Friday, June 1, 2007

  • To 'revitalize' the faculty association
  • The treadmill of a digital culture
  • Campaign millions, and other notes
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Ring road work begins Monday

Work will begin Monday on the eastern portion of the ring road, the plant operations department says — “starting at Carl Pollock Hall going north and then west, past and including the Columbia Street entrance, and terminating just west of the entrance to parking lot M.

“This work also includes the roadway between Engineering III and CEIT up to the Engineering II loading dock and the installation of parking spaces on the west side of CEIT.

“There will be times when the work will inconvenience both car and pedestrian traffic. The first work, beginning on Tuesday, will be in the area between E3/CEIT and the parking spaces on the west side of CEIT. The work involves removal of the asphalt by a milling machine, some new curb work, installation of new duct bank across the road removal of gravel base re installation of gravel base and asphalt.

“The working hours are from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The project is expected to last into mid August.”

[Sun]Link of the day

National Sun Awareness Week

When and where

Rhythm Dance recital all day today, Saturday and Sunday, Humanities Theatre.

Research and innovation announcement by John Milloy, MPP for Kitchener Centre and parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, 9:30 a.m., Microwave Integrated System Lab, Engineering III.

Technical speaker competition for engineering students, sponsored by Sandford Fleming Foundation, faculty competition 10:00 a.m., Doug Wright Engineering room 2534.

Café-rencontre du département d'études françaises: étudiants de maîtrise, 13h à 15h, Humanities salle 373, ouvert à tous.

Dawn Roussel, Early Childhood Education Centre, honoured with presentation of Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence, 2:30, ECEC, first floor of PAS building, reception follows.

Club That Really Likes Anime (CTRL-A) presents a show tonight 4:30 to 10:30, Saturday 12 noon to 9:30, Arts Lecture Hall room 116; free to first-time comers, memberships on sale, details online.

Toronto Blue Jays vs. Chicago Cubs, trip organized by Columbia Lake Village, Saturday, bus leaves 10:30 a.m., admission and bus $25 per person, tickets at CLV community centre.

Charlottetown alumni event sponsored by UW and University of Guelph: family skate with Olympic medalist Cassie Campbell, followed by reception, Saturday 4:00 to 6:30 p.m., details online.

5-km run and family walk raising funds for a new facility for Hildegard Marsden Cooperative Day Nursery, Sunday 10:30 a.m., details and registration online, donations welcome.

Groundbreaking for Grand House student co-op housing, Sunday 5 p.m., 66 Roseview Avenue, Cambridge.

Employee Assistance Program presents brown-bag presentation on "Simple Living", Monday 12 noon, Davis Centre room 1302, no advance registration required.

Climate change briefing marking National Environment Week, by Patti Edwards and Linda Mortsch, Environment Canada, on Canadian participation in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Monday 3:00 p.m., Arts Lecture Hall room 113.

'Life, Money and Illusion' author Mike Nickerson speaks, sponsored by Waterloo PUblic Interest Research Group, Monday 5 p.m., Student Life Centre multipurpose room, details online.

Valentine O'Donovan Memorial Garden dedication ceremonies Tuesday 1:00 p.m., Physical Activities Complex quadrangle.

UW board of governors meets Tuesday 2:30 p.m., CEIT building room 3142 (not in Needles Hall board room).

[Back to the fUWture logo]
Keystone Campaign
annual summer event, Wednesday 11:30 to 1:30, rock garden and Biology green, plus evening event 10:00 p.m., South Campus Hall, details online.

'Air quality in Ontario' presentation by David Yap, Ontario ministry of the environment, Wednesday 3:00 p.m., Arts Lecture Hall room 113, presentation for National Environment Week.

Perimeter Institute presents Jay Melosh, University of Arizona, "Death of the Dinos: Giant Impacts and Biological Crises", Wednesday, June 6, 7:00 p.m., Waterloo Collegiate Institute, ticket information 519-883-4480.

Faculty of Science 50th anniversary picnic and group photo for faculty and staff, Thursday, June 7, 11:30 to 1:30, Optometry west lawn.

'The Great Homeless Count' film showing sponsored by Waterloo Public Interest Research Group, June 7, 5:00, Student Life Centre multipurpose room.

George Dixon, dean of science, reception as his term ends, Tuesday, June 19, 4:00 to 5:30, University Club, RSVP ext. 3-3363; contributions being accepted to Faculty of Science Scholarship Fund.

To 'revitalize' the faculty association

People don’t realize what a variety of things the faculty association is involved in, from salary negotiations to “listening” carefully to an individual professor with a complaint about the department chair, says the association’s new president.

[DeVidi]David DeVidi (right) of the philosophy department was elected unopposed to the president’s position this spring, taking over when Roydon Fraser of the mechanical engineering department stepped down after three one-year terms. He officially became president at an association board meeting on April 19.

DeVidi had served as the association’s treasurer and been a member of the board of directors for three years, but still he’s been surprised by the amount of work facing the president, he said yesterday over a cup of coffee. But he quickly added: “It’s all interesting, and some of it’s even fun!”

Faculty association officials do get some “relief” from teaching duties to provide more time for the association’s work, but DeVidi says he’ll be teaching two courses in the coming year. A specialist in logic and the philosophy of mathematics, he also serves as the philosophy department’s graduate officer.

He said his vision of the year ahead for the association can be divided into three parts. First there are “the bread-and-butter issues” such as salaries (a three-year settlement is coming to an end so there will be negotiations for the salary adjustment that’s due in May 2008), pension and benefits (especially the worry over the pension “cap” and possible adjustments to the pension plan to contemplate for it), and policy issues that come up for discussion in the Faculty Relations Committee.

Second, there are two “longer-term projects” for attention. One is a recent survey of professors about issues of workload and merit appraisals: “we’ve compiled the results,” said DeVidi, “and the next step is to try to do something!” The other is some attention to the UW instructors, collectively known as “continuing lecturers” and including clinical faculty in optometry, who aren’t really professors, aren’t part of the faculty association, and fit uneasily into the existing salary system and terms of employment.

(Another group that isn’t represented by the faculty association — professional librarians — isn’t on the priority list right now, says DeVidi, although he happens to be married to one of UW’s librarians. He noted that the Memorandum of Agreement between the faculty association and the university still includes an article calling for negotiations about the possibility of bringing the librarians into the association, but said that’s not a hot issue for the present.)

Third, DeVidi went on, he wants to emphasize “revitalization” for the association, raising its profile — even among professors who may take it for granted and not realize how many things it does — and getting more people involved.

“We’ve been relying on a lot of people for decades to do some jobs,” he said, noting in particular the Academic Freedom and Tenure committee, where some senior faculty have been serving for decades and may now be retiring or just weary. He’ll be looking to get more individuals involved, as well as streamlining the way the committee consults, mediates and investigates problems that involve working conditions, potential grievances, and interpersonal conflicts as well as strict “academic freedom” issues.

Back to top

The treadmill of a digital culture

by Angela Roorda, shortened from the Arts Research Update e-newsletter

Delivering a multimedia lecture powered by his movement on a treadmill, Marcel O’Gorman quite literally takes an idea — and runs with it. This digital performance piece, punningly entitled “Dreadmill,” laments the sedentary effects of our “screen culture” as it simultaneously enacts the possibility for more active and creative engagement with new media technology. "The treadmill itself is an appropriate metaphor for life in a digital culture,” says O’Gorman. “You can travel vast distances, but your body isn't going anywhere. That's a pun too, reminding us that, in spite of dreams of cyborgs and online living, we are still embodied, finite creatures."

[O'Gorman]A new professor in UW’s Department of English Language and Literature, O’Gorman (left) first developed “Dreadmill” in 2005 while serving as Director of the University of Detroit Mercy’s Electronic Critique Program, an interdisciplinary undergraduate program aimed to equip students with the technical and critical skills required in an age of new media. He describes his experience of developing the curriculum in E-Crit: Digital Media, Critical Theory and the Humanities (U of Toronto Press, 2006), a book that also functions as a call for humanities researchers to move beyond their fixation with — and sometimes nostalgia for — print culture in order to more compellingly and influentially engage, critique, and help shape the digital technologies of our time.

Like William Blake, whose artistic and literary work he admires and studied as a graduate student, O’Gorman is interdisciplinary minded and always on the lookout for artists, architects, environmentalists, computer scientists, engineers, and medical specialists to collaborate with. And like Blake, who, he suggests in E-Crit, would likely have felt right at home with the new media tools of the 21st century, O’Gorman likes to find innovative ways of giving expression to critical/theoretical ideas. To this end, O’Gorman is currently working towards establishing a Critical Media Lab — a centre designed to incubate and launch critical projects like “Dreadmill” and several others he already has in the works. “OncoGeiger,” for instance, is an emerging project which will involve hardwiring a Geiger counter to a computer to transform residual radiation into multimedia images for cancer patients to manipulate in therapeutic ways.

"I'm trying to develop a notion of 'humane computing,'” he explains — not to be confused with 'humanities computing,' which is really all about archiving. “Humane computing” means using technology to enhance human well-being and to help achieve a better understanding of technology's impact on the human condition. “If this sort of idea is going to take hold, humanities researchers have to embody their ideas in new media and extend their work and ideas into the sciences, where all of the decisions are made regarding technological development.”

O’Gorman also continues to publish in more traditional scholarly venues. He has been co-editing a volume of essays called New Media: New Methods, which is forthcoming from Parlour Press, and developing his concept of “necromedia” — a study spawned by “Dreadmill” — into a book-length reflection on the collusion of death and technology.

Always quick to spot an irony and make a critical contribution, O’Gorman turns his attention to UW’s current “why not?” motto. He finds it amusing that this quote from playwright Bernard Shaw was also the mantra of Timothy Leary — a fervent transhumanist and the father of psychedelia. “Leary uttered the words ‘Why not?’ sixty times on his deathbed,” explains O’Gorman. “While this mantra is perfect for a man who based his career on risk-taking, perhaps it's not the most responsible approach to technological innovation.” O'Gorman's favorite motto these days goes more like this: "Sometimes it's just not enough to say ‘'Why not?'”

Back to top

Campaign millions, and other notes

The just-published spring issue of the UW Magazine has, of course, an update on Campaign Waterloo: the development office reports that as of March, when the magazine went to press, the campaign was at the $333-million mark. And since then? Campaign director Linda Kieswetter gives an update: “We have several gifts that we hope to announce soon and are confident we will reach, and exceed, the $350-million ‘stretch goal’ this year, prior to what had been announced as a campaign wrap at the end of 2007.” But the environment has been changing: since the Campaign Waterloo goals were set several years ago, with an original target of $260 million, UW has adopted an ambitious Sixth Decade Plan that means the university needs to be raising $100 million annually by 2017 to fund growth in graduate studies, enhanced student experience, more international connections and students, and intensified research efforts. “In the weeks ahead," says Kieswetter, "we will be looking at how we keep the momentum of Campaign Waterloo going as we move forward to support the new goals."

A key part of UW's fund-raising is the "annual fund", which includes the on-campus Keystone Campaign as well as contributions from alumni, parents and friends of the university, but not the group classed by the development office as "major active" donors and prospects. A report on 2006-07 annual fund activity has just appeared, noting a total of $5,952,287 in cash and pledges over the past year, and receipts issued for a total of $4,469,303 in cash (a 5.6 per cent increase from the previous year). "A new Matching Gift Company Campaign Challenge will be launched in late June," writes Kathy Prpic of development, "and continue to year end. The goals of this mail/call appeal are to increase donor participation and average gifts from all UW alumni employed at a matching gift company. Alumni executives at these companies will be targeted with a customized leadership ask and an invitation to generate campaign excitement. A small selection of local companies with strong UW relationships will be approached with a customized appeal. A comprehensive web site will be developed to report alumni donor participation at each company, and an incentive program will be offered to attract donor support."

In other matters . . . At the 4th Canadian conference on Computer and Robot Vision (CRV2007), held in Montréal in late May, the IAPR (International Association for Pattern Recognition) Best Paper Award for 2007 was presented to Ehsan Fazl-Ersi and John Zelek. The paper was entitled "Local Graph Matching for Object Category Recognition". Fazl-Ersi graduated with a master's degree from the department of systems design engineering earlier this year; Zelek, a faculty member in SDE, was his thesis supervisor.

The engineering faculty's e-newsletter reports that Peter Huck, a civil and environmental engineering professor and NSERC Chair in Water Treatment, has won the Fuller award for 2006 by the Ontario Water Works Association, a section of the American Water Works Association. Awarded at the American Water Works annual conference, the Fuller is presented to one person each year.

Computer science student Tom Sie Ho Lee is one of 54 students from Canadian and American universities who have received scholarships to study in Germany from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). •  A delegation of 16 students from England's Oxford Brookes University will be on campus, living in Ron Eydt Village, for the next six week as part of that institution's annual exchange with the UW school of planning. • A dozen faculty and staff members in the school of computer science have entered a "corporate challenge" biking team in this year's Bike and Hike for Heart, to be held Sunday in support of the St. Mary's Regional Cardiac Care Centre.

The 133rd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Canada is being held at UW, with some of the ministerial and lay delegates arriving tomorrow and all expected to be on hand by Sunday evening. The opening session is being held at the historic Knox's Galt Presbyterian Church, around the corner from UW's Architecture building in Cambridge, but subsequent sessions are to take place in the Columbia Icefield — also the location for book displays and committee offices during the intense week-long meeting. Delegates will be staying in Ron Eydt Village.

Finally . . . the Canadian Forces announced yesterday that a photographer, Master Corporal Darrell Jason Priede, had been killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. Rumours quickly developed that he was a well-known recent UW graduate with a similar name who had been active in the Photography Club here. It's been confirmed that the soldier who died had no UW connection.


Back to top

Yesterday's Daily Bulletin