Thursday, June 19, 2008

  • First dance for residents' avatars
  • 'Smart' role for energy researcher
  • Book on global society is launched
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Over the Davis Centre, against a variegated sky]

After the rain, the sun; and after the sun, the rain; and somewhere in between, at about 5:00 on Monday evening, Benjamin Smith of the department of pure mathematics caught the rainbow arching over the Davis Centre and leading, no doubt, to a pot of gold somewhere north of Columbia Street.

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First dance for residents' avatars

UW’s residences and UW Graphics have announced the launch of an online icebreaker — “a new web-based initiative designed to help residents feel connected before they move in”. Explains Kerri Birtch, marketing coordinator for housing and residences: “The ResiDance allows users to upload a photo of their face to one of six different ResiDancers. Users can dance solo, or even upload a roommate and dance together. Users are also able to forward [ResiDance logo]their ResiDance to a friend and invite them to submit their own dance. All dances will be stored in a public gallery for viewing. Once incoming residents receive their room assignments in July, they will also be able to upload their photo to their specific assigned residence gallery and view their future fellow residents. These dancers are proof that no matter who you are or how you dance – UW Residences is the right FIT for everyone.” She adds that “exciting promotional events” are on the calendar for next week, as students begin to make their residence commitments (the preference form goes live on the web tomorrow morning).

There was a noontime barbecue yesterday for some of the people whose efforts — including work on the Victoria Day weekend — enabled UW to host visitors from the Attawapiskat reserve for several days last month, after that James Bay community was evacuated because of spring flooding. Chris Read, who heads UW's housing and residences operation, says his department along with Conferences (a branch of Food Services), and Police Services held the event "for our staff who worked with the outside communities to make this a very smooth operation. The reality of this is that the kind of work done by our staff for these visitors is the kind of work they do every day here, but with a much lower profile. Housing cleaning staff, conference staff and UW Police do a great amount of outstanding work that goes unappreciated by many, so this is a great opportunity for us to say thanks."

Staff in development and alumni affairs held a farewell party yesterday for Bob Copeland, who’s moving July 1 from his job as associate vice-president (annual giving and alumni affairs) to become UW’s director of athletics and recreational services. • Economics professor Larry Smith gave an economic briefing to political leaders from Waterloo Region and its municipalities yesterday as part of their joint meeting in Kitchener. • Saturday hours for the UW bookstore, UW Shop and TechWorx are over for the season; the stores in South Campus Hall will be closed Saturdays (except, I think, for the day of Student Life 101 in July) until after Labour Day.

The organizers of UW's Canada Day celebrations are getting into high gear now, with less than two weeks to go before the big day. Posters are out listing the main stage entertainment and advertising the children's activities and arts-and-crafts [Waving flag]attractions that will bring people to the north campus that afternoon and evening. A word or two from event coordinator and arts student Sarah Sales: "We have 80 volunteers and counting, but we still need more to help on June 30, Canada Day, and July 2. We have various volunteer opportunities ranging from face painting to security and even main stage. We are recruiting all this week in the 'vendor alley' of the Student Life Centre, so drop by and fill out an application or just to say hello. And you can visit the Canada Day website and submit an application. The earlier you submit, the more likely you are to get the times and positions you request."

This week would be a great time for departmental administrative assistants — or anybody on campus, really — to take a look at the online list of “UW officers and administrators” and report any corrections and updates that should be made. The list has a new location on the web, though the old URL will still work for those who have it bookmarked. It was created here in Communications and Public Affairs, with some guidance from the University Secretariat, several years ago as the undergraduate calendar was being phased out as the all-purpose campus reference book, and the online list is still mostly a reflection of the way departments and positions used to be listed in the calendar. Keeping it up to date is the challenge: I try to make changes as I become aware of them. So please make me aware of them, by e-mail to

And here’s a note from Katrina Di Gravio, director of the office of organizational and human development: “OHD and Human Resources are running an Orientation session on Monday, June 23, at 8:30 a.m. for new staff to attend. A campus walking tour will be part of the Orientation as well as refreshments and prizes. Staff who are interested should register to attend by contacting Mark Lisetto-Smith at Existing staff are also welcome.”

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'Smart' role for energy researcher

The researcher who heads UW’s Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy will be among the key speakers next week at the Environmental Outlook Conference being held in Ottawa by the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation.

The one-day conference, “North America 2030”, will be held June 25, immediately before the CEC's annual Council Session, which assembles the ministers and top environment officials from Canada, Mexico and the United States. Over the course of the day, a variety of speakers and panelists will address emerging trends in North America's environmental outlook for the next twenty years.

[Nathwani]UW’s Jatin Nathwani (right) will speak about the future of energy security, and his address will be available online as part of a live webcast of the conference.

Meanwhile, Nathwani — who’s based in the department of civil and environmental engineering — is among eleven prominent members of Ontario's electricity sector have agreed to serve on Ontario's new “Smart Grid Forum”. A news release explains: “Building on the investment in smart meters that is already underway, this broad-based industry dialogue aims to develop a vision for a provincial smart grid that will provide consumers with more efficient, responsive and cost-effective electricity service.”

The development of a so-called smart grid in Ontario will foster more consumer engagement in the market and enable effective integration of distributed renewable generation, says Paul Murphy, president of the Independent Electricity System Operator, which is responsible for distributing power throughout the province. Enabling technologies, he says, “will provide consumers with the tools and information they require to actively manage their electricity consumption.”

The goal of a smart grid is to use advanced information technologies to increase grid efficiency, reliability and flexibility. It enables better use of the existing delivery infrastructure and offers benefits for both the consumer and the environment.

The role of the new forum is to consider how a smart grid in Ontario could deliver significant operational, environmental and consumer benefits. “In addition to enhancing system reliability, and supporting consumer engagement,” the news release adds, “a smart grid is likely to reduce the environmental footprint of Ontario's power system by reducing the need to expand existing infrastructure.”

Most of the members of the forum are executives of hydroelectric companies: Nathwani is the only academic in the group. They’ll meet “on a monthly basis until the end of 2008, after which a comprehensive report will be issued with findings and recommendations for Ontario's electricity sector. This report will form the basis for further action and discussion among policy-makers, regulators and industry participants.”

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Book on global society is launched

A new book that explores “emerging citizen participation in global decision-making”, and was co-edited by a UW history professor, will be launched tonight at the Centre for International Governance Innovation in the core of Waterloo.

The book, titled Critical Mass: The Emergence of Global Civil Society, is published by CIGI and Wilfrid Laurier University Press. It was co-edited by Andrew S. Thompson, a Fellow at CIGI, and James W. St. G. Walker of the history department.

“Public concern about inequitable economic globalization has revealed the demand for citizen participation in global decision-making,” a news release about the book observes. “Civil society organizations have taken up the challenge, holding governments and corporations accountable for their decisions and actions, and developing collaborative solutions to the dominant problems of our time.”

Critical Mass, it promises, “offers a unique mixture of experience and analysis by the leaders of some of the most influential global civil society organizations and respected academics who specialize in this field of study.”

It offers a comment from William F. Schulz, former executive director of Amnesty International and now with the Center for American Progress: “If the ideals of worldwide justice and equity are ever to be realized, if our planet and its people are ever to be rescued from shortsightedness and greed, it will only be through the workings of a vibrant international civil society. This groundbreaking book neither exaggerates the promise of such society nor underestimates its problems. Instead, by combining the insights of academics and activists and drawing upon both theory and cases, it illuminates a field of study only beginning to be mined. Both those of us who toil in civil society organizations and those who are affected by them have reason to be grateful.”

Today’s is the third in a new series of free public book launches hosted by CIGI. The launch is accompanied by a wine and cheese reception, and Thompson and Walker will be on hand to sign copies of the book, which will be available for purchase from Words Worth Books. The event runs from 4:00 to 5:00 today at CIGI’s landmark building, 57 Erb Street West.


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Link of the day

World Sauntering Day

When and where

Co-op employer interviews for fall term jobs continue through tomorrow. Rankings on JobMine open Friday 1 p.m., close Monday 2 p.m.; matches available Monday 4:00.

Early Childhood Education Centre closing ceremonies for 2007-08 school year continue; last day of school today or Friday.

Applied health informatics bootcamp on-site workshop introducing key concepts in informatics, continuing through Friday, Davis Centre room 1302.

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

Lectures in quantum information: Anthony Leggett, Institute for Quantum Computing, “Prospects for Topological Quantum Computing” continuing June 19, 24, 26, July 3, 8, 10, all at 2:00 p.m., Research Advancement Centre, 475 Wes Graham Way, room 2009.

Career workshop: “Success on the Job” 2:30, Tatham Centre room 1208, information and registration online.

UW Alternative Fuels Team recruitment and information meetings: business position today 5:00, Student Life Centre multipurpose room; technical position June 26, 5:00, Doug Wright Engineering room 2536; information e-mail

Contemporary School of Dance spring recital: rehearsal Thursday, performances Friday-Sunday, Humanities Theatre.

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

Electrical power shut off in PAS, Humanities, and Minota Hagey Residence 5:00 to 7:00 a.m. Friday.

Warrior Weekend activities in the Student Life Centre Friday and Saturday evenings, including salsa lessons, mini-golf, Engineering Jazz Band, pizza, crafts; films “The Other Boleyn Girl” Friday 11:00, “Horton Hears a Who” Saturday 9:00, “The Eye” Saturday 11:00; details online.

Career workshop: “Are You Thinking about Med School?” Saturday 10:30, Tatham Centre room 2218, details online.

Solar Collector light sculpture by UW’s Rob Gorbet and other artists, first performance Saturday 8:30 p.m., Regional Operations Centre, Maple Grove Road, Cambridge.

Orientation for new staff (existing staff also welcome) Monday 8:30 a.m., includes campus walking tour, refreshments; information and registration e-mail

myPENSIONinfo information session about self-service pension projection system, Monday 11:00, Davis Centre room 1302.

Gail Cuthbert Brandt, associate vice-president (international), “stepping down reception” Thursday, June 26, 3:00 to 5:00, Needles Hall third-floor patio, RSVP ext. 38350.

California alumni: Networking reception for alumni at Stanford University Faculty Club, Thursday, June 26, 6:30 p.m. UW Day at Padres baseball game, June 27. UW Day at Dodgers baseball game, June 28. Digital Moose Lounge Canada Day Picnic, June 29, Huddard Park East, Woodside, details online.

Dropping courses: last day to receive a WD grade for spring term courses dropped, June 27.

Long weekend: UW holidays Monday, June 30, and Tuesday, July 1, for Canada Day; classes cancelled, offices and most services closed.

Canoeing the Grand River: outing organized by International Student Office and Federation of Students, June 30, $32 for UW students, tickets at Fed office, Student Life Centre.

Canada Day celebrations Tuesday, July 1, on the north campus: children’s fun-fest, arts and crafts fair, food, stage performances and other activities, 2 p.m. until evening; fireworks 10 p.m.; details and volunteer information online.

Institute for Computer Research presents Eric Sutherland, TD Securities, “The Emergence of Data Governance in the Financial Industry”, Wednesday, July 9, 2:30 p.m., Davis Centre room 1302.

Student Life 101 open house for September’s new students, Saturday, July 19, information online.

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High schoolers at WLU to train for math olympiad
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