[University of Waterloo]


Past days


About the DB

Monday, November 8, 2004

  • 'Best overall' in Maclean's rankings
  • Staff association names next leader
  • Students working at United Way
  • Wallin speaks, and other notes
Chris Redmond

National Seniors Safety Week

Programmers ready for the world

Waterloo's "Black" and "Gold" teams took first and second place in the ACM East Central North American Region Programming Contest on Saturday in Oakville -- which means a UW team will be in the ACM worldwide championships when they're held in Shanghai in April.

Says coach Gordon Cormack: "Black started quickly, solving the first problem in ten minutes. Black swapped the early lead briefly with Gold, but retook the the lead by solving its third problem at the 25-minute mark, and went on to solve all 8 problems in 3 hours, 24 minutes. No other team solved all the problems. Gold was the only team to solve 7 problems. Third and fourth places went to the University of Michigan; fifth and sixth to Carnegie Mellon; seventh and eighth to Toronto."

The students of Waterloo Black -- Ralph Furmaniak (2A pure math), Matei Zaharia (2A computer science) and David Narum (2nd year math exchange) -- will advance to the finals in Shanghai, the 13th consecutive Waterloo team to compete at the world level.

'Best overall' in Maclean's rankings

It's pride today and pizza tomorrow, as UW celebrates its ranking as "best overall" university in reputation in Canada, in Maclean's magazine's annual universities issue.

As well as being #1 in reputation nationally, Waterloo was named number one "comprehensive university" in the country, and also captured "most innovative" in the reputation survey. Rankings were announced yesterday, and the magazine will hit newsstands across Canada today.

Waterloo also captured a number of other firsts. It swept all the reputation categories -- #1 Highest Quality, #1 Leaders of Tomorrow, #1 Most Innovative, and #1 Best Overall -- among comprehensive universities.

"The University of Waterloo community is absolutely delighted with this wonderful news," said president David Johnston in a statement yesterday.

UW had slipped out of the "best overall" winner's circle last year, after a decade of top rankings in that key category. Now it's back.

The achievement is the occasion for a party: students, faculty and staff are invited for a pizza lunch tomorrow (Tuesday) from 12 noon to 1 p.m. in the Davis Centre great hall. E-mail invitations to the event will go to faculty and staff members this morning on behalf of the president.

"This is really a testimony to our people -- our students, faculty, staff and alumni around the world," says Johnston. "We couldn't be more proud of them."

Amit Chakma, vice-president (academic) and provost, said the rankings reinforce the university's strategy of recruiting and admitting the highest quality students -- undergraduate and graduate -- and recruiting splendid faculty members. "Waterloo has been working very hard the last few years to strengthen its faculty ranks, bringing in bright young professors who are leaders in their areas of research. If you bring the very best they become a magnet and draw others with similar aspirations," said Chakma.

Waterloo also captured top place in several other individual categories in the Maclean's rankings. Waterloo placed first in seven individual measures: student retention, student awards, classes taught by tenured faculty, awards per full-time faculty, acquisitions, alumni support and reputational survey.

The reputation rankings are arrived at by surveying thousands of people across Canada, including high school guidance counselors and principals from every province and territory, chief executive officers and recruiters of companies, heads of organizations and university officials.

Guelph was ranked second among "comprehensive" universities. Top "medical-doctoral" university across the country was Toronto (its 11th year in that spot), and top "undergraduate" institution was St. Francis Xavier (its third year).

Staff association names next leader

[Markan] The staff association, which had feared it might be leaderless by next spring, has announced the appointment of a president-elect: Stephen Markan (left) of the information systems and technology department.

Markan was already a member of the association's executive, where he has been a director for two and a half years. He'll now serve as president-elect for the rest of 2004-05, becoming president for 2005-06.

No one ran for president-elect in the group's elections last spring, and last month the association called two general meetings of staff to discuss how to proceed. A call was then issued for applications for the president-elect post, and the association executive made the decision.

"The Executive is confident that with the continuity and experience he brings to the position, Stephen will serve staff well as President for 2005-06," said last week's announcement. It noted that Markan has served a term as staff representative on the UW board of governors (1999-2002) as well as being involved in various other ways.

"We are also pleased to announce," it said, "that Angela Googh (IST) will join the SAEC as a Director, filling the position vacated by Stephen Markan." The Executive looks forward to working with both Stephen and Angela in their new roles. Both appointments are effective immediately." Avril McVicar of the distance and continuing education office is the president for 2004-05.

Markan said Friday that he had been "overwhelmed" by the supportive messages he'd been receiving since association members were told of the appointment by e-mail.

Says a message from the new president-elect: "I have been trying to speak up on behalf of staff for many years now, and through the various levels of interaction available for staff to voice their needs, desires and concerns. . . . I had thought that it was time I stepped aside and let others carry on the dialogue of needs and changes while I re-charged my batteries. And then, as the SA kept looking for a President-elect, as the SA went through the process of getting staff feedback on what was needed and wanted from the SA, and as the diverse and passionate voices of staff joined together on what was wanted, I felt re-energized. I knew there was work I still had to do."

He goes on: "Waterloo has been a wonderful place for me to work. I have had the luck and grace to have had the best of managers and supervisors at UW. People that have acted not only as bosses but also as mentors and friends. People that have managed not through coercion, but through respect and civility. Not every staff member at UW has been so fortunate. If there is nothing else that I can do, I want to bring to light those few dark forgotten corners where staff are feeling bullied and stressed.

"All staff at UW should feel they are a respected and valued part of what makes the University of Waterloo one of Canada's top universities. UW staff have been the alchemical lodestone that have wrought golden reality out of academic dreams of innovation. UW has always been a good place to work, now let's make it better."

[In front of United Way logo]

Students working at United Way -- by Esther Chen, co-op education and career services

This fall's United Way campaign on behalf of local charities and agencies is edging towards its $5.3 million goal with the help of two UW co-op students, pictured at right: Tara Keogh (third year social development studies) and Chris Fanaberia (third year science and business). They're working for the United Way of Kitchener-Waterloo as members of the "Loaned Representative Team".

Loaned Representatives are employees who are donated to United Way by an organization for the duration of the annual campaign, or hired by the United Way with costs paid through sponsorship from a local area organization.

UW's own campaign

The on-campus United Way campaign, aiming to raise $165,000 from faculty, staff and retirees, was at 92.5 per cent of its goal by the middle of last week, organizers reported. "I'm sure we'll reach the 100 per cent mark before November 12, the official reporting day," said office manager Donella D'Souza.

The United Way supports such agencies as Focus for Ethnic Women, The Working Centre and the AIDS Committee, as part of its "Building Inclusive Neighbourhoods and Communities" theme.

Winner of the "day off with pay" or University Club gift certificate was retired librarian Betty Lanktree -- guess which option she'll be choosing?

It's the first time that co-op students have ever been Loaned Reps at United Way of K-W, and campaign director Penny Rolinski says she and her colleagues are "very, very pleased" with the way it has worked out.

The students are pleased too. "Every day is a different co-op experience," says Keogh, as they have had the opportunity to work side by side with seasoned professionals and interact with different CEOs and organizations during the campaign. Fanaberia agrees that it has been a very rewarding experience, allowing them to "give back to the community" and "become more knowledgeable about the agencies in the area."

Their enthusiasm and positive attitude have greatly helped in a position that involves heavy responsibility. The two students have found themselves giving presentations to as many as 500 people at once and managing, on average, 40 to 50 individual accounts as various employers (including UW) hold their United Way campaigns.

There's nothing new about UW students hoping to work in the humanitarian field, but there is often insufficient funding in these organizations to create co-op positions. Arrangements for the two United Way jobs this year involved UW's development office, the co-op department, the United Way, and a generous contribution from Steve and Eve Menich, private donors who stated in a letter of support that, "the vision shared by UW and United Way adds meaning to community service that is a cornerstone of our democratic society and culture."

Part of the vision, they say, is that this pilot project will someday be able to extend to other United Ways in larger cities, allowing more students to help communities across the nation.

Town Planning Day special event: "master planning exercise" for Bleams and Fischer-Hallman area in Kitchener, organized by planning students and school of planning. City presentation followed by group brainstorming, 9 to 11 a.m., Environmental Studies I courtyard, participants welcome, breakfast provided.

International students special session of "Job Search Strategies" career workshop 4:30, Tatham Centre room 1208.

Engineers Without Borders presents Rhoda Howard-Hassmann, Wilfrid Laurier University, "What the West Owes Africa", 7:30, Davis Centre room 1302.

Flu shot clinic for faculty, students and staff Tuesday through Friday, November 9-12, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Student Life Centre.

'Why Culture Matters' lecture by writer and critic Max Wyman, sponsored by UW Centre for Cultural Management, Tuesday 4 p.m. at Perimeter Institute, details online.

Investment Club first information meeting Tuesday 6 p.m., Davis Centre room 1304.

Employee safety orientation one-hour session Wednesday 10 a.m., Davis Centre room 1302, information ext. 5613.

Remembrance Day services Thursday 10:45 a.m. at Renison College chapel (speaker Jean Becker of St. Paul's United College); 10:45 a.m. at Carl Pollock Hall foyer (student speakers from Engineering Society).

Annual trivia challenge at St. Jerome's University, Friday 7:30, tickets $14, call 884-8111 ext. 277.

Wallin speaks, and other notes

[Wallin] Pamela Wallin (left), television personality and former member of UW's board of governors, will give this year's 2004 Visionary Seminar, sponsored by Office for Partnerships for Advanced Skills, Council of Ontario Universities, at noontime today. She's actually speaking at the University of Toronto, but participants at UW can not only hear her but ask questions through interactive videoconference. Her topic is a hot one: "Canada-US Relations: The View from New York," where she is Canada's consul-general. The event runs from 11:30 to 2:00 in Davis Centre room 1301, and includes lunch. Last-minute RSVPs go to ext. 3580. There's also a live webcast.

Sixteen faculty members were promoted from "associate professor" to "professor", the highest of UW's three faculty ranks, as of July 1, says a report to the board of governors. The new full professors are Bob Gibson, environment and resource studies; Michel Gingras, physics; Morton Globus, biology; Vinko Grubisic, Germanic and Slavic; John Hamel, electrical and computer engineering; Penny Haxell, combinatorics and optimization; Ramesh Kumar, economics; Anna Lubiw, computer science; Wayne Oldford, statistics and actuarial science; Mahesh Pandey, civil engineering; Maria Anna Polak, civil engineering; K. Ponnambalam, systems design engineering; Michael Power, biology; David Rudolph, earth sciences; Bruce Taylor, fine arts; and Tony Wirjanto, economics.

Tuesday and Wednesday last week were "Shadow Days" in the faculty of engineering, as Nick Lawler, vice-president (external) of the Engineering Society, explains: "High school students that are interested in studying engineering are invited to shadow a current student for a day. In the morning the students go to lectures and labs, and show the high school students around to the campus hot spots. Some students are also given a tour of the residences. In the afternoon the high school students are given presentations by the co-op department, as well as a presentation by the department they are interested in applying for. This event is run each fall and winter term, and the entire volunteer base is comprised of undergrad engineering students, recruited by the Engineering Society." About 160 high schoolers took part on the first day of the event and 110 the second day.

"The Entrepreneurs' Association is organizing a national conference," writes Kunal Gupta, chair of the project, which has been titled Impact 2004 and given the slogan "Empowering Tomorrow's Leaders". "We are attracting the top 150 entrepreneurial minded students from across the country and bringing them here for a one-day conference November 13. In the evening, we have a banquet which we are inviting the community to attend. At the banquet we will have all of the student delegates, our corporate sponsors, invited guests, media, industry professionals and community members. The highlight of the banquet is our keynote speaker, Frank O'Dea, founder of The Second Cup." There's more about Impact 2004 on the conference web site.

Although Imprint reported Friday that there are three student representatives out of 45 members on the UW board of governors, there are actually five (three undergraduates and two grad students) out of a total membership of 36. . . . Techworx in South Campus Hall is offering "a free gel pen with purchase of $20 or more" all this week. . . . The Early Childhood Education Centre in the PAS building is locked in a struggle with squirrels who eat holes through the wooden shed in the playground, seeing it as a perfect place to store pinecones for winter. . . .


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