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Friday, June 17, 2005

  • Science convocation this afternoon
  • Math and engineering on Saturday
  • Revised plan for exam conflicts
  • On a campus that never stops
Chris Redmond

UpTown Country Festival | Waterloo 10K Classic

Science convocation this afternoon

[McMahon] Terry McMahon (left)of UW's department of chemistry will be installed as a University Professor -- Waterloo's top academic honour -- at today's session of the Ninetieth Convocation, which starts at 2:00 in the Physical Activities Complex.

McMahon's contributions to gas-phase ion chemistry and thermochemistry "are of the highest calibre", a citation says, "and help define the state of the art in several areas." One referee told the selection committee that McMahon "must be on top of everyone's list of the ideal scientist". He's one of three faculty members chosen this year for the rank of University Professor.

As students from the faculty of science receive their degrees -- including Nada Basir, graduating in biology, who will speak as valedictorian on behalf of her classmates -- there will also be honorary degrees for two distinguished people.

One is Scott Brisbin, who graduated from the College of Optometry of Ontario in 1965, two years before it became UW's optometry school. He recently completed a two-year term as president of the World Council of Optometry, working to expand the WCO's influence and programs, including a newly-created international fellowship program to assist developing countries. The other is Louis Du Pasquier, professor of zoology and immunology at the Basel Institute for Immunology, and past president of the International Society for Developmental and Comparative Immunology. Du Pasquier will give the convocation address.

Two faculty members will be presented with the Distinguished Teacher Award. One is Carey Bissonnette of the chemistry department, noted for "inspiring and challenging" lectures, one-on-one conversations with students, and involvement in high school curriculum and UW's Chem 13 News exams for high school students. The other is Lyndon Jones of the school of optometry, "a superb teacher on the clinic floor" as well as an acknowledged star in the lecture room.

Top-ranking students will be honoured as well, including David Kendel, graduating with a degree in science and business, who receives one of the three Governor General's Silver Medals being given at UW this year. Receiving the alumni gold medal, the other top honour for a BSc graduate, is Andrew Cressman, graduating in physics.

Two students will be presented with President's Circle Awards for Volunteerism -- Nada Basir (biology) and Hyder Al-Attar (biomedical sciences).

Winners of the W. B. Pearson Medal, given at the doctoral level, are Neelakanteswar Aluru (biology), Alexander Blyth (earth sciences), James Harynuk (chemistry) and David Poulin (physics). Winners of the Dean of Science Awards, at the master's level, are Andrzej Inglot (physics), Michael Moncur (earth sciences), Gregory Silsbe (biology), Howard Siu (chemistry), and Kevin van Doorn (optometry).

Math and engineering on Saturday

Saturday morning brings convocation proceedings for mathematics (10 a.m.), and Saturday afternoon for engineering (2 p.m.). Again, high points range from honorary degrees to the triumphs of individual undergraduate students who are leading their classes or winning other honours.

At the morning convocation, honorary degrees will go to two noted researchers. One is Egon Balas, a leader in discrete optimization for more than 40 years; he is the Professor of Operations Research at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and will give the convocation address. The other recipient is Wolfgang Schmidt of the University of Colorado, described as one of the most important figures in the area of diophantine approximation of the last century".

In the afternoon, an honorary degree will go to Basma Shalaby, chief engineer for Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., and another to Irwin Jacobs, chairman of Qualcomm Inc. and a world leader in digital wireless technology. While a faculty member at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1960s, Jacobs co-authored a textbook in digital communications which is still in use today. He will give the convocation address.

[Stewart] Faculty honours are also scheduled at the Saturday convocations. In the morning, Cameron Stewart (left), of the department of pure mathematics, will be installed as the third of this year's University Professors. Stewart is also Canada Research Chair in Number Theory, and has been publishing for three decades on such topics as Fibonacci numbers, prime numbers, and factors of sums of integers. The citation that will be read tomorrow morning describes him as "a recognized world leader in diophantine and analytic number theory".

In the afternoon, Alan Plumtree, retired from the department of mechanical engineering, will be installed as a Distinguished Professor Emeritus. The citation for his award notes his "more than 200 scientific and technical publications", as well as various honours he has received, and adds that he is "co-inventor of the Waterloo Pump, which provides potable water to villages in underdeveloped countries" -- an invention that incidentally helped to make UW famous three decades ago.

Alumni gold medal winners at Saturday's convocation are Vaughn Climenhaga, graduating in applied mathematics, in the morning, and Alice Malisia, systems design engineering, in the afternoon. There's also a Governor General's Silver Medal, one of three being given at UW this year, to be presented in the morning convocation. Representing top standing in an undergraduate program, it goes to Stephen Fung of combinatorics and optimization and computer science.

The valedictorians are Sana'a Hayat (mathematical sciences) and Gregory Powell (environmental engineering, civil).

Among other honours in the morning is the Samuel Eckler Medal for highest standing in actuarial science, to Wendy Yu. In the afternoon, the President's Circle Award for Volunteerism will be presented to Justin Fluit of chemical engineering; the John Fisher Award for Leadership to Laura Mooney of systems design; the Distinguished Teaching by a Registered Student Award to Abdul-Rahim Ahmad of systems design.

Also: the Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering gold medal to Paul Miltenburg; the George Dufault Medal for Excellence in Communication to Jeremy Daniels (mechanical); the Sir Casimir Stanislaus Gzowski Silver Medal, also for communication, to Graham Finch (civil).

Revised plan for exam conflicts

Professors won't be faced with creating two exams for the same course every time a student has a scheduling conflict, under a new procedure from the registrar's office.

UW registrar Ken Lavigne said there was unhappy reaction to an earlier proposal that was circulated after the university senate approved a new four-exams-a-day schedule, which is in use for the first time this term. (Spring exams run August 2 through 13, and the schedule is online now.)

"The University will strive," senate decreed, "to schedule final examinations with no student having two examinations in a row, no student writing in the last period on one day and the first period the next day, no student writing more than two examinations in one day." Where the schedule can't be adjusted to make that possible, "the University shall ensure relief by making alternative scheduling arrangements for that student."

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  • The original plan from the registrar's office and the undergraduate operations committee was to have students with exam conflicts write one of the exams at a later date, possibly the following Sunday. That would have required professors to prepare a second exam, to avoid any perception that somebody knew the exam questions in advance.

    "Based on advice from many of you," Lavigne says in a memo to faculty members, the new plan is that students who have exams too close together will write one of them a little earlier or later on the same day, to provide at least a little breathing space, but overlapping with the regularly scheduled exam. That will happen at "an alternate location" arranged by the registrar's office.

    "Where students are writing the second exam in a pair, they will check into the alternate location no later than the 45 minute mark of the scheduled exam slot. Students will begin writing one hour after their peers. . . . Where students are writing the first exam in a pair, they will check into the alternate location at least one hour and 15 minutes before the scheduled start time. Students will begin writing one hour before their peers."

    Lavigne says some more complicated conflicts "will have to be addressed on a case-by-case basis".

    An e-mail message to students will tell them that they have until July 4 to apply to the registrar's office for "relief" if exams are in conflict or scheduled too close together for comfort. About 200 students are thought to be affected this term.

    Cellnet (Cell-Factory Bioprocessing Research Network) annual general meeting.

    Mayor's Celebration of the Arts tonight 7:30 to 10:30, Architecture building, Cambridge: "performances and exhibits, epicurean delights from local restauranteurs, a variety of musical and performing genres", tickets $20, details online.

    Dinner and wine tasting at Whistle Bear Golf Club, organized by UW Recreation Committee, tonight.

    Summerfest, "Trailer Park Party --the campus event of the summer", Saturday night, Federation Hall.

    Matthews Golf Classic Monday, Grand Valley Golf Club, details online.

    Jim Curtis, department of sociology, informal memorial event "for friends to gather and exchange stories", Tuesday, 4:30 to 6:00, Graduate House.

    On a campus that never stops

    As the International Green Energy Conference winds up, today has been designated as Ontario Fuel Cell Research Network Day. A goal, says Xianguo Li of the mechanical engineering department, is to officially establish an Ontario Fuel Cell Research Network for green-energy initiatives. Representatives from the provincial government will provide an update on fuel cell initiatives and research funding plans during a series of sessions today. Ontario fuel cell industry representatives will speak about anticipated research needs and priorities, and identify requirements needed for the network.

    The winner of this year's J. W. Graham Medal in Computing and Innovation will give a talk this afternoon, before receiving his medal at tomorrow morning's mathematics convocation. Each year the medal, created by the faculty of mathematics, goes to a UW alumnus; it honours J. Wes Graham, the pioneer of computing at Waterloo. This year's 11th annual medal goes to Garth Gibson, a 1983 graduate who is co-founder and chief technology officer of Panasas Inc. as well as a faculty member at Carnegie Mellon University and a prominent figure in developing theory and technology for data storage. Gibson will speak at 2:30 today on "The Path from Physical RAID to Virtual Object Storage", in Davis Centre room 1302. A reception follows.

    An old face is new again at the visitors' centre in South Campus Hall, operated by the marketing and undergraduate recruitment office. Heather Read returned from maternity leave this week to manage the office once more, and acting manager Heather Godelie has her last day today. She's staying on campus, however, moving over to the housing and residences department as a residence life coordinator, starting August 1.

    The dance recital season continues, with performances Sunday afternoon and evening in the Humanities Theatre by the Bojangles studio. Such recitals, held by all the local dance schools to show off the talents of children and young adults, are big business now for Humanities, bringing in a major slice of the year's revenue as well as introducing thousands of community visitors to the Humanities building and parking lot H. Theatre manager Peter Houston says it's not unknown for lineups to build outside the box office three hours before its noon opening, as doting relatives hope for the best seats for a coming recital. And the costumes, the makeup, the enthusiasm of the little dancers -- you have to see it first-hand, by walking through the Humanities lobby while a dance festival is in progress.

    Simone James writes from what used to be known as the purchasing department: "Once again, Procurement and Contract Services is hosting a series of trade shows to help the university community discover the resources available to them through our suppliers. This year we are hosting the show June 20-22 in the Davis Centre fishbowl lounge, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 20 we will be holding a Technology/Communication Day. The IST department will be on hand with Bell World, Rogers Wireless Plus, Corporate Telecom, MRC Wireless and Telus Mobility. The Computer show for faculty and staff will be June 21. Due to the overwhelming success in previous years, we've invited a number of our computer suppliers as well as our own Campus Tech Shop to attend this year's event. We believe with the fast changing technology available with computers, this show will offer something new every time we hold it. Basics Office Supplies will be back by popular demand on June 22, bringing with them a number of their suppliers."

    Co-op students are struggling with rankings for fall term jobs, and have to file their choices online by Sunday night. . . . Some 200 people will be in the Ron Eydt Village conference centre over the weekend for a conference hosted by Waterloo Minor Soccer. . . . The Warrior men's hockey team has added "size down the middle" for the coming season, says coach Karl Taylor, with the recruitment of Kingston-based centre David Edgeworth, who's entering a kinesiology program in the fall. . . .

    And yes, I haven't written about the Campaign Waterloo bus tour that took place Tuesday afternoon, because space hasn't allowed it yet. I'll try for Monday.


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