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Thursday, May 30, 2002

  • Two psychologists honoured today
  • Review paints portrait of fine arts
  • Fellowships for 13 PhD students
  • And a few other notes
Chris Redmond

Women outnumber men by 20 per cent

Two psychologists honoured today

Two faculty members in UW's department of psychology will be honoured today as the Canadian Psychological Association holds its annual meeting in Vancouver.

Richard Steffy is the 2002 recipient of the CPA award for "distinguished contributions to education and training of psychology in Canada", and Christine Purdon is among the recipients of the President's New Researcher Award, which "recognizes the exceptional quality of the work of new researchers in psychology in Canada".

The awards will be presented during a "welcoming ceremony" at 9:00 this morning -- noon, Waterloo time -- in the auditorium of the Student Union Building at the University of British Columbia.

Purdon completed her PhD in clinical psychology at the University of New Brunswick in 1997. Her primary appointment is in UW's psych department, but she also recently obtained a faculty appointment in the department of psychiatry and behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster University. While a student at UNB, she worked with David A. Clark, a leading Canadian expert on cognition perspectives, regarding the etiology and treatment of anxiety and depression. During this time, she began a research program investigating the role of thought suppression in maintaining obsessive thoughts. "Purdon's research," says a CPA announcement, "has had a noticeable impact on researchers from around the world working in the area of cognition and obsessive-compulsive disorder."

For this award, Purdon presented a paper entitled "Appraisal of Obsessional Thought Recurrences: Impact on Anxiety and Mood State", published in 2001 in Behavior Therapy.

Steffy is described as a founding father of UW's internationally known clinical psychology program and has had "a profound impact" on the program and on graduates for the past 34 years. Purdon, who has worked with him as a junior faculty member, says Steffy "has high expectations of his students and consistently challenges them when their logic is unclear or their course of action is unsupported by empirical work. He has also been an excellent role model for the junior faculty in our division."

Retirement party

A retirement party for Dick Steffy will be held next Friday, June 7, with a reception at 4:30 and dinner at 6:30 at the University Club. RSVPs (and cheques for dinner) go to Kathy Blom in the psych department, phone ext. 5099.
A faculty member since 1967, Steffy is retiring at the end of this year. He completed his PhD in 1963 at the University of Illinois. Steffy also runs the Waterloo Psychological, Educational and Neurological Assessment Service, which offers comprehensive assessment for children with learning difficulties, and is consultant psychologist for the Correctional Services of the province of Ontario since 1987.

Review paints portrait of fine arts

[White plaster head]

"Stalk Broker", 65-centimetre clay sculpture by Heung Lee, from this year's exhibition of fourth-year student work

Like many other academic units, the fine arts department needs more people, an academic program review has found. But some of its needs are specific to its location and its field of study: better signs for the out-of-the-way East Campus Hall, for example, and better ventilation for young artists working with dangerous substances.

The review team reported that while fine arts is a small department, it offers "a quality educational experience for students", and observed that students regarded the program with "considerable pride" and believed they were getting a good education from "extremely accomplished and highly committed faculty and staff members".

The review for fine arts was one of four that were recently presented to UW's senate.

"Fine Arts," the report reminds readers, "offers general and honours undergraduate programs in studio art, art history, and film studies, in both regular and co-op form, as well as a small graduate (MFA) program in studio art. Most of the faculty, students and resources are focused on studio art, especially drawing and painting. The department offers the only university-based program in ceramic sculpture in Ontario, and is only one of four in Canada.

"The department is small (7 full-time faculty in fall 2000, one half-time appointment, and four cross-appointed faculty. A new faculty member was added in January 2001, through funding provided by ATOP). The average teaching load for full-time faculty is 6 courses each academic year, with graduate supervision extra. Professional sessionals (i.e., practicing professional artists) teach single courses on a part-time basis. Visiting artists and scholars are a regular part of the program, with an average of 12 visitors a year."

The review gives a quick inventory of what goes on in fine arts: three galleries with about 16 exhibitions each year; a teaching collection of almost 60,000 art slides; a permanent collection of a thousand artworks; a sale of student and faculty work each year; an annual trip to New York to see galleries and studios; and several overseas links.

"Service teaching is very important," it says, "but is confined mainly to first year due to the constraints on studio space and number of faculty. Students are regularly turned away from such courses."

A new faculty member was hired last year "to develop courses in digital art," it says, "and a companion appointment was expected in Computer Science. In the winter term 2002, Fine Arts has advertised for a Canada Research Chair in a related area: Canadian Centre in Arts and Technology. The main home for the Chair will be in Drama and Communication Studies, but the focus will be on the content of technology, including a major effort related to digitization, an aspect highly relevant to Fine Arts."

Fine arts graduates, it goes on, "are regularly accepted into very selective graduate programs across Canada and elsewhere, and many work as artists, teachers, designers and animators. In addition to their cultural achievements, the Dean of Arts has verified that the employment rate for Fine Arts students is usually 100%. . . . Faculty members show their work in nationally and internationally recognized galleries, are represented in major collections, and their work is often reviewed in major journals. "

The range of offerings provided in the program was viewed by the review team as possible "only by the dedication and extra effort of the faculty."

Some improvements are certainly needed, the report to senate says, although "most of these reflect university-wide funding cutbacks. The number of full-time faculty has declined since a 1985 review, while teaching activity has increased. Class sizes have become larger, and are above what is considered appropriate in North American universities for Fine Arts classes. . . . No courses are offered in the spring term; these were discontinued in the early 1990's due to financial cuts."

There are several recommendations about the the curriculum: more sculpture; expand the "drawing component" of the program into all undergraduate years; reassess film studies; "re-articulate the role of photography in the program". Other recommendations have to do with smaller class sizes, more studio space and computer labs, and expansion of the slide library. The review also calls for a health and safety audit and for better ventilation in the art studios.

It says the arts faculty should review its funding formula "to recognize different needs and capabilities for absorbing students in lecture- and studio-based programs". But the report to senate notes that fine arts has made some curriculum adjustments already, "with reference to the review team's recommendations, and the realization that there is unlikely to be increase of funding for teaching Fine Arts courses in the near term".

Fellowships for 13 PhD students

Eleven students in the arts faculty and two in applied health sciences have won doctoral fellowships for the coming year from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the dean of graduate studies said in a memo yesterday.

That's the same number of fellowship winners that UW had in the 2001-02 year.

A total of 33 students from 17 UW departments applied for the fellowships. The winners include five from psychology (John Lee, Christie Little, Lena Quilty, Julie Smith and Catherine Spielmacher), two from English (Veronica Austen and Whitney Hoth), two from sociology (Tara Dunphy and Jennifer Schulenberg), one from kinesiology (Christopher Shields) and one from recreation and leisure studies (Elizabeth Halpenny).

The dean also said SSHRC has awarded three post-doctoral fellowships to UW for the coming year. The winners: James Allard in English, Derek Armitage in geography, and David Doloreux in planning.

And a few other notes

First of all -- that changeover for the central web server, scheduled for early morning today, didn't happen after all. "It pains me to say this, but part of our extensive testing has revealed a problem on the new machine," says Brian Cameron of information systems and technology. "The switch has been put off until the problem has been resolved -- most likely one morning next week."

The Record says on its front page this morning that UW history professor John English, already well known as the biographer of Lester Pearson, has been commissioned to write a biography of Pearson's successor as prime minister of Canada, Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

The senate research council will meet at 1:30 this afternoon in Needles Hall room 3004.

The University Club is offering a "Tex-Mex fiesta" from 4:30 to 7:30 today, with such entrees as blue cornmeal crusted chicken and baked catfish with antojitos. Reservations: ext. 3801.

And . . . "It is time once again for the Commuter Challenge," writes Patti Cook, UW's waste management coordinator. She's working on a challenge between UW and Wilfrid Laurier University: which institution can get a larger percentage of its people walking, biking or busing during commuter challenge days, June 4 to 6? I'll say more about this project tomorrow.



May 30, 1970: "Science and technology are no longer neutral," says Doug Wright, former dean of engineering, as he addresses a UW convocation and draws attention to the new public demand for environmental protection.

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