Thursday, June 15, 2006

  • Davidson a mentor to many
  • Convocation today: arts, independents
  • Campus notes for Thursday
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

When and where

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

Copyright, Software and You: Presentation by Chabriol Colebatch, Technology Transfer and Licensing Office, on how to protect software through copyright, today at 10 a.m., Davis Centre room 1302. Sign up at ext. 3300 or

2006 Graham Medal Seminar with Deanne Farrar, 2006 Graham Medal winner, speaking on “Building a Successful Business,” today at 2:30 p.m., Davis Centre room 1302. Registration recommended. or 888-4567 ext. 7747.

Career workshops: “Exploring your personality type, part 1.” 3 p.m., Tatham Centre 1112. Registration online.

David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science Distinguished Lecture Series. Kurt Mehlhorn, Max Planck Institute for Informatics, speaks on “Reliable and Efficient Geometric Computing,” today at 4:30 p.m., Davis Centre 1302.

MathSoc movie night. See the new Pink Panther movie at 7 this evening followed by a classic Pink Panther movie at 9 in the math comfy lounge, MC 3002. Free.

Retirement celebration for James A. (Jay) Thomson, kinesiology, will be held at the University Club Wednesday, June 21, 3-5 p.m. RSVP by Friday, June 16.

Warrior Weekend events take place starting at 9 p.m. this Friday and Saturday in the Student Life Centre.

Contemporary School of Dance students are rehearsing today and Friday, evenings, in the Humanities Theatre. Performances at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts takes place at the UW School of Architecture, 7 Melville Street South, Cambridge, Friday, 7:30-10:30 p.m. Tickets $25. Details online.

17th annual Matthews Golf Classic starts at noon sharp, Monday, at Grand Valley Golf and Country Club. More information online.

In case you missed them

• Accelerator centre opens today
• Prominent curator takes UW job
• Video teaches injury treatment
• Staff up by 160 since 2001


Davidson a mentor to many

by Barbara Elve

George Davidson, Distinguished Teacher Award, 2006 George Davidson (left) is renowned for the clarity of his lectures, in which he uses practical examples to make the most complicated equations understandable, and for the superb organization of his notes which serve as textbook for the class.

But the mechanical engineering professor (and director of admissions in the Faculty of Engineering) is perhaps best known for going the extra mile for his students. Letters in support of his award document his thoughtfulness.

“Often we visited professor Davidson’s office to watch him go through a pile of papers and give us additional problems,” recounts one student. “Therefore we were fairly surprised and amazed that when we last approached his office and asked his secretary to inform him, he already knew what we had come for and had a set of extra questions ready for us. This shows the level of his personal interest in each individual student.”

Another student, distraught at the loss of the course binder — just a week before the final exam — approached Davidson to see if the missing binder had been turned in. Unfortunately, it hadn’t been found, so Davidson “offered to print out the whole term’s worth of his own personal notes that he used to write on the blackboard.

“I knew he was very busy, since he also held a position as the head of first year admissions,” notes the student. “To my surprise, he gave me the copies the very next lecture. I cannot imagine any other professor copying their own personal notes for a student.”

Davidson is also lauded as a mentor to young colleagues in the department.

“George has selflessly lent, to many of us, his excellent course notes and other materials in math or fluids to help us design and prepare new courses,” says one grateful young prof. “His course notes in ordinary differential equations and numerical analysis certainly proved very valuable to me in terms of preparing my first lectures so that I could start my teaching career ‘with my best foot forward.’ To this day, I have many of George’s clear examples and understandable explanations incorporated into my notes.”

Fourth and last in a series about Distinguished Teacher Award winners to be honoured at convocation

Back to top

Convocation today: arts and independents

with files from the UW Media Relations Office

The Honourable Flora MacDonald has been described as "a national and international treasure." The former parliamentarian will receive a Doctor of Laws degree and address convocation at the first of two Faculty of Arts sessions, at 10 a.m. Says the citation: “MacDonald has demonstrated a remarkable range of contributions — literacy, foreign understanding and service to seniors and minorities -- in addition to her distinguished 16-year career as a public servant.”

A Doctor of Laws will be presented to Robert Mundell, a former UW professor of economics. “Mundell is known worldwide for ground-breaking contributions on money, macroeconomics and international trade. His ... insight into the relationship between domestic economic policy and free capital flows revolutionized the understanding of exchange rates.”

UW will also present James Barnett, professor of accountancy, with the annual award for teaching excellence. As well, UW will award Phelim Boyle, professor of accountancy, the university professor designation, the highest academic honour given at the university, recognizing “exceptional scholarly achievement and international pre-eminence.”

Lauren Hall, fine arts, will give the valedictory speech. Student honours awarded at the morning session will include a Governor General’s Silver Medal for Carol Wong, accounting, one of three such medals presented to students who have achieved the highest academic standing in a bachelor’s degree program.

At the afternoon session at 2 p.m., besides the mostly arts students, four will receive Bachelor of Independent Studies degrees.

Margaret Visser will receive a Doctor of Laws degree and address the afternoon convocation. “A cultural anthropologist of uncommon skill, Visser has a gift for taking the stuff of ordinary living -- the rituals around eating, for instance -- and making it palatable to the non-specialist.” She is the author of The Rituals of Dinner (1991) and The Way We Are (1994), among other books, and her lively radio sessions with Peter Gzowski on CBC’s Morningside are well remembered.

Douglas Letson, past president and past vice-president and academic dean of St. Jerome's University, will receive a Doctor of Laws. “Letson has achieved a remarkable level of distinction for his administrative leadership and service to St. Jerome's and UW, along with his commitment to post-secondary Roman Catholic education.” He is also known as a vigorous promoter of community walking trails, including the Walter Bean Grand River Trail, which he helped to bring to reality.

UW will also present Eric Woody, professor of psychology, with the annual award for teaching excellence.

Another highlight of the afternoon arts session will be the presentation of the Governor General's Gold Medal, an annual award recognizing the university’s top PhD grad, to Brandon Wagar, who received his doctorate in psychology at the fall 2005 convocation. His PhD program in behavioural neuroscience was supervised by Mike Dixon; his doctoral thesis was entitled "The good and the bad of affective guidance: Insights from the influence of automatic racial prejudice on complex decisions under uncertainty." The June issue of the Arts Research Update newsletter carries an article on Wagar, who is now at the University of Victoria on a postdoctoral fellowship.

Paul Lehmann, political science, will address his peers as valedictorian. Among the student honours: Claire Hong, general arts, receives the Arts Alumni Gold Medal. The President’s Circle Award for Volunteerism goes to Katarzyna Hano, Lisa Mackey, and Pandora yee.

Winners of the departmental awards for distinguished academic achievement are Karen Lui (accountancy), Pamela Yuen (anthropology), Jessica Higgins (classical studies), Melanie Bennett (drama), Nikita Mohammed (economics), Amy Lam (English), Lauren Hall (fine arts), Chantale Bessette (French), Veronica Miller (German), Jadwiga Drozd (history), Jennifer Spaulding (music), Dora-Marie Goulet (peace and conflict studies), David Zettel (philosophy), Jon Lucas (political science), Jillian Banfield (psychology), John Lorenc (religious studies), Sarah Hofstetter (social development studies), Liisa Ritchie (sociology), Sarah McIntyre (Spanish), and Stephanie Kinzie (speech communication).

Back to top

Campus notes for Thursday

As of yesterday UW's residences are full, including those of the federated university and affiliated colleges. A memo from Chris Read, university housing officer, says that any student who applied by the June 12 deadline will be accommodated. Students whose applications were received beginning June 14will be referred to the Off-Campus Housing Office, which is "committed to working with any student in this position to assist in their search for suitable accommodation."

Correction: Any married couples interested in taking part in a study on the interactions within couples being conducted by Jennifer LaGuardia, psychology, please call 888-4567, ext 8112, or email .

Shot in the Dark golf tournament logo

The UW-organized Shot in the Dark Golf Tournament takes place at the Westhill Meadows Golf Course next Thursday, June 22, with tee-off time at 9:30 p.m. If that seems a little late for golf, it’s because this tournament is played in the dark. “You will be provided with all the glow equipment you need,” says athletics and recreation special events co-ordinator Kate Shippey. “All you need to bring is your clubs and your enthusiasm. This tournament is a fun game meant for all levels of participants.” Cost is $35. If you don’t have clubs, you can rent them from campus recreation for $5. Register at the PAC athletics office.

Computer science professor Gordon Cormack is pleased, sort of, to report that he has won half of the 2006 ECML Discovery Challenge. “ECML 2006 is the 17th European Conference on Machine Learning,” he writes. “For the last several years, ECML has included the Discovery Challenge with a different machine learning or data mining problem each year. This year the subject was spam filtering, a subject that I've been looking at for the last couple of years.” Cormack is the co-ordinator for the Spam Track at TREC (Text Retrieval Conference) and chair of the Third Conference on Email and Anti-Spam. He adds: “I'm very pleased to have won Task B of the competition but I can't help asking myself: What did I do wrong on Task A?”

Back to top

Yesterday's Daily Bulletin