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Monday, April 2, 2001

  • Issues for the faculty association
  • New name will be Rod Coutts Hall
  • The colour of seven
  • Let's synchronize our calendars

New VP has eye on government

[Talbot-Allan] Laura Talbot-Allan arrives today as UW's new vice-president (university relations), coming to Waterloo from a long career in business (Manitoba Telephone and Bank One International), the non-profit sector (the Canadian Red Cross Society), and the federal government.

She was assistant deputy minister of Environment Canada 1993-97 (where she was responsible for the "green government" initiative across all federal departments) and secretary-general of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission 1997-98. Most recently she's headed her own consulting firm in Ottawa.

In announcing her appointment as VP, UW president David Johnston said she will be responsible for "providing the strategic development and coordination of initiatives to generate external support for UW, with a particular and immediate focus on providing leadership and direction for UW's upcoming major campaign. As well, she will manage the university's relations with all levels of government."

Issues for the faculty association

As the UW faculty association prepares for its annual general meeting this week, president John Wilson is getting ready to say goodbye -- leaving the association executive now and retiring from UW at the end of August after a 37-year career in the department of political science.

"I have had a wonderful time this past five years on the Association board," says Wilson in the latest issue of the association's Forum newsletter. He served four years as a director before becoming president.

In his message in the Forum, Wilson mentions some issues that lie ahead for the faculty association:

"The Faculty Relations Committee -- having finally disposed of Policy 3 on Faculty Leaves . . . is now into a much more troubling area trying to find a new and constructive way to deal with the issues raised by the changes which have lately come about in the practice of university teaching in Canada and Ontario (I mean by that the impact of the Internet and Queen's Park decisions to permit private universities in Ontario and to give degree-granting powers to the community colleges)."

The latest development in that department would be the announcement last week that Kitchener-based Conestoga College is seeking to become a "polytechnic" with the power to grant degrees in a broad range of fields. The existing community colleges don't have degree programs (apart from a few joint programs with universities) and something like a polytechnic has not been known in the province since Ryerson acquired university status a decade ago.

But there's more, says Wilson:

Along with this there are looming new conflicts between the Memorandum of Agreement and some university policies which must be addressed by the FRC as well, and I have no doubt that in due course discussions will also have to begin on the consequences of the recent arbitration report on the Association's grievance against the University.

Discussions with the Administration regarding the addition to the Memorandum of Agreement of new articles dealing with Program Redundancy, Financial Exigency, and Layoffs are still continuing.

In short, there's no shortage of complicated issues. The faculty association will hold its annual general meeting Wednesday at 2:30 in Physics room 145.

[Ivy grows on the EL walls]

New name will be Rod Coutts Hall

The Engineering Lecture Hall (right) will officially be Rod Coutts Hall as of this Wednesday. The new name will be abbreviated RCH, says Marita Williams, manager of space utilization.

It was announced last fall that the building would start to bear the Coutts name, following Coutts's gift to UW of stock in Teklogix International Inc. that had been valued at $7 million. A 1964 graduate from UW in electrical engineering, Coutts is now retired as president of Teklogix.

"My family has had a lot of good fortune over the years," he said, then, "and the University of Waterloo had a lot to do with that. This is my chance to give something back."

Some of the money from his gift is to be used to build additional space in the lecture hall, a project that's also being financed by the Ontario government. It will also support projects in the Centre for Learning and Teaching Through Technology and a program of scholarships for international study.

Officials announced in the fall that EL would be renamed in Coutts's honour, but the exact title hasn't been known until now.

The colour of seven -- reprinted from the UW Magazine

Artists talk of warm and cool paint tones, musicians speak of the colour of a violin, wine tasters describe the rotundity of a flavour. We all use cross-sensory metaphors to describe the world. For a few people, however, the mixed metaphors are more than mental imagery. Synesthetes, as they're called, may feel a physical wave of cold when they taste mint. Or, like "C.," they may see yellow when they see the number seven.

C., the subject of studies by Michael Dixon and Philip Merikle, professors in Waterloo's department of psychology, and students [27]Daniel Smilek and Cera Cudahy, is a digit-colour synesthete. When she sees a number -- a two, for instance -- she also sees a red digit layered over the black one, an experience called a photism. Double digits elicit double colours: for C., the number 27 evokes red and yellow side by side.

While much about the condition remains unknown, most scientists have agreed, until recently, that the experience is automatic, consistent, and usually triggered by an external stimulus. This is where Dixon and his colleagues have brought something new to the debate. The Waterloo researchers found that C.'s photisms are certainly consistent and automatic, but she does not need an external stimulus -- the sight of the digit seven -- to see yellow. She sees the same colour when presented with number combinations such as two plus five, or three plus four, that add up to seven. In other words, for C., the trigger is the idea, not the image, of seven. This finding is an important addition to what we know about synesthesia, Dixon says, and it might suggest other interesting lines of research into how the brain handles perception.

True synesthesia is probably genetic -- it tends to run in families -- and it's fairly rare. Estimates of the incidence vary from 1 in 2,000 to 1 in 25,000. "It's hard to say, because people with synesthesia tend not to talk about it," he explains. "Some find out very early that their perception of the world seems odd to other people, and they learn to keep that to themselves." Others may go through life unaware that their synesthesia is anything out of the ordinary P like the student who, when told by the researchers that some people see colours when they see numbers, replied, "Doesn't everybody?"

Let's synchronize our calendars

While engineering and math students get on with studying for exams -- which start Friday -- students in arts, AHS, ES and science have classes today and tomorrow. Meanwhile, there are a few distractions available for those who prefer not to think of the inevitable. . . .

The second (free) "Lunch and Learn" session at the computer store is scheduled for today, with information about 3Com products along with something to eat.

Carol Moogk-Soulis, graduate student in the management sciences department, will speak at 12 noon at the Kitchener Public Library main branch, on "Heat Islands in Schoolyards and the Solutions".

The department of Germanic and Slavic studies -- that's going to be its official name soon, if all the necessary governing bodies approve -- presents a lecture today by Galin Tihanov of Lancaster University in England. The talk, "Contextualizing Bakhunin: Two Poems by Mandelstam", will start at 2:30 in Humanities room 373.

And speaking of governing bodies:

Events of later this week:


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 | Friday's Bulletin
Copyright © 2001 University of Waterloo