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Tuesday, June 12, 2001

  • UW cooperates in smog alert
  • A new program: French culture
  • Today's events and other notes

[Office chairs on the grass]

Interview al fresco: Dave Coomber (right) of Tropic Networks Inc. is so tropic-minded that on Friday afternoon, as the temperature climbed, he moved the chairs from his Needles Hall interview cubicle out onto the lawn. He was spotted chatting with an unidentified student applying for a fall co-op job at Tropic. Olaf Naese of the co-op and career services department, who took the picture, says he thought of blaming the co-op space crunch for the outdoor interview, but couldn't quite bring himself to do that.

UW cooperates in smog alert

The Ontario ministry of the environment issued a smog watch for this area ("Waterloo-Wellington-Dufferin") yesterday afternoon, a warning that calls for special action by plant operations and other departments at UW.

"A smog watch," says their web site, "means that there is a 50 per cent chance that a smog day is coming within the next three days." It's not as strong as a "smog advisory", the level of warning that was issued for the Sarnia and Windsor areas in far southwestern Ontario.

The government's forecast for today says that "a strong inversion caused by a high pressure ridge moving into the area will have temperatures approaching the 30 degree mark across most of the province. There is a slight chance of showers in some areas of the southwest, however the high temperatures and southwest winds will possibly have air quality climbing into the poor category in the afternoon, for extreme southwestern Ontario."

General advice from the government: "Do not let your car engine idle . . . avoid exposure to vehicle exhaust fumes . . . . avoid strenuous exercise in the heat of the day . . . turn down the air conditioner . . . leave lawn mowing for another day . . . do not use the barbecue."

And UW will be doing similar things, explains Patti Cook, UW's waste management coordinator. "Plant Operations will attempt to eliminate or cut down on gas powered equipment, such as lawnmowers, whipper snippers, etc. Plant Operations will also attempt to curtail solvent based painting, use of solvents, etc., and as they do on very humid days, minimize the use of vehicles, avoid refueling between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., gradually raise the air conditioning temperatures, so that the chillers are not running hard and heavy.

"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."

Other departments have also agreed to get into the act, Cook says. For example, Scott Nicoll, in charge of the recycling facility in the chemistry department, "will attempt to curtail chemical recovery in the Environmental Safety Facility on those days, eliminating any exhaust from the bunker."

I've promised to mention any smog alerts on the Daily Bulletin, when they're issued in time for its deadline. (The Bulletin is issued at 9:00 each morning.)

A new program: French culture

"We have to change with the times," says Paul Socken, chair of UW's French studies department, explaining the creation of a new "French cultural studies" program that will be offered mostly in English.

[Tricoleur] "Students are no longer as interested in accessing culture through literature," says Socken, referring to the traditional honours program offered by a French department, which involves detailed study of French writings from the Chanson de Roland through Racine to Sartre.

Secondly, he adds, there's an issue of "language preparedness" -- fewer students arriving in university equipped to listen to lectures in French, write term papers in French and answer exam questions in French.

He stresses that his department will still offer its existing honours program in literature and its French teaching option, which together will continue to account for the majority of its students. But "cultural studies" will provide a third possibility, starting in the fall of 2002 when this year's first-year arts students choose a major at the beginning of second year.

"I would be surprised if this were not a big seller," says Socken. "We're going to bring students to Waterloo to do French who might not have considered it before."

He explains that the program "is for the student who is interested in France and the francophone world, but who would prefer to approach it through art and history as well as literature -- and have the lectures and exams in English."

Students will need to do some reading in French, since that's the language in which French literature is written, but it won't be as extensive as for students in the honours literature program.

Planned courses have such titles as "The Acadian World", "Contemporary French Newspapers", "Louis XIV and the Golden Age of the French Monarchy" and "Paris Through the Ages". A required second-year course is "An Introduction to Theories of Culture". Socken says his department has avoided bird courses along the lines of "French cookery", which he says cheapen similar programs at some other universities. "Ours is a very strong program."

Cultural studies will also be available as a general program and as a minor.

Socken notes that adding a dozen or so courses for the cultural studies program will make things more difficult for professors in the department. "We're going to have to juggle the load," he says. "We're already teaching three courses per term." The number of options available for upper-year literature students will likely be reduced, he predicts.

Today's events and other notes

Co-op students in the teaching programs get the news today, good or bad: their job matches for fall term jobs will be posted at 11:00 this morning. (And for those who weren't matched with jobs, "continuous phase" job postings go up starting at noon.) For students in most other programs, interviews go on for a few more days before the match process.

The career development seminar series presents "Interview Skills: Selling Your Skills" at 10:30 this morning in Needles Hall room 1020.

The applied health sciences faculty presents a talk this morning by Richard Alvarez, president of the Canadian Institute for Health Information. He'll speak on "The Future of Health Information in Canada: Challenges and Opportunities", at 11:00 in the Clarica Auditorium, Lyle Hallman Institute.

And this afternoon, the Institute for Computer Research presents a seminar on "Image-Based Reconstruction of Spatially Varying Materials", by Jan Kautz of the Max-Planck Institute for Computer Science and the University of Saarbrücken. He'll speak at 1:30 in Davis Centre room 1304.

The Canadian Mathematical Society holds a banquet at UW tonight for students who won awards earlier this year in the 33rd annual Canadian Mathematical Olympiad.

News from the Kenneth G. Murray Alzheimer Research and Education Program: Sherry Dupuis, of UW's recreation and leisure studies department, has been appointed associate director (research) for MAREP. The appointment is "the second of two new senior positions established by MAREP as part of our recent organizational renewal and expansion. . . . She joins a dynamic team at MAREP who work with our partners to conduct, facilitate, disseminate and apply leading edge research and education."

News from Stanford University, via the University Business Daily news service: "During the dot-com gold rush many Stanford students opted to 'stop out' (that is, take a leave of absence for more than one quarter) and seek their fortunes in the Bay Area's booming tech industry. Now, as the economy slows, those dot-com dropouts are returning to Stanford. 'They're coming back, and most of the ones coming back didn't strike it rich,' says Marc Wais, dean of students. 'But they wouldn't trade the experience for anything.'

The Employee Assistance Program has announced two more noon-hour sessions, both dealing with parenting older kids. Scheduled are "Teenagers: Who Are These People?" on June 28, and "Understanding Your Child's Transition to College or University" on July 18. Watch for details.

Reminder: the annual Matthews Golf Classic is scheduled for this coming Monday at the Grand Valley Golf and Country Club. The light-hearted annual event, aimed mostly at faculty and staff, is now fully booked, says Jan Willwerth of the information systems and technology department, one of the organizers. She's encouraging golfers and would-be golfers to decide now that they'll join in the 2002 tournament.

And . . . a groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for Tuesday, June 26, at 1:30 p.m., for the new co-operative education and career services building. Actually I can't think of anything that's needed less than a groundbreaking, since the ground has been massively broken by heavy equipment over the past month. (It was a week ago today that giant metal teeth ripped out the concrete stairway from the arts quadrangle up to South Campus Hall.) At any rate, a ceremony is planned for that day to launch the construction project -- "rain or shine". The building is scheduled to be finished in time for occupancy in September 2002.


[UW logo] 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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