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Friday, March 10, 2006

  • 50th anniversary leaders named
  • Poli sci prof takes on world finance
  • Drops in the daily drizzle
Editor:
Chris Redmond
credmond@uwaterloo.ca

Today from Answers.com


[Four women in peasant dresses]

On Australia's frontier, all dressed up and nowhere to go but an empty continent, are Amy Cruickshank, Jennifer Lorbetski, Melanie Bennett and Elizabeth Barry in the drama department's production of "Our Country's Good". It opens Wednesday night in the Theatre of the Arts; tickets, 888-4908.

50th anniversary leaders named

A retired dean and a retired staff member have been named co-chairs of the organizing committee for UW's 50th anniversary, which falls on July 1, 2007, and is expected to involve a full year of celebrations.

The new leaders are Bob Norman, dean of applied health sciences 1991-97 and now a distinguished professor emeritus in the kinesiology department, and Shirley Thomson, retired after a UW career in which she served as executive assistant to the provost and later to the dean of mathematics.

"Both were very active members of the UW community and continue to be as retirees," says a memo from UW president David Johnston, telling members of the 50th anniversary committee and its subcommittees that "I know you will give both Bob and Shirley your enthusiastic support."

He notes appreciation to Laura Talbot-Allan, vice-president (external relations), who headed the anniversary planning committee in its earlier stages.

Planning for what became UW began in the mid-1950s, although its history goes back decades to the beginnings of St. Jerome's University in 1865 and Waterloo College (also the forerunner of Wilfrid Laurier University) in 1911. However, the traditional founding date is July 1, 1957, the day set as the beginning of the first term of study for the 74-member pioneer class in engineering.

In Water Under the Bridge, an unofficial history of UW published to mark the university's 40th anniversary, Simon the Troll tells how UW began. This excerpt starts in the spring of 1957 and refers to president Gerry Hagey, a few faculty pioneers, and the interim board of trustees of what was then called Waterloo College Associate Faculties:

"By May they had written three years' worth of curriculum . . . and cleared it with an existing engineering school, down the road at the University of Western Ontario in London. Just imagine them driving back and forth to London in one of those 1957 Chevys, by highway 7 or highway 2, long before highway 401 was even started!

"In the spring the Associate Faculties offered admission tests to some 300 students. Half of them applied for admission, and half of those, more or less, were given the okay to start on July 1, 1957. Waterloo was more than ready. They had, as one of your historians puts it with unconscious irony, 'added an extra chemistry laboratory and a science storeroom on the third floor of the arts building', not to mention ordering $125,000 worth of new equipment. Everything was ready. . . .

"Times were exciting. On June 10, the voters threw out the Liberal government, which had been in office under Louis St. Laurent and William Lyon Mackenzie King since 1935, and a few days later John Diefenbaker's Progressive Conservatives took office. Plus, the city of Waterloo -- it had only been a 'city' for a few years -- and its biggest industry, the Seagram distillery, were both celebrating their 100th anniversary. So Dominion Day, on Monday, July 1, was an even bigger party than usual. The next day, Tuesday, those 74 would-be students . . . bought their textbooks from Elsie Fischer, who would go on to spend thirty years running the bookstore for the new university. And on Wednesday, they started their classes, mostly in a couple of temporary buildings with hot tin roofs. No cat, though: it was an all-male crew. . . .

"On the first of October, a new batch of students arrived, as that first gang headed out to their co-op jobs. Yes, I said October. For Waterloo's first few years, the terms were three months long, not four. Never let it be said that this place can't admit its mistakes and make changes!"

[Helleiner]

Poli sci prof takes on world finance -- abbreviated from the online Arts Research Update newsletter

Why, given the entrenchment of NAFTA and the relative success of the euro, has North American monetary union not materialized as so many economists had predicted? [Loonie] Why are Canadians so loyal to their loonie? These are the questions political science professor Eric Helleiner (left) answers in his new book Towards North American Monetary Union? The Politics of Canada's Exchange Rate Regime.

Eric Helleiner is a solver of puzzles. A specialist in global finance and the history of political economy, Helleiner typically takes as his research starting point anomalies in international monetary policy -- a surprising initiative here, an unexpected political turn there, or a set of paradoxical policies -- and then proceeds to delve into the archives and public record to find the overlooked detail, the ignored bit of information, and the subtle connection that will ultimately reveal the logic beneath the apparently contradictory surface. "I love archival work," says Helleiner. "I derive a lot of satisfaction in discovering the historical and political details upon which the big picture hinges."

Canada's reluctance to link its currency with the U.S., it seems, has a lot to do with its history of preferring floating exchange rates over fixed ones -- that, and a good dose of plain old patriotic loyalty. Combining political science, economics, and history, Helleiner's book sifts through the intricate history of Canada's sometimes unorthodox exchange rate policy and shows that, when seen from this historical perspective, Canada's reluctance to move towards a joint Canada/U.S. dollar is not so surprising after all.

Helleiner has also turned his attention to matters of international debt and debt relief. Why was it, he asks, that George W. Bush and the Republicans -- an administration not particularly known for its commitment to international development issues -- so wholeheartedly endorsed the 2005 G-7 policy of full debt cancellation for impoverished countries? Many were surprised at this development, but in an article forthcoming in New Political Economy, Helleiner explains how this move did not necessarily indicate a change of heart but, more likely, a means of achieving other of the administration's geopolitical and domestic goals.

The blend of political science, history, and economics in Helleiner's monetary policy research is very much in line with the interdisciplinarity of the field of "global governance" as a whole -- a field Helleiner most closely identifies with. Currently Chair in International Governance at Waterloo's Centre for International Governance Innovation, Helleiner traces the rapid growth of this field, which emerged in the early 1990s: "With the end of the Cold War and the rise of economic globalization, the international landscape changed, bringing with it a push for more structures of international governance and the accompanying need for more complex, more interdisciplinary, approaches to analysis."

A newcomer to UW's poli sci department, Helleiner finds here an intellectually rich home for his research. "There are some great thinkers here at UW, and the close links between different departments are particularly conducive to interdisciplinary research," he says. "That and, of course, the proximity of CIGI, which is fast achieving international recognition, makes this an ideal place to study issues of global governance."

Drops in the daily drizzle

It's the beginning of March break for the elementary and high schools, which means lighter traffic on local streets, and the absence of some UW staff members, taking a week's holiday time to be with their kids. Probably it also means there will be some disoriented first-year students: for the first time since their rugrat days, they don't get a mid-March trip or holiday. (The Early Childhood Education Centre in UW's department of psychology also closes for March break.)

With the recent talk about planned city-wide "WiFi" wireless access to the Internet in Toronto, it turns out there's talk in Waterloo as well. City Hall has announced a day-long forum on wireless Internet service -- "Exploring the What If" -- on Thursday, March 30. Business leaders, technology experts, young people, educators and others are being invited "to talk about how we could leverage broadband wireless access if it were available throughout the area". John Jung of the Intelligent Community Forum, which recently named Waterloo one of its seven finalists worldwide for this year, is the keynote speaker (and is a UW graduate). Details of the event: e-mail enesbitt@city.waterloo.on.ca.

The UW staff association announced this week that it's doing an online employee satisfaction survey: "We are asking for your participation. A notice will be sent out by campus mail including information on how to access the survey and a random username and password. We will not know who is assigned to any particular username/password combination.The survey is online now and will remain accessible until Friday, March 31 at 12 noon. The survey will take about 20 minutes of your time. The data will help the SA identify aspects of the UW work environment that need improvement. All the data collected is anonymous."

WHEN AND WHERE
International Celebration Week cuisine: East India and Japan today in Mudie's, Italy and France in REVelation, Mexico at South Campus Hall, French Canada at Renison College.

International Women's Day workshops 10:00 to 4:00, Student Life Centre multipurpose room: herbal medicine, yoga, crafting, sustainable menstruation, others.

'Preparing Students for Global Citizenship': workshop for faculty members 11:00, Math and Computer room 5158, details online.

Faculty of Arts reception for students on the dean's honours list, 4:00 to 6:00, Festival Room, South Campus Hall.

Bechtel Lectures in Anabaptist Mennonite Studies, second of two by James Urry, Victoria University of Wellington, "Memory", 7:30, Conrad Grebel University College great hall.

'Sound in the Land' collection of essays on Mennonites and music, book launch Saturday 8 p.m., Conrad Grebel University College chapel.

Engineering Explorations tours for students in grades 6-8, Monday 5 p.m. and 6:45, details online.

Campus Day open house for future UW students and their families, Tuesday 9:00 to 3:00, schedule and information online.

Faculty association confidential general meeting of members, Wednesday 3:30, Math and Computer room 4059.

The annual Rainbow Reels Queer Film Festival gets going today on campus, after a preview last night at the Princess Cinema downtown. The event is Waterloo Region's only film festival dedicated to "celebrating queer culture and experience on film", and promises to "challenge perceptions of normalcy and expose the fluidity within concepts of sex, gender and sexuality. Reaching beyond male/female, masculine/feminine, gay/straight, this year's festival theme looks at revealing the lives of those who identify outside the norm." The lineup for the sixth annual festival includes a collection of films by Canadians, including "Most Guys Today" by local director Steve Hutton, who will be attending and speaking at the screening on Saturday night. Rainbow Reels is organized by volunteers with the support of the Waterloo Public Interest Research Group. Showings start at 6:30 tonight, 4:30 Saturday and 4:30 Sunday, all in Davis Centre room 1302. A detailed schedule is online.

The importance of scientific and technological innovation to the economy is the theme of an all-day student conference tomorrow presented by SCRUBS -- the Science Committee of Revolutionary Undergraduate Business Students. With the theme of "The Driving Force: From Science to Business", the event presents speakers such as Michael Hughes, known as Canada's Networking Guru, and Tom Brzustowski, former president of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (and a former UW provost). Workshop topics cover effective networking behaviours, "Selling Your Strategies," commercialization, productivity gaps, research and development, wealth connection and "Why Food Products Succeed or Fail." It all happens in the Davis Centre; conference details are on the SCRUBS web site.

The top headline on this morning's Record reports that Calvin Ayre, "a University of Waterloo grad who financed his education by selling Okanagan Valley apples, cherries and peaches on the prairies", and who's now the proprietor of "online gambling behemoth Bodog.com", is a new member of the Forbes magazine billionaire list. . . . Marianna Polak of UW's civil engineering department has been elected a Fellow of the American Concrete Institute, recognizing her research contributions to the field. . . . The local chapter of the Canadian Federation of University Women is advertising that its mammoth annual book sale will be held April 21 and 22 this year. . . .

[Black Knight logo] Tomorrow brings this term's Black Knight squash tournament in UW's campus recreation program. . . . Rankings are open today (and close Sunday at midnight) for architecture students picking spring term co-op jobs. . . . A group from the UW Recreation Committee is off to see "The Mikado" at the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse on Sunday afternoon. . . .

A convoy organized by UW Dimensions and other Chinese clubs on campus is off to London tonight to take part in a teleconference about living and working in Hong Kong. . . . Warrior athletes are in Saskatoon for the weekend taking part in the national track and field championships. . . . Renison College is hosting the annual St. Bede Conference tomorrow, dealing with "the life of a parish as a healing centre in the community", under the title "Pathways to Shalom". . . .

CAR


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