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Thursday, May 18, 2000

  • Deans retreat, weekend advances
  • Concern about losing co-op jobs
  • Royal medal for UW chemist
  • French contest winners dine today

Deans retreat, weekend advances

It happens every year just before the Victoria Day weekend: UW's deans and other top officials head off for a two-day "retreat" at Kempenfelt Conference Centre near Barrie. Administrators in casual clothes, lugging suitcases, were leaving campus en route for Barrie yesterday afternoon.

(Yes, the long weekend will be here shortly, and Monday, May 22, is a holiday, with classes cancelled and UW offices closed. Watch for tomorrow's Bulletin with more details of openings and closings over Victoria Day.)

The people huddling at Kempenfelt are the members of the "executive council", including deans, associate provosts and the like. The newest recruit to the group is Jim Downey, who was UW's president this time last year and went on sabbatical leave after finishing his term. Now he's back on strength in an unexpected role, filling in for the vice-president (university relations).

The university relations portfolio includes development -- that is, fund-raising -- and will be front and centre as UW plans a big capital campaign. David Johnston, Downey's successor as president, has said that the main agenda item for the Kempenfelt retreat will be a discussion of UW's priorities over the next few years and how they might be reflected in the campaign's goals. Deans and other participants will be arriving with visions and wish lists that the top management will try to assemble into one coherent statement; it's expected to surface in the university senate and board of governors later this year.

Also happening today:

And right after the long weekend, May 24-31, a number of UW faculty will be heading for Edmonton for the annual Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities, formerly and informally "the Learneds". Some 5,000 researchers will visit the University of Alberta for at least part of that time, attending the annual meetings of 68 scholarly associations and half a dozen special-topic conferences. (The information and public affairs office -- I and my colleagues -- would appreciate hearing from UW people who will be presenting papers at any of the Edmonton events.)

Concern about losing co-op jobs

An unauthorized site that makes the listings of UW co-op jobs available to everybody through the web isn't doing students any favour, says the head of UW's co-op department.

Bruce Lumsden, director of co-operative education and career services, was expressing concern about the quick-and-dirty web site that was described in yesterday's Bulletin. Its creator, an unidentified computer science student, says he's frustrated that it has taken so long for UW to provide official access to co-op information through the web, so he went ahead and did it himself, providing an interface to the information on the Access system in the co-op department.

"This is not the way to solve problems," says Lumsden. His big concern is that with such a site on the web, the whole world, not just UW co-op students, can see what jobs are available, and students from elsewhere could try to poach them. "We protect these jobs for co-op students," he said, and telling the world who's ready to hire poses a "threat" to UW students who need the jobs. (The Access system itself is available only with a student userid and password -- even UW students who aren't in co-op programs can't see the listings there.)

"How foolish a thing it is," he said, "to let these jobs go out to the rest of the world!" He called the creation of a web site, without password protection, "a damaging prank . . . a misuse of technology".

"I know these students are frustrated that we haven't got the system modernized," said Lumsden, sounding frustrated himself. A web interface for Access has been promised for this summer, and a whole new co-op computer system is being developed, which Lumsden said "will have all the reliability and maintainability that this hasn't got -- a system that's strong and reliable". And confidential.

Royal medal for UW chemist

[Brubacher] UW chemistry professor Lew Brubacher (right) is this year's winner of a medal from the Royal Society of Canada to honour his work in editing Chem 13 News and other activities to spread the importance and excitement of chemistry.

The McNeil Medal for the Public Awareness of Science "is intended to highlight the important role that science plays within our society and to encourage the communication of science to students and the public. The Medal is awarded to a candidate who has demonstrated outstanding ability to promote and communicate science to students and the public within Canada. The term public is defined in its broadest sense." Brubacher is this year's winner jointly with Bessie Borwein of the University of Western Ontario.

Says the RSC's citation: "Professor Lewis J. Brubacher, Associate Professor of Chemistry at the University of Waterloo, has had a major impact on the communication of chemistry to students, teachers and the general public in Canada as well as throughout the world. In his role as editor-in-chief of the publication CHEM 13 NEWS, Professor Brubacher has been and continues to be a key player in bringing the importance of chemistry to our everyday lives.

"The chemistry of plastics, rocket fuel, catalysts, drugs and life processes among other topics, are presented by this educational magazine to a readership of over 4000 individuals and schools in over 40 countries. The publication also institutes two national/international examinations to high school students, the Chem 13 News Exam and the Avogadro Exam. Through this publication and these examinations, chemistry is well communicated to a public audience.

"Professor Brubacher has unselfishly devoted major portions of his time to promote the chemical sciences not only to his own students at the University of Waterloo but also to our society and to the next generation. His time spent presenting papers at, and helping to organize several major chemical education conferences has played and will continue to play a major role in highlighting the everyday importance that chemistry, and science in general, plays in our society.. His inspiration and love for teaching and his interest in presenting the impact that chemistry has on society is meritorious."

The McNeil Medal -- established a decade ago "through the generosity of the McNeil Consumer Products Company" -- is one of twelve that the RSC is awarding this year "for extraordinary achievement in the social sciences, humanities, and pure and applied sciences. These awards come as a culmination of a lengthy nomination and selection process and are a tribute to the outstanding contributions being made by Canadians in all areas of research and scholarship." The honour consists of a bronze medal and a cash award of $1,500.

The medals will be presented at the RSC's annual awards banquet on November 17.

French contest winners dine today

A York Region District School Board student was the overall winner in this year's UW French contest and has won a trip to France. Matthew Lightman of Thornlea Secondary School in Thornhill came out on top among 202 finalists from 76 public, separate and private high schools in southwestern Ontario at the annual contest. It was conducted April 26 by the department of French studies at UW, and winners will be the guests of honour at a banquet tonight in the Laurel Room of South Campus Hall.

Lightman receives a two-week home stay holiday in France, donated by Red Leaf Student Programs of Toronto, and a return flight funded by other donations. He also achieved the top mark on the written portion of the test and received the $100 Dean of Arts Award.

Participating schools from 11 regions were represented by up to three contestants, said Pat Aplevich, contest chair and a French language instructor at UW. For the second year in a row, Thornlea Secondary School won the team trophy for highest total marks.

Leah Jackson of Guelph Collegiate in the Upper Grand District School Board received the $500 second prize and tied for the highest mark in the oral interview, winning the $100 Carl Pollock Award. The Canadian Federation of University Women K-W third prize of $250 went to Maria Banda of Thornhill Collegiate in York Region, and fourth place ($150) to Charles Troster of Richmond Hill Collegiate, also in York. Plaques and book prizes were awarded to those with the top scores for their school district who placed within the top third of the contestants. Several book prizes are also given to outstanding students placing in the top 25 contestants.

Other winners' names, and a list of many corporate and government sponsors of the contest, appear in a UW news release about the outcome of the annual contest. "Donations also came from individuals, schools and school boards," it notes, as well as UW's St. Paul's United College and the dean of arts.


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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