Thursday, June 8, 2006

  • Science dean will take VP position
  • UW says yes to Maclean’s grad survey
  • The talk of the campus
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Link of the day

Clean Air Day

When and where

Wilfrid Laurier University spring convocation today 10 a.m. (graduate studies), WLU athletic complex; Thursday 1:15 p.m. (arts), Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex; Friday 10 a.m. (business) and 2 p.m. (music, science), Recreation Complex; June 14, 3 p.m., Sanderson Centre, Brantford.

International Spouses Group "summer stroll" on Mill Race Trail in St. Jacobs (or visit to Conestoga Mall if weather is unsuitable), 1 p.m. All spouses of international students or professors welcome; contact

Ground-breaking for TechTown community centre, Research and Technology Park, 2 p.m., 340 Hagey Boulevard.

Vision 2010 planning exercise in engineering: presentation for students 5 p.m., Rod Coutts Hall room 307; e–mail jmcgeoch@engmail for reservation (pizza).

Arriscraft Lecture, school of architecture: John Fernandez, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, "Material Architecture", 7 p.m., Architecture lecture hall. Cancelled.

Annual child care festival sponsored by all child care centres on campus, Friday 9:45 a.m.,. Village green, with guest performer Erick Traplin.

Nortel/NSERC research chair announcement and celebration, Friday 11:00, Davis Centre lounge.

World Cup games televised at Federation Hall; opens Friday 11 a.m. for first game; barbecue.

Carl Pollock Hall and Doug Wright Engineering Building (and nearby portables), electrical power shut off Saturday 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Summerfest I "Wild West" Saturday from 8 p.m., Federation Hall.

'One Book, One Community' concert sponsored by The New Quarterly, Sunday 5 p.m. beside the Nith River, details online.

Employee Assistance Program presents Rebecca DiFilippo, Moods Magazine, "Changing Perceptions: Mental Health at Work", Monday 12 noon, Davis Centre room 1302, RSVP to Johan Reis, health services.

Ninety-Second Convocation June 14-18, each day 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., Physical Activities Complex, detailed schedule online.

Robert Kerton, events marking the end of his term as dean of arts, June 21, reception 3:30, dinner 6:00, South Campus Hall, RSVP and dinner reservations to Brenda Smith, dean of arts office, by June 9.

PhD oral defences

Computer science. Celine Latulippe, "A Symmetric Interaction Model for Bimanual Input", previously announced, time changed to Friday, June 16, 11 a.m., Davis Centre room 1304.

Mechanical engineering. Johan Larsson, "Towards Large Eddy Simulation of Boundary Layer Flows at High Reynolds Number: Statistical Modeling of the Inner Layer." Supervisors, F.-S. Lien and E. Yee. On display in the faculty of engineering, CPH 4305. Oral defence Monday, June 26, 9 a.m., Engineering II room 1307C.

Electrical and computer engineering. Fermin Pascual Espino Cortes, "A Study of Field-Dependent Stress Grading Systems Working Under Fast Rise Time Pulses." Supervisors, S. Jayaram and E. Cherney. On display in the faculty of engineering, CPH 4305. Oral defence Monday, June 26, 10:30 a.m., CEIT room 3142.

In case you missed them

Director named for health research
Staff role seen in Sixth Decade report
Thai students respond to UW teaching model
Intern leaves for Kenya village

Camp Keystone logo
Under the summer sun, staff, faculty and retirees will celebrate the Keystone Campaign today. It's a perfect day for an outdoor event, and "Camp Keystone" will be happening, as scheduled, on the Graduate House green over the noon hour. Participants are being urged to join a parade that will head down both sides of the ring road, starting at 11:30 at Matthews Hall. Events at the Grad House will begin about 12:00, with words from a few Campaign leaders plus games, music, prizes and food. (And a number of well-known staff have agreed to take turns on top of the dunk tank, starting about 12:15.) "We have designated the 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. period as paid work time for all UW staff and faculty to participate," a memo from the president notes.

Back to top

Science dean will take VP position

Dean of science George Dixon will move to a new job next year as UW’s vice-president (university research), the president announced yesterday after the appointment was approved by the senate executive committee and the university’s board of governors.

Dixon, who has headed the science faculty since 2001, will take a five-year term as VP starting July 1, 2007, president David Johnston said in a memo. “This was the unanimous recommendation of the nominating committee duly constituted under Policy 68

[Dixon]The move means science will be looking for a new dean over the coming year. Dixon (left), a biology professor, is just ending his first term as dean this month, and a second term for him was approved last fall.

The president’s memo says Dixon is “an accomplished scholar and an excellent collaborator and facilitator, showing adaptability and an ability to see both the larger picture and the role that individuals can play in it. He interacts well with people at all levels, is extremely University oriented, not narrowly science-focused, and is experienced and successful in securing research funds from government agencies and industry. UW initiatives with which he is currently involved include the School of Pharmacy, Nanotechnology undergraduate program, and the Institute of Quantum Computing.

“Professor Dixon has published widely on a variety of topics related to toxicology and biological effects of pollution. As a researcher, his credentials are superb, and he is held in high regard as one of Canada's leading environmental scientists. He combines excellence with relevance and, as a result, enjoys a well-deserved international reputation for creative contributions to the advancement of knowledge in his chosen field. In 2000, Professor Dixon was one of the first recipients of the UW Research Excellence Award. He is part of numerous interdisciplinary research programs with scientists from universities, governments and industries, and contributes a keen awareness of issues of concern to each sector. His international standing is manifested in his consistent record of publications in high-impact refereed journals, invitations to address international fora, and memberships on prestigious national and international panels.

“George Dixon’s excellence as a teacher was recognized at an early stage in his UW career; he received the Distinguished Teacher Award in 1989. He has provided leadership and opportunities for independent research needed by graduate students. In the last five years, he has supervised four PhD and seven MSc students, with nine currently under his supervision.

“I wish to add my strong personal support for this appointment. George Dixon has an impressive record of service to his profession and the community, and is well placed to guide and assist others in advancing their research. He is highly committed to UW, has demonstrated that he is supportive of initiatives of other Deans and Faculties, is supportive of graduate students, and is known to take a fair and rational approach.”

Johnston added that Alan George, who has been interim vice-president (university research) since the beginning of 2006, “has generously agreed to extend his term to June 30, 2007”. The previous VP, Paul Guild of the department of management sciences, finished his term December 31.

Back to top

UW says yes to Maclean’s grad survey

by Michael Strickland, communications and public affairs

The decision is made: yes, UW is participating in the graduate survey now being added to the Maclean’s magazine annual rankings of Canadian universities.

UW administrators monitored the debate that led some institutions to withdraw from the grad survey, and possibly the entire rankings exercise. But Waterloo ultimately decided to work with Maclean’s.

“Waterloo has long believed that students, parents and the general public can only benefit from a well-designed survey that provides relevant information on Canada’s university system,” said Bob Truman, director of institutional analysis and planning. “We should help them gain as much useful information about UW as possible as they select the institution that’s right for them.”

To that end, the university invited 5,654 alums who graduated between 2002 and 2004 to participate in the Maclean’s survey. The electronic invitation, signed by UW President David Johnston, included a link to a survey website and personal password. Interested alum had until June 3 to complete the survey.

Other universities decided otherwise. Alberta, Calgary, McMaster and Toronto universities sent a joint letter to Maclean’s, expressing doubt about the magazine’s ability to conduct a sufficiently rigorous survey.

While UW shares some of the concerns, which mostly relate to methodology and sample size, it decided to trust that Maclean’s will not jeopardize its reputation by releasing the results of a poor survey. “We’ve long participated in their annual survey,” said Truman, “and have decided to trust that the magazine will maintain appropriate standards.”

One specific concern relates to survey fatigue and the effect it can have on the sample size. The university tries to avoid the problem, and to maintain the goodwill of its grads, by limiting the number of requests it sends. “We know that surveys are very close to the bottom of the list as to what type of email our alumni think we should be sending them,” says Alison Boyd, an alumni officer focusing on e-services. “There is also the fact that we try very hard to make sure that alumni are not getting more than one piece of email a week, so we had to take that into consideration as we were booking when the Maclean’s email was to be sent out.”

UW’s decision to participate was also, in part, influenced by the magazine’s willingness to address specific concerns. One particular issue relates to the impact of having Canada’s most extensive co-op program. “One thing Maclean’s agreed to is that the answers will be segmented according to various criteria, and one of them is co-op and non-co-op programs,” said Truman. “We felt this was an important distinction to make because of the very different campus experiences of the two groups.”

Results of the graduate survey should be part of the annual rankings issue released in November.

Back to top

The talk of the campus

Changes to UW’s “ethical behaviour” rules, Policy 33, are in the works, following approval by the board of governors of a report from a working group on “governance” issues. It recommended a number of small changes in how the board operates, including some that are aimed at improving its oversight of the university’s work. To make so-called “whistle-blowing” easier, the working group recommended a specific provision in the policy to allow anonymous complaints of wrongdoing. “There are groups on campus who may perceive that there is a real power imbalance,” said Lois Claxton, secretary of the university and a member of the group, explaining why the current Policy 33 rules about confidentiality aren’t strong enough in all cases. The board was reminded that in a place like a university, there are “no strictures” on anybody who has a complaint or misbehaviour to report speaking directly to a board member or a senior administrator. However, changes to Policy 33 will be drafted and submitted to the university senate for approval.

[Gazebo with latticework and mural]

The Dearborn Well, across the ring
road from Needles Hall, pumped
water into the municipal pipes for
decades, but was taken out of regular
use several years ago. It's now used
to provide a supply of untreated water
for the fish labs in UW's biology
department. This week the board of
governors agreed "in principle" to take
over ownership of the well from
Waterloo Region. Photo by Barbara

Also at this week’s meeting of the board, provost Amit Chakma gave an update on UW’s operating budget, reporting that there are still big uncertainties, particularly about next fall’s enrolment. Every 100 students in the first-year class, plus or minus, makes a million-dollar difference to the budget, he said. Chakma told the board that arts, engineering and applied health sciences are expected to meet their first-year targets for September; science and environmental studies “may have a modest shortfall” while the faculty of mathematics is projected to have a “major” shortfall. “We’re working very hard on that,” the provost promised. For the current year, which started May 1, UW is expected to have total operating income of about $353 million, and run a deficit of a little more than $2 million.

Local police are looking for a man who has apparently touched, "massaged" and otherwise annoyed female passengers on city buses several times over the past year. The most recent incident took place Monday around 5 p.m., when the man sat behind a woman on a bus travelling up Columbia Street, from Albert Street to Laurelwood, and "reached around and groped" her. Wanted is a man who appeared "east Indian, 20-25 years old, brush cut, wearing black rim or gold rim thick glasses". Information can be reported to the Waterloo Regional Police at 650-8500 ext. 8671.

The Muslim Students Association held a barbecue yesterday and will repeat the effort today as it works toward a goal of raising $5,000 for Indonesian earthquake relief. "The MSA adopted this project," organizers write, "in response to the lack of international attention and assistance offered to the earthquake-affected region of Java." They promise not only "mouth-watering burgers for a very cheap price" but also "awareness of the current situation". Says coordinator Bilal Ahmed: "It seems only natural to care and tow want to help others in need, regardless of their race, culture or country. This is the very message of Islam." Barbecuers will be out on campus between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. today.

Ontario University Athletics, the association that links UW’s interuniversity sports teams with other universities across the province, held its annual meeting last month and voted 16-3 in favour of allowing Athletic Financial Awards (colloquially known as “scholarships”) to first-year athletes. “Entering students with an average of at least 80 per cent are eligible to receive up to $3,500 annually from their university to help with expenses for the school year,” a statement explains. Upper-year students have already been eligible for such financing. UW was one of the three institutions that voted against the rule change, and Waterloo athletics director Judy McCrae says there’s no decision on what UW will do in the new context. “We are going to meet to see about our course of action,” she said.

UW pensioners will receive a 2.17 per cent cost of living increase as of July 1, the board of governors was told on Tuesday.… Somebody seeing an announcement yesterday of UW's Ninety-Second Convocation, to be held Wednesday through Saturday next week, wondered how they were going to process all those hundreds of graduates in just a minute and a half.… Staff have until Monday afternoon (at 3:00) to vote online in the poll about the future of a staff "recognition" program that involves a monetary award.…


Back to top

Yesterday's Daily Bulletin