Friday, February 23, 2007

  • UW sets rules for branch campuses
  • No willpower? Blame the frontal lobe
  • Wisps in the bright winter air
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Red 'Win 50 Draw' poster]

Tickets are very much on sale now for the second of four draws in the university's 50th anniversary lottery. The prize this time round: fifty $50 gift certificates to various gourmet restaurants. The poster announcing the draw also serves as the first announcement of the event where it'll take place: "faculty and staff appreciation luncheon" on April 25. Tickets, at $5 apiece or three for $10, are for sale by staff members in various spots across campus.

Link of the day

Canada goes to the Oscars

When and where

Graduate Student Leadership Conference continues: sessions in Davis Centre, dinner at Graduate House, details online.

Weather station contest (predict date and time when temperature hits 20 Celsius) entry deadline 3 p.m.

Warrior sports: women's hockey at Brock tonight, vs. Toronto 2 p.m. Saturday at Columbia Icefield. • Track and field, OUA championships at Windsor, today and tomorrow.

UWaterloosaurus project: artist Peter Etril Snyder continues work on mural, and computer science professor Jeff Shallit speaks on "Asteroids and Meteorites" for kids and adults, Saturday 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. (same talk and slide presentation, with meteorites to hold), Waterloo Town Square.

Retail services stores usually open on Saturday will be closed tomorrow because of reading week.

School of Accountancy hospitality suite at annual CA Convocation, Westin Harbour Castle Toronto, Saturday 4 to 6 p.m.

Warrior men's hockey playoffs vs. Western, second game Saturday 7:30 p.m. at UWO, broadcast online by CHRW. Game 3 if necessary, Sunday 7:30, Columbia Icefield, admission $9 (students $7), broadcast on CKMS.

'Let's Dance Showcase' Sunday 1:30, Humanities Theatre.

Pick Your Plan Week for undergraduate students begins Monday.

Eating Disorders Awareness Week with displays in Student Life Centre, Monday-Wednesday; video Tuesday 12 noon.

Senate long-range planning committee meets Monday 3:15, Needles Hall room 3004; agenda includes position papers on Post-Doctoral Fellows and lifelong learning.

UW senate meets Monday 4:30, Needles Hall room 3001.

Ontario privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian speaks on "Privacy by Design", sponsored by Engineering Society and other societies and faculties, Tuesday 12 noon, Theatre of the Arts, registration online.

'Your Future UW Pension' information session sponsored by faculty association, staff association and CUPE local 793, Tuesday 12 noon, Humanities Theatre.

TD Canada Trust/Walter Bean Lecture by Mike Harcourt, former premier of British Columbia: "Canada's Cities, Competitive and Sustainable?" Tuesday 3:30 p.m., Humanities Theatre, free reservations ext. 8-4973.

Federation of Students executive meet-and-greet session, Tuesday 3:30, Student Life Centre great hall.

'Connecting Communities: The Uniting Power of Art' sponsored by The New Quarterly, Alternatives Journal, and Waterloo Unlimited, Tuesday 7 to 9 p.m., Conrad Grebel University College great hall, free.

Centre for Family Business, Conrad Grebel University College, one-day workshop: "Learn to Develop Your Emotional Intelligence", Wednesday, details online.

Application deadline for admission to UW for spring term, March 1; fall term, March 30, earlier cutoffs in some cases, details online.

'Working through conflict' presentation sponsored by Employee Assistance Program, March 5, 12:00 noon, Davis Centre room 1302 (note change from previously announced date).

International Women's Day dinner March 8, 5:00 p.m., South Campus Hall, tickets $30 from Humanities box office, 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.

'The Caucasian Chalk Circle', drama department major production, March 15-17 and 22-24, Theatre of the Arts, tickets from Humanities box office (519-888-4908).

50th Anniversary Dance sponsored by UW Recreation Committee, Saturday, May 5, Federation Hall, tickets $20 from Humanities box office.

UW sets rules for branch campuses

With the University of Waterloo expanding well outside Waterloo and soon, potentially, outside Canada, the university's board of governors has approved a set of "Principles for Development of Off-Campus Sites". The document was presented to the February 6 board meeting by the vice-president (administration and finance), discussed briefly and approved with minor changes.

Here's how the principles stand as a result:

• Normally, the University services its existing programs on the main Waterloo campus.

• New campuses (such as Cambridge and Kitchener) will be considered where there is a compelling business case (covering initial capital costs and ongoing costs) which has general support across the campus community; when programs can be located off-site without unduly compromising the quality of a larger campus experience; and when academic excellence can be achieved.

• Detailed business cases will be developed for each proposal and Board of Governors' approval requested before formal commitments are made; the benefits to the University and to the local community under consideration (including their expectations) will be identified to the extent possible.

• "New campuses" will be pursued internationally which fulfill specific academic objectives; where the physical elements are normally owned and operated by local entities located in that country; and the University delivers the academic program(s).

• The University will pursue, to the extent possible, the availability of expansion lands at each new campus location in Canada.

• Brownfield sites will be considered where the University can achieve high environmental standards.

• Technology will be used to connect the campus populations to the extent possible.

• New campus development will identify how synergies can be leveraged from the main campus for both academic programming and student services.

• Regular reviews, including cost-benefit analysis of multiple campus configurations, will ensure ongoing viability.

Other than minor special-purpose outposts away from the main (Dearborn) campus, UW established its first branch campus in Rome 25 years ago for the architecture term-abroad program. The entire school of architecture moved to Cambridge, Ontario, in the fall of 2004. A Kitchener "health sciences campus" is now under construction, a college in Stratford has been proposed, and UW is deep into planning for programs to be based in Nanjing, China, and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

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No willpower? Blame the frontal lobe

from the UW media relations office

Everybody's good at making New Year's resolutions about exercise, dieting and smoking cessation. But why are we so bad at keeping them?

A recent study suggests that the answer may not lie entirely in the sphere of motivation. Peter Hall, a UW kinesiology professor and principal author of the study, says his team has uncovered evidence that individual differences in brain function may be partially to blame.

"Like all other organs, the human brain is subject to subtle differences in structure and function, and some of these have implications for how we behave in everyday life," Hall says. "For example, the frontal lobe of the brain is largely thought to be responsible for assisting in effortful control of behaviour."

Many health behaviours, such as making healthy food choices, maintaining regular physical activity and restricting substance use, require effort, inconveniences or both. The team hypothesized that those individuals with superior frontal lobe function might have an easier time resisting initially seductive — but ultimately dangerous — behaviours such as smoking a cigarette or drinking excessively. They may also be better able to follow through on good intentions such as exercise and healthy eating.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research supported the research of Hall and his colleagues. In a study published in a recent issue of the journal Health Psychology, the group demonstrated that performance on a test designed to measure frontal lobe function strongly predicted self-reported levels of cigarette smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. These effects seemed specific to frontal lobe function and did not reflect generalized cortical function — or IQ.

In a second series of studies to be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Psychology & Health, they tested whether the same sort of brain functions were associated with follow-through on intentions to be physically active and to make healthy dietary choices. Frontal lobe function, in this case, was measured by a reaction time task administered to participants via laptop computer in a lab. The investigators found that participants with strong frontal lobe function had very good follow-through for exercise and dietary intentions, while those with weak executive function had much weaker follow-through.

"Mere milliseconds of difference on this reaction time measure of frontal lobe function can predict how well people follow through on their intentions for diet and exercise over the course of a week," says Hall. "The notion that brain function partially explains consistency in health behaviour contrasts with traditional accounts that assume lack of follow-through equals lack of motivation. Our findings suggest that motivation is only part of the story."

So if people's brains are partly to blame, what can be done to improve follow-through on intentions to diet and exercise? First, they should give themselves a break if they have difficulty following through on their resolutions. Hall notes that most individuals are less than perfect when it comes to follow-through. Second, if they do have strong motivation but just aren't making the grade as far as exercise or diet is concerned, they should structure their home and work environment so that healthy choices are easier choices. That way they rely less on their frontal lobes — and more on their motivation.

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Wisps in the bright winter air

The lead editorial in today's issue of the Record newspaper deals with the recent investigation of the Waterloo Tamil Students Association, and concludes that it was "hasty and superficial" relative to the larger issues that will eventually be settled in court. • Staff in information systems and technology are getting "a tutorial to create your own personal blog" from three of their co-op students at their weekly professional development seminar this morning. • Tom Yoder Neufeld of Conrad Grebel University College, along with a local Mennonite minister, will lead a two-week tour to Turkey and Greece, "Exploring the World of Paul", starting May 25.

The UW faculty association has issued a call for nominations as it prepares to elect a 2007-08 president and four members of its eleven-person board. "Serving on the FAUW Board of Directors offers many opportunities to learn about the structures and procedures of University governance," says a memo from the elections committee. "The FAUW is one of the few places where members can effect changes in University policies and procedures." The memo also notes that the current president, Roydon Fraser of the mechanical engineering department, is not running for re-election. The nomination deadline is Monday, March 5: "Nominations must be made in writing and require the signatures of five members of the Association and the written consent of the nominee." More information about the association is, of course, available on its web site.

[Whistle]Speaking of the faculty association, and current president Roydon Fraser, here's a passage of interest from his report in the latest issue of the association newsletter: "There is a directive from the University Board of Governors that whistle-blowing protections be formalized on campus. The first draft of this directive is to incorporate a formal procedure for anonymous complaints into Policy 33. This first draft has some difficulties that the FAUW, Staff Association, and Administration are working on. Some of the concerns about the first draft are that only partial protection of a whistle-blower is provided, that there is the opportunity for abuse and unintended consequences, and that it extends the usual whistle-blower protections seen elsewhere for 'disclosure' being applied to 'complaints'. The FAUW will keep you informed of how things progress on the formal inclusion of whistle-blowing into policy."

A low-key announcement has been made about one of the big cultural events of the year at UW: "The 15th annual Friends of the Library Authors Event hosted by the Library is scheduled for Wednesday, April 25. An integral part of the event is the display of published works by UW authors, artists, and musicians. Last year's event featured the lecture, 'Universities from the Bottom Up: Personal Reflections of a Lifer,' by UW's Dean of Engineering, Adel Sedra. This year's talk will feature Dr. Ken McLaughlin and his forthcoming book 'Out of the Shadow of Orthodoxy: UW @ 50.' If you have written a book, play, musical score, or had your work exhibited in 2006, the Library would like to hear from you. Please contact Cheryl Kieswetter in the Library Office (ext. 3-2281)."


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