[University of Waterloo]


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Thursday, February 9, 2006

  • UW's excellence is 'for Canada'
  • Solar researchers greet MPPs
  • Graduate students face PhD orals
  • Health announcement coming, and more
Chris Redmond

Honouring extraterrestrials

[Three grim faces]

Behind bars are Derek Lindman, Bridget Myers and Karim Rizkallah, who figure in "Hello Out There", one of the six short plays that make up the drama department's "New Directions" festival. It continues this week in Studio 180 in the Humanities building, with two plays tonight at 7:00, two more tomorrow at 7 (including "Hello Out There"), four on Saturday afternoon at 2:00, and two on Saturday night at 7. Tickets: 888-4908.

UW's excellence is 'for Canada'

UW's "Sixth Decade" plan has acquired a subtitle that stresses its importance not just for the university, but for the whole country, provost Amit Chakma pointed out on Tuesday as he gave the board of governors a preview of the still unfinished report.

Previously titled "Pursuing Global Excellence", the report now adds the phrase "Seizing Opportunities for Canada", he noted.

"This university is uniquely positioned to do it for our country," said Chakma, repeating his frequently stated theme that Waterloo is ready to move into the top rank of universities worldwide, with some programs that are acknowledged as the best of their kind anywhere.

"Our sixth decade," says the draft report, "will be the decade where a new kind of boldness and daring will ensure UW achieves the excellence to make it a premier global competitor."

The report, which Chakma drafted based on ideas from across campus, is being worked over line by line by the senate long-range planning committee. It's expected to come to the university senate and board of governors for approval next fall, before UW reaches its 50th anniversary next summer and begins its sixth decade of progress.

Board members asked questions as Chakma took them through some of the chief themes of the report, including "international benchmarking to measure progress", "modest growth in undergraduate enrollment in select areas", "more than doubling of graduate enrollment", "integration of teaching and research", and "internationalization", with students from abroad making up 20 per cent of the undergraduate student body (up from less than 7 per cent now).

The time will come when "all undergraduate students will have oral and written command of a second language," the report also says -- something that president David Johnston called "simply a requirement of a good liberal education".

The draft report calls for constant reallocation of funds in UW's budget to promote and reward excellence in academic departments. But there are going to be costs well beyond that, Chakma told the board in answer to a question. He suggested that UW should plan to raise 20 per cent of its operating budget from outside sources. At the current level of $325 million a year in spending, that would mean raising $60 to $70 million annually -- a more ambitious target than anything that's been mentioned up to now.

  • Premier warns tuition fees will go up
  • Extra Ontario aid for 'first in the family' students
  • New WLU social work dean comes from Australia
  • Harvard curriculum review 'in limbo'
  • Deputy minister named for research and innovation
  • Student centre opens at WLU's Brantford campus
  • 'Rape' subject line on computer virus e-mail
  • Accounting grad is a 'financial detective'
  • The value of privately endowed academic chairs
  • Ontario universities' computer network links to Michigan
  • Major search firms are surveyed on privacy
  • Proposed standardized test of 'information literacy'
  • Cable comedy: 'Campus Ladies'
  • Halifax prof takes down Muhammad cartoons
  • Solar researchers greet MPPs

    A delegation from the Ontario legislature is on campus this morning to learn more about the research that's being done here on solar energy.

    Originally to be headed by provincial energy minister Donna Cansfield, the "solar tour" currently involves about eight MPPs, most of them parliamentary assistants to ministers. Among them is Tony Wong, parliamentary assistant to premier Dalton McGuinty in his capacity as minister of research and innovation.

    After the morning stop at UW, the group will an industrial plant in Cambridge, Spheral Solar Power, where other energy-related research is under way.

    This morning's event is taking place in the Environmental Studies building, where ES dean Deep Saini will introduce the visitors and speakers. The government group will hear first from Siva Sivoththaman of the electrical and computer engineering department, who will give an overview of UW's solar research, explain the displays that will be on hand, and say something about technology transfer and UW's relationship with ATS Automation Tooling Systems, the parent company of Spheral.

    Ian Rowlands of environment and resource studies will go into more detail about photovoltaic research at UW -- that's the technology that produces electrical energy from sunshine -- and the connection between PV technology and the economics of electricity distribution.

    Two executives of the local firm ARISE Technologies will speak about their company's experience in building Canada's first solar neighbourhood, on the east side of Waterloo, as well as the outlook for more research. UW president David Johnston will speak briefly about the benefits of solar research as well as the value of higher education, training and research to society in general.

    Meanwhile, UW's board of governors gave final approval on Tuesday for construction of a small building for the Centre for Advanced Photovoltaic Devices, headed by Sivoththaman. It'll be about 15,000 square feet (bigger than Health Services but smaller than Federation Hall) and will go west of the Central Plant (smokestack) and next to parking lot L. "A large area of green space will still be available south of the building," says university architect Dan Parent.

    The building will be one storey tall, but is being designed in such a way that two additional floors can be added later, the board of governors was told. Most of the $4 million total cost is coming from research sponsors, with the faculty of engineering adding the balance.

    Graduate students face PhD orals

    Here are notices of a few graduate students who have completed their doctoral theses and are coming up to the last hurdle before the red-and-green gown: the oral defence.

    Electrical and computer engineering. Kapil Sakariya, "Current Programmed Backplanes for Amorphous Silicon AMOLED Displays." Supervisor, A. Nathan. On display in the faculty of engineering, CPH 4305. Oral defence Friday, February 10, 2:30, CEIT room 3142.

    History. Jason Churchill, "The Limits to Influence: The Club of Rome and Canada, 1968 to 1988." Supervisor, Heather MacDougall. On display in the faculty of arts, HH 317. Oral defence Monday, February 13, 2 p.m., Humanities room 373.

    Philosophy. Jeffrey Brown, "Offensive Ethics: Alterity and Alternative Modes of Philosophical Discourse." Supervisor, Richard Holmes. On display in the faculty of arts, HH 317. Oral defence Monday, February 20, 1:30 p.m., Humanities room 373.

    Health announcement coming, and more

    Big news is clearly coming. Says a media announcement issued last night: "John Milloy, MPP Kitchener Centre, invites you to attend a major provincial announcement of Region-wide significance regarding UW's Health Sciences Campus, located in downtown Kitchener. Please join John Milloy in welcoming Hon. Chris Bentley, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, and UW President David Johnston for this special event." It's scheduled for 2:00 this afternoon at the newly opened Centre for Family Medicine in the former Victoria School on Joseph Street -- where UW houses the first activities that will eventually move to the health sciences campus a short distance to the west. A media advisory from the Ontario government says Bentley "will make an important announcement concerning first year medical student enrolment". Seven similar announcements are being made elsewhere in the province today, the government says.

    Prominent women entrepreneurs in the local area will be sharing their career experiences with students at noon today. Four women business leaders will take part in a panel intended to ignite interest among potential young female entrepreneurs. The event, hosted by the Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology and sponsored by Deloitte, will be held in Davis Centre room 1302. Geoff Malleck, associate director of CBET, said that while female students are aware of entrepreneurship as a lifestyle path, most have not considered it as an option for themselves. "By placing these community and business leaders in a forum to share their experiences, I am convinced that the student attendees will move closer to developing an entrepreneurial 'can-do' attitude." Panelists will include Carol Leaman, CEO of RSS Solutions; Sharron Gilbert, president and CEO of Septimatech; Vivienne Ojala, president and partner at Brock Solutions; and Patricia Quinn, president and owner of Creative Options. The event will be facilitated by Jane Jantzi, senior manager (business development) at Deloitte. CBET was taking reservations earlier this week, but space could still be available in the audience.

    Eating Disorders Awareness Week information booth in Student Life Centre; video presentation on "Women, the Media, Body Esteem and Eating Disorders" 12:30, multipurpose room, SLC.

    Career workshop: "Work Search Strategies" 3:30, Tatham Centre room 1208, registration online.

    Forum for Independent Thought weekly discussion 5:00, Student Life Centre multipurpose room. Topic this week: "the infamous Danish cartoons".

    Alumni in Seattle: "Meet the Deans" evening 6 to 8 p.m., Bellevue Arts Museum.

    'Polar Jam': "Two schools, one huge party," multiple bands, Friday noon to 9 p.m., University Stadium, tickets $10 at Federation of Students office.

    Centre for International Governance Innovation presents Robert Wolfe, Queen's University, "The WTO After Hong Kong", Friday 11:45, 57 Erb Street West, free tickets 885-2444 ext. 246.

    St. Jerome's University lecture: Dana Sawchuk, Wilfrid Laurier University, "Workers, the Church and Central America's Switzerland (Costa Rica)", Friday 7:30 p.m., Siegfried Hall.

    Federation of Students candidates forum Monday noon to 4 p.m., Student Life Centre great hall.

    'Murderball' free showing sponsored by Diversity project and office for persons with disabilities, Monday 8:00, Humanities Theatre.

    [High above the ice]

    Alumni will get to meet Bob Hunter, a 1976 kinesiology graduate and now general manager of the Air Canada Centre, at "an after-work networking reception" Monday evening at the ACC in downtown Toronto. "We are very pleased to be able to offer a behind-the-scenes tour during this event," says Jude Doble of UW's alumni affairs office, noting that the maximum of 425 tickets have already been sold for the event.

    The department of physics has been at UW's core since the earliest days -- both academically and physically, as it's housed in the 47-year-old Physics building at the centre of campus -- but it's asking to be given a new name. The science faculty council has endorsed a proposal, which now comes to the UW senate and board of governors, to make it the Department of Physics and Astronomy. "This name change," senate will be told, "reflects the fact that the overwhelming majority of Physics departments in Canada with a sizable astronomy group have 'Astronomy' in the department name. Waterloo is the odd one out in this respect. In particular, potential graduate students looking to do astronomy in southwestern Ontario are liable to overlook Waterloo."

    Joanne Wade, UW's director of student awards and financial aid, sent a memo to departments the other day drawing their attention to the annual Work Placement Program, which provides funding to create jobs for students. The money, Wade explains, comes from the "tuition set-aside", the percentage of tuition fee increases year by year that UW is required to spend on student assistance. "You are encouraged," her memo said, "to have your departments create new full-time work placements for students during the Spring, Fall and Winter terms." The central funding provides up to $1,850 a month towards the salary: "Should the job require a higher salary, your department will be responsible for any difference." Regular and co-op undergraduates are both eligible for the jobs, as long as they were in school the previous term "and have been eligible for OSAP assistance", and are going back to full-time study afterwards.

    The keynote speaker at this year's WatITis, the annual one-day conference for computing support staff at UW, was Robert Park, anthropology professor and associate dean (computing) in the faculty of arts. "Robert asked some very interesting questions," says Bob Hicks of the information systems and technology department, "and made some very interesting observations. People left the session wanting to continue the discussion." The abstract for the WatITis talk certainly raises big questions: "Given UW's reputation, students arrive on campus expecting Waterloo to be on the leading edge of technology. They have high expectations. We are now increasingly using technology to help keep our large classes engaged and challenged, and we work hard to keep our student computer labs up-to-date and to provide wireless connectivity across campus. What else should we be doing? Do our students graduate with the computing skills they need to be employable? If not, what skills are they lacking? Who decides what these skills are? What new technologies should we be actively researching so that we can integrate them into our services? Who does the research?" Park will follow up on such matters as the speaker tomorrow morning at IST's weekly professional development session (8:45 in the IST seminar room).

    The Waterloo Public Interest Research Group will sponsor a conference -- "Working for Human Rights" -- this weekend, Friday evening in the Environmental Studies I courtyard. The event includes a guest speaker (from the Campaign to End Secret Trials), networking, music and dancing ("the basics of merengue, salsa and bachata"). Saturday, conference sessions run from 10:00 to 5:30 in Davis Centre room 1302, on such topics as rights in Zimbabwe, media freedom, and migrant workers. More information: 888-4882.

    The campus recreation program is running a two-day first aid certification workshop on Friday and Saturday (register and pay the $90 fee at the athletics department office). . . . The continuing education office is offering a one-day course today under the title "Introduction to Financial Accounting". . . . In yesterday's Daily Bulletin I said Barry Warner was a faculty member in environment and resource studies, but in reality he is in the department of geography (and cross-appointed to biology and earth sciences). . . .


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