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Thursday, April 3, 2003

  • More than 40,000 seek to enter UW
  • New chief librarian is named
  • Sierra Leone troupe dances its war
  • The talk of the campus
Chris Redmond

Canadian ringette championships are in town

[In front of blue poster]

Graduate students continue to show off their work at the annual research conference in the Davis Centre. Candace Newman, PhD student in geography, explains her research to master's level student Daniel Unrau. Her poster illustrates attempts to map a coral reef environment and understand the behaviour of light in shallow water. Presentations start at 9:00 again today, and at 12:45 there's a keynote talk by Phelim Boyle of the school of accountancy: "The Formula That Changed Finance". The conference winds up Friday.

More than 40,000 seek to enter UW

UW's admissions office is reporting something it's never seen before -- more than 40,000 applications for September admission in a single year.

"To date," says director of admissions Peter Burroughs, "we have received 32,805 OSS applications, 5,352 non-OSS domestic applications and 1,903 non-OSS international applications for a total of 40,060. This is by far the largest number of applications that we have ever received, and this record will likely stand for many years to come." Last year UW received 26,646 first-year applications and eventually admitted 5,112 students.

With the March 31 deadline for most programs now past, his staff and people in the faculties are processing the applications as fast as they can, getting decisions made, and making offers of admission for next September -- or next January.

"We're working hard to get as many offers out in the next two or three weeks as possible," said Burroughs, estimating that 6,000 offers will be sent out by the end of April. Most of the early offers will be for the science and arts faculties. Students have until June 12 to say yes if they want to come to Waterloo, whether the application comes in April or later.

Burroughs confirmed that "a handful of students", probably about 100, will be admitted to the faculty of math for January 2004 rather than September 2003. Students applying to math have been asked whether they're interested in delayed admission, he said -- they won't be shunted to January unless they said that idea appealed to them.

But some students, especially those who might want to work through the summer and fall to get a financial head start, could find January an appealing choice. They'll be guaranteed residence space if they want it, and might find other UW services less crowded than in the fall term. ("We're trying to smooth out that September bulge," dean of math Alan George told the UW board of governors this week.)

The same admission standards will apply for January as for September, Burroughs stressed.

Students who start their 1A term in January will find themselves on campus three terms in a row, as they'll be in 1B in the spring of 2004 and will catch up with September arrivals when they start 2A in September 2004.


New chief librarian is named

Mark Haslett (right), who has held the number two position in UW's libraries for the past seven years, has been named to the top job there, University Librarian, effective May 1.

He'll take over from Murray Shepherd, who is retiring after thirty years as university librarian.

A memo from Gary Waller, associate provost (academic and student affairs), announces Haslett's appointment, and notes that the choice "was helped considerably by an advisory committee that included representatives of faculty, students, librarians and other staff, and the affiliated colleges and universities. The committee was an integral part of all aspects of a national search, assisted by a search firm. I thank the committee and the external consultants for their advice and assistance.

"This is an important appointment, and we are fortunate to have a person of Mark's qualities to take on the role of University Librarian. I'm sure that all members of the University community will join me in welcoming him to this new position and will offer him full support and encouragement."

Waller's memo also gives some background on the new chief librarian:

"Mark has been the Associate Librarian, Information Services and Systems, at the University of Waterloo since August 1996. During this period he has led and facilitated many innovative initiatives, the most visible perhaps being the TRELLIS Project. He has provided strong leadership on numerous internal and external committees charged with strategic planning and direction setting, and has represented the university at meetings of many groups, including the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL). In 1999 Mark attended the first Harvard Leadership Institute for senior library leaders and in 2001 participated in the Senior University Administrators Course (SUAC).

"Mark came to UW from the McMaster University Library where he was Systems Manager and Acquisitions Librarian. He brings to the position of University Librarian a broad range of experience in all areas of academic research libraries. Mark is active in the local arts and education communities, currently chairing the Waterloo Collegiate Institute (WCI) School Council and singing in a local chamber choir, the Renaissance Singers."

What's happening today

"Mission: Possible!" today is aimed at students who might be thinking that finding a co-op job isn't very possible. The all-day event offers "presentations and workshops providing job-finding support and advice", and starts with a gathering at 9:30 a.m. in Arts Lecture Hall room 116. Workshops will be offered on job search strategies, and field coordinators will be in their offices for individual consultation.

The Muslim Student Association and other groups are offering an opportunity today to show support for world peace Students are invited to a two-minute moment of silence, prayer and reflection for world peace, starting at 12 noon in the great hall of the Student Life Centre. Students can pick up a wrist band that symbolizes their support for world peace at the Iraq Information booth in the SLC, and are encouraged to bring these bands to today's event.

The Political Science Student Association presents "International Youth Leadership Experience and Future Opportunities" at 12 noon in Humanities room 373. Fourth-year student Laszlo Sarkany will speak about his academic and cultural experiences at the international relations conference he attended in January in Prague, Czech Republic. The presentation will also offer information about further opportunities at this conference and elsewhere.

And . . . the Waterstreet Blues Band, which has a new CD ("Another Life") now available, will play at the Graduate House tonight starting at 8:30. There's no cover charge.

Tomorrow: Rene Vandenboom of the University of Michigan speaks on "Myofibrillar Regulation in Skeletal Muscle", 1 p.m. in the Clarica Auditorium.

Sierra Leone troupe dances its war

Sierra Leone's pre-eminent theatre-dance group, the Freetong Players, will perform in the Great Hall at Conrad Grebel University College tonight at 8:00.

Called "Rising From Our Ashes", the performance tells the story of Sierra Leone's tragic civil war of the past ten years and shares a vision for renewal through theatre, storytelling and traditional dance, drumming and singing.

Through February and March, the Freetong Players have been giving performances to more than 70 schools and communities from Ottawa to Etobicoke. Conrad Grebel is the last stopover before their grand finale in Toronto and return to Sierra Leone on April 10.

Cosponsored by Project Ploughshares, the Waterloo Public Interest Research Group and the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies at Grebel, the event is "entertaining in nature but has been produced to emotionally and intellectually engage the audience," said Cameron Douglas, project director for WUOMI, the Sierra Leone Global Education Partnership Project. It's funded by the government of Canada through the Canadian International Development Agency.

Douglas added, "For most of the past decade, Canada has been ranked at the top of the United Nations Human Development Index, while Sierra Leone has remained dead last. The day to day life for the average Sierra Leonean is lost on all but a few Canadians. The community performances by the Freetong Players will heighten awareness in Canada about the plight of Sierra Leone, and will encourage support for new partnership opportunities between Canada and Sierra Leone. In the case of the school performances, they act as a catalyst to create school partnerships (twinning) between Ontario and Sierra Leone classrooms."

The performance by the Freetong Players will be preceded by a screening of the 23-minute WUOMI Documentary "Let Children Be Children".

Tickets are available at the WPIRG office in the Student Life Centre at $10 (students $5).

The talk of the campus

By far the most-talked-about occurrence on campus yesterday was the shutdown of washrooms in the Math and Computer building for part of the day, the result of sabotage or maybe a prank. (Police had, as they say, nothing to go on.) Apparently someone booby-trapped at least one toilet with a low-tech explosive, nitrogen triiodide, and a considerable bang ensued. Washrooms were closed throughout the building for a careful emergency cleaning job.

And speaking of sabotage, the engineering computing facility was victimized over the weekend, as three primary Unix servers were hacked into, making mail and web service inactive until replacement machines were brought on line. "The hacked machinery was due to be replaced with newer, more powerful hardware that we were already in the process of configuring, but we had hoped to make the changeover in a less sudden, and considerably more graceful manner," writes Paul McKone, one of the people whose weekend was interrupted by the problem. His colleague Bruce Campbell notes that "the attacker gained root privileges and had installed, or was in the process of installing, a rootkit and backdoor," all of which suggests that some long-term misuse of the machines was planned. The story is told more fully on the department's web site.

In other matters, the board of governors had a discussion of the double cohort at its Tuesday afternoon meeting, and questions were asked about where all those extra students UW is expecting are going to sleep. UW expects to have no difficulty finding residence rooms for all the first-year students who want them, said Bud Walker, director of business operations. "If we overshoot," he added, "more of the upper-year students will be spread far and wide in the city," and since there are currently "several hundred vacancies in the community", that shouldn't be a problem. Well, he was pressed, what if the first-year numbers swell to the point that the residences just won't hold them? The board was told that there's a backup plan to turn some single rooms into doubles if things get that bad.

UW's campus got a little smaller the other day, and probably nobody noticed. The university has sold a parcel of land, some 107 square metres, to the city of Waterloo for $1. The land is in front of 195 Columbia Street (the "B. F. Goodrich building") and is needed for street widening. In another $1 transaction, UW has given the city an easement along the east side of the campus, from Columbia Street south to Seagram Drive, to build a sewer line.

The next English Language Proficiency Examination will be held tomorrow, Friday, at 7:00 in the Physical Activities Complex. Says Ann Barrett, manager of the English proficiency program: "This is the last opportunity for procrastinators to write the exam before graduation in June. The exam takes only fifty minutes, so it's not too much time to give up to take care of the requirement. Most of the faculties have tightened up their rules, so many students are not able to register for classes until the ELPE milestone is met. Students should bring their wits and WatCards."

A correction, finally: Eric Demaine, master of mathematical origami, holder of a UW PhD and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is not 21 years old, as I wrote yesterday. A keen reader points out that, having been born February 28, 1981, he is now 22.


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