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Monday, June 24, 2002

  • Avalanche of new programs
  • Changes to several policies
  • Remote sensing symposium opens
  • Other happenings today and tomorrow
Chris Redmond

La fête nationale: la Saint-Jean Baptiste

Big doings tomorrow

Tomorrow morning will bring the groundbreaking for the Research and Technology Park on UW's north campus. The park is being developed on 100 acres through a public-private partnership consisting of the governments of Canada and Ontario, Regional Municipality of Waterloo, City of Waterloo, Communitech Technology Association, Canada's Technology Triangle and UW. Celebrations of the official start of construction are scheduled for 9:30 tomorrow at what's currently called North Campus Road, between the Optometry building and the Columbia Icefield.

Then at 10:45 tomorrow comes an announcement and news conference to launch the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council/Ontario Power Generation Industrial Research Chair in Atmospheric Sciences, to be held by chemistry professor Jim Sloan. The event is scheduled for the Davis Centre lounge; guests will include Andrew Telegdi, Member of Parliament for Kitchener-Waterloo, Andre Isabelle of NSERC, and Ron Osborne, president and chief executive officer of Ontario Power Generation.

Avalanche of new programs

UW's senate gave final approval at last week's meeting to more than a dozen new academic programs -- though there was some dispute at times about whether a "program" is the same as a "plan", and an "option" is a "specialization".

Prominent in the list was the Bachelor of Computer Science program, which will be available to CS students in the faculty of mathematics as an alternative to the Bachelor of Mathematics program in computer science. It's been under discussion over the past year along with the change in status of CS as a whole, from being a "department" to being a "school" within the math faculty.

The BCS curriculum sparked lively discussion last week on the news web site 'uwstudent.org', where Prabhakar Ragde, the school's associate director (curriculum), joined in the back-and-forthing to provide some background and explanation.

"What prompted the change," Ragde writes, "was considerable frustration at the status quo by CS faculty, staff, and students. A Review Committee set up to plumb this dissatisfaction quantified it; the CS Governance Committee set up to address the situation concluded that the answer lay in CS gaining more autonomy and control over finances, admissions, and curriculum. The BCS was a way of gaining control over curriculum while not cutting off options for students. Other changes from that report will be coming forward in the near future."

Other new programs across UW have been created because of similar desire for change, developments in academic disciplines, opportunities for cooperation, the need to make room for new students as UW's enrolment expands, or sometimes all four at once.

Here's a list, and I'm not sure it's complete, of programs that were approved at the June 17 senate meeting. Some of them will be described more fully in Daily Bulletin articles in the coming days.

And my personal favourite: honours medieval studies (arts and business).

Changes to several policies -- a memo from the university secretariat

Please note that the following policies have recently been revised or deleted. Members of the UW community are asked to refer to the web for the most recent and official version. Hard copies are available for those without web access.

Policy 8, Use of Video Display Terminals by Pregnant Employees: This Policy has been deleted.

The Staff Relations Committee concurred with advice from the UW Safety and Medical Directors, and information from Health Canada, that the information contained in the policy is no longer relevant and, in fact, is outdated to current medical/scientific opinion. The Ontario Ministry of Labour and Health Canada do not recommend such restrictions on the use of VDTs or computers.

Policy 59, Reduced Workload: This Policy has been revised.

Prompted by changes to Policy 3, the Faculty Relations Committee, with the agreement of the Staff Relations Committee, recommended to Senate and the Board that Policy 59 be re-titled "Reduced Workload", with its text restructured to accommodate the inclusion of the appendix "Other Reduced Load Arrangements" as a section in the policy.

Policy 39, Leaves of Absence for Staff Members: This Policy has been revised.

Prompted by changes to Policy 59, the Staff Relations Committee revised this policy by removing the reference to partial unpaid leaves of absence (they are referred to as "Other (Temporary) Reduced workloads" and are addressed in Policy 59), and expanding the paragraph which deals with approvals.

Remote sensing symposium opens

A UW geography professor is chairing the International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium that brings 1,300 world experts to Toronto's Westin Harbour Castle Hotel this week.

[Brown land for America]

Snow over southern Ontario -- photograph from NASA

Ellsworth LeDrew, an associate dean of UW's faculty of environmental studies and the general conference chair, said remote sensing is important because it allows people to gain critical information about how the future of the Earth can be safeguarded. "There is increasing international concern about the fragile state of the ecosystems of the planet and the future environmental stability of the Earth."

LeDrew's own research ranges from climate change in the Arctic to observation of tropical coral reefs.

In addition, the world relies on the information gathered through remote sensing to track hurricanes, locate land mines, navigate through ice invested waters, assess environmental change, predict drought, and even to save lives.

The theme of IGARSS 2002, Remote Sensing: Integrating Our View of the Planet, reflects the powerful collaboration of satellite, airborne and ground-based imagery with geographic information systems (GIS) and the expertise of many disciplines. Conference topics have been selected to offer a broad selection of the most current specializations within the fields of geoscience and remote sensing. Examples include monitoring and predicting the Earth's environment, global climate change as well as managing natural resources and disasters.

It's the 22nd annual conference. Since 1981, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers' technical society, the Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society (GRSS), has hosted the highly successful IGARSS series. Previous conferences have been held throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan, and most recently in Sydney, Australia.

Reflecting the worldwide nature of the conference, its web site assures delegates that "Designated World Cup semi-final games will be shown on a big screen television in the Exhibit Hall."

Other happenings today and tomorrow

It's job match day for co-op students looking for fall term jobs. Results will be posted "by 12 noon for students without jobs and by 3 p.m. for students with jobs", the co-op department says. Then at 4:30, there will be general meetings for students who didn't get jobs in this round -- locations will be announced with the match results.

The Midnight Sun solar-powered car is in Toronto this morning, taking part in the "Take a Spin with Sunlight Event". UW's car and two solar vehicles from other Canadian universities will be on display on University Avenue at College Street between 7:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., and then at 10 a.m. the solar cars will take a victory lap around downtown Toronto, with a police escort, ending with an opportunity to meet the teams as well as officials from Unilever, OPG, Pollution Probe and others. There will be an open question-and-answer period from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a demonstration involving the solar car teams. Other highlights include demonstrations of hybrid cars and electric bikes.

Back here on campus: the water's off in the south and east quads of Ron Eydt Village, today and all this week. The plant operations department is doing inspections and valve replacements. It's the sort of work that can only be done at this time of year, when the Village is empty of residents.

A news conference this afternoon will announce the choice of an architect for the new home of UW's school of architecture, on Melville Street in downtown Cambridge. Six firms were shortlisted, out of 46 that expressed interest in the project, says Eric Haldenby, director of the architecture school.

On the schedule for tomorrow, besides the two official ceremonies I've already mentioned:



June 24, 1993: "Mathematicians are atwitter this morning," the Daily Bulletin begins, "at the report that Fermat's Last Theorem has been proven."

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