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Friday, May 24, 2002

  • A plan for 'more connectedness'
  • 'We must invest,' summit is told
  • CECS building ready in late fall
  • Ready for a weekend already?
Chris Redmond

Guelph Spring Festival | Mennonite Relief Sale

Honorary degree for soc prof

Robert Prus, a faculty member in UW's sociology department since 1976, will receive an honorary degree tomorrow from his alma mater, Brandon University, the Manitoba institution has announced.

Says Scott Grills, dean of arts at Brandon and himself a sociologist: "This is an appropriate way to mark a highly successful academic life that began here in Brandon. I've known and worked with Bob for almost 20 years and over that time period he has established himself as one of the most important voices in Canada in the study of everyday life. Whether it's his research on prostitutes, card and dice hustlers, or people involved in retail and marketing more generally, Dr. Prus's research has shed light into the practical accomplishment of community life."

Prus is an international authority in the branch of sociology known as symbolic interactionism. Another colleague called him "a seasoned scholar and an outstanding teacher". He's the author of 44 published articles, eight books, and more than 50 conference papers.

He began his undergraduate study at what was then Brandon College, and finished his BA at the University of Manitoba before doing his master's and doctorate at the University of Iowa.

A plan for 'more connectedness'

[Black] A draft new "directions statement" for information technology -- what used to be called "computing" -- has been issued for comment by Jay Black (right), associate provost (information systems and technology).

He says an open meeting will be held June 10 (11:30 a.m. in Davis Centre room 1302) to discuss the statement, which would replace one issued in 1998.

The new statement -- actually a suite of four documents -- sets out a plan for Waterloo to "become a leader in an increasingly networked world and encourage the development and use of new connectivity to the extent that UW becomes known as Canada's Connected Campus". It's the work of the University Committee on Information Systems and Technology, which includes the associate deans for computing from the six faculties, as well as other officials, and is chaired by Black.

The emphasis is on the use of technology in teaching, learning and research, although the statement also has much to say about the necessary infrastructure on campus.

Words to live by

From the proposed "directions statement":

Individual, departmental and institutional requirements must be satisfied in a harmonised manner. The University must provide adequate training and support so that innovation will be successful, and individuals must ensure they have the skills and knowledge necessary to appreciate how IT can best serve them in their study or work. Further, individuals must help craft, use, and work within the infrastructure in a responsible fashion that reflects well upon themselves and the University. In return, the University must recognise individuals' legitimate rights to freedom of expression and privacy in our increasingly electronic workplace.

It says UW should "increase the quality and quantity of "connectedness" of all computer users, both on and off-campus (via remote access), through expansion and enhancement of (i) off-campus network access, (ii) on-campus points of presence of the computing network, and (iii) development of wireless access for students and researchers to encourage maximum flexibility in computing infrastructure options".


Do you own a laptop computer?

  No, but I will by September
  No, and no immediate plans

To be more specific: "The acquisition of portable computers by the student population should be encouraged. . . . The move toward student-owned computing envisions a hybrid environment where both university-provided labs equipped with desktop computers and laptop wireless/wired network access will be available." Later, the document repeats the recommendation to "Encourage the adoption of laptop computers by students, while not taking this as far as suggesting that UW seek to become a laptop University."

The four documents being put forward are a brief "strategic directions" statement, a more detailed "directions statement", an update document on "architecture directions", and a progress report on what's been done since 1998 -- ranging from the UWdir directory project to Quest, Skills for the Electronic Workplace, web-based courses, the LT3 technology centre, and the Flex Lab.

Here are the "five strategic directions" the document calls for:

  1. Provide an environment that enables students to optimise their use of technology in life long learning.
  2. Close the e-learning gap: Deepen our use of technology in support of learning & teaching.
  3. Support increased use of IT in research and scholarship.
  4. Increase connectedness.
  5. Promote the effective and strategic use of information systems & technology, balancing sustainability and innovation.
About technology in teaching, the document says this: "The introduction and use of technology in teaching and learning must necessarily be driven first and foremost by sound pedagogy. . . . Emphasis should be placed on providing, generating, and applying knowledge and information in a variety of learning environments, and not simply on the mechanisms that deliver it."

It says the university should "establish a campus-wide team to develop a vision of an effective UW integrated online learning and information environment".

Other points made in the document:

'We must invest,' summit is told

Mike Lazaridis of Research In Motion (top photo) was the lunchtime speaker at yesterday's "innovation summit" held at UW by Industry Canada. He's seen with Greg Barrett of Communitech, another key figure in local high-technology industry. "We must invest heavily in scientific research and education if we are to build a culture of innovation and prosperity," Lazaridis told his audience.

Later in the day, a plenary session of the 180 summit participants heard some of the ideas and concerns raised during morning discussion groups: "virtual communities . . . globally competitive economic clusters . . . education and capacity-building . . . regulatory barriers . . . quality of life . . . serendipity . . . benchmarking . . . government support for risk-taking."

A detailed report on the day's conversations will be posted shortly on the federal innovation strategy web site, organizers promised.

At a mid-morning break, VIPs officially opened the J. R. Coutts Engineering Lecture Hall with a ribbon-cutting. Pictured at bottom are Peter Harder, deputy minister of industry; MP Andrew Telegdi; Rod Coutts, whose gift of stock made the RCH renovation possible; Tom Brzustowski, president of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council; and UW president David Johnston.

Coutts spoke briefly, explaining why he had given UW millions of dollars towards the project: "Unfortunately, Mother Nature doesn't fund our educational system."

[In front of bilingual sign]

[Balloons and grins]

CECS building ready in late fall

It's looking as though fall term co-op interviews will be done in the same place students have been meeting employers since 1972: the first floor of Needles Hall.

The new co-op education and career services building, under construction at the south end of campus, isn't expected to be ready until late in the fall, according to CECS director Bruce Lumsden and university architect Dan Parent. Lumsden is guessing that, rather than disrupt activity during the fall term, the department will move into its long-awaited new quarters in December.

"Having it ready for September was a dream more than anything else," Parent acknowledged this week.

"We're looking forward to it, obviously," Lumsden said in an interview. "It will allow us to do business better, more efficiently." He added that the building is one part of a three-part plan to overhaul co-op services -- the other two points are a new computing system, being developed, and a scheduling change that would bring "a more even flow of placement" rather than a crush of interviews and job matches all at once.

"We haven't decided yet" what a new placement schedule might look like, Lumsden cautioned. Last December, he promised that the new arrangement won't be entirely "continuous" placement, a prospect that had drawn protests from students.

[Looks almost bucolic] Changes are getting urgent, Lumsden said, as co-op enrolment has now reached close to 11,000. "I think that will bubble up to 12, or 12 and a half, in the next three or four years," he said." At the same time, CECS staff are juggling 3,000 "employer contacts", and that too "may go up a bit -- it probably has to."

The new building (left) will have 102 rooms for interviews (compared to 40 in the existing Needles Hall space). Other features include change-rooms with lockers, a little café, meeting rooms of various sizes, an employer lounge, cubicles for telephone interviews and even a video interview room. There is access from the arts pedestrian tunnel (between South Campus Hall and the Arts Lecture Hall) as well as from outdoors.

"When the space is not being used by us," Lumsden said, "it will be open to the university community, and we're working on how to manage and control that. We need to sort out concerns of accessibility and security, all that sort of stuff."

Ready for a weekend already?

"Unfortunately, students were unable to access their unofficial transcripts on QUEST over the last few days because of a series of problems," writes UW registrar Ken Lavigne. Apparently things started going wrong last Friday and got worse instead of better: "Over the weekend a series of problems started occurring, centered around the generation of transcripts by students. They appeared as time-out errors, as the system simply returning to the requesting page or as a very slow response time. The problems were detected by staff first thing Tuesday morning. Steps were immediately taken to identify the causes. The principal cause was heavier than anticipated load factors relating to transcript requests. Once identified, several procedures were required to correct the problems. These were completed by approximately 9:30 Wednesday morning." He promises: "Student transcript generation will be monitored closely, and an alternative method of displaying student marks for the term on myQUEST will be developed."

I wrote yesterday that Mark Walker, the new staff representative on UW's board of governors, was assistant registrar for engineering. In fact, his portfolio includes science as well as engineering. "I don't want my old friends thinking that I forgot about them," writes Walker, who was formerly a lab demonstrator in the biology department. He was president of the UW staff association in 1996.

The Paintin' Place Cooperative Daycare is holding a garage and bake sale fundraiser from 3 to 6 p.m. today outside its facilities between the towers at UW Place (formerly Married Student Apartments). Hot dogs and refreshments will also be available.

Research money should be in the news again today. It used to be that the annual allotment of grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council -- UW's biggest single source of research funding -- was a quiet business done between bureaucrats, but no longer. A public announcement of this year's NSERC funding is expected today, starring federal cabinet minister Maurizio Bevilacqua.

The Bombshelter pub in the Student Life Centre is running a summer concert series -- every Friday night through the end of July, with a season ticket available at $15. The first concert is tonight, with The Pocket Dwellers.


And . . . here's a note from Gerry Mueller, UW's Anglican chaplain, based at Renison College: "I invite all who are interested to a consultation on future directions for the Anglican Chaplaincy at Renison College, the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, and for St. Bede's Chapel, after the Sunday Chapel Service on Sunday, May 26. Brunch will be provided. How can the Chaplain and the Chapel serve you as a member of the University of Waterloo? How should the worship in St. Bede's Chapel be conducted, both in style and content? How can St. Bede's Chapel attract students from the College and the universities? Should the Chapel, and how can the Chapel, attract worshippers from the surrounding community? . . . If you are unable to be present, I would welcome your comments or suggestions."



May 24, 1989: For the first time, spring convocation stretches over four days to accommodate all the graduates.

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