Friday, October 24, 2008

  • Gold medals at two ceremonies
  • 'Honorary member' served five deans
  • UW shares in Globe's A-minus marks
  • Other notes, presented very formally
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Gold medals at two ceremonies

UW will graduate its first class of 19 Master of Public Health students among the more than a thousand students who will receive degrees at tomorrow’s Convocation ceremony. Also on the program are three honorary doctorates and many other honours to be presented by the university.

[Watt]To be named Distinguished Professor Emeritus are Phil Merikle, retired from the department of psychology; James Reimer, religious studies at Conrad Grebel University College; and John Lenard, mechanical engineering. Retired staff members Roger Watt, who was director of network services in information systems and technology, and Jeff Weller, who served as executive assistant to the dean of engineering, will be recognized as Honorary Members of the University.

A total of 998 undergraduates and 520 graduate students will receive their degrees and diplomas during the 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. ceremonies at the Physical Activities Complex.

UW’s MPH, according to a news release, is the first applied professional degree program in Canada available on-line with a practicum degree component. The two-year program, offered by the health studies and gerontology department in the faculty of applied health sciences, aims to prepare a new generation of public health professionals, skilled in protecting health, preventing illness and helping people to achieve a healthier life for themselves and their communities. "One of the things I appreciate most about this first class is their passion for public health and its core values of equity and social justice," says Chris Mills, director of the MPH program.

During the morning ceremony, Ronald Zernicke, director of the Bone and Joint Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation Center and professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of Michigan, will receive a Doctor of Science degree in the ceremony for graduating students in the faculties of applied health sciences and arts. He’ll give the convocation address. Zernicke is also giving a colloquium on his work this afternoon (“Skeletal Adaptation to Diet, Exercise or Injury,” 2:30, Lyle Hallman Institute room 1621).

At the afternoon convocation, Axel Meisen, an acclaimed academic and former president of the Memorial University of Newfoundland, will receive a Doctor of Engineering degree. That ceremony focuses on graduating students in the faculties of engineering, environment, mathematics and science. In his pioneering research on fine aerosol-type particles, Meisen contributed to a better understanding of the capture of these particles from air. His work has resulted in the improvement of air quality. He will give the convocation address. At the same ceremony, Paul Seymour of Princeton University, widely acknowledged as the world's leading graph theorist, will be awarded a Doctor of Mathematics degree.

The annual Alumni Gold Medals will be presented to the two top graduate students of the past year. Receiving the medal for “outstanding academic performance in a doctoral program” will be Evan Risko, who will also go home tomorrow with his PhD in psychology. His thesis, supervised by Jennifer Stoltz and Derek Besner, was titled “Basic Processes in Reading: The Role of Spatial Attention in Visual Word Processing”. Described by psychology chair Michael Ross as “a brilliant, passionate and committed scholar”, Risko is now a post-doctoral researcher at the University of British Columbia.

Winner of the gold medal at the master’s degree level is Mark Zschocke, who received his MASc in management sciences last spring (with a thesis on “Auctions for Targeted Television Advertising”) and is now in the PhD program.

Receiving the “Outstanding Achievement in Graduate Studies” distinction are, at the master’s level, Nicole DeRushie (English), David Hadaller (computer science), and Luke Simmons (geography); at the PhD level, John Garcia (health studies and gerontology), Xiaodong Lin (electrical and computer engineering), Narad Rampersad (computer science), and Seyed Mohiaddeen Ali Tabei (physics).

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'Honorary member' served five deans

by Erin Bow

Jeff Weller, who served as executive assistant to five different deans of engineering, will be made an honorary member of the university at Saturday’s convocation.

Weller came to Waterloo in 1965. “I was an accountant working in London, England, and I met this Canadian girl,” he remembers. “We ended up moving to Canada. The universities were expanding like crazy, and this place ‘the University of Waterloo’ seemed to be growing rapidly, so I phoned up to see if they had any job openings.”

They did. Weller’s first project was financial stewardship for UW’s involvement in Expo ’67. When the project was completed, he came to the engineering dean’s office. “It was an exciting place to be,” he says. “Virtually everyone you met had been hired in the previous 12 months and all the buildings were brand new.”

From 1966 until his retirement in 2000, Weller was the executive assistant to the dean of engineering, working with five of the seven deans: Archie Sherbourne, Wally McLaughlin, Bill Lennox, David Burns and Sujeet Chaudhuri. “We all relied totally on his expertise and were never disappointed,” writes Lennox. “In fact, I suspect most of us would not have accepted the post of dean without first checking to see if Jeff would continue with the new regime.”

Weller pioneered alumni activities at Waterloo Engineering, helping to launch the first reunions, organize chapter events like the popular ski day, and create engineering’s alumni achievement medals. He was also an early editor of the Waterloo Engineering Alumni Letter, WEAL.

In 1976, Weller became executive secretary and treasurer of the new Sandford Fleming Foundation, which enriches the education of engineering students, not with the usual scholarships, but rather with prizes for design, public speaking and work term reports, and funding for student projects and academic travel.

Though he retired from his role in the dean’s office eight years ago, Weller continues to serve at Sandford Fleming. “It’s a worthwhile activity,” he says. “And keeps me in touch with what’s happening at the university. It’s been 40 years, but I still love coming to campus.”

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UW shares in Globe's A-minus marks

The Globe and Mail newspaper's annual University Report appeared yesterday, with rankings for Waterloo that include an A in academic reputation and an A-minus in student satisfaction.

The Globe report differs from its better-known counterpart, the annual Maclean’s university rankings, in being based on surveys of students rather than on data and reputational surveys.

“We do well in many respects,” said Martin Van Nierop, UW’s director of communications and public affairs, scanning the magazine-sided report, distributed as part of yesterday’s Globe. “We are among the few universities profiled in a feature way,” he noted, with a brief feature on Waterloo’s new VeloCity high-tech residence, appearing at the front of the report right after the contents page.

The Globe says more than 43,000 students from 55 Canadian universities were surveyed to produce their ratings of satisfaction, facilities, campus atmosphere and even food. A major factor in their opinions is class size, says Simon Beck, editor of the report, “and I think that’s why, generally speaking, the smaller universities tend to overall fare slightly better than the bigger ones.”

The magazine itself reports that “only 7% of Canadian undergraduates are dissatisfied. More than eight out of ten Canadian undergraduates would recommend their own university to a friend or family member.”

The University of Western Ontario does well throughout the ratings, dominating the “large university” group (which includes UW) A’s for student satisfaction, quality of education, libraries, “campus atmosphere”, extracurricular activities and academic reputation.

UW earned its one A in the academic reputation category, adding A-minuses in satisfaction, quality of education, and extracurricular activities. Other ratings for Waterloo: quality of teaching, B-plus; student-faculty interaction, B-minus; course availability and variety, B-plus; student services, B; class size, B; ease of course registration, B-plus; food services (C-plus, in a field where only Guelph and two small universities earned higher than a B-minus); buildings and facilities, B; recreation and athletics, B-plus; libraries, B-plus; campus pubs and bars, B; residences, B; campus technology, B-plus; campus atmosphere, B-plus.

Waterloo also earned B-plus ratings in two areas that figure large in the university’s public image: “campus technology” (where McGill, Guelph and Acadia all earned A’s) and “career preparation” (where only Sherbrooke, with an A-minus, scored higher than UW).

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Other notes, presented very formally

The traditional "dress-down days" in support of the United Way campaign are being supplanted, just for today, by a Formal Day, on which staff and faculty have been invited to come to campus in their best bib and tucker, academic robes, ball gowns or kilts, as the case may be, and pay $2 for the privilege. The money goes toward the $175,000 that organizers are hoping to raise on campus, by October's end, in support of local agencies ranging from Catholic Family Counselling to St. John Ambulance. The bulk of the money comes from cheques and payroll deductions, but there are also one-time fund-raisers, some of them in a let-your-hair-down style (or let your hair come right off, in the case of the psychology department's Buzz 1000 Challenge). [Haslett behind bars on United Way flyer]Yesterday's disruption in a good cause came from the library where university (chief) librarian Mark Haslett was "arrested" and paraded around campus in a striped convict suit until sympathizers came up with $250 in bail. In fact, Laurie Strome of the library staff reports, the final take was $206.98 in bail, $319.61 in "donations to keep him imprisoned", but they let him out anyway. Among continuing events is a silent auction in the registrar's office, which is now scheduled to run right to the 31st of the month.

UW's annual science open house and gem show this weekend offers activities and demonstrations geared to children from kindergarten to Grade 8, as well as their families. Open house events take place Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Centre for Environmental and Information Technology. The centre houses the earth sciences museum, which presents the associated gem and mineral show, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Chemistry and physics activities tomorrow include levitation with a superconducting magnet, making fake blood, burning a $5 bill, turning copper into gold, and sound interference with speakers. Visitors can also enjoy outdoor hands-on activities and try a solar telescope. The popular chemistry magic show will take place at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday in Biology I room 271. The gem and mineral show will feature a rock pile for young collectors, a meteorite display from the Royal Ontario Museum, gold panning, an earthquake simulator, digging for fossil fish and ancient shark teeth. Sunday, UW earth scientist Alan Morgan will give a lecture at 2 p.m. in celebration of International Year of Planet Earth: “Climate Change: Is It Happening and When Will It Happen?”

Dwight Duncan, the Ontario finance minister, gave an "economic update" on Wednesday afternoon and predicted that the government will run a $500 million deficit in the current fiscal year. "A deficit, followed by a plan for its elimination, represents a balanced response to today’s global reality," he said, stressing that the province is sticking to its five-point economic plan, with its emphasis on investment. "The government will delay the implementation of and slow down some new spending while continuing to manage internal expenses," Duncan said, warning of near-zero economic growth in the coming year. What's that mean for universities, as well as schools and hospitals? "The government expects its bargaining agent partners to achieve affordable collective agreements in this new fiscal environment," the minister said. "In 2008-09, $76.6 billion — 80 per cent of total government spending — will go to transfer payment recipients. Transfer payment funding will not be increasing in fiscal 2009-10 according to what was projected in the 2008 Budget last March." The Council of Ontario Universities didn't issue an official comment, but is said to be stressing that "continuing to invest in talent, in innovation and in the knowledge infrastructure of our universities will accelerate Ontario's recovery from the current economic turmoil."

UW's Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy is co-sponsoring a conference on "Distributed Energy and the Future of Ontario's Electricity Grid" that's about to take place at the Waterloo Inn. Provincial energy minister George Smitherman will give a keynote address Sunday evening, and expert speakers and discussions are scheduled for Monday.

Provost Amit Chakma speaks this afternoon in the "Knowledge Integration" seminar series, (2:30, Environment II room 2002), speaking on "the important role education plays in broadening perspective for an increasingly intertwined world". • David Perrin, president of St. Jerome's University, will represent Christianity at the annual World Religions Conference, being held all day Sunday (10:00 to 6:00) in the Humanities Theatre. • UW president David Johnston will be among the dignitaries who will speak as Beth Jacob Synagogue in Kitchener celebrates its centennial with a gala evening event on Sunday.


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Link of the day

United Nations Day

When and where

Last day for 50 per cent tuition fee refund for fall courses, October 24.

Grand River Film Festival 2008 screenings of 15 films continues through Saturday, including some at UW Architecture building, Cambridge. Details.

Blood donor clinic 9:00 to 3:00, Student Life Centre, book appointments at turnkey desk or call 1-888-236-6283.

Chinese ambassador to Canada Lijun Lan, “China After the Olympics”, 11:45 a.m., Renison UC room 2106.

Employer rankings for winter term co-op jobs open 1 p.m.

Department of English presents Eric Friesen, UW alumnus and former host on CBC Radio 2, “Life Lessons from an English Degree”, 3:00, Humanities room 150.

Comic City Film Series linked to “Dominion City” exhibition in Render (UW art gallery): “Chasing Amy” (1997) with introductory comments by Peter Trinh, 6:00, East Campus Hall gallery.

Waterloo Space Society presents the film “The Right Stuff”, 7:30 p.m., Student Life Centre great hall.

Queer Pride Week bonfire sponsored by GLOW, “the queer and questioning community”, 8 p.m., Columbia Lake firepits.

Goethe’s ‘Faust’ Part I presented in German and English by Shadow Puppet Theatre of Kitchener-Waterloo and the Waterloo Centre for German Studies, tonight 8 p.m., Saturday 2 p.m., Studio 180, Humanities building, tickets $12 (students $8) 519-888-4908.

‘China in the Shifting World Order’ 2008 conference of the Centre for International Governance Innovation, Saturday-Sunday, 57 Erb Street West. Details.

Conrad Grebel University College presents Ruth Derksen Siemens, “Remember Us: Letters from Stalin’s Gulag”, and film “Through the Red Gate”, Saturday 7:00, Grebel great hall.

Pre-enrolment course selection for spring term 2009 courses, October 27 through November 2. Details.

QPR for suicide prevention training sessions available October 27 or November 17 (date changed from November 21), 11:30 to 1:00, registration call ext. 33528.

Career workshop: Career Interest Assessment, Monday 2:30, Tatham Centre room 1112. Details.

Social Innovation Generation presents Stuart Kauffman, “The Evolution of Economic Wealth and Innovation”, Monday 3:00, University Club dining room.

Waterloo Public Interest Research Group presents Gavin Fridell, “Fair Trade Coffee: The Prospects and Pitfalls of Market-Oriented Social Justice”, Monday 5:30, Environment I courtyard.

Toronto alumni networking event Monday 6:00 to 8:00, Atlantis at Ontario Place, hosted by president David Johnston, UW deans, Alumni Council chair Bill Watson and others. Details.

Arriscraft Lecture: Michael Cook, Vanishing Point, “Hidden Architectures: Underground Architecture in the Contemporary City”, Monday 7 p.m., Architecture lecture hall, Cambridge.

Library Day at UW, Tuesday, open house 10:00 to 2:00 at Dana Porter Library.

UW board of governors Tuesday 2:30 p.m., Needles Hall room 3001.

Region of Waterloo public consultation on draft Regional Official Plan, Tuesday, October 28, 3:00 to 8:00, 99 Regina Street, Waterloo. Details.

Staff association annual general meeting Thursday, October 30, 8:45 a.m., Davis Centre room 1302.

Trick or Eat door-to-door food collection on Hallowe’en evening, register online.

Fall open house for future students Saturday, November 1. Information booths at Student Life Centre, 10:00 to 4:00; academic sessions from 10:30; residence tours; also includes School of Architecture in Cambridge. Details.

Public Service of Canada Career Expo Tuesday, November 4, 1:30 to 6:30, Federation Hall, with representatives of 23 federal departments.

New faculty lunch-and-learn session: “Fostering Academic Integrity”, Wednesday, November 5, 11:45 a.m., Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Town Hall meeting with president David Johnston and provost Amit Chakma, Wednesday, November 5, 3:00, Humanities Theatre.

Math Society charity ball Saturday, November 8, from 6:00, Federation Hall, tickets at Math Society office, proceeds to Grand River Hospital Foundation.

Flu shot clinic November 11, 12, 13 and 14, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Student Life Centre multipurpose room.

Ralph Nader gives the keynote address for 35th anniversary of Waterloo Public Interest Research Group, Thursday, November 13, 7:00, Humanities Theatre, admission free.

Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’ presented by UW department of drama, Theatre of the Arts, November 13-15 and 20-22 at 8 p.m., plus school matinees November 14 and 21 at 12:30, tickets $12 (students $10) at Humanities box office.

PhD oral defences

Electrical and computer engineering. S. M. Jahinuzzaman, “Modeling and Mitigation of Soft Errors in Nanoscale SRAMS.” Supervisor, Manoj Sachdev. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Monday, November 3, 9:00 a.m., CEIT building room 3142.

Philosophy. Andrew Stumpf, “From Objects to Individuals: An Essay in Analytic Ontology.” Supervisor, David DeVidi. On display in the faculty of arts, PAS 2419. Oral defence Monday, November 3, 2:30 p.m. Humanities room 334.

Combinatorics and optimization. J. Niel de Baudrap, “Theory of Measurement-Based Quantum Computing.” Supervisors, Michele Mosca and Ashwin Nayak. On display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Monday, November 3, 3:45 p.m., Research Advancement Centre room 2004.

Chemical engineering. William O’Keefe, “Applications of Niobium Compounds Towards the One-Step Synthesis of Methyl Isobutyl Ketone (MIBK) via Catalytic Distillation.” Supervisors, Flora T. T. Ng and Garry L. Rempel. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Wednesday, November 5, 9:30 a.m., Doug Wright Engineering room 2534.

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