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Thursday, December 16, 2004

  • Report notes $71 million in givings
  • Research chair studies vision care
  • Notes for the current millennium
Editor:
Chris Redmond
credmond@uwaterloo.ca

Philosopher George Santayana born 1863


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  • Report notes $71 million in givings

    A total of 22,216 individuals and organizations made financial contributions to UW in 2003-04, says the annual donor report issued by the development office and distributed with the fall issue of the UW Magazine to alumni and friends.

    Their gifts added up to $71,237,306, the report says, with more than half the total, some $41 million, coming from 15,000 "alumni and honorary alumni". Corporations gave not quite $18 million, and the rest came from faculty, staff and retirees; foundations; friends; local governments; parents; and students and student groups.

    The total is far in advance of the previous year's figure, thanks to some big gifts including the first installment of a massive contribution for quantum computing from UW chancellor Mike Lazaridis and his wife, Ophelia.

    While some of the money was spent immediately -- on scholarships, buildings and other projects -- some of it went to swell the university's endowment funds, which will provide income over the years. By April 30, 2004, total endowment funds had reached $92 million, up from $80 million a year earlier.

    "Thanks to the many donors and friends of the University," the report goes on, "we are continuing to build long-term resources for student financial assistance. In 2003-04, Waterloo distributed over $27.7 million in scholarships and bursaries."

    The report highlights some of the other things for which UW was given money during the year -- the architecture library, athletics awards, completion of the Centre for Environmental and Information Technology, and an Alzheimer's disease web site, among others. (I'll be highlighting some of the articles from the donor report in the Daily Bulletin over the coming days.)

    "We publicly launched Campaign Waterloo in March, 2003," president David Johnston writes in the report, "and with the help of our generous donors and enthusiastic volunteers, Campaign Waterloo continues to move steadily toward its $260 million goal."

    [Adjusting patient's head]

    Research chair studies [Eyes] vision care -- from the research office's Showcase web site

    Elizabeth Irving of the school of optometry (right, with a patient) is researching ways to help prevent eye and vision problems with a potential long-term benefit of making improvements in vision care. The holder of the Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Vision Science, Irving studies refractive and eye movement development, in particular with regards to the prevention or reversal of myopia, or nearsightedness.

    Estimates show that myopia affects 30 per cent of the North American population and up to 90 per cent in Asia, making it a major health issue with reported increases in the prevalence and severity of high myopia. In developed countries, it is a leading cause of legal blindness and billions of dollars are spent annually on its treatment and on associated conditions, such as retinal detachment.

    Irving's research in eye movements covers all age groups, but deals primarily with children. New non-invasive, video-based eye tracking means that children's eye movements can be studied in a systematic way. This is helping to determine the extent to which movement problems are either related to reading and other learning difficulties or indicate neurological problems.

    Measurements of eye movements are made using a video system, the El-Mar Eye Tracker. A head set containing a pair of miniature TV cameras is worn. The position of the centre of the pupil and the reflection of the first Purkinje image are used to determine eye position.

    Her research interests are in the natural development of the eye and visual system and the capacity for adaptation of the eye and visual system to environmental influences. These environmental influences may occur as a result of daily living, disease or the treatment of disease.

    The chair funding and associated financial commitments have enabled Irving to attract highly skilled graduate students and post-doctoral fellows to assist with myopia and eye-movement research. Grad students and post-docs who have a background in vision science usually are graduates of professional programs, such as optometry or ophthalmology, and as such their earning potential is significantly higher than those from non-professional programs. Therefore, in order to attract them one has to offer higher stipends. Two of the graduate students are optometrists from India and there's an optometrist from Iran and an ophthalmologist from China.

    Irving is also an affiliated scientist of the Applied and Interventional Research Division of the Toronto Western Hospital Research Institute (Vision Science Research Program) and an adjunct assistant professor with the department of ophthalmology at the University of Toronto.

    WHEN AND WHERE
    Christmas reception and dinner at St. Jerome's University for invited guests from the university and colleges, 6 p.m.

    'The Business of Writing' free public panel, including UW-based writers, 7 p.m., Waterloo Public Library.

    Winter term fees due Friday by cheque or December 30 by bank payment, details online.

    'Sharing the Bayeux Tapestry', hosted by retired faculty member Ray Dugan, who embroidered a replica of the tapestry, Friday 7 p.m., St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church, Kitchener.

    Waterloo Siskins hockey (Teddy Bear Toss charity game), outing by UW Recreation Committee, Friday 7:30, Waterloo Recreation Centre, information online.

    Da Capo Choir, based at Conrad Grebel University College, Christmas concert Friday 8 p.m., Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church, tickets $15, students $10.

    'A-Z Dining Experience' organized by UW Recreation Committee hits B with Brubacher's Grill House, Sunday 5 p.m., information online.

    Notes for the current millennium

    It seems to be a given, among people who have worked in universities for eons, that the current generation of students is identifiably different from the one that came before. The label in use is the "millennials". Tomorrow morning, some of UW's information technology staff will get to hear more, as the weekly IST professional development seminar is given over to a session on "Meet the Millennials!" given by Julie Hummel and Julie Kalbfleisch of the marketing and undergraduate recruitment office. A preview of the session says current students are "smart, technology dependent, confident team players who plan to change the world for the better -- and just might be the group to do it. Join us as we discuss this group, exploring how they are different from previous generations, and what they need from the adults around them to grow to their full potential. Learn how we can support them as they use technology as an essential tool to help them achieve their potential as individuals and as a generation."

    The latest issue of the engineering faculty's e-newsletter announces that engineering dean Adel Sedra has created a task force on staff issues. It quotes a memo from the dean: "As part of the Faculty of Engineering Vision 2010 Planning Exercise I have established a task force to carry out a review of staff issues within the Faculty. The scope of the review will include, for example, quality of work environment, career paths, job satisfaction and job classifications. . . . The task force will initially focus on determining issues and collecting the views and opinions of staff and faculty. However, at any point in time you are welcome to make your views known to members of the task force or the Chair, either verbally or in writing. Staff will plan an important role in our goal to improve the Faculty's standing within Canada and North America. I urge you to take advantage of this opportunity to provide input into the matters that affect staff and thereby help make our Faculty better." The group will be chaired by Bill Pudifin, assistant to the dean.

    Four students who are working towards the Certificate in University Teaching will give presentations tomorrow about their research. The session starts at 9 a.m. in Math and Computer room 5158. Tomorrow's presenters are Majid Ghargi ("Problem Based Learning in an Engineering Environment: An Active Learning Scheme"); Vivian Dayeh ("Use of Computer Simulated Laboratories in Biology: Virtual Reality or Virtual Fantasy?"); Nora Doerr-MacEwen ("Debate: An Interactive Learning Tool for the University Classroom"); and Walid El-Khattam ("Problem Solving Skills for Undergraduate Engineering Students").

    The news site 'uwstudent.org' reports this week that the Federation of Students has called a referendum on an undergraduate student dental plan. The vote would come at the same time as the Federation's annual elections in early February. Students' council agreed to hold the vote on a proposed plan "that would cost $34.25 per term and would allow anyone to opt out", the site says. Graduate students recently voted in favour of a dental plan for that group.

    Grades from the recent English Language Proficiency Exam are ready and are posted in undergraduate offices and at the writing centre in the PAS building. . . . After being closed for renovations, the Davis Copy Centre (Davis Centre room 1820B) is now open for business again. . . . Artwork being offered for sale to benefit CKMS radio continues on display through December at the Jane Bond Cafe in central Waterloo. . . .

    CAR


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