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Thursday, May 16, 2002

  • Gone away to talk innovation
  • Existing housing may be enough
  • Book welcomes international students
  • Notes on another rainy day
Chris Redmond

Shavuot, the harvest festival, begins at sunset

Gone away to talk innovation

UW's senior management -- deans, associate provosts and other brass hats -- are away from campus today and tomorrow, taking part in their annual "retreat" at the Kempenfelt Centre near Barrie.

"We won't talk about enrolment planning," provost Amit Chakma said yesterday. "We won't talk about the budget. We talk about those things while we're here."

Rather, he said, the annual K-Bay getaway is a chance for in-depth and long-range discussion. The big question this year, the provost said, is, "How can Waterloo position itself to take advantage of the innovation agenda?"

That would mean the national buzz about "innovation" in general, and in particular the twin White Papers issued by Industry Canada and Human Resources Development Canada a few weeks ago. Those documents give plenty of hints about the role that the federal government sees universities playing over the coming years. If Waterloo is really Canada's most innovative university, said Chakma, it had better be ready to rise to the challenge.

Industry minister Allan Rock is beginning national "consultations" on the innovation white papers. An announcement last week said one of those sessions would be held May 23 -- next Thursday -- for "Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge and Region". Details haven't been made public.

Existing housing may be enough -- by Barbara Elve, from yesterday's Gazette

It may come as a surprise, but the double cohort of secondary school students arriving at UW in September 2003 may not boost the demand for off-campus housing.

Bud Walker, UW's director of business operations, believes there are "some misconceptions" about the need for student accommodation. At UW, he says, the influx of high school students graduating from both Grade 12 and 13 in 2003 "will not be the big spike some people anticipate. Although enrolments are increasing, there won't be a big surge in 2003, which is the public perception."

What makes the situation at UW unique, he explains, is that students from an unusually large first-year class in 1999 will be graduating in 2003 and 2004, moving like a large meal through a snake and offsetting some of the double cohort bulge. "In 2003 we'll be taking in more first-year students," explains Walker, "but the overall enrolment increase will be less (than in previous years) because a portion of the first-year class of 1999 is graduating."

Cambridge building: the Record reported yesterday that UW has received 47 submissions of interest from "top-notch architects" for the renovation project that will produce a new home for the architecture school on Melville Street in downtown Galt. "I'm delighted," says the school's director, Eric Haldenby. Selection of an architect should be completed by the end of June.
At the same time, some 300 students in the school of architecture will be moving with the school to Cambridge. UW officials are working with members of a consortium of Cambridge business leaders to develop a residence-type building for first-year students. Upper-year students are expected to find off-campus housing in that community.

And an additional 108 residence beds are being provided by Conrad Grebel University College (58) and by Renison College (50). As well, says Walker, "some faculties are thinking of admitting first-year students in the winter term instead of the fall term." That could mean as many as 200 students could enter university when many others have left on co-op work terms, at a time when demand for residence beds is down.

As a result, the demand for off-campus undergraduate housing "could impact the community less in 2003 than in 2002."

Over the past few years, on-campus accommodation has been increasing steadily, he noted. In 2001, an additional 520 beds were created through the construction of Mackenzie King Village and renovations to Wellesley Court at UW Place. This September, approximately 240 new beds will be added at UW Place.

Meanwhile, the supply of off-campus housing has outstripped demand. In September 2001, some 400 off-campus rooms listed with the UW housing office went unfilled -- "the biggest number in recent memory," says Walker.

Ironically, as landlords rush to create more single rooms for the double cohort crowd, students seeking apartments for their families are finding the search for accommodation increasingly difficult. Nearly a quarter of the 700 new grad students expected this September will need family accommodation, said Walker. That number includes international students with families, many of whom prefer to live near campus.

"It's a more pressing need than single room accommodation," he says, "especially since grad students and their families must compete in the tight rental market with other families in the community."

Book welcomes international students

There's so much to know about a university when you're coming to it from the other side of the world, and the new handbook Destination Waterloo tries to pack it all into 60 pages.

"In Canada there are 4 distinct seasons," it tells future students from around the world. . . . "Each of your dependants will require a valid passport to enter Canada. . . . When arranging accommodation, you should know that in Canada, overcrowding is not acceptable. . . . There is no dress code at the University of Waterloo. . . . You and your dependants have the right to freedom from sexual harassment, discrimination, racism, and prejudice."

Copies of the new handbook -- 3,000 were printed -- will be sent to all newly admitted international students, both graduate and undergraduate, says Darlene Ryan of the international student office, who coordinated Destination.

[Handbook cover] There has been a handbook under the Destination Waterloo title since 1994, she said. "The format and design had remained basically the same since 1994 and thus, it was time for a new look, design, and format. The new version is slightly smaller in size, has a new cover, and is more comprehensive.

"We had a team who worked on the Destination Waterloo project," says Ryan. "Those involved were Tina Roberts and Julie Hummel from the registrar's office, Jeanette Nugent from the graduate studies office, Linda Kenyon from publications, Christine Goucher from graphics, Bruce Mitchell, the associate V-P academic, Wendy Mertz from the office of the associate V-P academic, and Laura Espinoza, who held the focus groups, research and writing of Destination Waterloo.

"Laura Espinoza interviewed international students and asked them what they thought of Destination Waterloo, what they wished they had know before coming to UW, and what they would like to see included in a new version. They gave us lots of great ideas that we have incorporated into the new version.

"One of things that international students said was that they wanted to receive Destination Waterloo early to help them prepare for their journey to Canada. Therefore, the registrar's office and graduate studies office are now sending them out with the offer letters. This will give international students lots of time to familiarize themselves with the steps they need to undertake to prepare for their departure from their home country and arrival in Canada."

Thus the book includes some suggestions on what to pack for a student coming to Waterloo, perhaps from a dramatically different climate and culture. There's also word on getting through immigration formalities, travelling from the airport to Waterloo, finding temporary housing with the help of the turnkey desk, and not switching too fast from familiar food to southern Ontario cuisine.

Says Ryan: "Our team is very proud of this publication. Certainly, we hope that when international students read this handbook it will be a deciding factor in choosing the University of Waterloo as their final destination."

Notes on another rainy day

The winners of UW's high school French contest for this year will visit campus today. Along with their respective teachers, they're invited to a banquet tonight in South Campus Hall. Top winner in the contest is Christopher Somerville of St. John's Kilmarnock School in Breslau, just east of Kitchener; he'll be off on a two-week trip to France, a prize sponsored by two donors. About 30 students are collecting other prizes, ranging from scholarships to books.

And the contests keep coming. Today brings the annual Avogadro Exam, sponsored by the department of chemistry, for students in grade 11 chemistry. "The exam," its web site explains, "will cover material that a well-read senior high school chemistry student is likely to have come across in the course of studies. Students may expect to find a few probing and demanding questions on some of the main topics of high school chemistry. Certain mathematical skills closely related to the study of chemistry will be tested, and there will be a few questions on chemical topics not normally covered in high school. The Avogadro Exam consists of 40 multiple-choice questions, some easy, some tough, under the general headings: Structure of Matter, Bonding, Reactions, Solutions, and Gases, and a general knowledge of current affairs." It takes 75 minutes to write.

There's a workshop at 12 noon today (Math and Computer room 5158) on "Effective Electronic Communication". Aimed mostly at teaching assistants and other instructors, it's part of the workshop series sponsored by the teaching resources and continuing education office, and TRACE at ext. 3132 is taking registrations if there's any room left.

Today also brings the annual Garden Start plant exchange, from noon to 5:30 in the Student Life Centre. Beets, beans, peppermint, spinach, onions, tomato, radishes and lettuce are among the seeds and seedlings that will be available. "Thanks to donations we are offering flowers as well as vegetable seeds for this year's gardeners," writes the organizer, Jason Rochon of the UW computer store. "Get an early start with some of our seedlings. There's no charge for anything. Participants are encouraged to bring in extra seeds or plants of their own but it's not necessary. We're not limited to plants. Old gardening magazines, spare peat pots, extra mulch, etc. are all welcome. Please do not bring manure as we are indoors."

A general meeting of the Federation of Students -- that means all undergraduate students can attend -- will be held at 4:30 today in the great hall of the Student Life Centre. The agenda includes some by-law amendments to create a "co-op students' council", to deal specifically with the interests of, you guessed it, co-op students.

Children from UW's Carousel Dance Centre will give a second recital tonight, at 6:30 in the Humanities Theatre.

It's "open stage, open mic" at the Grad House tonight, starting at 9:00.

And . . . the venerable VM computer system is going to be shut down soon. Says Jay Black, associate provost (information systems and technology): "With the completed implementation of all major business systems onto UNIX and Windows server-based architectures, IST is now planning the termination of the VM environment. We have attempted to contact everyone who has used VM in recent months to arrange alternatives and to mention the intended retirement. There is still some work remaining to find new processes for a few applications, but that should be finished soon. The current plan is to retire the WATVM system as of July 31, 2002. If you need more information or have any concerns, please contact Bob Hicks, ext. 2194."



May 16, 1979: The Gazette presents a double-page feature article on Canada's antiquated copyright law and the need for modernization to take account of the invention of photocopying machines. May 16, 1997: A symposium honours math professor Bill Tutte on his 80th birthday.

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