Friday, January 23, 2009

  • Funding for Stratford digital dreams
  • Directors to head co-op employer relations
  • Forming the VP nominating committee
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Funding for Stratford digital dreams

UW’s recently established Stratford Institute will share in $10.7 million of federal government funding that was announced yesterday by the minister of state for science and technology, Cambridge MP Gary Goodyear.

The five-year grant will be shared with Communitech, the association of high-technology businesses in Waterloo Region, which is backing a Kitchener-based “Digital Media Convergence Centre”.

Together, they’ll create something to be called the Corridor for Advancing Canadian Digital Media (CACDM), which will have the status of a federal Centre for Excellence for Commercialization and Research. Six such centres in various scientific fields are being announced this week, joining eleven that were created last year.

"This federal investment represents a major vote of confidence in Canada's digital media sector and in our area's emerging strengths in the field," says Ken Coates, UW’s dean of arts. "By supporting the Corridor, the Government of Canada is providing the support needed to keep our country in the forefront of this crucial economic field."

A news release issued jointly by Communitech and UW’s faculty of arts explains that “CACDM, which will provide a common space for the corporate and academic communities to come together around digital media, will have hubs in Kitchener and Stratford.

“The Digital Media Convergence Centre, based in Kitchener, will bring together the Waterloo Region's expertise in digital media and mobile technology. It will generate new digital media products, applications and businesses. The centre will house digital imaging, projection and studio technologies that previously have only been available to large companies and institutions.

[Handshake and beaming faces]“The University of Waterloo's Stratford Institute is a forward-looking research, education and convergence centre that will drive the next generation of digital media applications and content models. The institute will draw leading researchers, businesses and entrepreneurs to create, examine and commercialize opportunities in the digital media field in a global economy. It will quickly become a centrepiece for collaboration, learning and sharing through conferences and workshops.” (Left: Perth-Wellington MP Gary Schellenberger greets UW president David Johnston at yesterday's announcement event, while other participants chat in the background.)

Kevin Tuer, a Waterloo grad who is the chief technical officer in residence for Communitech, has been named the executive director of the corridor project. "This is a Canadian first — the largest concentration of digital research in the country," he said yesterday, describing the Stratford and Kitchener ends of the "corridor" as "open-concept hubs, sandboxes" for research and development.

Communitech president Iain Klugman observes that the Corridor “will strengthen domestic collaboration and optimize resources to create the scale and focus that will brand Canada as a leader in digital media. It is an exciting new venture that will attract world-class talent and investment, will create new companies and jobs, and will help existing companies innovate and grow."

The news release also quotes the science minister: "This new centre will help Canadian researchers and entrepreneurs get more of their innovations from the lab to the marketplace. Our government is committed to investing in research and development in order to create jobs, improve the quality of life of all Canadians and strengthen the economy for future generations."

The digital media sector, the release observes, is one of the fastest growing industries in the knowledge economy, expected to reach US$2.2 trillion worldwide in the next five years. “Digital media is created by using visual images and video, as well as sound and user interaction software, to communicate and use information from large data sources.

“The scope of digital media extends well beyond film, TV and videogames with a growing number of applications in medical imaging, 3D cinema and animation, virtual prototyping in manufacturing, virtual reality environments for enhanced education and financial modelling.”

The announcement yesterday builds on more than $50 million in cash and in-kind support from Corridor partners that include Open Text, Christie Digital, Research In Motion, Agfa Healthcare, COM DEV, and Tech Capital Partners, much of it aimed at UW’s planned Stratford campus.

"The explosion in digital media and mobile computing applications will dramatically change the way we work and interact in the decades to come," says Tom Jenkins, chairman of Open Text. "The Waterloo Region has the critical mass of expertise, leading tech companies and educational institutions that can drive this global revolution in the years to come. But we have to move quickly.” Kitchener mayor Carl Zehr agreed, in his remarks at yesterday's event: "There is not a more urgent time to invest in the future than now."

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Directors to head co-op employer relations

Two high-level staff positions in the co-op education and career services department, advertised on campus in this week’s Positions Available and soon to be advertised off campus as well, are being created as a key part of the department’s reorganization, says CECS executive director Peggy Jarvie.

Both jobs are for directors of “employment relations”, with one pegged for “core accounts” and one for “integrated and international accounts”. They’re listed at the USG 17 grade, near the top of the staff salary scale.

Adding the two directors will give CECS “one additional head count”, Jarvie said, since the department is losing senior staff member Keith Kenning to retirement this spring. His unit, currently titled “field services”, is being reorganized into the two “employment relations” units. Field services is responsible for the always challenging task of finding new co-op jobs, maintaining relationships with employers, and also keeping in touch with students while they’re on co-op work terms.

CECS also has a director of student and faculty relations, Rocco Fondacaro, and a director of career services, Kerry Mahoney.

Another new senior position will be hired later, Jarvie said. That would be a director for the “operations” branch, which manages such day-to-day functions as interview scheduling and job posting. It’s currently headed by acting assistant director Fatima Mitchell. A final top position that she had hoped to create, a director of communications and marketing, is on hold indefinitely because of economic circumstances.

The reorganization is part of a continuing process of “renewal” in the co-op program, says Jarvie, who oversees some 15,000 student work terms a year, involving thousands of employers and more than 100 academic programs from engineering to arts.

A key part of what’s being done now, she said, is “the concept of integrated relationship management for selected employers. This approach will target larger employers who hire from UW consistently and who have centralized recruiting functions with whom we can partner. Many of these employers will also have other relationships with UW, like research, scholarship donations, or faculty partnerships.”

Specialized staff within the “integrated accounts” unit might be able to concentrate on key sectors in industry and the economy, in much the same way that faculty relations staff members get to know UW’s academic units and programs in depth.

Meanwhile, “Our core employers, who in total hire the majority of our students, will continue to benefit from the organization we’ve established over the past years.” It’s important, she said, to emphasize that there will be “no preferential access to students” for employers in the “integrated” category.

Jarvie said she’s in the process of setting up a selection committee to help her choose the two new directors. It’ll draw on people from other parts of the university as well as staff within CECS, she said.

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Forming the VP nominating committee

a memo from the university secretariat

Following the recent call for nominations to fill seats on the Vice-President, Academic & Provost Nominating Committee, Susan Wismer (environment and resource studies) is elected by acclamation as the environment faculty senator. Online voting is to begin Monday, January 26, to fill the following positions on the nominating committee:

• Two regular faculty members. Candidates: Katherine Acheson (English language & literature), Sheila Ager (classical studies), John Burbidge (economics), Roydon Fraser (mechanical & mechatronics engineering), Stefan Idziak (physics & astronomy), William Power (chemistry), Steve Prentice (kinesiology), Omar Ramahi (electrical & computer engineering), Manoj Sachdev (electrical & computer engineering), Mark Seasons (planning), Scott Spidell (drama & speech communication), David Taylor (computer science), John Thistle (electrical & computer engineering).

• A senator of professorial rank from each faculty. Candidates: applied health sciences: Roger Mannell (dean of applied health sciences / recreation & leisure studies), Nancy Theberge (kinesiology); arts: David DeVidi (philosophy), Geoffrey Hayes (history), John North (English language & literature); engineering: Metin Renksizbulut (mechanical & mechatronics engineering), Leo Rothenburg (acting dean of engineering, civil & environmental engineering); mathematics: Steve Brown (statistics & actuarial science), Wayne Oldford (statistics & actuarial science); science: George Dixon (VP, university research, biology), John Flanagan (optometry), Elizabeth Meiering (chemistry).

• Two regular staff members. Candidates: Katrina Di Gravio (organizational & human development); Heather FitzGerald (student life office); Sue Fraser (kinesiology); Jeff Henry (math undergraduate office), Julie Hummel (marketing & recruitment), Linda Kieswetter (development & alumni affairs), Vic Neglia (arts computing office), Karen Trevors (dean of science office), Mark Walker (registrar’s office), David Walsh (engineering computing), Charles Woods (library).


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[Face inside hood and scarf]

On the Mall in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday was Becky Wroe of the Federation of Students professional staff. Accompanied by Stephen Woods of the science undergraduate office, she was there (along with 1.4 million other people) to watch Barack Obama's inauguration as president of the United States. "We had an excellent spot close to the second jumbotron," she says, "which we got by arriving at 4:30 a.m. The experience was truly fantastic, thought a little surreal (and quite cold)."

Link of the day

'Muted' new year in China

When and where

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

International Olympiad of Informatics, to be held at UW in August 2010, launch celebration 1:30 p.m., Davis Centre. Details.

Knowledge Integration seminar: Brendon Larson, environment and resource studies, “Tales from a Biologist Turned Metaphorophile”, 2:30 p.m., Environment II room 2002.

Federation of Students election nominations close today; all-candidates meeting at 4 p.m., Student Life Centre multipurpose room. Campaign runs January 27 through February 9; polling February 10-12.

Optometry building heating and ventilation shut off 5:30 p.m. to midnight.

Warrior sports this weekend: Basketball vs. Lakehead, Friday and again Saturday, women 6:00, men 8:00, PAC. • Men’s hockey vs. Western, Friday 7:30, Icefield. • Women’s hockey vs. Laurier, Saturday 2:00, Icefield; at Laurier Sunday 7:30, Rec Centre. • Swimming, Ottawa invitational Friday, Queen’s invitational Saturday. • Volleyball (men and women) at McMaster Friday, at Guelph Saturday.

‘Medical School Interviews’ career workshop Saturday 12:30 p.m., Tatham Centre room 2218. Details.

Chinese New Year buffet at the University Club, Monday 11:30 to 2:00, $18.50, reservations ext. 33801.

Joint Health and Safety Committee Monday 1:30, Commissary building room 112D.

‘Does God Matter?’ debate sponsored by Creekside Church and Campus for Christ, Monday 7:30 p.m., Humanities Theatre, students $2.

‘Activating Cambridge’: Independent studies student and community advocate Andy Hourahine speaks on his work with Active Cambridge, Tuesday 10:00 a.m., Graduate House.

Education Credit Union seminar on “Tax-Free Savings Accounts and Your RRSP” Tuesday 12:15 p.m., Davis Centre room 1302.

Career workshops Tuesday: “Business Etiquette and Professionalism” 2:30, Tatham Centre room 1208; “Basics of Starting a Business” 4:30, TC 1208; “Working Effectively in Another Culture” 4:30, TC 2218. Details.

Graduate Studies Awards Reception for Award of Excellence in Graduate Supervision, President’s Graduate Scholarships and NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards, Tuesday 3:00 p.m., Festival Room, South Campus Hall, by invitation.

‘Opportunities in Policing’: presentation on “The Right Fit to Serve”, sponsored by residences Living-Learning programs and Waterloo Regional Police, Tuesday 5:30 p.m., Village I great hall. Details.

Communitech breakfast forum with speaker Thomas Homer-Dixon, Balsillie School of International Affairs, Wednesday 7:30 a.m., Bingemans Conference Centre, Kitchener. Details.

Employer interviews for spring co-op work term begin January 29.

Emergency alert test involving voicemail, text messages, UW home page, Thursday 11 a.m. Details.

QPR suicide prevention training sessions Thursday and February 23, 11:30 to 1:00, Math and Computer room 4068, register with counselling services, ext. 33528.

‘Canada-India: Understanding a Turbulent Past’, history professor Ryan Touhey, Thursday 7:00 p.m., Siegfried Hall, St. Jerome’s University.

‘What Does(n’t) It Mean to Be Adopted?’ lecture by drama and speech communication professor Robert Ballard and psychotherapist Sarah Ballard, January 31, 10:00 a.m., Rod Coutts Hall room 301. Details.

Job Fair 2009 sponsored by UW and other post-secondary institutions, February 4, 10:00 to 3:30, RIM Park, Waterloo. Details.

Ottawa alumni event: Reception at Canadian Museum of Civilization marking “the early stages of UW’s Centre for Public Service”, February 5, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Details.

Treat-a-gram delivery February 12; orders now being taken, $3 fee supports Keystone Campaign.

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