Tuesday, March 13, 2007

  • On Campus Day, some student affairs
  • Grad dean answers growth concerns
  • Densities in today's data stream
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs
  • credmond@uwaterloo.ca

Link of the day

Cricket World Cup

When and where

Career workshop: "Business Etiquette and Professionalism" 3:30, Tatham Centre room 1208, registration online.

Arts faculty council 3:30, Humanities room 373.

[Darfur poster]
'Unplugged for Darfur' benefit concert featuring Prize Fighter and Intransit, sponsored by UW Genocide Action Group and WPIRG, today from 7 p.m., Bombshelter pub, $5 at the door.

Credit union seminar: Paul O'Reilly, "Mortgages," Wednesday 12:15, Davis Centre room 1302, sponsored by Education Credit Union.

Free noon concert: "Choral Masterworks from the Golden Age and the European Renaissance", Wednesday 12:30, Conrad Grebel University College chapel.

'The Caucasian Chalk Circle' major production by UW department of drama: preview for invited guests Wednesday, public performances March 15-17 and 22-24, 8:00 p.m., Theatre of the Arts, tickets $12 (students $10) at Humanities box office.

Philosophy conference sponsored by UW Philosophy Graduate Students Association, Thursday-Friday, keynote speaker Imogen Dickie, University of Toronto, details online.

Faculty of Arts presents Alice Kuzniar, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, "Whose Melancholy? On the Muteness of Humans and Animals", Thursday 3 p.m., Tatham Centre room 2218.

Bechtel Lectures in Anabaptist-Mennonite Studies by author Sandra Birdsell, "The Confession of a Reluctant Mennonite", Thursday-Friday 7:30 p.m., great Hall, Conrad Grebel University College.

Jewish studies program presents James Kugel, Harvard and Bar Ilan Universities, "The God of Old: The Divine-Human Encounter in the Hebrew Bible", Thursday 7:30 p.m., Siegfried Hall, St. Jerome's University.

Business and technology conference organized by Science and Business Students Association, Saturday, Davis Centre, details and registration online.

Class enrolment appointments on Quest for undergraduate courses: for spring term March 19-31; for fall term June 11-23.

Senate finance committee begins work on UW's 2007-08 budget, meeting Monday, March 19, 9;30 a.m., Needles Hall room 3001.

Safety office open house: meet Joint Health and Safety Committee members, see displays, try out safety gear, Monday, March 19, 1:30 to 1:00, Commissary building.

Gardening expert Marjorie Harris speakers on her new book, How to Make a Garden, Tuesday, March 20, 12 noon, Laurel Room, South Campus Hall, tickets $11.95 (includes lunch) from UW bookstore.

'Preparing Your Finances' seminar for newer faculty members, sponsored by WatPort: financial planner speaking on tax returns, key financial statements, investments, risk tolerance, retirement planning; registration online.

First Robotics Waterloo Regional Competition for teams of high school students, March 22-24, Physical Activities Centre, details online.

Orchestra@UWaterloo end-of-term concert March 22, 8:00 p.m., Humanities Theatre, tickets free from Humanities box office. Program: Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D (Wallace Wu, violin), Mendelssohn, Hebrides Overture, Brahms, Symphony No. 2 in D.

Accountancy building ground-breaking ceremony March 27, 11:00 a.m., northeast corner of Hagey Hall.

PhD oral defences

Civil and environmental engineering. Yuan Xianxun, "Stochastic Modeling of Deterioration in Nuclear Power Plant Components." Supervisor, M. D. Pandey. On deposit in the faculty of engineering, CPH 4305. Oral defence Friday, March 30, 9:00 a.m., Engineering II room 3324.

Chemical engineering. Mei Wang, "Binding of Self-assembling Peptides to Oligodeoxynucleotides." Supervisors, Jean Duhamel and Pu Chen. On display in the faculty of engineering, CPH 4305. Oral defence Tuesday, April 3, 2:00 p.m., Doug Wright Engineering room 2534.

Civil and environmental engineering. Ahmed Mokhtar Mohamed El Refai, "Performance of RC Beams Strengthened with Externally Post-tensioned CFRP Tendons." Supervisors, Khaled Soudki and Jeff West. On display in the faculty of engineering, CPH 4305. Oral defence Tuesday, April 10, 9:30 a.m., Engineering II room 3324.

Computer science. M. Jason Hinek, "On the Security of Some Variants of RSA." Supervisors, Douglas Stinson and Mark Giesbrecht. On display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Wednesday, April 11, 10:00 a.m., Math and Computer room 5158.

[Brown, spotted, in tropical forest]

The Cretaceous period ended some 65 million years ago, which makes it doubtful that this is an authentic photograph of Struthiomimus, a late Cretaceous bipedal dinosaur, visiting the site of the West Edmonton Mall. It will, however, be present in spirit the day after tomorrow as Philip Currie of the University of Alberta speaks on "The Dinosaurs of Alberta", in a 50th Anniversary Year Lecture sponsored by UW's faculty of science. The talk will start at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Humanities Theatre; admission is free.

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On Campus Day, some student affairs

Campus Day is here — the traffic on University Avenue didn't look very heavy as I was coming to work this morning, but it'll pick up, with a predicted 5,000 visitors expected. (I did spot a hatchback making its way round the ring road at a stately speed, with two teenagers perched in the back grinning at the panorama.) Kim McKee of the visitors' centre, who's coordinating the day-long event, says Campus Day is aimed at future students (especially those in the last year of high school who are now deciding what university offer of admission to accept) and their parents. "Our goal," she says, "is to provide visitors with detailed information about the programs they've applied to and show them what life is like at the University of Waterloo." The Student Life Centre is also the future-student life centre, with booths all day today and several scheduled major presentations. General campus tours will leave the SLC from 9:00 to 2:15. Elsewhere on campus, the residences will be open for visits, kinesiology plans a lab tour in Matthews Hall, environmental studies has an "academic fair" going, software engineers will demonstrate Lego robots in the great hall of the Davis Centre, the Science Society is planning a barbecue, the colleges will be welcoming visitors, and so on. Details are on the "Findoutmore" web site and in a brochure that's being handed out to visitors.

Many of the future students will be in co-op programs — according to the institutional analysis office, 45 per cent of undergraduates were in co-op last year, down from 51 per cent five years ago — and they'll be keen to find out their chances of getting jobs to help them make it through university. Part of the answer: Just 88 co-op students who were "seeking employment" for the winter term didn't find it, according to figures just issued by the co-op and career services department. That puts the employment rate at 98.1 per cent, with a total of 4,749 students scheduled for work in the current term. (The figure a year ago: 96.6 per cent.) The unemployed students include 43 from engineering, 28 from math and a sprinkling from other faculties; nearly all of those unemployed are at the "junior" level.

Meanwhile, placement for the spring term is moving ahead. As of the middle of last week, 2,285 students had been matched with May-to-August jobs, and another 158 students — mostly at the senior level — had determined that they aren't participating in co-op for the summer. That adds up to 57.4 per cent of 4,255 eligible students taken care of, almost two months before the term is scheduled to start. Employer interviews and frequent online job matches are continuing, aimed at the 1,812 students who are still "seeking employment", nearly half of them in engineering and most of them at "junior" or "intermediate" levels.

In other matters . . . the senate undergraduate council is meeting today (12 noon in Needles Hall room 3004) and has a busy agenda with program and course changes from all the faculties, an update on the undergraduate program review process, and other business. Heading the list is detailed discussion of a proposal to rewrite UW's rules on student discipline, grievances and appeals, combining two existing documents — Policy 70 on grievances and Policy 71 on discipline — into a single code, which would be dubbed Policy 78. Changes include "separating policy from procedure, explaining student and institutional rights/responsibilities, and extending offences to include non-academic matters (e.g., disruptive or threatening behaviour in on-campus residences and pubs, violation of safety regulations, conduct during co-op employment", a background paper for today's meeting explains. The revision would also eliminate separate "committees on student appeals" in the six faculties, bringing everything under one consistent, campus-wide appeals body. Other changes are meant to simplify the way minor academic offences are handled: "In many or even most cases, it is entirely appropriate and desirable that the instructor handle such offences." The revised policy will eventually have to come to the UW senate for approval.

The UW Shop is holding a "March Madness sidewalk sale" today in South Campus Hall, with "T-shirts, hoodies, goodies and more". • Tickets are on sale for the Residence Council Charity Ball, to be held March 24 at the Waterloo Inn. • UW Co-op Student of the Year awards are to be presented on March 21, in a 3 p.m. event in the Tatham Centre.

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Grad dean answers growth concerns

by Michael Strickland, UW media relations

Students interested in graduate study should not let concerns about another double-cohort crunch stop them from applying, says UW’s dean of graduate studies.

In a just-released report entitled "Quality at Risk: An Assessment of the Ontario Government’s Plans for Action", the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations warns that the province has failed to fund graduate spaces for students now finishing their undergraduate studies. It’s a replay of the anxiety in 2003 when two years’ worth of students finished their Ontario high school studies simultaneously, and parents fretted that their children wouldn’t find room on the province’s campuses.

One figure pegs the increasing demand for space in graduate programs at about 30 per cent above last year and 50 per cent above the figure from 2002. UW officials have called for substantial increases in graduate enrolment this year — when some extra funding is available from the province — and a more than doubling of grad enrolment during the "sixth decade".

[Bird]Ranjana Bird, UW’s graduate dean (right), said yesterday that OCUFA is right to be concerned about a funding shortfall, but added that UW will only take as many students as it adequately can. “In terms of funding, we are very, very concerned,” she said. “While we are interested in helping every qualified applicant, we will not take students beyond the point where we can ensure quality.”

Bird spoke to a Record reporter who was asking for insight into OCUFA’s claims, and is quoted in a story in this morning’s paper about the challenge of finding enough faculty to teach all the students who want to start working on master’s degrees this fall.

She says part of the solution lies in the changing nature of graduate studies. Once viewed as primarily a step towards a career in academe, graduate studies have now become a common requirement for success in the world of work in general.

Graduate programs with that goal, often called “professional” master’s programs, generally involve more course work than a traditional graduate degree, but not the one-on-one mentoring required of a thesis. UW already has a number of professional grad programs, including a master’s in public health, one in engineering and one in taxation.

“Theses are for people who want to do a PhD and go into academe,” Bird explained. “Employers tell us that even when they are filling traditional jobs they are looking for a new and more advanced skill set.”

That change in what the market demands presents an innovative university with an opportunity, she suggested, so UW is keeping one eye on opportunity and one on quality. “Our ultimate goal is to ensure that whatever approach a student takes, whether course work or a thesis, the quality of the education they receive is outstanding.”

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Densities in today's data stream

A memo from Jane Manson, UW's director of finance, reminds departments that the end is nigh: UW's 2006-07 fiscal year will conclude on April 30. "It is necessary to finalize all accounting transactions for the year in a timely manner," she writes — so, in short, get the paperwork in now if you can. "All monthly financial statements up to and including February should be reviewed, if not already done so. . . . All travel claims or settlements for completed trips should be submitted as soon as possible. . . . All vendor invoices should be submitted immediately. . . . All faculty professional expense reimbursements that can be settled now should be submitted to Finance. . . . Once preliminary April 2007 monthly statements are issued, a limited time will be available to address any issues from April that result in additional accounting transactions," and by that time, the memo hints, it may be too late to go back and fix things from earlier months that should have been fixed already. "Specific year-end deadlines will be published at a later date." Questions: call ext. 3-3724.

The winter issue of the Gold and Black newsletter, published for UW athletics alumni, focuses on recollections of Warriors of the third decade, 1977 to 1986. That period includes some moments of triumph in everything from football to figure skating, and a great leap forward in campus athletic facilities with the construction of the Columbia Icefield in 1983. The newsletter tells the story of the Warriors' earlier years in "the old barn", more formally the Waterloo Memorial Arena — "a real feel of Canadiana, it felt like a hockey rink in the purest sense, and it was the total opposite of the antiseptic arenas that are built today." It was also falling down, to be replaced first by an air-supported bubble and then by today's Waterloo Memorial Recreation Centre. But by that time, the Warriors (men and later women too) were playing their varsity hockey under their own cantilevered cedar roof.

The last I knew about it, there was some doubt whether a UW team would be entered in the world finals of the high-glamour ACM Programming Contest this year, but the answer is yes. "2007 is the fifteenth year in a row that Waterloo has qualified," says Gordon Cormack, who's in Tokyo this week as coach of the Waterloo threesome of Tor Myklebust, Simon Parent and Malcolm Sharpe. "In all, 88 teams from around the world are competing," Cormack reports. Competition is set for Thursday — Wednesday evening, Waterloo time — and involves the customary five-hour sprint to solve as many computing problems as possible.

The Gold and Black also announces that a special web site has been created with details and registration forms for the many 50th anniversary reunions of UW sports teams that are being held this June. • Retail services is looking for student participants, particularly first-year students, for a pair of focus groups March 19 and 22 about the bookstore and other retail outlets on campus (e-mail k4king@uwaterloo.ca). • Grand River Transit is holding a series of "interactive workshops" next week to get public advice on plans for a rapid transit line through Waterloo, Kitchener and Cambridge.

Finally . . . despite what appears on a helpful web site, UW president David Johnston is not diversifying into undersea adventure. He's reported as speaking in Toronto on March 23 about "Industry Plus Academia: An Equation for Diving Innovation". That would be "for *Driving* Innovation", actually, and the talk — sponsored by the Ontario Centres of Excellence — is scheduled for March 28, not the 23rd.


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