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Thursday, August 7, 2003

  • Newsletter sounds mosquito alert
  • French prof honours mother with prize
  • And now, the rest of the story
Chris Redmond

Psychologists converge on Toronto

[Blue bug]

Newsletter sounds mosquito alert

A "wellness" article in the summer issue of UW's human resources newsletter offers advice on how to avoid the mosquito-borne West Nile virus, which has been a health concern in Ontario this summer.

"Everyone who is involved in summertime activities such as gardening, golfing, walking or camping," says the online newsletter, "should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites." The information was prepared "with the assistance of UW's Occupational Health Nurse", the newsletter says, and it points readers to the Ontario ministry of health for more information about West Nile.

Among other items in the newsletter's new issue:

  • "Reminder: In the next few months, Human Resources will no longer be printing employee pay advices. Employees can view their pay advice on-line at our secure website."

  • "It is that time of year when you are asked to confirm that your overage dependents are still enrolled in school on a full-time basis for the upcoming September 1, 2003 to August 31, 2004 school year. Human Resources mailed out a memo and overage dependent enrolment form in June to those employees whose children will reach ages of 21-23 during the coming school year. Please ensure you complete the form and return it to Human Resources no later than July 18."

  • "Once a year, members of the UW Pension Plan are entitled to receive information concerning their participation, and most of these statements will be mailed out to your campus address in July. Information includes contributions plus interest and accrued pension to December 31, 2002, as well as projected pension information at age 62, 65 and latest dates if applicable. Members can also check to see if information such as beneficiaries and birthdates is recorded correctly on file. Those members who are nearing retirement are given more specific information on an individual basis as needed. If you have not received your statement by early August or have questions when you receive it, please contact Wanda Speek at Extension 3573 or Linda Bluhm at Extension 2046."

  • "This spring the 2003 Association of Ontario University Human Resources Professionals (AOUHRP) Conference took place in Waterloo. The annual AOUHRP conference was jointly hosted by the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University. From May 7-9, 135 HR professionals participated in interactive team building exercises, roundtable discussions and plenary talks. Attendees were treated to notable and informative guest speakers including: Gary Waller, UW's former associate provost of academic & student affairs; Dr. Linda Duxbury, a Carleton school of business professor; Patsy Marshall, a motivational speaker from Guelph; and lawyers from Hicks Morley, who provided trends and new directions concerning Human Resources and Human Rights. This year's conference theme, Breaking the Mold, focused on providing a opportunity for Human Resources Professionals at Ontario universities to gather and discuss ways to build professional and personal development. The conference was a success and UW's HR department was proud to share the responsibility for hosting the event."


    French prof honours mother with prize

    One of this year's Distinguished Teacher Award winners has decided what he'll do with his prize money, says a profile recently posted on the French department's web site. He's helping to create a yearly award for the student who achieves the best result in the linguistic component of the undergraduate program in French, a prize that will be named for his mother.

    The Margaret A. Ryan Prize will draw on the DTA award received by Robert Ryan (left), as well as contributions from friends and colleagues. Ryan says his mother was a major early influence on him, and "a wonderful teacher. She taught history, geography, math, science and English at the junior high and high school levels, and continually sought new ways to present material with a lot of imagination and a passionate interest in the students. I saw her dedication, and passionate interest in the students she worked with. She also showed me the realities of marking and the time it takes."

    Robert Ryan's affair with French began in his Halifax high school. He had begun studying French in a traditional program, memorizing lists of verbs, nouns and adjectives and continued the program into the next few grades. What got him fired up was a very untraditional teacher, Richard Burns Adams, who showed him what was possible for a unilingual student to accomplish, not only in language competence but in gaining an understanding of French culture, both European and Canadian. Burns Adams insisted that one look inside a culture and be sensitive to the differences within it, emerging with a respect for each part of the whole.

    "Burns Adams was a linguist and a superlative role model, a man of immense integrity and respect for people," Ryan says, in the online profile. "He had a wonderful pedagogical imagination. He invented a whole bag of tricks, neat practical devices for language learning and remembering that really hit the imagination."

    His growing passion for French continued into Dalhousie University, where he met Harry Aitkens. "Aitkens was a phonetician who had an amazing grasp of the sound system," Ryan says. "He used a great program for teaching structure. The students really caught fire." Ryan was among them: after his BA he spent year in Marseilles as an assistant, teaching English at a local high school, and living with a French family from North Africa for the year. Back at Dalhousie, he started his MA, then began teaching English at a French Canadian girls' school in Québec while completing his thesis. The three years he taught there began a long, sustained contact with French Canadian culture. It was during the time of the Quiet Revolution, times of tremendous social and cultural change.

    Ryan's travels had taken him to Aix-en-Provence, and he returned to Aix to begin his PhD. He was immersed in linguistic analysis and began his thesis work on the stylistic content of the Gide translations he had written about for his MA. After three years, he returned to Canada to finish his thesis.

    He began teaching at the Nova Scotia Teachers College in Truro and was once again confronted with a specific cultural aspect of "French culture", the Acadians. He began developing courses to deal with specific Acadian dialectical needs, a program that respected their mother tongue but broadened their abilities in standard French, "grafted on to the Acadian dialect". This growing fascination with Acadian dialect and culture shifted the focus of his PhD to the sound and verb systems of the dialect, a change that would set his thesis back a couple of years. By the time he became "Dr." Ryan, he already had more than 13 years' teaching experience.

    His first reactions to winning UW's Distinguished Teacher Award this spring were pleasure --and surprise. "If you are enthusiastic about it, you know your stuff and you really care about the people in front of you, well, it's not rocket science," he says. "You're a facilitator. I feel very honoured by my students." He credits a long line of fine teachers and role models, among them Burns Adams, the Grey Nuns at the girls' school, and of course, his mother.

    And now, the rest of the story

    An explosion and fire in a laboratory in Chemistry II did about $10,000 damage on Tuesday afternoon. Three chemistry graduate students were at work in the area when a distilling unit containing toluene, a petroleum byproduct, overheated and blew up. No one was hurt; the Waterloo fire department dealt with the fire, and an Ontario fire marshal took away some equipment for investigation. Damage was initially estimated at about $10,000.

    The board of directors of the Waterloo Public Interest Research Group has issued a statement saying that WPIRG "regrets its co-sponsorship" of the controversial June 10 lecture by Norman Finkelstein. His talk about the conflict between Israel and Palestine "was meant to inform and challenge the audience", says WPIRG's statement, but produced "malicious heckling . . . racism . . . a climate of anti-Jewishness . . . inappropriate comments by the lecturer. Thus the outcome of the lecture was in opposition to WPIRG's intended goals. . . . WPIRG is reviewing its volunteer training to ensure adequate coverage of all oppressions, including anti-Jewishness." The statement and other Finkelstein developments have been much discussed on 'uwstudent.org'.

    A group organized by UW's continuing education office was supposed to be heading off this week to Lima, capital of Peru, and "the lands of the Incas". "Unfortunately," writes Dean Perkins of continuing ed, the trip has been "cancelled due to low enrolment". It was to be led by Spanish professor Mariela Gutiérrez and historian Jacques Pauwels, and to include 18 days of visits to spectacular scenery and ancient sites, including Lake Titicaca and Machu Picchu.

    But as one study tour is dropped, another is announced. Jim Reimer of Conrad Grebel University College and Peter Frick of St. Paul's United College plan to lead a trip to Germany, Austria and Poland next spring, pursuing "the life and legacy" of theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, killed in 1945 in a Nazi concentration camp. The trip will leave May 6. A brochure with the details is now available from St. Paul's or Grebel.

    An indication that the fall term is almost here -- as if that were in any doubt -- comes with a news release from Ontario University Athletics announcing plans for televised events in the coming season. "The Score" TV network will carry seven football games, plus the March championship games in men's hockey and men's and women's basketball. The first game will air September 20, by which time the season will be almost three weeks old: things start with five games on Labour Day, September 1, including a visit to Waterloo by Toronto's Varsity Blues.

    The arts undergraduate office will take "its annual advising hiatus" this year from next Monday, August 11, through Friday, August 22. "For these two weeks," a memo notes, "the undergraduate office will be closed. Normal advising and office schedules will resume on Monday, August 25."

    And finally, here's a summary of this week's Positions Available list. (Sorry I didn't receive it in time to include it yesterday.) Three of the jobs listed reflect the recent settlement of the longstanding dispute over the running of UW's student pubs.

    Fuller information is available on the human resources web site.


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