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Daily Bulletin

University of Waterloo | Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Tuesday, June 23, 1998

  • Farewell reception for dean of math
  • Advice on the Year 2000 problem
  • Building system gets Y2K upgrade
  • Retirees' deaths are noted
  • On the last day of interviews
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Farewell reception for dean of math

A reception this afternoon will honour Jack Kalbfleisch, who finishes his term as dean of mathematics on June 30 after eight years in that post. (Previously, he was chair of the department of statistics and actuarial science.) Taking over as interim dean for a two-year term beginning July 1 will be Alan George of the computer science department.

I hear that a morsel of bad news has blighted his final days in office, as the third-floor coffee and doughnut stand in the Math and Computer building has unexpectedly stopped carrying his favourite brand of ice cream bar. Fortunately, giving up that addiction should be easy compared to one achievement of his time in the dean's chair: he managed to stop smoking.

Plenty of other accomplishments have also marked the Kalbfleisch years in mathematics. (The Jack Kalbfleisch years, that is: his brother, Jim, now UW's provost, served an earlier term as dean of math.) Perhaps most importantly, one colleague points out, it was under his leadership that degree requirements in math were overhauled: "Performance requirements have been made more rigorous. The goal was to ensure that the quality of our graduates was increased and students who were not equal to the challenge were identified earlier."

The dean also chaired the committee that prepared a plan for the faculty late in 1995. From the plan have come some new initiatives, such as new services for first-year students in math, places for international (visa) students in math on a full-cost basis, and efforts to raise more funds for undergraduate scholarships. "We continue to attract the very best students from Ontario and all of Canada, and now hope to attract another small cohort of excellent visa students as well," I'm reminded.

During these eight years the math faculty created a Centre for Education in Mathematics and computing and a Centre for Applied Cryptographic Research, as well as playing an important role in negotiating the establishment of the Bell Emergis laboratories that will soon take shape at UW. Says the same colleague: "Jack has continued to gather together the funds required to renew the existing educational computing resources and to create additional resources. A new undergrad computer lab was created last year."

Another colleague says the dean's strength is the "supportive working relationship" he projects around the faculty. "While I certainly recall occasions when he got angry, there was always a quick transition into humour," that associate adds, "and he never takes himself too seriously." Also during his years as dean, Kalbfleisch was honoured (in 1994) as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Today's reception will start at 3:30 p.m. in Math and Computer room 5158.

Advice on the Year 2000 problem

What seemed like a good idea a few decades ago -- storing dates as two-digit values on computer systems to save memory -- has become the Y2K time bomb, and the topic of a one-day workshop today for local business people, sponsored by UW's InfraNet Project. Techies around the world are scrambling to modify both hardware and software to allow computers to recognize the date 2000, and not confuse it with 1900 or nothing at all.

At UW itself, an eight-member information systems and technology team (sporting spiffy matching T-shirts) is tackling the problem. But at a recent open house to discuss preparations, the university community was put on notice not to wait for IST to wave its magic Millennium Bug wand.

"Everybody has to get involved in this," IST associate provost Jay Black told the enthusiastic few attending the event. Although the IST team is "active, experienced and successful", he said, the scope of the work is vast and other projects and responsibilities continue to demand IST time and resources.

Student systems are an example of a potential problem area, and the Student Information Systems Project is one of several major projects being coordinated by IST that will upgrade UW's computerized operations just in time for 2000. Web sites have been set up with detailed information about hardware, operating systems, middleware and software issues, but many questions remain unanswered and testing of individual machines is often necessary, especially with IBM compatible PC hardware.

"Some testing depends on you," Black warned. While IST is tweaking servers and operating systems, departments will be responsible for workstations, and individual faculty and staff for ensuring that spreadsheets and other applications will be "compliant" -- that is, can cope with dates after December 31, 1999.

"There may be some variation in response among machines," he said. "You may need to reboot on January 1, 2000 -- or in the worst case scenario, to replace the machine." For Unix workstations, "there are no known problems," and for the much-maligned Macintoshes, both hardware and operating systems are compliant.

For staff, faculty and researchers who have purchased or created systems which are not supported by IST, it's caveat emptor, said Black. "Whoever bought it better watch out," with any questions directed to the source of the equipment. For those with systems supported by the university, questions may be directed to the IST help desk at ext. 4357. Information will continue to be passed along to departments by the associate deans and associate provosts who sit on UCIST (university committee for information systems and technology), he added.

Unlike date-intensive service industries, just-in-time companies, manufacturers of embedded systems or computer companies, "the university is not the kind of organization that will come to a shuddering halt if the computer system fails," said Black. "Overall, we're putting a reasonable and appropriate amount of effort in the Y2K problem, and we expect the university will continue to do its business."

Building system gets Y2K upgrade

The UW plant operations department has already spent some $265,000 to upgrade the hardware and software in its building automation systems to ensure Year 2000 compliance. According to Gene Starchuk, director of business services for plant operations, work is underway on both the system control units (SCUs) and the newer modular building controllers (MBCs) which regulate heating, air conditioning and ventilation in campus buildings.

Controls for the systems are based on time and day, making it necessary for computers to respond correctly to the Millennium date change.

An added bonus from the upgrades will be a faster response time to commands issued from the central control room at plant operations, where operators can open and close valves and adjust thermostat settings in remote locations across campus, making the best use of energy resources, said Starchuk.

Installation of new materials is underway, he added. Upgraded systems will run simultaneously with the older units until debugging and testing have been completed, and should be fully operational by the end of this year.

Retirees' deaths are noted

Paul Peter, who worked at UW from 1978 to 1985 in the Waterloo Research Institute (as manager of the inventors' assistance program) and then in the Innovation Centre, died April 17.

Murray M. Smith, a coordinator in the co-op education program from 1960 to his retirement in 1978, died May 9.

Joseph (Joe) Havlik, who worked in the plant operations department from 1970 to 1984, and was well known across campus as supervisor of the custodial section, died May 17.

George McCracken, a welding technician in the engineering machine shops from 1968 to 1977, died June 11.

Bruce Honeyford, faculty member in the English department from 1966 to 1979, died June 17. The funeral was held Saturday in Kitchener.

David Morgan, faculty member in computer science from 1970 to 1980, died June 20; the funeral will be held this Friday in Wheaton, Illinois.

On the last day of interviews

Yes, today is the final day of the "rank/match phase" of co-op interviews for fall term jobs. Friday is ranking day -- students should pick up their ranking forms in Needles Hall after 10 a.m., see what employers have listed them, do some hard fast thinking, and get their forms back with their own choices by 4 p.m.

Christ Awareness Week continues with a talk today on "U2 and me: Struggling to Find Real Faith", and yes, it's (in part) about the rock band U2. "But," I'm told, "it will not be an interpretation of the music or lyrics as much as it is a recollection of U2 as a companion along a personal faith journey. As this generation pursues answers that seem previously unanswered, where does faith play into our lives?" The talk, by Brian Lim, starts at 7:30 tonight in the great hall of the Student Life Centre.

Karsten Verbeurgt tries out the wall (not Pink Floyd).
"Bojangles Dance Arts" has the Humanities Theatre booked for its spring concert tonight and tomorrow at 7:00.

The Outers Club will hold an open house at its bouldering wall in the Physical Activities Complex this Thursday, from 3 to 5 p.m. "All are welcome," says Karsten Verbeurgt of the club. "Bring a pair of clean court shoes or tennis sneakers, and try out the new facility. The bouldering wall is located in room 1068, near the PAC equipment desk."

The local Volunteer Action Centre has plenty of opportunities available these days. For example, you could work on a salvage crew for Habitat for Humanity, helping to recover usable materials from deconstruction sites. You could provide computer support, reception or special events help for the Lung Association. You could help sell candles for the Arthritis Society at UW's Canada Day party. You could help establish a planned giving program for a local seniors' residence. You could work on developing a newsletter for Citizens Concerned with Crime against Children. You could help with painting, drywalling and general maintenance at a group home for adolescents. Or you could provide companionship at a local hospice. For information about any of these activities, or plenty more, you can reach the VAC at 742-8610.


Editor of the Daily Bulletin: Chris Redmond
Information and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
credmond@uwaterloo.ca | (519) 888-4567 ext. 3004
http://www.bulletin.uwaterloo.ca | Yesterday's Bulletin
Copyright © 1998 University of Waterloo