Wednesday, January 28, 2009

  • 50 million federal dollars for IQC
  • Candidates named, students vote soon
  • Teaching centre 'excited' about conference
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

50 million federal dollars for IQC

UW got a direct mention in yesterday's federal budget, as the cascade of "infrastructure" funding included an earmarked grant of $50 million to help build the Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre.

To nobody's surprise, the tax cuts proposed in the budget are accompanied by extensive spending, all intended to stimulate the nation's drooping economy. But most of the new money is in large envelopes, such as $2 billion promised for college and university construction across Canada. The bottom line, according to finance minister Jim Flaherty, will be huge deficits over the next couple of years as money flows out from Ottawa long before the revived economy starts sending it back again in the form of taxes.

Among the promises Flaherty made in the House of Commons yesterday were several under the heading of “Investments in Knowledge Infrastructure”. An excerpt from the online budget documents:

“The Government will advance Canada’s knowledge advantage by dedicating up to $2 billion to repair, retrofit and expand facilities at post-secondary institutions; providing $750 million for leading-edge research infrastructure through the Canada Foundation for Innovation; providing $50 million to the Institute for Quantum Computing in Waterloo, Ontario to build a new world-class research facility.

“Allocating $87 million over the next two years to maintain or upgrade key Arctic research facilities; providing $250 million over two years to address deferred maintenance at federal laboratories; providing $500 million to Canada Health Infoway to encourage the greater use of electronic health records; providing $225 million over three years to develop and implement a strategy on extending broadband coverage to unserved communities.”

The $50 million in federal funding for IQC has been a topic for discussion — and hope — ever since it was proposed during the January 2006 election campaign. The Lazaridis Centre, which IQC will share with the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology, is already under construction at the centre of campus, with an estimated total cost of $160 million.

“The government of Canada is to be commended for investing in the groundbreaking work of researchers exploring the new frontier that is the world of quantum computing,” UW president David Johnston said last night. “This investment, matched by a $50 million investment from Mike and Ophelia Lazaridis and $50 million from the province of Ontario, will help meet operating and capital needs of our Institute for Quantum Computing for years to come."

Johnston was also complimentary to the other federal spending: “The University of Waterloo applauds the government’s decision to invest in Canadian infrastructure. With what we can contribute, and with what we hope will be matching funds by the provincial government, Waterloo and other institutions can better address campus renewal and invest in capital initiatives that will further our teaching and research contributions to Canada and the world.”

Analysts were working on the fine print of the budget last night, hoping to figure out, for example, how UW might get involved with the money that Ottawa says it will spend on “green research” over the next two years.

Students were not quite so exuberant. “Lacking from the budget were student support measures, or investments in research aimed at fostering the knowledge economy that colleges and universities deliver,” said Andres Fuentes, vice-president (education) of UW’s Federation of Students. "Brick and mortar developments help our economies in the short run, but investing in education drives our wealth and prosperity for many years. We would have liked to have seen an investment to enhance access.”

And a headline in this morning's Globe and Mail is "Money for bricks, but not talent," over a story quoting several higher education leaders about how little the budget is doing for actual science and academic manpower.

Back to top

[Seven faces in a row]

A team of undergraduate planning students tied for the $10,000 prize (along with a team of graduate students from McGill University) in a design competition for an innovative, sustainable community on a 750-acre site east of Regina. Students from five universities submitted proposals to Clear Vistas Management Corporation. One of the UW team, Simone Adomeit, said the company loved their proposed boardwalk along the creek and the interactive sculpture in the civic square. The team was commended for the design of their strong network of open spaces, including a market, a grand boulevard, parks, squares, and a sustainability corridor with wind turbines, community gardens and greenhouses. Karen Hammond of the planning school, who coached the team, poses with Regina Li, Christy Fong, Simone Adomeit, dean of environment Deep Saini, Evan Truong and Josh Reis; also on the team was Rosa Bustamante.

Back to top

Candidates named, students vote soon

There will be some very long ballots as undergraduate students go to the (electronic) polls February 10-12 to choose leaders and representatives for the 2009-10 year.

Candidates for a few positions have been acclaimed, including one of the Federation of Students vice-presidencies, but at the other extreme, there are 9 candidates for a UW senate seat representing mathematics, and 10 for an at-large undergraduate seat on the senate.

The engineering seat on senate has attracted 7 candidates, and the applied health sciences seat 3, according to a candidates list released by John Andersen of the Federation office following the close of nominations over the weekend.

Six seats on students’ council are being filled by acclamation, but another four seats — representing arts, math, science, and St. Jerome’s — have attracted anywhere from 2 to 6 nominees apiece.

The brightest spotlight will be on the four executive positions for the Federation of Students, including the presidency, for which there are four candidates:

  • Brandon Mulholland, a speech communication student who has played hockey and helped found the We Are Warriors spirit group.
  • Sam Andrey, chemistry student who is a present member of students’ council and holds a student seat on the UW senate and board of governors.
  • Allan Babor, an independent studies student who is president of the Arts Student Union, serves on the UW senate and is a UW Place don.
  • Mubarak Sadoon, a student in economics.

In an unusual election twist, the current Feds president, Justin Williams, is seeking the post of vice-president (education) on the Feds executive for the coming year. There have been Federation presidents who have run for re-election in the same role, but Fed hacks say a president seeking to serve as a vice-president is something quite new.

Williams, who was an environment and resource studies student before taking the full-time job of Fed president a year ago, will be running against Alicia Mah, a student in the arts faculty’s liberal studies program.

There are four candidates for vice-president (internal affairs): Ross Ricupero of civil engineering; Sarah Cook of psychology; Valerie Orr of biology; and Kia Buchanan of sexuality, marriage and family studies.

The only candidate for VP (administration and finance), and so acclaimed to that post for the coming year, is Chris Neal, current president of the Math Society and a representative on students’ council as well as the UW senate and board.

The first of several meet-the-candidates sessions will be held today from 11:30 to 1:30 in the third-floor lounge of the Math and Computer building. Future confirmed sessions are Friday from 11:00 to 2:00 in the Student Life Centre, February 3 from 11:30 to 1:30 in Carl Pollock Hall, and February 6 from 11:00 to 2:00 back in the SLC.

The elected candidates will take office on May 1.

Back to top

Teaching centre 'excited' about conference

UW’s Centre for Teaching Excellence is finding excitement in two different places these days: its new mission statement and a planned conference at which Waterloo faculty can talk about the research they’re doing about teaching.

“Last October,” says the January issue of the centre’s newsletter, “all the members of the CTE met for a two day retreat facilitated by Dr. Joy Mighty, Director of the Centre for Teaching and Learning at Queen’s University. As a new unit the CTE felt that it needed an opportunity to consider its mission and its strategic plans for the next several years. One of the most exciting products of the retreat was, in fact, a new mission statement.

“Following the retreat, CTE members in small groups took on the task of further defining the key elements of the mission to help guide our work.” The key sentence that resulted: “The Centre for Teaching Excellence provides leadership in advancing skilful, informed, and reflective teaching.”

Says the mission statement: “Skilful teaching involves what we as teachers do, say, or make happen in order to improve learning. Skilful teaching can be learned and taught, acquired and honed. A skilful teacher also recognizes when and why to modify an approach.

“Informed teaching involves openness toward new ways of approaching teaching, and a willingness to adjust practice based upon what we learn by listening to students and through discussions with colleagues. Informed teaching is scholarly. It draws on current research and contributes to disciplinary practice in higher education.

Reflective teaching is an iterative process that involves developing an awareness of what we do as teachers, why we make the choices we do, and how our choices impact students’ learning. By examining and sharing our successes and challenges with the larger teaching community, we contribute to an ongoing dialogue about teaching and learning, and extend our own learning and development as teachers.”

The newsletter invites comments: “We need to check out our perception of what we do with our various audiences. What do you think of our new mission statement?”

Meanwhile, planning is under way for “Opportunities and New Directions, a Research Conference on Teaching and Learning”, which will be held May 6 — right after the traditional two-day “Learning about Teaching” symposium. Gary Poole, a teaching expert from the University of British Columbia, is giving the keynote address at the symposium and leading two workshops, and will stay on campus to give the keynote for the May 6 conference as well.

“The reason we’re so excited about it,” says Nicola Simmons of CTE, “is that it’s the first conference at UW for faculty and staff to give presentations about their research on teaching and learning — and it welcomes all disciplines. We see it as a great opportunity for the UW community conducting this kind of research to connect with like-minded colleagues, both at UW and beyond.

“We expect many of the presenters will be Teaching-Based Research Group members, but anyone who is interested is welcome to attend and to submit. The conference is open to colleagues from other institutions, and in fact our first submission was from a western province.”

This Friday is listed as the deadline for submission of proposals. There’s more information online about the May 6 conference, and details about the May 4-5 symposium are expected soon.


Back to top

Link of the day

US leaves Cuba, 100 years ago today

When and where

Career workshops today: “Career Exploration and Decision-Making” 10:30, Tatham Centre room 1112; “Interview Skills, Selling Your Skills” 3:30, TC 1208; “Basics of Starting a Business” 4:30, Accelerator Centre, 295 Hagey Boulevard. Details.

Federation Xpress convenience store, Student Life Centre, one-year anniversary, free cake 11 a.m., other promotions all week.

Climate change seminar: Stéphane Bélair, Environment Canada, “Land Surface Modeling and Assimilation”, 12:00 noon, Environment I room 221.

Free noon concert: Jazz Trio, 12:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel UC chapel.

Smarter Health seminar: Wayne Gudbranson, Branham Group, “Informatics and the Continuum of Care”, 3:00 p.m., Davis Centre room 1302.

Applied Complexity and Innovation seminar: Keith Hipel, systems design engineering, “Trade Versus the Environment: Strategic Settlement from a Systems Engineering Perspective”, 3:00, University Club.

‘Cardio Training for Weight Loss’ Lifestyle Learning session 5:30 p.m., boardroom of TechTown, 340 Hagey Boulevard.

Waterloo Public Interest Research Group discussion of Canada’s role in human rights issues in Honduras, and screening of “All That Glitters Isn’t Gold” 5:30 p.m., Rod Coutts Hall room 302.

Warrior basketball tonight at McMaster, men’s and women’s teams.

‘Gaza Awareness’ lecture by immigration lawyer Ed Corrigan, sponsored by Muslim Students Association, 7 p.m., Math and Computer room 2066.

Employer interviews for spring co-op work term January 29 through February 27; rankings open February 27, 1 p.m.

Career workshops Thursday: “Work Search Strategies” 10:30, “Professional School Interviews” 4:30, both in Tatham Centre room 1208. Details.

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.

Engineering Research Office presents “Commercialization Success at Waterloo: How Your Office of Research Can Help” Thursday 1:30, Davis Centre room 1304, register ext. 32060.

Geography and environmental management seminar: Phil Graniero, University of Windsor, “It’s Not Really About the Numbers: Adaptive Environmental Monitoring with Intelligent Sensor Webs and GIS” Thursday 1:30 p.m., Environment I room 221.

Survey Research Centre presents “The Growing Role of Focus Groups in Market Research”, Thursday 2:30 p.m., PAS building room 2030.

Mathematics Faculty Awards Banquet recognizing student award winners, Thursday 5:30 p.m., Festival Room, South Campus Hall, by invitation.

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

Fee arrangements for winter term: last day January 30.

Pension and benefits committee Friday 8:30 a.m., Needles Hall room 3004.

Centre for Teaching Excellence workshop: “Using UW-ACE to Help Students Prepare for Your Large Class” Friday 10:30 a.m., Dana Porter Library room 329. Details.

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

UW board of governors meets Tuesday 2:30 p.m. (Pre-meeting briefing on academic progress, 1:15 p.m.)

'UpStart Women' festival presented by department of drama: three plays ("Cliques That Click", "Surface Tension", "Bittergirl") February 3, 5 and 7 at 7:00 p.m., three other plays ("The Hair Affair", "Clothture", "The Red Tent") February 4 and 6 at 7:00 and February 7 at 2:00. General admission $12 ($20 for both shows), students $10 ($16).

The Three Cantors benefit concert celebrating 10th anniversary of the School of Social Work, Renison University College, February 3, 7:30 p.m., St. John the Evangelist church, Kitchener, tickets $25 (students $20), information ext. 28644.

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

Doctors Without Borders founder Richard Heinzl speaks, sponsored by UW International Health Development Association and other agencies, February 5, 7:00 p.m., Federation Hall, admission free.

Distinguished Teacher Awards nomination deadline for 2009 is February 6. Details.

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

Winter term reading week February 16-20.

Family Day holiday Monday, February 16: UW offices and most services will be closed.

Positions available

On this week's list from the human resources department:

• Senior manager, evaluation/ research, Centre for Behavioural Research and Program Evaluation, USG 11

Yesterday's Daily Bulletin