Friday, March 16, 2007

  • Changes to staff awards program
  • Books, honours for Spanish profs
  • That'll be the frosty Friday . . .
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs


Artist Peter Etril Snyder was on hand yesterday for the unveiling of his work in the March Networks Atrium, the central space of the CEIT building, where UW's earth sciences museum is housed. The mural, eight feet (2.5 metres) square, portrays Parasaurolophus dinosaurs like the one whose skeleton is a longstanding feature of the museum.

Link of the day

The wearin' o' the green

When and where

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

Wilfrid Laurier University March break open house for potential students, 9:30 to 3 p.m.

Luncheon buffet marking St. Patrick's Day with Irish stew, cabbage and potato bake and other emerald dishes, 11:30 to 2:00, University Club, $16 per person, reservations ext. 3-3801.

Women in Mathematics Committee and department of applied mathematics present Hongmei Zhu, York University, "Time-Frequency Representations: Useful Views of a Signal", 3 p.m., Davis Centre room 1304, talk aimed at graduate and upper-year undergrad students.

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

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

University of Guelph College Royal open house, Saturday 9 to 5, Sunday 10 to 4, details online.

Bomber breakfast all day Saturday at Bombshelter pub, Student Life Centre, $20 cover includes St. Patrick's Day T-shirt, from 9:30 a.m. with advance tickets, 11:00 general admission.

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

Blood donor clinic Monday-Friday, March 19-23, Student Life Centre, appointments now at turnkey desk.

Senate finance committee begins work on UW's 2007-08 budget, meeting Monday 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 11:30 to 1:00, Commissary building.

Joint Health and Safety Committee Monday 1:30, Commissary room 112D.

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

'Preparing Your Finances' seminar for newer faculty members, Tuesday 12:30 to 4:30, sponsored by WatPort: financial planner speaking on tax returns, key financial statements, investments, risk tolerance, retirement planning; registration online.

Grand River Transit public meetings about possible rapid transit routes and station locations: March 20, St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church; March 21, First United Church, Waterloo; March 22, United Kingdom Club, Cambridge, all with displays at 6 p.m., presentation at 6:30, discussions 7:00 to 8:30; preregister by e-mail, rtinfoline

UW Food Bank drive for non-perishable food, money, and Zehrs or Sobeys receipts, March 21-23, Student Life Centre and bins across campus.

Systems design engineering students' showcase of design projects, Wednesday 11:00 to 7:00, Davis Centre great hall.

Communitech lunch: "Doing Business with Post-Secondary Institutions", Wednesday 11:30, Waterloo Inn, details and registration online.

'Be a Ring Road Runner' spring workshop and release of Running Mates' Guide to Physical and Mental Health, March 21, 12 noon, Rod Coutts Hall room 112, registration ext. 3-5418.

Federation of Students general meeting Wednesday 3:30 p.m., Student Life Centre great hall.

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.

Alumni career planning workshop Saturday, March 24, 10:00 to 6:00, details online.

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

Changes to staff awards program

Changes to the Special Recognition Award Program for UW staff are announced in a memo that's being sent across campus this morning, in advance of nominations opening for the program's fourth year.

Since it was created, more than 700 staff members have received one-time $1,000 awards from the program, which seeks to acknowledge individuals "who make UW a great place to work every day by consistently demonstrating the use of the Basic Principles for the UW Workplace". More specific criteria are being introduced, and the value of the award is being boosted to $1,500, with the maximum number of annual awards going down from 250 to 150.

There's also a new provision for team awards — "a minimum of four individuals . . . usually cross functional but can be within one department". Team awards will recognize "fostering innovation, major efficiency improvement or cost savings, achievement of a major project milestone".

For individual winners, criteria that are "more specific and more applicable to job performance" are needed, says the memo. Nominators will now be asked to put proposed award winners in "one or more" of seven categories: Building relationships, Outstanding service, Fostering innovation, Going beyond expectations, Positive influence on the workplace, Leadership, Other.

As in the past, anyone — other staff, faculty members, students — will be able to nominate award winners, with the nominees to be reviewed by senior UW officials who make the decision. But from now on, a proposed winner needs both a nominator and, normally, a seconder, though "in some instances, it may not be possible for a seconder (e.g., when students are nominating)."

And there will be more of a role for the nominee's department head to play: "For many staff members, the lack of input from management posed some questions regarding the validity of the nomination. Department heads as well stated that they felt alienated from the process. Although department heads will not have the opportunity to veto a nomination for an award, they will, prior to Executive Council reviewing the nominations, be asked to support it."

The changes are being announced by the Provost's Advisory on Staff Compensation, which introduced the program in 2003 and has managed it since then. They're the result of a review process that started last summer. "The Committee thanks everyone for their suggestions, revisions and commitment to making this award more meaningful and the processes supporting it more transparent," says today's memo.

Last-minute comments are still welcome (e-mail or phone ext. 3-5924). Nominations for the 2007 awards, to be announced in the fall, will be accepted from March 30 until July 31, with a nomination form available online by the time the nomination period opens.

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Books, honours for Spanish profs

Achievements by three members of UW’s smallest academic department — Spanish and Latin American studies — are reported in the latest issue of the Arts Research Update newsletter. Here are the highlights:

Mariela A. Gutiérrez was not only presented last October with the UW Award of Excellence in Research (the first woman at UW to win this award), but learned in November that she has been inducted into the Royal North American Academy of the Spanish Language — the highest honour a researcher in the field can achieve.

The decision was made, says the Academy, after careful scrutiny of votes from all current members in North America. Gutiérrez is only the second Canadian to receive this honour.

The principal objective of the Royal North American Academy of the Spanish Language is to uphold and protect the language, culture and literature in North America, which counts over 40 million Spanish speakers in its population. The Academy now has 86 members and is affiliated with the Royal Academy of Spain. Among its members are linguists, lexicographers, essayists, researchers, literary critics, historians of the language and translators.

Gutiérrez’s research focuses on two main areas: Afro-Hispanic American literature, particularly Afro-Cuban culture and literature, and Latin American women writers of the 20th century. She is an expert on Cuban ethnologist-anthropologist and author Lydia Cabrera. Her most recent book, Rosario Ferré en su Edad de Oro: Heroínas Subversivas de Papeles de Pandora y Maldito Amor (2004), is a psychoanalytic and social examination of the female protagonists of contemporary Puerto Rican writer Rosario Ferré.

Tony (Nino) Fama was presented in September with the year’s Premio Jalan, an award given annually to honour Sicilians who have distinguished themselves in the fields of art, literature, journalism, theatre, and music. The award ceremony took place on September 3 at the Museo Jalari in Barcellona, Sicily.

A specialist in 20th-century Latin American literature, Fama has numerous academic publications, including books on writers Alejo Carpentier and Aguilera Malta. In recent years, however, he has taken up the literary pen himself, with a collection of short stories, Don Gaudenzio e altre storie (1996), and the more recent La Stanza Segreta (2004). The new book traces the fortunes of the fictional Nicoterra family. The life of Nicky, a student of philosophy and a third generation immigrant, intertwines with the story of his Sicilian peasant grandfather, who had emigrated to Canada when he was a young man. Through a subtle narrative, the events of the contemporary world interface with a primordial Mediterranean reality.

Maria del Carmen Sillato has a new book in print: Diálogos de amor contra el silencio (Dialogues of Love Against Silence) (December 2006), which recalls the years of terror during the later military dictatorship in Argentina (1976-1983). She tells readers, in the form of an intimate diary, about the pain of a woman — a fighter and a mother — kidnapped and tortured for days in the military torture chambers and later kept in prison for almost four years without a trial. "It’s not just a testimonial document, but also an example of solidarity and a tribute to those who are no longer with us: the dead and the disappeared," says Sillato.

She has published extensively on Latin American literature, including numerous articles and a book on poet Juan Gelman. Juan Gelman: Las estrategias de la otredad. Heteronimia, intertextualidad, traduccion (Juan Gelman: Otherness Strategies. Heteronym, Intertextuality, Translation) was honoured with the Canadian Association of Hispanists Best Book Award in 1997. Currently, her research is focussed on themes explored in Diálogos in the context of a broader study of the literary and therapeutic aspects of testimonial writing from this period of Argentinian history.

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That'll be the frosty Friday . . .

First of all, I wrote yesterday that dean of arts Ken Coates spoke to alumni guests who attended the Wednesday night preview performance of "The Caucasian Chalk Circle" in the Theatre of the Arts. He may have been there in spirit, but in body he was elsewhere (because, word has it, of March break); the guests were greeted by Gerd Hauck of the department of drama and speech communication. Public performances of the Brecht play are continuing: tonight and Saturday, and again March 22-24, at 8 p.m., with tickets available from the Humanities box office (519-888-4908).

A newsletter has arrived from the student team that's building UW's next solar car, Midnight Sun IX, and is dealing with some knotty problems along the way. "The car went through ten design iterations," mechanical engineering student Stephen Orlando writes, "in which different parts of the car were modified to examine their effect on drag. The design team investigated the effect of ride height, fairing shape, canopy length and overall body shape. Crosswind simulations were also done to ensure the car would not lift off the ground in a strong gust of wind from the side. Not only was the car designed to be streamlined, but curvature, shadows and manufacturing processes were also considered in the design process. Since the solar cells are very fragile, the top of the car was made as flat as possible to reduce the risk of bending cells beyond their breaking point. With the large canopy there existed a risk that shadows from the canopy would decrease the amount of solar energy that the cells could absorb." And so it goes — even while other members of the team have been working on the electrical system, the frame and so on. Midnight Sun VII is now retired (and hanging in the Davis Centre), VIII made an appearance at the Toronto Auto Show last month, and IX — well, the American Solar Challenge lies just a few months ahead.

Dana Evans Laity of UW's marketing and undergraduate recruitment office is about to head south of the border — not "down Mexico way" but to Costa Rica, El Salvador, Ecuador, Panama, Perú and Brazil. "Although we do already have a small handful of students from these countries, as well as a few partnerships, these are brand new markets for UW in terms of recruitment," says Evans. So she's joining a 16-day tour organized by the Canadian Higher Education Committee, involving staff from 11 Canadian institutions. They'll visit selected independent schools, give workshops and take part in "international education fairs" in San José, Quito, Lima and São Paulo. Details are on UW's "international" web site.

Today is the deadline for nominations to 16 faculty seats and two graduate student seats on UW's senate, as announced a few weeks ago. • The UW staff association has called for applications for a seat representing staff members on the dean of engineering nominating committee, now being formed. • The pension and benefits committee is meeting this morning (from 8:30, Needles Hall room 3004) to discuss pension plan funding and design, investment policies, and other matters.

Elections are under way in the Arts Student Union, which represents undergraduate students in that sprawling faculty. There are two candidates for president (Allan Babor and Sally Jurica); two for executive vice-president (Paul Matheson and Johannes Olivier); two for VP, communications (Jana Kokic and Wei-ling Lee); and two for VP, academic (Lu Jiang and Colleen Mullen). Two other vice-presidencies have been filled by acclamation for the coming year: Natasha Mawji becomes VP, finance, and Christina Kroner becomes VP, social. Voting is scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday in the Arts Lecture Hall.

Architecture students are ranking potential employers on JobMine today, on the way to a match with spring term co-op jobs. • Residents in Columbia Lake Village South have been invited to a "clothes swap party" on Sunday afternoon in the CLV community [Rassem]centre. • Music studio students will be performing their end-of-term recitals at noontime in the Conrad Grebel University College chapel, March 21, 22, 26 and 27.

And . . . Yasmine Rassem (right), a third-year student in the math and business program, will raise her national profile this weekend, as she's a finalist in the Miss World Canada competition. Preliminary events involving the 29 competitors are under way in Toronto, with the final competition to be held Sunday evening at the Dominion Club in downtown Toronto (but not, apparently, shown on television).


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