[University of Waterloo]


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About the DB

Thursday, April 21, 2005

  • Man of three careers faces the future
  • How co-op has been changing
  • The talk of the campus
Chris Redmond

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Man of three careers faces the future

"I've had three careers here," says Bruce Lumsden (left) as he glances out the window of his last UW office. As director of co-operative education and career services, he's based now on the third floor of the Tatham Centre, the new building that was opened for CECS two years ago and ranks as one of the main achievements of his decade heading the department.

A lot of things have changed since January 1964, when Lumsden was a young English-and-history graduate working for IBM Canada. Looking for a career change, he was interviewed in a spartan engineering lab by Alan Gordon, then the university's registrar. Gordon hired him to do some administrative chores, in a time when the university was expanding by 1,000 students a year or more, and there was what Lumsden now remembers as "a sense of pioneering".

He managed exams and room scheduling at first, and stayed in the registrar's office for 17 years, moving up to be its second-in-command with special responsibility for admissions. In 1981 he was asked to take over Waterloo's "distance and continuing education" office, which provides university courses on audiotapes (and nowadays over the Internet) to thousands of students across Canada. For 13 years he managed that department, before coming to CECS in the fall of 1994.

"Times were starting to boom," he says, remembering that the recession of the early 1990s had just ended as he took over CECS from predecessor Jim Wilson, who had taken early retirement.

Just two years later Lumsden himself had a chance at early retirement, as UW offered one-time buyouts in a major reduction of its payroll, but "I was really engaged" by the co-op experience, he says, and decided to stay on. This spring he'll finally take the plunge into retirement, finishing work June 30.

"There were far more jobs than there were students," he says about 1994. Then came the "dot-com retrenchment" and difficult times for employment. The business climate has altered more than once in the ensuing years, and the co-op program in particular has been buffeted, making many changes to keep up with trends in business expectations and student needs, as well as a shift from a few large companies hiring the bulk of co-op students each term to thousands of small ones hiring just a student at a time.

How co-op has been changing

What else has altered? Lumsden cites growth in the program itself (from about 9,000 co-op students then to almost 12,000 now), elaborate new computer systems, and the "landmark" decision to assign academic credits to Waterloo students' co-op work, emphasizing the close link between the classroom and the job.

Building on that step is the recent introduction of online "professional development" courses for UW engineering students during their work terms (and other students may be doing something similar very soon). "This enhancement activity sharpens those soft skills," he says, "and will greatly make these students more valuable to the employer."

And then there's the construction of the Tatham Centre, "badly needed" towards the end of the 30 years that CECS spent shoehorned into one floor of Needles Hall. "We now have interview rooms that have doors," Lumsden chuckles, "and proper furniture for interviews."

He looks out the window again (his office faces the main campus entrance with the flagpoles) and sees another big advantage of the new building: a visitor parking lot just a few seconds' walk away.

The department and UW's co-op activity are now under review, in a process that has involved comments from student groups, all the faculties, employers, alumni and a high-level team of outside consultants. "I think the review is long overdue," says Lumsden. "We've been at this business for 48 years and we've never had a proper in-depth analysis!" A report and recommendations are expected this summer.

Co-op is "such a common sense idea", he reflects -- "you're putting theory with practice." And Lumsden notes that one of the happiest parts of his job comes when he gets to meet students, whom he calls "just wonderful". He points out that employers have been attracted to involvement with UW "because of the students, who provided that infusion of enthusiasm into the workplace".

While co-op is the larger program operated by CECS, Lumsden stresses that the "career services" section of the department is important too. He boasts that "we're providing some leadership", especially with the highly successful online career development manual, as Canadian universities get more serious about placement and career assistance for their students, whether they're in co-op programs or not.

Lumsden has been involved with an informal "legacy group" of retired and soon-to-be-retired co-op administrators from across North America, a sort of think tank of the business, who will be presenting a major study when the World Association for Co-operative Education meets in Boston in late June. Just a few days later, he'll officially retire, ending his 41 years at Waterloo.

What lies ahead? "Stay healthy . . . keep fit . . . rebuild some relationships . . . maybe take some courses!" Doing some consulting about co-op and career services is not out of the question, he admits.

The talk of the campus

Faculty members should take the time to write to the provincial government about university funding, says the political relations committee of UW's faculty association. It reported briefly to the association's general meeting the other day: "Thanks to the efforts of John North and Ken Westhues, a successful presentation on the Rae Commission was made to Elizabeth Witmer on March 18. The three other local MPPs were also invited but were unable to attend. Unfortunately, the public has not followed up the Rae Report with their MPPs, with the result that politicians are viewing the plight of the universities as unimportant. A letter from each of you to your MPP, stressing the importance of additional funding for the university system, would be of great help in securing more funding or, at least, fewer cutbacks."

Renison College has something new to boast about: two of its students, Dwight Fujita and Michael Connolly, received awards at the 23rd Ontario Japanese Speech Contest last month at the University of Toronto. Says a Renison announcement: "Fujita received the Canon Humour Prize in the Open category for his speech titled 'Urashimataro's Space Ship'. There are no restrictions on the mother tongue of the parents, no limit on the duration of studying of Japanese, and no limit on the length of time spent in Japan in this category. Speeches are required to be 4 minutes in length. Michael Connolly received the Noritake Special Effort Prize in the Advanced category for his speech titled 'It Felt Like I Had Been a Frog in a Well'. The restrictions of this category are: neither parent of the contestant is a native speaker of Japanese and the contestant has not stayed in Japan for more than a total of three years from the age of six."

[Pankratz] Conrad Grebel University College has announced that James Pankratz will be arriving next January 1 to become its academic dean. He takes over from Marlene Epp, who will return to full-time teaching in history and peace and conflict studies. Pankratz (left) is currently academic dean at Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary in Fresno, California, and previously spent 20 years at Concord College in Winnipeg, including nine years as president. He's a PhD graduate of McMaster University, specializing in eastern religions. "It's exciting to have Jim bring his background in graduate theological education to our growing program," says Grebel president Henry Paetkau.

At the recent "Recognition Night" held by UW's campus recreation program, two students received the Jud Whiteside Award, which is given each term to acknowledge "student leaders who have made a significant leadership contribution" to campus rec that term. Winners for the winter 2005 term are Elaine Bonvanie and Darren Giles, who both "worked extremely hard and dedicated countless hours in helping us with the 3-on-3 March Madness Basketball Tournament. From recruiting volunteers, promoting at league games, and helping organize and set up the two-day event, these two individuals helped double the size of the tournament and aided in raising over $2,000 for the Heart and Stroke Foundation."

Germanic and Slavic studies presents James R. Dow, Iowa State University, "Bruno Schweizer's Gesamtgrammatik as a Product of the Kulturkommission", 3:00, Humanities room 373.

IST professional development seminar: Jemmy Hu, technical consultant for Sharcnet, Friday 8:45, Math and Computer room 2009.

Earth Day forum on energy efficiency Friday 11:30, Architecture building, details online.

Robot Racing competition Sunday 1 p.m., CEIT room 1015, details online.

The annual season is about to begin at the Stratford Festival, a 45-minute drive west of Waterloo, and officials have announced "a new program that will make a Stratford theatre trip more affordable for young audiences", including university students. "People between 18 and 29 years of age can become PlayOn members and enjoy world-class theatre at spectacular savings, only $20 a ticket, all season long," Stratford promises. A publicity release shrewdly notes that "Our discount programs have been geared to people who could plan ahead and buy tickets far in advance. Most young people's lives don't allow them the luxury of advance planning." So each week Stratford will be announcing "a new set of eligible performance dates" for the PlayOn tickets. Registration for the PlayOn program is free, online.

Friends and colleagues of Bill Pearson, who was a professor of chemistry and physics from 1969 to 1985, and dean of science 1969-77, are invited "to share Bill stories" on May 24. Pearson died February 23, and it was announced then that there would be a get-together in his memory when better weather arrived. A reception is scheduled for that day from 3 to 5 at the University Club, with a tree-planting beforehand (location to be announced). Those who would like to speak briefly at the event, or are planning to attend, are invited to call Janice Campbell in the chemistry department, ext. 2294 (e-mail jcampbel@uwaterloo.ca).

A note from Carolyn Vincent of the human resources department draws attention to a seminar on "Defining Your Financial Future" on the mornings of May 11 and 12. "The purpose of this workshop," she writes, "is to give participants an opportunity to assess their current financial affairs and develop a plan for managing information and decision-making. Course objectives include: basic personal financial planning, minimize personal tax and improve long-term income flow, knowledge of practical money-saving ideas, different types of investments, the importance of a Will and a Power of Attorney, and knowledge of the UW Pension Plan." Anyone interested in attending can contact her at carolynv@uwaterloo.ca, phone ext. 2078.

Yesterday's Daily Bulletin said winter term marks would start appearing on Quest this Saturday, but in fact the target day is tomorrow. . . . It also said repairs to the railway track on the east side of campus were being done yesterday, but really it's today. . . . The Dana Porter Library will close at 11:00 tonight and the Davis Centre library at midnight, as extended exam-time hours are at an end. . . .

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