Thursday, June 12, 2008

  • Convocation for arts, in two sessions
  • UW ranks high in NSERC scholarships
  • Other notes from across campus
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Convocation for arts, in two sessions

The Ninety-Sixth Convocation continues today with two ceremonies honouring graduates and award winners in UW’s faculty of arts. The proceedings start at 10:00 and again at 2:30 in the Physical Activities Complex.

A total of 541 students will graduate at this morning’s ceremony, which concentrates on graduates from economics, English, history and a dozen other subjects, including accountancy — the 101 students in the first class of “accounting and financial management” from UW's school of accounting and finance. They’ll graduate with one of three different specializations, depending on the professional designation they wish to pursue: chartered accountancy, certified management accountant or chartered financial analyst. Of these students, 95 completed the master of accounting program and therefore will also receive a master's degree.

Some other features of this morning's event:

• Melinde Whitfield, graduating in speech communication, will give the valedictory address.

Robert Kaplan will receive an honorary Doctor of Letters degree and address convocation. A key figure in the management accounting profession, Kaplan is the Baker Foundation Professor at the Harvard Business School. In the afternoon, Kaplan will give a public talk based on his recent work, "Mastering the Management System" (2:30, Arts Lecture Hall room 116, with a reception following).

• A Governor General's Silver Medal, one of three for this year's top bachelor's degree graduates from Waterloo, will be presented to Katherine Surmanski, who received her BA last fall. The Alumni Gold Medal for arts will go to Iris Leung, graduating today in economics.

• Retired professor Patrick Harrigan, department of history, will be made a Distinguished Professor Emeritus.

A total of 613 students will graduate at this afternoon’s ceremony, for students in such fields as philosophy, psychology and others in the second half of the alphabet, as well as those based at St. Jerome’s University and Renison College. Also featured will be the 13 students in the first graduating class from the Master of Theological Studies program, offered jointly by UW and Conrad Grebel University College.

• Adam Halpert, graduating in psychology, will give the valedictory address.

• Rex Murphy, host of CBC Radio's "Cross Country Checkup" and commentator on CBC TV's "The National", will receive a Doctor of Laws degree and address convocation.

[Leoni]• Monica Leoni (left) will receive her Distinguished Teaching Award, announced earlier this year. “Since joining the University of Waterloo in 1997,” says a citation from the Centre for Teaching Excellence, “Monica Leoni, an Associate Professor in the Spanish and Latin American Studies Department, has taught courses such as Introduction to Spanish 1 and 2, Intermediate Spanish, Introduction to Business Spanish Translation, and Spanish Golden Age Theatre: Drama.

“Professor Leoni has used some unique teaching tools in her classes such as the introduction of Spanish Tongue Twisters and listening to Spanish music, which helps in keeping the students engaged with the course material. She makes an effort to get her students to participate in class and is open to suggestions for new ways to present the material. Specifically, in her Spanish Golden Age Theatre class, she is able to explain the direct connections between these play plots and movies of today. Monica’s love for Spanish is contagious and some of her former students, who are now teachers, mention that they use many of her teaching techniques in their own classes.

“It has been said that Monica is the ‘heart of the Spanish and Latin American Studies Department’. She has demonstrated a passion for what she teaches, and patience and understanding with her students.”

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UW ranks high in NSERC scholarships

a release from the UW media relations office

The University of Waterloo is once again among the top three universities to receive scholarships from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. NSERC is awarding more than $4.5 million to UW student researchers in departments across the university. The research covers such topics as climate change to advances in wireless technology.

The latest national results place UW in third for the most awards received for the second consecutive year. UW earned 141 NSERC Postgraduate Scholarships and Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarships, up from 131 last year. The number of postdoctoral fellowships climbed to 19 from 11. UW was also honoured with one out of 24 Julie Payette-NSERC Research Scholarships.

"These various NSERC awards are a testimonial of the strengths of our students as well as the professors who prepare them to compete and be successful," says Alan George, UW's dean of graduate studies. "We continue to be proud of our results in NSERC's awards programs."

Colby Steelman, a graduate student in the department of earth and environmental sciences, says his NSERC scholarship will allow him to spend more time on research. The PhD candidate is receiving an NSERC scholarship worth $17,300 over the next year.

He is monitoring very shallow soil moisture changes using non-invasive ground penetrating radar. This method transmits short pulses of high frequency radio waves into the ground, which interact with the underlying soil. It can be used to construct a two- or three-dimensional image of the shallow subsurface. "The results of this work have direct impacts on groundwater management issues and agricultural practices," Steelman says. He adds that he has been used these methods to observe freeze-thaw processes that are important to cryosphere research. "This work will help us to understand the potential effects of climate change."

NSERC funding to UW students include NSERC Postgraduate Scholarships and Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarships, ranging in value from $17,300 for one year up to $105,000 over three years. The postdoctoral fellowships are worth as much as $80,000 over two years.

With the goal to promote discovery and innovation, NSERC invests each year in basic research, university-industry linked projects and the training of future scientists and engineers across Canada. The funding is a crucial component of UW's plans to triple graduate studies. Its "sixth decade" strategic plan, entitled Pursuing Global Excellence: Seizing Opportunities for Canada, has graduate enrolment growing from 2,500 candidates to 8,000 by 2017.

UW provides a president's graduate scholarship valued at $10,000 annually to recipients of NSERC scholarships as well as other competitively awarded national and Ontario graduate scholarships. It also honours award recipients at a reception held each January.

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Other notes from across campus

The banners that have been up for the spring on the ring road have now been joined by similar ones lining University Avenue and Columbia Street near the main campus. Last year, the university mounted banners marking the 50th anniversary, and the decision was made that they’d be replaced by ones celebrating some of UW's many achievements. The new yellow banners highlight accomplishments in outreach, research, community partnerships, and reputation ("leaders of tomorrow"). Both K-W residents and campus visitors see these banners, which give the university a presence off the campus and reminds everyone of Waterloo's accomplishments, says Meg Beckel, vice-president (external relations): "Too often, we don't celebrate and share what's great about Waterloo. Because we're working with banners we expect people to read as they drive by, we've had to condense the language — the outreach programs of the Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing, for instance, become 'UW excites children about math'."

[Peterson, holding souvenir]Rachael Peterson of UW’s school of optometry is pictured (right) on June 1 after delivering the Irving Fatt Memorial Lecture at this year’s British Contact Lens Association clinical conference, held in Birmingham. • The university secretariat reports that two faculty members have been elected to vacant seats on the UW senate, Geoffrey Hayes (history) representing arts and John Flanagan (optometry) representing science. • Anita Myers of the department of health studies and gerontology has been named a Fellow of the Canadian Evaluation Society.

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council — the biggest source of funding for research at Canadian universities — has published the recommendations of a committee, chaired by UW engineering dean Adel Sedra, that was asked to do “an in-depth investigation of the challenges facing the Discovery Grants peer review system, specifically the rapid emergence of new areas, proposals that cross traditional boundaries and the growing workload faced by many GSCs”. Key among the recommendations is that NSERC “adopt a Conference Model”, providing “a more flexible and dynamic approach to grant review, allowing the system to adapt quickly to changes in the research environment and to accommodate proposals that cross disciplines.” The committee also calls for separation of scientific evaluation and funding recommendations; "binning" of proposals based on scientific/engineering merit, without reference to prior grants; and “cost of research” to replace “need for funds” as a factor in the award amount. “We heard from many researchers about their perception of the strengths of the current system, so we were very conscious of the need to build on these positive features,” says Sedra. “What we recommend is not quite a complete re-design — there are many evolutionary elements—but it is also not just a fine tuning.”

Minutes from the May 20 meeting of the senate long-range planning committee indicate that there was an extensive discussion of a proposed “public service” master’s degree, something that provost Amit Chakma mentioned publicly a few weeks ago. The program would be administered by the faculty of arts, the minutes indicate, although it would be so interdisciplinary that no one faculty would have a monopoly and the planning committee itself would provide oversight. “Fall 2009 is the expected launch date,” the minutes add. “While the program will include public policy development, it is broader than that (students should be well prepared for leadership positions). . . . Courses on public policy development, French language, and statistical analysis should be included or competency in these areas should be an admission requirement.”

How not to behave at a job interview: “Picture this scenario,” says a note in the new issue of the Inside Scoop newsletter for UW co-op students. “A candidate enters and someone is following him. He says: ‘I really appreciate the opportunity to interview with PlateSpin. I have accepted a position at another company so I won't be interviewing for your position today. I have brought my friend along because I didn't want to waste your time.’ The candidate gives the employer his friend's resumé and leaves. In co-op at UW you are obligated to attend all the interviews you are granted. This also means conducting yourself the way you would in any other interview. Missing interviews (or bringing a stand-in) not only gives a bad impression of you and the university, but it annoys the employer and wastes his or her time. (FYI, the stand-in didn’t get an interview.)”


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Associate dean (graduate studies) in UW’s faculty of environmental studies, as of July 1, will be Paul Parker of the department of geography. He’s taking on that position for a three-year term, succeeding Jean Andrey.

Link of the day

Democrats AbroadRepublicans Abroad

When and where

Co-op employer interviews for fall term jobs continue through June 20.

Class enrolment appointments for fall term undergraduate courses: continuing students, June 9-14; new students, July 14-27; open enrolment begins July 28.

‘Magic: Frontiers and Boundaries’ international conference hosted by department of classical studies, through Sunday, details online.

Surplus sale of UW furnishings and equipment 12:30 to 2:00 p.m., Central Stores, East Campus Hall.

International spouses group: “Card-making” using stamping and embossing, 12:45, Columbia Lake Village community centre, children welcome, e-mail if attending.

J. W. Graham Medal Seminar by this year’s winner: Eric Veach, Google Inc., “Searching the World with Google Maps”, 2:00, Davis Centre room 1302, reception follows, details online.

Distinguished lecture: Alan Kay, Viewpoints Research Institute, inventor Smalltalk, “Steps Toward the Reinvention of Programming”, 4:30 p.m., Theatre of the Arts.

Career workshop: “Successfully negotiating job offers” 4:30, Tatham Centre room 1208, registration online.

Canadian Mathematical Society awards banquet, honours to high school students placing highest in the 40th Canadian Mathematical Olympiad, 5:30, South Campus Hall.

Star Performance Academy dance rehearsal today and performance Friday, Humanities Theatre.

Late night picture show (“bike-in theatre”) sponsored by Waterloo Public Interest Research Group: “The Yes Men”, documentary about World Trade Organization pranksters, 9:00 p.m., Matthews Hall green.

Information systems and technology professional development seminar: Trevor Bain, Microsoft Exchange project update, Friday 9:00, IST seminar room.

Internet Gambling: Current situation and future trends, talk by Robert Williams presented by UW, Waterloo Region Action Group on Gambling Issues and Waterloo Public Library, Friday 10 a.m., Albert McCormick Community Centre, 500 Parkside Drive, details online.

Campus Crusade for Cheese weekly meeting and tasting ($2) Friday 4:30 p.m., Math and Computer room 4020.

Electricity will be out in PAS, Humanities, and Minota Hagey Residence on Saturday 6 to 10 a.m.

Warrior football golf tournament Saturday, Rebel Creek Golf Course, Petersburg, $150, registration and information ext. 33149.

Dance Adventure performances June 14 and 15, Humanities Theatre.

ACM-style programming contest open to all members of the UW community, will be used to select UW team for this fall’s ACM competition, Sunday 1:00 to 4:00 (practice competition 10:30 a.m.), Math and Computer room 2037, details and registration online.

Matthews Golf Classic for students, staff, faculty, retirees and friends, Monday, Grand Valley Golf Course, team lists now online.

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

Needles Hall elevator shut down for maintenance June 17 through July 17.

25-Year Club annual reception Tuesday 6:00 p.m., Physical Activities Complex, by invitation, information ext. 32078.

R&T Park charity barbecue in support of the K-W Community Foundation, Thursday, June 19, 11:30 to 1:30, TechTown, 340 Hagey Boulevard, burger and salad $6, rain date June 24.

Dropping courses: last day for 50 per cent fee refund, June 20.

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