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Wednesday, June 13, 2001

  • UW's 82nd Convocation begins today
  • The rest of the week's ceremonies
  • Classics offers more than jobs
  • SSHRC fellowships aid 16 researchers

Smog advisory continues in Waterloo Region

Convocation special events

Composer Alfred Kunz, who will receive an honorary degree tomorrow, conducts a special choral concert at 7:00 tonight in the Humanities Theatre, with music by Bach and Strauss, contemporary songs, and a new composition of his own. Many community supporters of the university have been invited, and a few free tickets are available today -- phone ext. 4973. (The concert can also be watched over closed-circuit television in Humanities room 280.)

The dean of arts and the department of French studies will hold a reception in honour of Sheila Fischman, also receiving an honorary degree tomorrow afternoon, from 9:30 to 11:00 tomorrow morning in Humanities room 334.

Renison College will hold its own convocation ceremony, honouring a record 120 graduates in social development studies and other programs, in the Theatre of the Arts tomorrow morning. A piper will lead the way from Renison over the bridge and into the theatre, for ceremonies that will start at 10:30.

UW's 82nd Convocation begins today

More than 3,100 students will receive degrees and diplomas from UW over the next four days, as spring convocation takes place in five sessions in the Physical Activities Complex.

The first of the ceremonies begins at 2:00 today and will see 500 students receive the fruit of their efforts in applied health sciences, environmental studies and independent studies. The valedictorian, who will speak briefly on behalf of the graduates, is Sarah Havard, receiving her degree in recreation and leisure studies.

Kinesiology professor Jim Frank will be honoured with a Distinguished Teacher Award today. Frank is also the head of the school of anatomy and the associate dean of graduate studies. One of his former teaching assistants said in nominating him for the award: "If I were asked to determine why Dr. Frank should be considered for this award, I would focus on his preparation, interactive teaching approach, innovative explanations of difficult course material, and his enthusiasm. I believe what separates Dr. Frank from many other educators I have observed is his compassion for and commitment to his students and the advancement of their learning."

And Selma Hassan, who's graduating with a master's degree in environment and resource studies, will receive one of this year's Distinguished Teaching by a Registered Student awards.

Two honorary degrees are to be given today. One goes to Ying Wang, a marine geologist at Nanjing University, China, who will give the convocation address. An internationally noted researcher in coastal geomorphology and management, she is also director of the Centre of Marine Sciences and dean of the School of Geoscience at Nanjing.

The other honorary degree goes to Lyle Hallman, Kitchener property developer who has made large gifts to UW to support health research. The west wing of Matthews Hall, built in 1999, is named in his honour. Hallman has spent more than 55 of his 78 years building a highly successful group of companies for housing construction, land development, as well as eldercare in recent years.

Other features of today's convocation include alumni association gold medals (for the top graduating student in each faculty) to Joanne Fernandes of kinesiology and Michael Shantz of geography, and the ES faculty's Alumni Achievement Award to architect Stephen Teeple, one of the designers of UW's soon-to-appear Centre for Environmental and Information Technology.

[Two monitors, many switches]
The web is the place to watch convocation, as all five ceremonies will be webcast by the audio-visual centre and the registrar's office. They can be seen live or later (recordings will be available on the web for a month). Scott Charles of audio-visual is seen at the controls for the webcasting of last October's convocation.

The rest of the week's ceremonies

Thursday afternoon: 892 degrees and diplomas in arts; honorary degrees to Alfred Kunz (choral director and composer, who will present one of his musical works by way of a convocation address) and Sheila Fischman (prominent translator of French Canadian literature); Distinguished Teacher Awards to Pierre Dubé (French studies), Will Gorlitz (fine arts), and Geoff Hayes (history).

Friday afternoon: 540 degrees and diplomas in science; honorary degree to Takeshi Oka, University of Chicago chemist and astronomer, who will give the convocation address; Distinguished Professor Emeritus status to Paul Karrow, retired faculty member in earth sciences; Governor-General's Gold Medal (for the most outstanding student at the graduate level) to Ivan Booth (physics).

Saturday morning (10:00): 539 degrees and diplomas in mathematics; honorary degree to Cleve Moler, educator and developer of Matlab software, who will give the convocation address; Provost Emeritus status to Jim Kalbfleisch, UW's vice-president (academic) until his retirement at the end of 2000; J. W. Graham Medal in Computing and Innovation to Terry Stepien of iAnywhere Solutions.

Saturday afternoon: 726 degrees and diplomas in engineering; honorary degree to Duncan Dowson, engineering professor at England's University of Leeds, who will give the convocation address.

Classics offers more than jobs -- from today's Gazette

While universities are popularly promoted as purveyors of job skills, the new chair of classical studies says students in his department are looking for more.

Riemer Faber, who was appointed department chair on May 1, is seeing "a resurgence of interest in classical studies. Young people are realizing that higher education provides more than training for a particular job. The humanities, especially, allow them to learn to think critically, write cogently and speak persuasively, which are assets for all of life."

Even in high school, Faber finds, students "realize that preparing for one particular career may not be wise; that acquiring skills that allow them to adapt to the changing workforce may be wiser."

In fact, the number of classical studies majors is increasing, he adds. This fall, three sections of first-year Latin are being offered, "and we have to turn away students." There are lineups for other courses, as well, particularly Ancient Greek Society (CLAS 201) and Classical Mythology (CLAS 225 and 226), dealing with gods and heroes.

Even off campus, the classical studies program offered through distance education has nearly 40 majors enrolled. In addition, the department jointly administers the mediaeval studies program with St. Jerome's University.

Unique to Waterloo, says Faber, is the diversity of courses offered in classical studies, including specializations in languages, and in archaeology and ancient history. A Classical Studies Abroad (CLAS 390) course, offered biannually, provides an opportunity to combine academic work with explorations of museums and ancient sites, and students are encouraged to participate in archaeological expeditions as well.

The range of research interests can be gleaned from recent issues of Labyrinth, a classical magazine published by the department to pique the interest of high school students. Articles deal with such diverse topics as medical practices in ancient Greece, "insult cannibalism", Roman gardens, computers and linguistics, and the origins of Valentine's Day.

The picture has not always been so rosy for the department, which (along with anthropology) was hit hard by loss of faculty during the Special Early Retirement Program in 1996. To cope with the cuts, the departments of anthropology and classical studies merged -- "a union that was successful in that it allowed the two units to deal with the immediate effects of SERP." The two departments officially separated on May 1 this year, "giving each its own profile again," says Faber "Both departments have flourishing programs now, with both teaching well above their student targets."

While funds will not allow the classical studies department to expand at this time, the secondment of faculty member Sheila Ager -- to become associate dean (undergraduate studies) in the faculty of arts -- has created an opening that will be filled this fall by Robert Weir, PhD (Princeton), who comes to UW on a two-year term appointment with interests in field archaeology, Greek and Roman art, and the ancient Greek city of Delphi.

SSHRC fellowships aid 16 researchers

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada doctoral and postdoctoral fellowships have been awarded to 16 UW scholars.

Postdoctoral fellowships of $35,028 per year, plus a $5,000 allowance to help with research costs, were awarded to "Canada's most promising new scholars embarking on research careers in the social sciences and humanities," a SSHRC release states. "They have earned their doctorates recently (or will have before taking up the award) and will begin two years of full-time research at a university or other research institution."

Receiving SSHRC postdoctoral fellowships at UW are Laura Napran, classical studies; Catherine Carstairs, history; Alan Diduck, geography.

Doctoral fellowships worth $17,700 per year are awarded for up to four years of study at the PhD level to "Canadian students who demonstrated high standards of academic achievement in undergraduate and graduate studies in the social sciences and humanities.

"Doctoral fellowships develop the skills of future Canadian researchers and assist in the training of highly qualified personnel to meet Canada's needs in the public, private and community sectors. Independent juries of expert researchers evaluated all applications and selected the winners."

Recipients of SSHRC doctoral fellowships for 2001-02 are Jennifer Angove, kinesiology; Andrew Hilton, accounting; Isabel Pedersen, English; Catherine Scott, English; Kirrily Freeman, history; Christine Freeman, philosophy; Christian Jordan, psychology; Samantha (Hansen) Montes, psychology; Timothy Gawley, sociology; Kate Hoye, systems design engineering; Alison Blay-Palmer, geography; M. Beth Dempster, planning; Heath Priston, planning.

A total of 31 applications for this year's doctoral fellowships were submitted by UW applicants. The 13 awards represent a success rate of 43 per cent. Last year, UW grad students received 10 SSHRC doctoral fellowships, with 33 per cent of the 30 applicants approved for awards.


[UW logo] Editor of the Daily Bulletin: Chris Redmond
Information and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
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