Monday, February 5, 2007

  • Awards honour students who teach . . .
  • . . . including these four last year
  • The university's 'planetary' role
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Scores in formal dress, waving]

Riding the waves was this cheerful crowd of optometrists and companions who took part in a continuing education cruise sponsored by UW's optometry school. A week out of Fort Lauderdale in mid-January wasn't hard to take, and the professional program itself "was very well received," says Gary Marx of optometry. "We hope to offer it every other year."

Link of the day

Boil-water warning in Lakeshore Village

When and where

Imaginus poster sale Monday-Thursday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Student Life Centre.

Sociology professor Lorne Dawson speaks on "The Changing Face of Religions in Canada" 12 noon, Kitchener public Library main branch.

Senate executive committee 3:30, Needles Hall room 3004.

Computational mathematics colloquium: Bill Hager, University of Florida, "Recent Advances in Bound Constrained Optimization", 3:30, Math and Computer room 5158.

Career workshop: "Starting Your Own Business: The Basics" 4:30, Tatham Centre room 2218, registration online.

UW Genocide Action Group presents movie "The Pianist" and documentary "Defying Genocide", 7 p.m., Arts Lecture Hall room 116, donations accepted for Oxfam Canadian Students for Darfur.

International Development Week begins with movie and storytelling coffee house ("drink fair trade coffee and listen to stories of overseas volunteers and others"), 7 p.m., Student Life Centre.

Engineering student exchange programs information session, Tuesday 11:30 a.m., Carl Pollock Hall room 3386, details online.

UW board of governors Tuesday 2:30 p.m., Fireplace Lounge, Sweeney Hall, St. Jerome's University.

Bank of Canada deputy governor David Longworth, "Inflation Targeting: The Canadian Experience", Tuesday 2:30, Humanities Theatre.

2007 Job Fair co-sponsored by UW and other institutions, Wednesday 10:00 to 3:30, RIM Park, Waterloo, shuttle bus from campus, details online.

50th Anniversary exhibition hockey game, Team Johnston vs. Team Heaney, Wednesday 12:00 (doors open 11:00), Columbia Icefield.

Noon-hour concert: "Cello Sonatas by Myaskovsky & Enns", including premiere of Leonard Enns's Sonata for Solo Cello, Wednesday 12:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel University College chapel.

Careers in mathematics and computer science: alumni speak about their careers, Wednesday 4:30 p.m., Davis Centre room 1304.

UpStart festival of innovative theatre, second week: Thursday and Friday at 7, Saturday at 2 and 7, Studio 180, Humanities building; details online.

St. Jerome's University presents religious sudies professor David Seljak, "Ethnic Diversity and Christian Unity", Friday 7:30 p.m., Siegfried Hall.

David Suzuki's "If You Were Prime Minister" Tour, February 13, 11:30 a.m., Humanities Theatre, tickets $5 from Humanities box office or Waterloo Public Interest Research Group.

Fantastic Alumni, Faculty and Staff Day at Warrior men's hockey game vs. Laurier, February 17, 4 p.m., Physical Activities Complex, free ticket information online.

Reading week in all faculties February 19-23, no classes.

Ottawa 50th anniversary celebration of UW and co-operative education, with president David Johnston and co-op and career services director Peggy Jarvie, Monday, February 19, 6 to 8 p.m., National Gallery of Canada, details online.

Campus Day open house for future students and family members, Tuesday, March 13, programming 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., details online.

Awards honour students who teach . . .

Students who are also teachers — such as graduate student teaching assistants (TAs) and undergraduate lab demonstrators — are eligible for a UW award that has a new title this year.

The Award for Exceptional Teaching by a Student replaces what was previously the Distinguished Teaching by a Registered Student Award, given annually since 1999.

“The awards,” say the terms of reference, “are open to all students who have a formal teaching role at the University of Waterloo. The Selection Committee will look for intellectual vigour and communication skills in the interpretation and presentation of subject matter. Concern for and sensitivity to the academic need of the students is an important criterion.”

Winners are honoured during the convocation ceremony when they graduate — sometimes shortly after the award is made, sometimes long afterwards. A cheque and a certificate are also part of the deal.

The nomination deadline each year is the second Friday in February. A nomination “must be endorsed by as least five individuals, including present and past students of the nominee, and present and past faculty supervisors of the nominee,” and there’s other fine print, explained on the web site.

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. . . including these four last year

These four students were the 2006 winners of the Distinguished Teaching by a Registered Student awards, with background from citations that were published by the teaching resource office:

• Spencer Rand, one of the two teaching assistants for Architecture 292 in the fall term of 2005. He is currently a graduate student pursuing a Master of Architecture degree. “His exemplary levels of energy and his high enthusiasm for work and commitment,” says a citation, “could not be left unnoticed by his students, professors and colleagues. He has been extremely open with the students and able to communicate and comprehend the needs of students.” The course instructor for Arch 292 writes “Perhaps his most remarkable ability was to bring a sense of humour and delight to his relationship with the second year class and instructors, and to the study of architecture.”

He has always tried to help his students “wherever and whenever possible”, the citation goes on.. One of his students writes “Even if we met him in a hallway during his off hours at 3 in the morning, he would do everything to help. Once I was working on a complicated project that had to be finished right away. I needed help and Spencer stayed with me for three hours, and it was not even the subject that he was TAing.” Another student commented: “I am a disabled student and I only have the use of one arm. Spencer would sit and take my dictation during Arch 246 and lend his hands during difficult parts of Arch 292 studio projects.”

• Julie Gauley, a graduate student in biology. Apart from her studies, she is also working in the teaching resource office as a Teaching Assistant Developer. Says a citation: “Her hard work to help the students as much as possible has been appreciated by her students, professors and colleagues. Her pre-laboratory talks and tutorials engage students with open-ended questions creating a friendly atmosphere and ease for the students to get answers to their queries.” Her supervisors and students write: “Despite high expectations, students do not fear Julie at all because equalled in her expectations of them, is her high expectations of herself as a teacher.” Many of her former students are now undergraduate TAs themselves, the citation goes on, “and they have always found themselves to be extremely lucky to be taught by an exemplary role model such as her.”

• Daniel Olsen, a graduate student in the geography department currently pursuing his PhD. Apart from being a teaching assistant, he also guest lectures in courses such as Geography 101 and 630. He has been a teaching assistant in a long list of courses: Geography 101, 203, 233, 323 (three times), 393 (twice), plus courses at Wilfrid Laurier University. “Being the most determined and exuberant,” says the citation, “he has never hesitated to take any new projects and tasks.” The course instructor for Geography 101 writes “He retained his helpful good spirits and promptness no matter how heavy his load of papers or tests to grade. His dependability made my job easier.”

One student writes “It is obvious during lectures how much time Dan spends preparing material as well as a great number of examples to assist comprehension. As a result, students are able to listen, understand and make notes easily without missing important content. Course notes are available prior to class and easy to follow during review and study time.” His innovative teaching styles such as PowerPoint presentations, including his own travel photographs, are beyond the boundary of lecturing and are highly admired by his students.

Jason Tsang is a third year undergraduate student in the School of Planning, as well as a teaching assistant for Geography/Planning 255. “Jason helps many of his students by guiding their thought processes instead of just revealing the answers,” a citation says. “He not only helped a class of 25 students as the teaching assistant but students from other classes preferred to come to him for assistance.” His course instructor writes: “He was willing to provide students with help outside of the scheduled lab times, and spent considerably more time in the lab working with the students than the teaching assistant position required. His enthusiasm and willingness to help outside of designated class time or office hours were greatly appreciated by his students.”

One student writes: “Jason has always been friendly and easily approachable, as he can always be found working at the help desk for the Faculty of Environmental Studies in Mapping, Analysis and Design Department. He even created a special teaching assistant account on MSN Messenger to increase his accessibility for any course related inquiries.” Jason’s students “love him”, says the citation, “and consider themselves lucky to have him around to help them.”

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The university's 'planetary' role

from the UW media relations office

A co-founder of Greenpeace International and author of a major environmental book will discuss the key role a university can play in making the community a more sustainable place during a talk at UW tomorrow.

The public lecture, entitled "The Planetary University as a Catalyst for Local/Regional Sustainability", will be given by Michael M'Gonigle, author of Planet U: Sustaining the World, Reinventing the University. Co-sponsored by the faculties of arts and environmental studies, the talk takes place Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Festival Room, South Campus Hall.

"We are delighted to have Michael M'Gonigle visit the University of Waterloo," says Ken Coates, dean of arts. "His commitment to environmental issues long-predates our current concerns about global warning and the dangers of rapid ecological change." Coates says that in his latest book, M'Gonigle identifies crucial challenges and outlines clear and reasonable suggestions about how post-secondary institutions can — and should — take the lead in changing societal attitudes on climate change.

"In the era of global climate change and calls for urgent action, citizens need new strategies to help break the political and economic gridlock that prevents such action," says Ian Rowlands, a UW professor of environment and resource studies who will moderate a question-and-answer session after the lecture. "Universities have a critical role to play in meeting these challenges."

Rowlands, who researches energy issues and global climate change, adds that the public lecture will examine means of harnessing the power of the higher education industry, along with new emerging processes of social change. "Universities are not only laboratories for new ideas, but they, themselves, are also large institutions," Rowlands says. "Consequently, they have the potential both to generate alternative strategies for application within society as a whole and also to lead by example."

Drawing on his book, M'Gonigle will consider the historic institution — the university — in terms of its potential to become a model of transformative change at the community level where people live.

M'Gonigle is the EcoResearch Professor in Environmental Law and Policy in the faculty of law at the University of Victoria, and a lawyer and political ecologist. His work with Greenpeace in the 1970s led to the international moratorium on commercial whaling. During this time he co-founded Greenpeace International. In the 1980s, he worked on wilderness conservation and forestry reform in British Columbia, including leading the successful struggle to protect the Stein River Valley from industrial logging. As chair of the board of Greenpeace Canada, M'Gonigle launched its forests campaign in 1990. A co-founder in the late 1990s of SmartGrowth BC and Forest Futures (Dogwood Initiative), he recently founded the POLIS Project on Ecological Governance at the University of Victoria.


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