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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

  • Region consults public on med school grant
  • What profs are doing on sabbatical
  • In the course of the day
Chris Redmond

Spelman College

[Steady climb upward]

Nexus connects almost 3,500 computers across campus, some in offices but the majority in student laboratories, says this updated chart from the engineering computing centre, where Nexus support is centred. Growth "seems to have slowed this term," says Erick Engelke of eng computing, "but actually it was spring cleaning where we've retired some old computers whose replacements had artificially bumped up our fall 2005 numbers." He adds: "We are seeing continued growth in offices and research areas, which will soon overtake our student computing lab stations." Nexus, successor to the historic Waterloo Polaris system, primarily connects Windows XP machines, although there are some Macs and a growing number of workstations that run the Linux operating system.

Region consults public on med school grant

A public meeting will be held tonight to find out what the people of Waterloo Region think about a proposal for a $19 million grant from the Region to help build a branch medical school in downtown Kitchener.

The outpost of McMaster University's DeGroote School of Medicine would be housed on UW's planned health sciences campus, next to the future school of pharmacy, and both universities are backing the request for Regional funding. The project already has a promise of Ontario government funding to pay for its operations, initially involving the training of 14 new medical students a year.

Tonight's meeting was called after the request for $19 million in capital funding was brought to Regional council on March 22. A decision is expected later this month.

Says the official notice of tonight's meeting: "Region of Waterloo Council will hold a public meeting on Tuesday, April 11, 2006 to receive public input relative to the University of Waterloo request for financial assistance for the proposed McMaster University's Michael G. DeGroote Satellite School of Medicine. The proposed location of the Medical School is at the University of Waterloo Health Sciences Campus in Downtown Kitchener. The University of Waterloo has requested funding of $19 million over three years from the Region of Waterloo. A presentation will be made by the University of Waterloo at this meeting." The meeting starts at 7:00 on the second floor of the Region's headquarters, 150 Frederick Street in downtown Kitchener.

The pros and cons of a Regional grant for the medical school have been argued in local media over the past two weeks, and the Record newspaper published a "ballot" on Saturday inviting readers to give an opinion. The same issue included a background article by John Kelton, dean of the DeGroote School, describing "a unique partnership in Canadian health sciences education" on the new campus.

A statement issued by UW at the time the funding request was made argues that the medical school "will have a noticeable effect in alleviating the shortage of physicians in this area . . . improve community access to an integrated spectrum of health care services . . . allow for transformation of research advances and knowledge into health benefits, economic opportunities and improved health care."

What profs are doing on sabbatical

Here's another list of UW faculty members who are going on sabbatical leave, and their plans for that period as reported to the university's board of governors.

D. Z. Djokovic of the pure mathematics department has a six-month sabbatical that began March 1: "I intend to work full time on the problem of describing the SLn-invariants in the ring of polynomial functions on two generic matrices and related problems."

R. Bruce Richter of combinatorics and optimization also went on sabbatical for six months starting March 1: "I have several research projects that are near completion. In addition, I intend to visit (for approximately two weeks each) Salazar (Mexico), Bonnington and Siran (New Zealand), Thomassen and Vella (Denmark), Hutchinson (U.S.) to initiate new projects."

Samir Elhedhli of the management sciences department will go on leave for six months starting May 1: "I am planning to spend most of my sabbatical on campus, but I may also visit colleagues and collaborators at other universities such as University of Toronto, McMaster University and McGill University. The primary focus during this period is to explore a new research venue related to stochastic design of manufacturing and service systems through large scale optimization, as well as establishing industry contacts with companies that may be interested in this type of work."

Edlyn Teske of combinatorics and optimization also begins a six-month sabbatical on May 1: "The leave will be spent with the Cryptology and Information Security Group at the Centre for Mathematics and Computer Science (CWI), Amsterdam, the Netherlands."

Antonio Fama of Spanish and Latin American studies will begin a year-long sabbatical leave on July 1: "The Argentinian Jorge Luis Borges and the Italian Leonardo Sciascia use detective story techniques as a mechanism to search for God, thus transforming a human investigation into a metaphysical search. This study will analyze the many themes and motifs common to book authors as well as their attack on language as an insufficient vehicle for communication, and on reason as an insufficient tool to give us an understanding of reality."

Thomas S. Abler of anthropology has a six-month sabbatical starting July 1: "A major portion of time during the leave will be spent working on a funded research project: Significant Others: Anthropological Love Affairs with Particular Cultures (Pamela Stern, co-investigator). Its purpose is to explore why a relatively small number of societies have become icons or classic cultures within the anthropological canon."

Ian Goulden of combinatorics and optimization has a twelve-month sabbatical beginning July 1: "The leave will be spent in Waterloo, with a few short trips to conferences and to visit colleagues. One third of the time will be spent on a draft of an advanced graduate student and research level book. The remaining two thirds will be spent on research -- both finishing current projects and starting new ones."

Free barbecue for graduate students, promoting Columbia Lake Village, 11:30 to 1:30, Graduate House.

Arts faculty council 3:30, Humanities room 373.

Author Rudy Wiebe reads from his new memoir Of This Earth: A Mennonite Boyhood in the Boreal Forest, 7:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel University College chapel, admission free, co-sponsored by Words Worth Books.

Easter luncheon buffet at the University Club, Wednesday and Thursday 11:30 to 2:00, reservations ext. 3801.

Waterloo Institute for Health Informatics Research presents director Dominic Covvey, "Dealing with Dynamic Workflow in Healthcare", Wednesday 12 noon, Davis Centre room 1304.

'Using UW-ACE to promote student reflection on course content': presentation by two faculty members, Thursday 10:30, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library, details online.

In the course of the day

The senate undergraduate council is meeting today (12 noon, Needles Hall room 3004) to look carefully at course and regulation changes in divers parts of the university -- from a new third-year course in "History of the Family in the United States" to a change in the requirements for the geophysics specialization in earth sciences. Among agenda items today is a proposed new program (both co-op and regular) in geomatics, the use of "location-based data", to be offered by the geography department with support from computer science. If the council gives the okay, the program will go to the UW senate for approval later this spring and will begin in the fall of 2007. Also on today's agenda is a proposal to rename the present "general non-major" programs in the arts faculty: they'll be three-year or four-year "general liberal studies". ("UW is unique among universities offering this type of program," a report from arts says, "in designating the plan by what it is not, rather than by what it is (a liberal education in the arts, broadly defined)."

When the new executive of the Graduate Student Association was announced the other day, there was nobody to take on the position of vice-president (communications and organization) when the new leadership begins its term May 1. A successor for that post has now been named: Fatima Kakal, grad student in biology. She will join Maria Ziegler of biology as vice-president (operations and finance), Beatrice Orchard of history serving for a second year as vice-president (student affairs), and new president Marek Ratajczak of civil engineering. Directors of the GSA for the coming year will be Brian Ellis (chemistry), Jennifer Hunter (vision science), Rob Nieckarz (chemistry), Jeremy Noble (kinesiology), and Craig Sloss (combinatorics and optimization).

Says an e-mail message to UW alumni: "If you find the idea of networking (initiating contact and speaking with strangers in a professional context) daunting, then UW's Office of Alumni Affairs may have the solution for you. We are pleased to offer you a three-hour Networking Workshop offering practical activities and interactive strategies with UW's Alumni Career Advisor. Discover ways to introduce yourself, how to improve your handshake, the benefits of a calling card, and how to expand your professional network of contacts." The workshop is scheduled for this coming Monday from 6 to 9 p.m. (followed by "optional Q&A and networking") in the Tatham Centre. "Cost to attend is $20, which includes complimentary parking in Lot H and refreshments." Registration is online.

Published several weeks ago was the winter issue of Connections, the recently renamed newsletter for UW distance education students, with a big front-page interview with student Jane Allin. She was the winner at last fall's convocation of the James D. Leslie Prize, awarded "for academic excellence" to someone graduating with a degree earned the correspondence way. Allin's science degree began with courses from Queen's University and St. Lawrence College, followed by 21 terms of Waterloo study. "At times it was difficult," she writes, "as my job requires a fair amount of travel. Often I would try to cram everything into the weekend or use some of my vacation time to catch up or at least maintain the pace -- obviously not the best way of learning. I give much credit to my very supportive husband." She also gives effusive thanks to several of her UW instructors, led by Cheryl Duxbury of the biology department.

Winners of April prizes in the Keystone Campaign donor draw are now listed on the Keystone web site. . . . Frank Scirgalea, a painter in the plant operations department since 1988, officially retired April 1. . . . A recent memo to staff and faculty members about the extended health and dental benefit programs reminds them that the insurance companies can now pay claims directly into a bank account as an alternative to mailing a cheque. . . .

Inhabitants of the Minota Hagey Residence shouldn't plan on any leisurely baths (or laundry) on Wednesday afternoon. Hot water in the building will be turned off from noon to 4 p.m. so plumbers can fix a leak, the plant operations department warns.


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