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Friday, June 11, 1999

  • Hot summer on the campus
  • High school mathies arrive
  • Professors denounce federal report
  • Metals and meetings and more

Image from Genos via the UW ice cream web site.

Hot summer on the campus

I walked over to the Physical Activities Complex yesterday afternoon, passing by the Bombshelter and its outdoor volleyball court, where a handful of players in abbreviated costumes had a lively game going.

In the PAC main gym, I got an advance look at the new stage setting that will be in use for convocation next week, with a gigantic reproduction of the UW seal as it appears on diplomas. (The gym is occupied this week by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, the 125th annual meeting of this national governing body; casually dressed Presbyterians from across the country were voting on routine reports.)

And on the way back to the office, I stopped off at Scoops in the SLC and had my first ice cream cone of the season: chocolate. Ah, the pleasures of summer at Waterloo.

Hot weather isn't just a free pleasure, it's also an environmental issue, I'm reminded by Patti Cook, UW's waste management coordinator. Says Cook: "As a result of last summer's many smog episodes in Waterloo Region, the Citizens' Advisory Committee on Air Quality was formed, made up of concerned citizens and municipal representatives. As part of its work, CACAQ developed the Waterloo Region Clean Air Plan, which outlines a number of plans and activities to reduce air pollution in Waterloo Region.

"Local air issues were given a further push this past February, when Lois Corbett, head of the Toronto Environmental Alliance, visited UW as 'Environmentalist-in-Residence' in the department of environment and resource studies. In addition to a public lecture with David Suzuki, Lois wrote the university's president to review a proposed Smog Plan for the University of Waterloo.

"UW has been investigating the possibility of adopting either its own or the Region's Clear Air Plan."

She says the university already does a good deal to face the hottest and smoggiest summer days by reducing energy consumption and, especially, cutting down on emissions from gas-powered equipment, solvents used in painting, and so on.

The plant operations department has a system to make sure that chillers are not running hard and heavy on very hot days, Cook says. "The buildings are pre-cooled and purged with fresh air during the night, when the outside air temperature and the power rates are lower. The chillers come on in the morning as required, but the buildings are allowed to gradually warm up, within limits, during the day, as it gets warmer outside. This stores heat in the mass of the building structures to be removed the next night.

"Less pollution-causing electrical energy is used during the day. Individuals can help by shutting off; unnecessary lights, computers, printers, photocopiers, fume-hoods, and raising their work area thermostats."

When an official "air quality advisory" is issued, it will be posted on the UW Weather Station web page, and on this Daily Bulletin if the timing is right.

High school mathies arrive

High school students from across Canada will gather at UW on Sunday to begin the 35th annual Waterloo Mathematics Contests Seminar.

The 65 students -- "at least one from each province in Canada", says Ruth Malinowski of the dean of math office -- are high-scorers from competitions held this spring as part of UW's Canadian Mathematics Competition. Grade 10 and 11 students wrote their contest in February, upper-year students in April.

Also attending will be the six students on Canada's International Mathematical Olympiad team. They will compete in Bucharest this summer in a world-wide competition for high-school level math students.

During the one-week seminar, the students will participate in mathematical enrichment activities with UW professors and invited speakers, Malinowski said. Among the speakers from UW are Jock Mackay and Chris Small (statistics and actuarial science), Alfred Menezes and Steve Furino (combinatorics and optimization), Ross Honsberger (retired), and Ian VanderBurgh, who will receive the alumni gold medal for mathematics as he graduates next week. Special invited speakers are George Bluman of the University of British Columbia and David Kelley of Hampshire College, Massachusetts.

Students will live for the week at Renison College. The big social event of the week will be a Math Murder Mystery Dinner at Renison on June 18, hosted by Stewart Craven, a math consultant with the Toronto District Board of Education.

Professors denounce federal report

A new government report about the ownership of new ideas developed in universities "could effectively nullify the protection provided" by UW's policy on intellectual property, says the president of the faculty association.

And the national professors' association says academics "are sharply critical" of the report, says a statement from the Canadian Association of University Teachers That's no surprise: CAUT had previously expressed opposition to a draft report from the Expert Panel on the Commercialization of University Research, and its final report, Public Investments in University Research: Reaping the Benefits, released May 31, looks much the same.

As CAUT sees it, the panel is "recommending that both faculty and student researchers be stripped of their ownership of intellectual property they produce and their discoveries turned over to the private sector".

As the panel itself sums things up: "This report provides a useful assessment of the current state of affairs in Canada. While we have much to be proud of, there is much to be done if we hope to maximize the return on taxpayers' investment in university research. . . . The report calls for coherent university intellectual property policies, adequately resourced university commercialization offices, competitive business conditions and increased investments in university research. Taken together, these recommendations have the potential to help fuel the Canadian economy and generate social benefits for years to come."

Fred McCourt, president of the UW faculty association, expresses his concern in the April-May issue of the association's newsletter Forum, published this week. Forum devotes several pages to commentary on the report.

Also from CAUT: the annual Collective Bargaining Conference is under way in Ottawa. Emphasized in the agenda: the issue of "mobilizing membership support".
CAUT president Bill Graham calls it "a deeply flawed report, based on questionable data and selective anecdotal evidence to support untenable conclusions. The recommendations would jeopardize socially valuable research that may not be profitable, while encouraging research that makes money for the private sector but may be trivial."

The report, prepared for the Prime Minister’s Advisory Council on Science and Technology, recommends that universities provide more incentives for faculty, staff and students to engage in research that can be commercially exploited by private companies.

Arguing that there is a need to improve the business climate in Canada so that private firms can better attract talent and make use of university research discoveries, the report also urges the government to reduce higher marginal tax rates and extend the $500,000 capital gains exemption to employee share options.

"These recommendations would likely cost the federal treasury hundreds of millions of dollars every year with no evidence of any spin-off benefits," Graham says. "That’s money that could better be spent on badly-needed core university funding."

Metals and meetings and more

George Dixon of UW's biology department is among researchers across Canada who will be involved in $3.5 million worth of research by the Metals in the Environment Research Network, based at the University of Guelph. The funding comes from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and was announced earlier this week.

Work continues on the Red Room in the Math and Computer building. Many of the server machines have already been moved to temporary quarters and the room is acquiring a rather spacious look. The machines supporting Trellis were moved in the quiet hours of this morning, says Martin Timmerman of information systems and technology, and this weekend the VM mainframe will be finding a temporary home. IST has been notifying individual groups as moves progress and also keeps a schedule of moves web page to announce and report system moves. Construction of classroom and lab space for computer science students is expected to start in July.

Students in the co-op teaching option are finished with job interviews now; ranking forms are available at 10:00 this morning and must be returned by 4 p.m. Other co-op students looking for fall employment will have interviews for about another two weeks; ranking day for them is June 25.

The department of statistics and actuarial science presents a talk this morning by Granville Tunnicliffe Wilson of Lancaster University, England. It starts at 10:30 in Math and Computer room 5158. Topic: "Conditional Independence Modeling of Multivariate Time Series".

The local dance school Bojangles Art of Dance has its spring recital in the Humanities Theatre Saturday at 2:00, Sunday at 1:00 and 7:00.

Some 420 delegates to an International Order of Foresters convention will arrive at the Ron Eydt Village conference centre today, staying through Sunday.

And . . . a group of high school French teachers is off to France today, led by Delbert Russell and Anne-Viviane Maus of UW's department of French studies. Their goal is to practise language skills and heighten their knowledge of French history and culture; their itinerary will include the Loire Valley, the heart of Brittany and the west coast of France.


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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