.

Centre Stage Dance Studio has a concert in the Humanities Theatre tonight at 7. The same school, based in New Hamburg, was there last night as well, which I omitted to mention in yesterday's Bulletin -- and that would explain the traffic jam on the ring road at 6:59.

Birthday greetings today to Caryl Russell in the kinesiology, who I'm told is reaching a good round number.


May 28, 1963: UW hosts the annual meeting of the Institute of Professional Librarians of Ontario.

Editor of the Daily Bulletin: Chris Redmond
Information and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
credmond@watserv1.uwaterloo.ca -- (519) 888-4567 ext. 3004
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