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Thursday, April 10, 2003

  • Health services monitors SARS risk
  • UW's manager of first impressions
  • A little bit of a lot of things
Chris Redmond

It's Siblings Day

[Through fisheye, church spire is huge]

Riverside in the old Galt section of Cambridge will be the new home of UW's school of architecture (the old factory building at centre left), whre construction should be starting in June. The school has been using this panoramic photo on its publicity. Architecture director Eric Haldenby also confirmed this week that his school is negotiating with Conestoga College about collaboration in teaching the college's new degree program in architecture: "Project and Facilities Management". "Though their program is approved, we have not decided how great the overlap could be," he said. Haldenby also said there have been two applications for research grants that would link Conestoga with the architecture school. Both are connected to studies of the "built environment" focussed on building performance, life cycle costing, sustainability and healthy environments. "There is great potential" for other cooperation between the college and the architecture school, Haldenby said.

Health services monitors SARS risk

"The risk of contracting SARS remains low," UW's health services department is assuring people in the face of fears and rumours.

And people are responding well, says nurse Linda Brogden. "As occupational health nurse," she says, "I have received many calls from staff and faculty with concerns about transmission and risk in our community. Most people respond favourably to being reassured." She adds that media reports about SARS deaths can sound scary, and "it is welcoming to hear comparisons -- deaths due to flu epidemics, deaths that are smoking-related -- which number in the thousands per year in Ontario alone." By contrast, ten people have died from SARS.

Brogden says that "Generally we are finding our clients coming into health services and the safety office are quite receptive to our questions. Did you know that we have a nurse screening everyone at the door to be sure they have read our signs and are in no way considered at risk for SARS before they are allowed to enter the building?" Similar signs -- please don't come inside if you're in an at-risk category -- are posted at UW's optometry clinic, which is also classed as a health care facility.

Earlier this week health services posted an official statement on the web: "It is important to remember, in Ontario, all SARS patients have had a connection to the initial case at Scarborough General Hospital Grace Division. It is also important to remember that the risk of contracting SARS remains low.

"At this time, UW Health Services continues to monitor all information from the Public Health, the Ministry of Health, Health Canada and the World Health Organization. University of Waterloo's Administration is regularly updated on any new developments."

News came yesterday of the first case of SARS -- Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome -- in Waterloo Region. The patient is a child who recently returned from Guangdong Province, China, which seems to be the origin of the SARS outbreak that's now causing concern in Hong Kong, Toronto and a few other places. The patient is now in Sick Kids hospital in Toronto.

According to Waterloo Region public health, "There are currently no locally hospitalized suspect or probable cases of SARS in area hospitals. Precautions remain in place at all 3 area hospitals to rapidly identify and isolate persons presenting to the hospital who could potentially be ill with symptoms of SARS. Public Health has one person under quarantine monitoring in the Region as a result of possible contact with persons who were ill with SARS in Toronto."

The memo from UW health services says there's no change to the definition of an "at-risk person": someone who has a fever, cough or chest cold and one of three experiences:

Says the memo: "Anyone returning to Canada by flight is asked to monitor their own health. They are not required to self-isolate or self-quarantine. In the unlikely situation that they should fall ill with any of the above symptoms, they are asked to call either their family doctor, Public Health, Telehealth or their nearest Emergency department to discuss their concerns."

UW's manager of first impressions

The person in charge of greeting 60,000 campus visitors each year is Heather MacKenzie, manager of the visitors centre in South Campus Hall and topic of a recent "profile" promoting the Keystone Campaign.

MacKenzie calls herself a "Manager of First Impressions", says the profile, which appeared recently as an unpaid ad in the Gazette. "Heather and her team of 40 Student Ambassadors personally and electronically greet over 60,000 visitors annually -- most of them prospective students -- and it's their goal to exceed visitors' expectations and to recruit high-quality students to UW.

[MacKenzie] "Heather's days are kept busy by managing the Centre and the student ambassador team, co-ordinating on-campus visits, planning special events, and managing student inquiries."

It notes that MacKenzie (left) graduated from UW's history program and is now working on a master's degree: "Her topic is race relations with a focus on preferential admissions to universities and colleges."

She says: "The Visitors Centre is one of the happiest and most exciting places to be on campus. Every day the Centre is full of students -- prospective, applicants, and current students -- who are positive and excited about their futures."

As usual, she was also asked something about why she gives to the Keystone Campaign, which is seeking to raise $4.5 million from staff, faculty and retirees as part of Campaign Waterloo. Her answer: "UW is such a big part of my life and it's had such a positive impact on the person that I have become. I want UW to be a part of my life for a long time and I'd like to do whatever I can to make it a better place, through working here and by donating money. . . .

"I give to the UW Alumni/Visitors Centre Expansion. This project will renovate and reinvent the Visitors Centre so that it can be even more effective in recruiting high-quality students and servicing campus visitors, and so that it can become a more visible place to connect with alumni who are visiting the campus."

[Looks like balsa cage]

This frame will support the Midnight Sun VII solar car, scheduled to race from Chicago to Los Angeles in mid-July as UW's entry in this year's American Solar Challenge. The vehicle is smaller than previous editions of Midnight Sun, just 1.8 metres wide. "It was a great challenge to fight for every thousandth of an inch during the design processes in order to generate adequate room for the driver," Johanna Peters of the Midnight Sun team writes in a recently issued newsletter. Construction material for the frame is extruded thin-wall aluminum tubing. (Front of the car is at top left.)

A little bit of a lot of things

An announcement came yesterday from staff association president Steve Breen: "It is with much regret that the Staff Association announces the resignations of two members from the Executive Committee. Both Nancy O'Neil and Brian Whitfield have served the Staff Association with great dedication and diligence during their terms in office. The Staff Association Executive Committee wishes to thank both these individuals for their time and energy during their time in office. Chris Henderson has assumed the role of Chair of the Social committee, and Andy Newman has assumed the role of Chair of the Pension and Benefits and Compensation committee. Please direct any inquiries regarding these committees to the respective Chair."

A bright green questionnaire was circulated to staff this week by the training and development committee, asking for people's evaluation of courses they have taken and gauging interest in possible future sessions, face-to-face or online. . . . A sidewalk sale outside the bookstore and UW Shop in South Campus Hall continues today. . . .

The Record reported yesterday that "As Waterloo prepares to embark on a year-long study of student lodging houses, enforcement of laws surrounding them will continue. Both the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University have agreed to provide emergency housing for any students removed from unsafe lodgings by bylaw officers, says a report to Waterloo city council."

The final day of this year's graduate student research conference, postponed from last Friday, will be held tomorrow (in the Arts Lecture Hall, not the Davis Centre as originally scheduled). Presentations start at 8:30. The noon-hour keynote address by Keith Hipel of UW's systems design engineering department has been cancelled -- he can't be on campus tomorrow -- but at 11:30 there will be a talk by Fred Fedosoff of Materials and Manufacturing Ontario, about support for graduate research from the Ontario centres of excellence, including his own.

UW will host an event tomorrow morning at 10:00 in South Campus Hall to celebrate "New Opportunities" research grants for 57 UW faculty members from the Canada Foundation for Innovation. CFI president David Strangway is expected to be among the guests.

And Michael Jackson will be on campus tomorrow. Jackson, "an independent consultant" working on the analysis and structure of software development problems, will give a seminar at 10:30 a.m. (Davis Centre room 1302) for the Institute for Computer Research. Title: "Concerns: Separations and Compositions".

Finally, I have this note from actuarial science student Joel Henderson:

I help organize something called the Gardeners' Collective -- it's a group of students mostly who have a plot of ground over on North Campus, by the Columbia Lake Townhouses. There, we grow organic vegetables over the summer months for use by a local humanitarian organization, called Food Not Bombs. Both groups are so-called "action groups" supported by WPIRG. Last year was the garden's first year, and this year we hope to double production. We are having an organizational meeting on the 14th of April, at 11 a.m., in the WPIRG office, located for now in the SLC above Brubakers. Our main hurdle is getting the garden planted in early May, after the ground has been tilled by Plant Operations, so that's when we need people the most. Anyone interested in helping out, or donating tools (new or used) or seeds can contact us by e-mailing gardeners@pirg.uwaterloo.ca.


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