Monday, April 14, 2008

  • Province sends cash for renovations
  • Magazine promotes research park
  • Database will list UW's experts
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Province sends cash for renovations

Flags and cameras were set up on the ground floor of Needles Hall on Friday morning as Leeanna Pendergast, MPP for the Kitchener-Conestoga riding, came to campus to announce that a cheque is on its way to the university.

The amount: $13,407,700, calculated as UW's share of the $200 million for "campus renewal funding" that was announced in the Ontario budget in mid-March. The money will be spent, the provincial government says, to help universities "renew their campuses and improve the learning environment for their students. Projects could include improvements to existing buildings and facility renovations; equipment upgrades; energy efficiency, security and accessibility improvements. The universities will decide which type of project will be of most benefit to their schools."

Says a government news release: "Ontario's universities have been experiencing unprecedented growth and need to ensure campuses continue to provide the best learning space possible to support students. The Ontario government is committed to ensuring high quality postsecondary education is accessible across Ontario."

Pendergast also announced an allocation for Wilfrid Laurier University, while John Milloy, the minister of training, colleges and universities and MPP for Kitchener Centre, was in London on Friday morning announcing funding for the University of Western Ontario. "Ontario's skilled and highly educated workforce is a key economic advantage and enhances Ontario's position as a destination of choice for global investment," he said.

Universities are pleased: "This significant investment will help our universities to modernize our labs, libraries and classrooms, and underscores that universities are indeed the knowledge infrastructure of the province. The investment also confirms Premier McGuinty's bold commitment to make investing in the skills and education of Ontarians the number one priority of his government," says Paul C. Genest, chair of the Council of Ontario Universities.

Says the province: "Postsecondary enrolment is up 25 per cent in Ontario since 2004, with 100,000 more students attending college or university. Ontario has one of the highest postsecondary enrolment rates in the G8 group of industrialized nations."

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[Magazine cover shows child in swing]Magazine promotes research park

Four-year-old Grace is the cover model (left) for the first issue of Watch, a magazine-style publication aimed at promoting UW's north campus research and technology park.

“Grace and her family happen to be a compelling example of what the park, and its relationship with UW, can mean on a personal level,” writes Carol Stewart, marketing manager for the park, in the new magazine, which was distributed last week to a campus, local and international audience totalling some 20,000 people.

Grace's grandfather, says Stewart, was Conrad Brunk, a faculty member at UW and Conrad Grebel University College, and her parents are both UW graduates. Her father now works for Sybase iAnywhere, one of the pioneering companies to build and thrive along Hagey Boulevard north of Columbia Street.

The 48-page magazine includes profiles of the companies that now do business in the park, which a feature article notes was “once a massive swath of undeveloped land originally comprised of eight Mennonite farms”. Besides Sybase, they include Google, Navtech, Open Text and others, many of them concentrated in the Accelerator Centre building (which also houses UW's own Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology) and the TechTown retail centre.

Feature articles describe the various companies' work, including innovative software from Sybase that will connect RFID implants in items of fashion merchandise with electronic readers embedded in a changing-room mirror. The mirror will then “display the coordinating clothing options that are both in the store and in your size,” the article promises. “Tap on another digital button and the articles of clothing that you'd like to try on are brought to you in your size.”

Also featured in the magazine — and in a fistful of brochures and flyers distributed with it — are the businesses of TechTown, including the Columbia Lake Health Club and a dental office.

The research park office and UW’s central stores, which distributed the magazine on campus, note that it’s supposed to carry this notice: “Watch Magazine is a fully self-funded project made possible through the advertising support of friends and suppliers to the Park. Enjoy!”

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Database will list UW’s experts

Academics across campus are receiving an invitation to join a new database that will help publicly showcase their expertise, as well as that of their department, faculty and the rest of the university.

UW is creating an online database of experts willing to share what they know — either through the media or at speaking engagements organized by community groups. The database will provide information to members of the media seeking someone to interview for print or broadcast stories. A different interface will allow members of the public to find experts interested in public speaking.

“The two resulting guides will be tools to help members of the UW community share their expertise with the world, and receive the recognition that their expertise warrants,” says Michael Strickland of UW's media relations office. “It will be an invaluable resources to reporters and community groups with a strong interest in hearing what UW experts have to say.”

Deans will be inviting their faculty members to join the database by filling out a one-page online form. There's a link called “add your profile” under the heading Submit, and the login and password are the same as for UWdir. The form asks for basic information, the most important being the topics the expert is willing to address with a lay audience.

“We really need the information to be presented in a way that is appropriate for the target audience,” Strickland explains. “These are not the peers and colleagues who might have a strong background in the topic. Rather they are average people — think first-year students or most family members — who can really benefit from a basic understanding of an important topic.”

The other important consideration is a comfort level with doing the work. The media operate in way quite different from most academics, doing quick stories in a matter of hours with less depth than does an academic who may spend years or months on a topic.

“Really tight deadlines is just one of the things some people find off-putting about dealing with the media,” says Strickland. “Anyone wanting to talk about media should contact me. We can quickly discuss individual interests and concerns. I’m also keen to develop and deliver training sessions for departments, centres or other units that have enough interested people. But at the very least, we'd ask people in the database to return media calls as quickly as possible.”

Communications and Public Affairs will spend the summer encouraging people to join. When a sufficient number have joined, UW will ask a few local media to test the database, before officially launching in the fall.

The initial drive will focus on getting faculty academics to participate, before expanding. “The heads of co-op, residential services and other non-academic units all have expertise to share. And then there’s the question of graduate students.”


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[Tighe in laboratory]

Civil and environmental engineering professor Susan Tighe is named one of 80 “amazing Canadian women to watch” in the May issue of Chatelaine, marking the magazine’s 80th anniversary. The honour recognizes the Waterloo researcher’s expertise in pavement development. Tighe is quoted as saying: “Most people drive down the road and see only black and white. Now it’s time to start seeing green.” • Another UW pavement researcher, professor emeritus Ralph Haas, was featured on CTV's “Province Wide” last night, talking about the spring of the killer potholes.

Link of the day

Pan American Day

When and where

New faculty lunch-and-learn session: “Co-operative Education and Career Services: Making It Work For You”, 11:45 a.m., Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library, details online.

Mathematics contests for high school students: Euclid (grade 12), Tuesday; Fryer (grade 9), Galois (grade 10) and Hypatia (grade 11), Wednesday; Gauss (grades 7 and 8), May 14; details online.

Inventory Clearance Sale outside UW bookstore, South Campus Hall, Tuesday-Wednesday.

UW Retirees Association spring luncheon Tuesday 11:30 a.m., great hall, Luther Village, 139 Father David Bauer Drive, tickets $25, information 519-885-4758.

Staff salary system and settlement information sessions, Tuesday 12:30 p.m., Arts Lecture Hall room 113, repeated April 23, same time and room.

Applied health sciences public lecture: Timothy Hewett, University of Cincinnati, “Effects of Sex on Young Athletes: Why Girls’ Knees are More Trouble than Boys’”, Tuesday 3:30, Lyle Hallman Institute room 1621.

Pat Cunningham, faculty of mathematics, retirement party Wednesday 3:00 to 5:00, Davis Centre lounge, RSVP

Healthy Communities Knowledge Exchange Forum April 17-18, keynote address by Trevor Hancock, British Columbia ministry of health, “It’s the People, Stupid”, Thursday 3:00, CEIT room 1015, details online.

‘Communication in Creative Leadership’ workshop at Conrad Grebel University College, Thursday, 8:30 to 4:30, details online.

’Are You Following Me?’ Employee Assistance Program presents workshop on “profiling stalkers, Internet dating and safety”, Thursday 12:00 noon, Davis Centre room 1304.

Former president of India A. P. J. Abdul Kalam speaks on “Canada and India: Partnership in Global Development”, Thursday 12:00, Theatre of the Arts, register online.

44th annual used book sale sponsored by Canadian Federation of University Women, Friday (9:00 to 9:00) and Saturday (9:00 to 1:00), First United Church, King and William Streets; book dropoff information online.

Beethoven Lecture Series: Cecile Monique Michniewicz, third-year music student, on “The Psychology of Beethoven”, Tuesday, April 22, 1:00 to 3:00, and “The Philosophy of Beethoven”, Wednesday, April 23, 1:00 to 3:00, Conrad Grebel University College room 1302, all welcome, refreshments.

Fee payment deadline for the spring term is April 28 (cheque, money order, promissory note) or May 1 (bank payment or international wire transfer), details online.

Fire drills on main campus Tuesday, April 29, schedule to be announced.

Learning about Teaching annual symposium May 12-14, details online, including Presidents’ Colloquium May 12, 2:00, Humanities Theatre: Marilla Svinicki, University of Texas at Austin, “Changing Students' Attitudes about Who’s Responsible for Learning,” reception follows, all welcome.

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