Monday, January 5, 2009

  • A new year, a new term, a Monday
  • Chakma 'looking forward' to Western move
  • Language expert's long-awaited visit
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

A new year, a new term, a Monday

It may be a bit slippery underfoot here and there, in the wake of yesterday's freezing drizzle. But after the long Christmas and New Year’s break, students by the thousand are finding their way to the first session of their winter term classes, and the university is suddenly in full swing again.

In a chaos of new beginnings, they’re buying their books (check the “When and where” column at right for details on extended hours at the bookstore), eyeing new faces (check “When and where” for word on tours aimed at brand-new students), and considering new activities (check “When and where” for audition times for some serious musical groups).

They may also be indulging political ambitions (nominations run from today through January 23 for 2009-10 executive positions in the Federation of Students), applying for donships (the housing and residences department welcomes applications starting today), or putting together nominations for UW’s annual Distinguished Teacher Award and Award for Exceptional Teaching by a Student (deadline in both cases is in early February).

The libraries are back to normal hours of service starting today, and so are food services outlets across campus — including, once again, round-the-clock operation for Tim Hortons in the Student Life Centre. Not open, not any time soon, is the planned café in the Accounting wing of Hagey Hall, which is still a construction site; but there are hopes.

The Student Awards and Financial Aid Office sends word that it "will be releasing OSAP funding by appointment only from the Tatham Centre" — the new satellite location that was tried for the first time last September, with good results. More from SAFA in this space tomorrow morning.

Ann Barrett of the UW writing centre advises that grades from the December sitting of the English Language Proficiency Exam are now posted, “and can be found in all undergraduate offices and outside the Writing Centre in PAS 2082. Congratulations to those who passed, and students who were not successful can explore their options by visiting their undergraduate advisors or our web site. Students who have passed will find their ELPE credit listed under ‘Milestones’ in Quest when unofficial grades are posted.”

Staff and faculty members will want to know that the monthly payday for January will come earlier than they might have expected: on Friday, January 23. They can expect some changes to the bite that taxes and premiums take out of their gross pay; Sandra Hurlburt of the human resources department says she’ll be making an announcement when all the details are assembled about January 1 changes to tax rates, Canada Pension and Employment Insurance premiums, and other calculations.

Information Systems and Technology (IST) and Organizational & Human Development (OHD) advise that the Skills for the Electronic Workplace electronic registration brochure for January and February courses, aimed chiefly at staff members, is available online. The digital brochure is a PDF that can be filled out and submitted for registration by email. “In addition to SEW’s popular core programming for electronic workplace applications,” says a memo, “highlights of this early winter brochure include courses on data encryption, project management, as well as keeping informed using RSS Feeds. Please Note: Before you register, you must have your supervisor's approval. Discuss your availability and preferred courses with your supervisor prior to submitting. Hard copies of the brochure have been mailed out to those staff that do not have access to e-mail. As well, hard copies of the brochure are available upon request.”

And . . . you’ve probably heard by now, since it was announced just before the holiday break began, that UW’s number two administrator, provost and vice-president Amit Chakma, will be leaving this summer. He’ll become president of the University of Western Ontario on July 1. (See below for some of his thoughts as made public by Western in December.) Choosing a new provost for UW will mean invoking the detailed procedure set out in Policy 48, including elections by faculty and staff members to choose members of a nominating committee. President David Johnston said in December that the process will get under way “early in the new year”.

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[Chakma portrait]Chakma 'looking forward' to Western move

Portions of a letter from Amit Chakma (pictured) to the University of Western Ontario community after it was announced that he will be Western's next president

“Western has made tremendous strides in many areas of teaching and research over the last decade and has earned a great deal of admiration from academic leaders across the country. Of particular note is the high quality of students Western attracts, its commitment to providing the best student experience and its emergence as one of Canada’s leading graduate and research intensive institutions. These achievements only happen because of the determined efforts of talented and dedicated faculty, staff and students, as well as committed alumni and friends.

“We have the noble mission of helping to prepare our future leaders. Advances in communications and transportation have made societies more interconnected. We have become more interdependent. Our issues and challenges have become increasingly complex and multi-dimensional.

“We need to educate leaders and global citizens of tomorrow who not only have a command of the core knowledge in their academic disciplines, but who also possess the qualities needed to succeed in an increasingly technologically savvy and socially and culturally inter-connected, complex global village.

“Western’s commitment to the quality of the student experience plus the richness of its diverse academic and research programs puts it in an advantageous position to provide new opportunities for enhancing student learning and leadership.

“In addition to educating future citizens and leaders we also have a responsibility to seek solutions for complex challenges facing our society . As society looks to our universities for solutions to our complex problems, we need to find ways to facilitate knowledge transfer across the disciplines and create an environment that allows scholars from a range of disciplines to put their minds toward finding answers to complex problems.

“Institutions that can bring their talents from a multitude of disciplines to work on the important questions and challenges of our global village will become the research leaders of tomorrow. I look forward to working with our outstanding faculty in exploring the opportunities that will be open to us.

“It also must be acknowledged that these are turbulent economic times and universities are not immune from the consequences. Western’s advantage is that this is a university with a strong culture of working through challenges in a collegial fashion. While we need to be realistic about the economic challenges, I will be encouraging Western to take a long-term view and not to shrink from the opportunities this university is so well positioned to achieve.

“Universities in Ontario face structural challenges with their finances. Apart from making a strong case for increased public funding, we also need to diversify our revenue streams.

“Successful universities of the next decades will be those which can build strong symbiotic linkages with their communities at the local, national and international levels. Our universities can be powerful catalysts for progress in our communities.

“My wife, Meena, and our youngest son are looking forward to moving to London and being part of this community. While I will not be taking office until July 1, I will be making many trips to London to consult with Paul Davenport over the next few months. I also look forward to meeting with faculty, staff, student, alumni and members of London community to hear their ideas.”

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Language expert's long-awaited visit

It took two years to book a Waterloo visit for a noted language researcher from the University of Michigan, but plans finally came together and she’ll be here on Thursday.

The visitor is Diane Larsen-Freeman, who is a professor of education, professor of linguistics, and research scientist at the English Language Institute at the U-M. She’ll be giving a talk Thursday evening, on “Language as a Complex Dynamic System”, and leading a workshop on Friday for instructors at UW’s own English Language Institute, based at Renison University College.

“We are so fortunate to have Dr. Larsen-Freeman coming,” says Julia Williams, assistant director of Renison’s ELI. “She is one of the world's foremost second language researchers and teachers, and she rarely comes to Canada to speak.

“Two years ago, the English Language Institute was accredited by Languages Canada (formerly the Canada Language Council) — our national accreditation agency for second language programs. The head of the accreditation visit nominated the ELI for the Lyn Howes Award for curriculum development, recognizing quality and innovative curriculum design that year. The ELI subsequently won the award.

“The woman who completed the accreditation, and who nominated the ELI for the award, knew Dr. Larsen-Freeman, and recommended that she consider coming to UW to work with instructors at the ELI. We are thrilled that she is coming to speak to us.”

Thursday night’s talk, which starts at 7:00 at Renison, is sponsored by the Applied Language Studies Option of the English Language Institute, the Germanic and Slavic Studies department, and the Centre for Teaching Excellence. But the audience could come from a wide range of backgrounds, Williams says: “I've had quite a bit of interest in the presentation from faculty in geography, philosophy, and even engineering. I didn't anticipate that these folks would be interested, but they are interested in the application of complexity/chaos theory in different disciplines. So Dr. Larsen-Freeman is really bringing faculty together across disciplines, not simply across language teaching departments. This is quite exciting.”

Here’s the abstract of her planned lecture: “Language has often been viewed atomistically and its learning as an aggregation of its elements. In this talk, I will present an alternative view of language — that is of language as a complex dynamic system. I will suggest that the failure to consider the complexity and dynamism of language has contributed to the inert knowledge problem in language teaching, whereby students who learn about the parts of language fail to be able to use language for their own purposes. Seeing language in a different light, we come to recognize that learning a language does not add knowledge to an unchanging system; it changes the system.”

Williams says the talk “is designed to promote the new Applied Language Studies option, offered through the participation of most of the departments in the Faculty of Arts”, and is aimed at “the University of Waterloo community of professional language teachers, and anyone else who is interested in second (or foreign) language teaching and learning”.

Applied Language Studies, dubbed APPLS, is “an interdisciplinary area of study for those with a special interest in second (or foreign) language learning and teaching and is especially appropriate for those considering careers in teaching, immigration and settlement, social work, social development studies, and immigration law. Applied Language Studies is administered by Renison’s English Language Institute in cooperation with the following participating UW departments and disciplines: Germanic and Slavic Studies, French Studies, Spanish and Latin American Studies, East Asian Studies, Italian Studies (St. Jerome’s), Religious Studies, English, Anthropology, Classical Studies, Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology, and Drama and Speech Communication.”

Students can earn either an option (ten courses as part of a degree program) or a diploma (the same requirements, earned by a non-degree or post-degree student) in APPLS.

The APPLS program was approved last year by UW’s senate, Williams noted, and fall 2008 was “the first term it is available to students as an option to complement their degrees. Because of its newness, it is currently a low profile program. It is always hard to get information about a new program out to students, faculty and staff — particularly when the program is an option, taken in concert with another degree.”


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Link of the day

Twelfth Night

When and where

Bookstore, UW Shop and TechWorx, South Campus Hall, open for winter term rush Monday-Thursday, January 5-8, 9:00 to 7:00.

Math and Computer building elevators out of service for maintenance, January-March, beginning with Northeast elevator #1, shut down as of January 5.

Campus tours for new students 10:30 and 1:30; one-hour tours begin at South Campus Hall. Details.

Senate executive committee 3:30 p.m., Needles Hall room 3004.

Chapel Choir rehearsals today 3:30 to 5:00, and January 6, 3:00 to 5:00. Details.

Instrumental Chamber Ensembles auditions 6:00, Conrad Grebel UC room 1302. Details.

General Services Complex and Commissary building road and service circle access entirely shut down Tuesday 7:00 a.m. to midnight.

University Choir auditions and first rehearsal Tuesday 7:00 p.m., Conrad Grebel UC chapel. Details.

Library books signed out on term loan before the beginning of December are due Wednesday; return or renew online.

Chamber Choir auditions Wednesday-Thursday 1:00 to 5:00. Details.

Paul Snyder, information systems and technology, retirement party Wednesday 3:30 to 5:30, Laurel Room, South Campus Hall, RSVP

Services Fair aimed at new students Wednesday 4:00 to 7:00, Student Life Centre lower atrium. Details.

FASS auditions Wednesday-Friday 6 to 9 p.m., Humanities room 373. “Live FASS, Die Tomorrow” runs February 5-7. Details.

Orchestra@UWaterloo first rehearsal Thursday 7:00, Ron Eydt Village great hall. Details.

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

White Coat Ceremony for new pharmacy students, Thursday 5:00, Humanities Theatre.

Knowledge integration seminar series: Lt. Col. Jim Kile, “Building Trust: A Story of Canada’s Field Hospital in Afghanistan” Friday 2:30, Clarica Auditorium, Lyle Hallman Institute.

Social Innovation Generation project presents “Studio Earth”, with remarks by environmentalist Severn Suzuki, sessions on social finance, social technology, political advocacy, Sunday 12:30 to 5:00, Kitchener City Hall, registration $10, call ext. 38680.

Club representatives meeting Monday, January 12, 4:00, Student Life Centre multipurpose room.

Engineering alumni reception at annual meetings of the Transportation Research Board, Washington, DC, Tuesday, January 13, 6:00 p.m., Marriott Wardmann Park Hotel. Details.

Application deadline for September 2009 undergraduate admission is January 14 for Ontario secondary school students. General deadline, March 31. Exceptions include pharmacy (for January 2010) January 30; accounting and architecture, February 13; engineering and software March 2. Details.

Clubs, Services and Society Days with tables and displays in the Student Life Centre great hall, January 15 and 16, 10:00 to 3:00.

Centre for Family Business, based at Conrad Grebel University College, breakfast seminar, “Working in a Family Business”, Friday, January 16, 7 a.m., Waterloo Inn.

Fantastic Alumni, Staff and Faculty Day at Warrior basketball games, Sunday, January 17, women 2 p.m., men 4 p.m. vs. Guelph, Physical Activities Complex, half-time promotions. Details.

Blood donor clinic January 19 and 20, 10:00 to 4:00, Student Life Centre, book appointments at turnkey desk or call 1-888-236-6283.

United Arab Emirates campus information session with director Magdy Salama, scheduled for January 19, postponed, date to be announced.

Faculty of Science presents Sydney Brenner, Nobel prize winner 2002, “The Architecture of Biological Complexity,” Tuesday, January 20, details to be announced.

Electrical and computer engineering student design project symposium Wednesday, January 21, Davis Centre great hall. Details.

Faculty of Science presents the 3rd annual Arthur Carty Lecture: Nina Federoff, Penn State University, “Seeds of a Perfect Storm: The Global Food Security Crisis”, Thursday, January 22, details to be announced.

Faculty of Arts presents Anne-Marie Zajdliki, Masai Centre for Local, Regional and Global Health, “A Canadian Physician’s Dream for Africa” Thursday, January 22, 7:00, Humanities Theatre.

Last day to drop courses with 100 per cent fee refund; drop, no penalty period ends, January 23.

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