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University of Waterloo | Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Tuesday, June 30, 1998

  • Our loved Dominion bless
  • Engineering dean ends his term
  • Downey's speech at Toronto
  • Closed for the holiday
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Our loved Dominion bless*

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Tomorrow is Canada Day -- a national holiday, marking the country's 131st birthday, and the occasion for the annual party on UW's north campus. Organizers are hoping, as long as the weather is good, for a record turnout tomorrow, perhaps 55,000 people on hand for the evening fireworks.

The Canada Day celebrations, sponsored by UW and the Federation of Students, will get under way at 2 p.m. with face-painting, children's games and events, kite-flying demonstrations, and an arts and crafts fair.

South of Columbia Street, UW's museums will be open to visitors; the games museum in Matthews Hall is launching a new exhibit ("The Virtual Museum and the Real Museum"), and the earth sciences museum will show the Charlie Chaplin film "The Gold Rush" at 5 p.m. and hold a draw for a sample of gold ore.

Back on the north campus, Canada Day ceremonies take place at 4 p.m. when local dignitaries bring their regards, the national anthem is sung by a local student, the UW Briefcase Drill Team performs, and birthday cake is served. After the ceremonies, local bands take the stage. Grand River Ceili Band (4:30 p.m.), Traces Steel Drum Band (5:15 p.m.), Finnigan's Tongue (6:15 p.m.), the Kitchener Musical Society Band (7:15 p.m.), Fletcher Valve Drummers (8:15 p.m.) and Steady Eddy (9:15 p.m.) are scheduled.

At 8 p.m. the children's games end, but the fun continues with a "campfire" sing-along. Then at 10:15 p.m. the now traditional candlelight closing ceremony and the spectacular fireworks, enhanced by CHYM-FM's musical mastery, complete the celebrations.

Food will be for sale on the north campus; yes, there are bathrooms available; the entertainment is all free, although donation boxes will be available. Watch for Columbia Street to be closed from Westmount to Phillip, but most of UW's main campus parking lots will be open and free for the day.

Engineering dean ends his term

[Burns] David Burns, UW's dean of engineering for the past eight years, ends his term today, and tomorrow will be succeeded by Sujeet Chaudhuri of the department of electrical and computer engineering, who has been named to a five-year term as dean.

He's one of two deans who leave office today. The other is Jack Kalbfleisch of mathematics, who was feted at a reception last Tuesday. A celebration to honour Burns, who came to the dean's office after being chair of the the mechanical engineering department, will be held September 23.

Burns is recognized as a leader who "represented the interests of the faculty very well and stood up to pressures when it was necessary", a colleague says. He's described as "a no-nonsense person" who "cuts to the gist of the problem" and "expects dedication and loyalty". Another colleague mentions his sense of humour and observes that Burns "calls a spade a spade, not a reinforced shovel". He hasn't been reluctant to speak up in UW's governing bodies about the interests of engineering, and of Waterloo in general, as he sees them; above all, he hasn't been shy about trumpeting the good news when UW engineering students and faculty came home with yet another award, invention or achievement.

Perhaps it's fitting that the dean's research work centres on "stress" and "fatigue". Since he took office in 1990, things have been tough in engineering as they have in the rest of the university -- "very stormy", a colleague close to Burns says. But the dean "managed to minimize the malevolent effects" of budget-cutting, leading in the development of a financial plan to deal with the problems. Another colleague insists that Burns "knows where almost every penny in the faculty is spent."

At the same time, there have been new initiatives and accomplishments, including the growth of an environmental engineering program based in the civil and chemical engineering departments, a computer engineering program separate from electrical engineering, and one new industrial research chair after another.

Pension adjustment

The pension and benefits committee will be meeting for most of today, with an agenda that includes fund investments, the fine print of recent changes to the pension plan text, and possible changes to the long-term disability benefit.

"Even with the recent enhancements," say the minutes of the committee's June 2 meeting, "the plan still has a funding excess of $43.6 million."

Those minutes also note that "because of the automatic indexing provisions of the Pension Plan, UW pensioners will receive an increase of 1.63%, effective July 1, 1998." Pensions go up each July 1 to reflect increases in the cost of living.

Downey's speech at Toronto

Over the past 800 years, universities have sometimes been important and sometimes just about irrelevant, UW president James Downey said in a speech at the University of Toronto last month. Downey received an honorary degree from U of T and spoke at convocation ceremonies; the text of his speech has now been published in U of T's Bulletin.

Said Downey: "I doubt that there ever has been a period in the history of universities when they have been, and have been seen to be, as central to the hopes and ambitions of society as they are now. We have known all along that knowledge is the basis for human development; now it turns out to be the currency of economic prosperity as well. And universities are the principal mints of that currency. . . .

"On the positive side, there is a marvellous challenge and adventure inherent in the present situation. This is our chance to show what a beneficial and transforming influence the university can have when it is valued and heeded. Northrop Frye used to argue, and compellingly, that it was the world represented by the university that was the real world because its essence was a body of knowledge and a set of values that were abiding and constantly being verified by rational argument, empirical experiment and imaginative perception. Within that corpus of knowledge and that constellation of values were the tools and materials to build out of the world we live in a vision of the world we aspire to live in."

He had praise for Toronto as "the Canadian university that has made the broadest and deepest contribution to Canadian society and to international scholarship . . . Canada's flagship university", and he called on Toronto's new graduates to have high expectations for their alma mater.

"Important though it is," he said, "to serve the current needs of the society that supports us -- to forge, disseminate and transfer useful knowledge, to educate and to train for the professions, to respond to labour-market demands -- it is even more important to hold fast to the transcendent and transforming vision of which Frye speaks, for it is that vision which, when realized, will harmonize and ennoble disparate human aspirations and activities and weave a pattern of meaning and significance into the Brownian nature of human experience."

Closed for the holiday

Wednesday, July 1, is Canada Day and a holiday; UW offices and most services will be closed, and classes will not be held. The libraries will be closed all day, as will graphics outlets.

The information systems and technology department notes that it "will operate a reduced service. As a result, requests for tape mounts, etc. will not be honoured. The Computing Help Information Place (CHIP, MC room 1052) will be closed until 8:00 Thursday, July 2. If you notice an outage of the campus computer network or any major IST-maintained computing facility during this period, you can report it by telephoning the IST HelpDesk at 888-4357. If the outage has a severe impact on the University computing environment and the appropriate facility-support personnel can be contacted, the problem will be addressed; otherwise, it will be pursued Thursday morning."

Some key services that never close:

Of course Canada Day means the campus will be jumping even though things are closed. . . .

By the way, a correction to something I said in Friday's Bulletin: the day for job matches -- when co-op students find out about their jobs for the fall work term -- will be next Monday, July 6, not this Friday.

CAR


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