[University of Waterloo]


Past days


About the DB

Friday, March 4, 2005

  • Two more IST years for George
  • It was a team effort, says Johnston
  • Weather, and a Warrior Weekend
Chris Redmond

World Day of Prayer


Two more IST years for George

Alan George will be doing just one of UW's senior jobs, instead of two, when he finishes his last term as dean of mathematics on June 30. The provost announced this week that George will continue with a two-year term in his other position, associate provost (information systems and technology).

"It's been much busier than anyone would want it to be, carrying both portfolios," George said in an interview last week. He has been interim associate provost since July 2003 and dean of math since July 1998 (after earlier terms as dean 1980-86 and as UW's provost 1988-93 and in 2001).

"Over the past 18 months, Alan has provided very strong leadership in the area of information technology in spite of his dual role," said the provost's memo about his new term heading IST. "With this appointment, he will be able to devote his full attention to information technology issues on campus. Guided by the recommendations of the Barnard Review of IT at UW, he will continue to explore ways to provide new and improved IT services to the campus community."

Provost Amit Chakma added: "I am personally grateful to Alan for his longstanding commitment and dedication to UW. . . . President Johnston and I look forward to a continued working relationship with him."

Talking last week about what's happened in the past year and a half, George observed that "a number of good things" have been achieved. He focused immediately on UW-Ace, the "course environment" system that was introduced last spring to provide class lists, student chatrooms and other services for teaching. "That's very satisfying," the associate provost said, "because it's something that supports our core business -- teaching -- and we were somewhat behind in providing such a service."

'Dozens of people' involved in Quest upgrade

A letter from Fred Widall of information systems and technology:

It's always nice to see oneself mentioned in the Daily Bulletin as I was today with regard to the new Quest system.

However, I should point out that this was a huge project involving dozens of people over an extended period, and to single out a few people for praise is not really fair. The impression given is that we few were responsible in a large part for the project, which is totally incorrect.

The project charter was originally drawn up in the fall of 2002, and it's only been due to the dedication and hard work of all the team members since that time that we have managed this successful implementation. As part of the IST technical team its been my great pleasure, and honour, to work over the past few years with an incredible bunch of people who have spent countless, unrewarded hours working towards this goal. I won't embarrass anyone by mentioning names, but the University is indeed fortunate to have such dedicated, hard working, employees.

I would thank all of them for making the past couple of years interesting, challenging, frustrating, annoying, and entertaining. I can't wait to get started on the next upgrade, as long as I continue to work with people such as these.

More recently, he also takes pride in the web site redesign that's in progress, and the introduction of a convenient "toolset" for web page creators.

George sees a growing role for IST in things related to teaching, of which UW-Ace is just one example. "IST hasn't perhaps viewed itself as being involved with it to the extent I think it should," he commented. He'd list instructional development as one of the four central activities of the department, along with infrastructure (such as the campus network), user services (maintenance, software licensing, the help desk) and "enterprise-wide systems" such as Quest and the human resources management system.

"These enterprise-wide systems have to be upgraded periodically," he observed, mentioning the recent change to a new version of the Quest student information system. "Human resources is looking forward to doing one about a year from now," he noted. Of particular concern right now is JobMine, the co-op job system, built on software from PeopleSoft, which has just been acquired by Oracle and could change its corporate direction. "The fate of that tool is of great concern to us," said George. "The other systems are more or less off-the-shelf," but JobMine involved extensive customizing at UW that could be a loss if there are big changes to the underlying PeopleSoft ware.

Another important activity at present, George said, is "a pilot project" towards what he calls "rollover" of desktop computers -- a plan for regular replacement so that people across campus have equipment that's up-to-date and, as much as possible, the same.

"We identified some areas that were in need of a refit," he said, and funds have been set aside for the new computers to be bought by IST rather than by individual departments. "My current thinking," he said, "would be simply to have the budget essentially all in one place. . . . We can have a large number of machines that are all the same, which will make them easier to maintain."

George, a professor of computer science who laments that he's doing "disappointingly little" research these days, says he finds his IST role an interesting change from the job of being a dean. "It's nice to work with people across campus," he commented, noting that the every-two-weeks meetings of the University Committee on Information Systems and Technology brings his mind to "a different set of issues from the ones I run into as dean of math".

It was a team effort, says Johnston -- from the UW media relations office

UW president David Johnston, recipient of a 2005 Business Excellence Award from the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce, says the entire UW community should share in the prestigious award. The award, presented recently at the chamber's annual Gala held in Kitchener, is called the Michael R. Follett Community Leader Award.

More than 650 people attended the event, which brought together business leaders and entrepreneurs, local political leaders and well-known community champions. Sixty nominations were considered for the eight award categories, and the recipients include local leaders such as CKCO TV, Raytheon and The Cora Group.

"All of us know that the success and impact of any complex organization such as a university is the result of powerful teamwork -- creative, imaginative, energetic people passionate about a common cause," Johnston said. "It would be fraudulent for me to accept this award as an individual. I accept it with pride on behalf of the UW team."

[Device looms over group and keyboard]

Quantum researchers pose in front of a Bruker 700 Nuclear Magnetic Resonance device on the first floor of Chemistry II. The machine was made by Bruker BioSpin, a company that has formed a close relationship with UW's Institute for Quantum Computing. Bruker recently made a donation of $32,000 to provide for relocation of the massive machine. "Our collaborative projects are especially gratifying," Bruker executive Henry Stronks said in a letter to Ray Laflamme, director of the IQC.

Bob Harding, chair of UW's board of governors, said: "This award recognizes David's visionary leadership. He is tireless in his efforts to strengthen the University of Waterloo and to advance the cause of higher education in Canada. He is a firm believer in developing and nurturing talent as a means to building prosperous, civic communities, beginning right here in Kitchener-Waterloo."

The award citation said, in part: "The University of Waterloo has had an indelible imprint on our economic and cultural landscape, spinning off high-tech companies and graduates who want to stay for the great quality of life here. As its President and Vice Chancellor since 1999, David L. Johnston has had a similar impact on this community. He is a practical visionary who has the tremendous ability to bring people together and cut through barriers to 'make things happen.' He is a tireless proponent for investing in higher education, convinced of the dividends that accrue to the community and economy that invests in its own brightest future."

The awards recognize chamber members who through their outstanding leadership have contributed to the chamber, to their industries and the communities in which they live and work. The eight award categories included Business Leader of the Year, Small Business Leader of the Year and Community Leader.

"This event is the highlight of the chamber year," said Chamber president Todd Letts. "The Gala salutes the exceptional entrepreneurial and innovative spirit in our region. Our community is fortunate to have both nurtured and attracted businesses that have become local, national and international success stories."

Weather, and a Warrior Weekend

As winter nears its end, how was the weather in February? "It was another mixed bag," writes Frank Seglenieks of the UW weather station, recalling "some warm temperatures in the beginning of the month followed by colder temperatures at the end. These very cold nights led to an odd situation where the average daily high temperatures were higher than normal and the average daily low temperatures were lower than normal. Thus it can be said that we had a larger temperature range than normal, but it is harder to decide whether or not the overall temperature was higher or lower. However as people are more aware of the high temperature of the day rather than the low I think most people thought of it as a slightly warmer February than average." He notes that the month brought "an above average amount of precipitation overall at the weather station, 79.0 mm compared to an average of 51.3 mm. Almost half of it came during the ice/rain/snow storms of February 14 and 15 (16.2 mm and 20.2 mm respectively). The number of days with some precipitation (19) was slightly above the average (14.3)."

A thousand things will be changed after May 1, when the school of architecture moves from the faculty of environmental studies to the faculty of engineering. But, I can report, the convocation schedule isn't among the changes. At least for this year, architecture graduates will receive their degrees at the Wednesday (June 15) ceremony, which is designated for environmental studies, applied health sciences and independent studies. Engineering (the rest of engineering?) gets the Saturday (June 18) afternoon ceremony.

Social work students' conference: "Canada's Response to International Crisis", all day, Waterloo Memorial Recreation Centre.

Quest and Waterloo Inquiry demonstration for staff and faculty: graduate studies, 9:30, Davis Centre room 1304; undergraduate studies, 9:30 in Coutts Hall room 309 or 1:30 in Arts Lecture Hall room 113.

Centre for International Governance Innovation presents Roy Culpeper, president, North-South Institute, on "Human Security, Sustainable and Equitable Development", 12 noon, 57 Erb Street West.

International Skating Day at Columbia Icefield, 2 to 4 p.m. -- Society of International Students members only for the first hour, open to all ($2) from 3 to 4.

'Dance Dance Dance' competition in the Humanities Theatre, today from 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday all day.

'East Coast Night' at the Graduate House: Sandy MacDonald plays Celtic music, seafood, Atlantic atmosphere. Cover $5 for non-members.

Charity casino tonight at Turret pub, Wilfrid Laurier University, fund-raiser for cystic fibrosis research, sponsored by Laurier MBA students, details online.

Craig Cardiff plays the Bombshelter tonight, doors open 9:00.

Waterloo Engineers in Toronto "curling funspiel" Saturday, High Park Club, details online.

DaCapo Chamber Choir concert and Project Ploughshares presentation, Saturday 8 p.m., Centre for International Governance Innovation, 57 Erb Street West, tickets $15 (students $10), 888-6541.

'Advocating for Wellness' health fair sponsored by International Women's Day Committee, Sunday 12 to 4, RIM Park, free.

'Wilde About Sappho': celebration of gay and lesbian writing with readings by Dionne Brand and Sky Gilbert 3 p.m. Sunday followed by gala reception, sponsored by U of Guelph and Lambda Foundation, tickets from U of G drama department, 824-4120 ext. 53147 or Words Worth Books, Waterloo.

Research and technology park presentation by business manager Carol Stewart, Monday 12 noon, Kitchener Public Library main branch.

Certificate in University Teaching research paper presentations, Monday 3 p.m., Math and Computer room 5136, details online.

Pinball Clemons, head coach of Toronto Argonauts, "Youth, Leadership and Community", Monday 7 p.m., Humanities Theatre, tickets at Humanities box office, free for students, others $8.

[Sri Lanka] I have an interesting letter from third-year electrical engineering student Suresh Sriskandarajah: "We are a group of engineering students and alumni from Canada working together to develop engineering curriculum and programs for the disaster stricken coastal regions of Sri Lanka. There is a major shortage of engineering professionals in these regions . . . hampering all the efforts to rebuild the area. . . . We are looking for volunteers to help with developing curriculums, programs, courses, course materials, lab assignments, and to deliver. . . . Professors and graduate students can assist with providing guidance and advice." The project proposal is on the web, and Sriskandarajah says there is involvement from a number of Canadian universities.

Happening this weekend is the fifth annual Hopespring Cancer Support Centre Curling Fundraiser, put together by the Earth Sciences Alumni Corporate Challenge group -- a small group of earth sciences alumni, largely from local environmental companies. This year's bonspiel will be held Sunday at the Westmount Golf and Country Club. The event, which last year raised $10,400 for Hopespring, is run in memory of Gail Bendig of the earth sciences department, who died in 1997. Four teams from within the earth sciences department are among the 18 entries expected in the bonspiel. Spectators are welcome. Information and donations: e-mail cjhanton@uwaterloo.ca.

[Palmer] Antonia Palmer (left) is back at UW and back in the Centre for Learning and Teaching Through Technology, an announcement says. Palmer left UW in 2003 with a master's degree in systems design engineering; before that, she had done a series of contracts for LT3 in its early days. For the past year she's been working for the CBC, and now she has returned to LT3 as its faculty of engineering liaison. "Palmer is responsible to support the Engineering Faculty with the use of technology in the classroom," the announcement says. "She can be reached at ext. 5902."

On top of International Celebration Week, it's going to be a Warrior Weekend, I learn from the web site. That means special, mostly free, activities in and around the Student Life Centre, including movies tonight ("Bend it like Beckham" at 9:30 and "King Arthur" at midnight) and Saturday ("Pirates of the Caribbean" at 11:30), Highland dancing lessons tonight, belly-dancing and "Bollywood dancers" tomorrow, an "Iron Chef" event, "craft corner" and music. Warrior Weekends are largely student-organized, and I understand that every time one takes place, the student life office is deluged with enthusiastic new volunteers.

Tracy Cote of the graduate studies office is representing UW at an education fair in Mexico City this weekend to interest top students in Waterloo. . . . Ann Dowsett Johnston, editor of the Maclean's magazine universities issue, will speak Thursday at 7:00 in an event sponsored by the Federation of Students and Arts Student Union. . . . The student-organized conference on "Keys for Success: From Science to Business" is just eight days away. . . .

Western defeated the Warriors 3-2 in overtime last night, in the first game of the OUA west men's hockey semifinals. The second game will be played Saturday night at the Icefield; game time is 7:30, and because it's a playoff event, season tickets don't apply and everybody pays for admission, students $6, others $8. The third game, if necessary, comes Sunday evening back at Western.

Meanwhile, the men's basketball finals are also taking place: the Warriors face Brock at 4:00 tomorrow in the Physical Activities Complex, and again, everybody pays for admission. Other Warrior action: the figure skaters continue at the OUA championship tournament at Western; the OUA indoor hockey championships take place tomorrow at York.


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