Friday, January 30, 2009

  • Wanted: associate provost (graduate studies)
  • Cellphones got emergency test alert
  • Student reports on seeing Nobel events
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Wanted: associate provost (graduate studies)

In a move that symbolizes a decentralization of the way graduate studies operate at UW, the university is advertising to fill the position of “Associate Provost, Graduate Studies”, and the present Dean of Graduate Studies will be the last to hold that title.

The hiring process is starting after approval given by UW’s senate last week to a task force report on the administration of graduate studies, which recommended the change in title. “This senior leadership position is obviously different from a Faculty Dean,” the task force reported. “The Dean of Graduate Studies does not, and in our view, properly so, control the resources needed to deliver graduate programs.” Instead, the job has more to do with planning, as well as being “the external representative for the University with regard to graduate affairs”.

The task force was chaired by one of the faculty deans who do control those resources — Adel Sedra of engineering — and also included Ken Coates, dean of arts, as well as Alan George, who has been interim dean of graduate studies since the fall of 2007. It was set up in 2007, and did its work in the context of plans for massive expansion of graduate study across the university, with an emphasis on “professional” course-based master’s degrees.

Among the key points in the report:

• “The admissions process should be redesigned to make it Department-centric,” though the trio admit that where departments are small, the faculty as a whole might take over the responsibility.

• “Extend automation and document management to tracking the progress of graduate students during their studies at UW and after graduation.”

• “The nature of the position of Associate Dean should be changed from one of supervising and checking the Departments’ work, to one of planning, communicating, mentoring, and monitoring. These are functions that are needed at all times but acquire greater significance and relevance in times of expansion.”

• “Departments should devise means for ensuring the quality of course delivery. Greater attention needs to be paid to improving the quality of graduate student supervision.”

There were also recommendations about better organization of funding for graduate students, and much of the discussion at last week’s senate meeting dealt with funding-related issues. Senate members, including the task force members, acknowledged how much the rules for graduate activity are set by the federal research granting councils, which provide a huge share of the money for graduate research assistantships and scholarships.

Another key issue is workload, especially for staff in the departments. “On the perception of decentralization,” says the task force report, “we heard considerable talk about ‘downloading’ and unfortunately little about ‘empowering’ . . . a fear that our recommendations would bring more students and more downloading, but few, if any, additional resources.”

Senators agreed. “Our departmental graduate coordinator is horrendously overworked and underclassified,” one faculty member said. The task force is calling for official review of those positions “to reflect the increase in scope, level of responsibility, and additional required skills.” And, it says, if changes produce more downloading of work to the departments, “then the resources required should be provided.”

George, who is based in the graduate studies office in Needles Hall, said he knows there’s “a perception” that all the decisions are made there, “but in reality it’s a service department to expedite and support all the activities of graduate studies on campus.”

And soon those will be headed by a new associate provost, as this week’s advertisement, being posted both inside and outside UW, invites “applications and nominations for the position of Associate Provost, Graduate Studies, effective as soon as possible and no later than June 30, 2009. The initial term of office is negotiable, but is expected to be at least three years and normally is five years, renewable by mutual consent.

“Candidates should be full-time tenured professors, and have a strong record in teaching, research and graduate supervision, together with demonstrated academic and administrative leadership in a university environment.

“Reporting to the Vice-President, Academic & Provost, the Associate Provost, Graduate Studies assists the Vice-President, Academic & Provost in providing leadership in graduate studies throughout the University, and represents the University externally on matters related to graduate studies. As a senior University Officer, the Associate Provost, Graduate Studies serves on the Deans’ and Executive Councils, the Senate, as co-Chair (with the Vice-President, University Research) of the Senate Graduate & Research Council, and on other major University committees and bodies. The Associate Provost, Graduate Studies is responsible for setting and maintaining a high academic standard of scholarly activity within graduate studies throughout the University.

“The Associate Provost, Graduate Studies works with Faculty Deans and with other senior academic leaders in advancing the academic mission of the university. More specifically, the Associate Provost, Graduate Studies will be responsible for providing leadership in achieving the University’s ambitious 6th Decade plan to double its graduate enrolment by 2017. Another key task will be to implement changes resulting from a restructuring of the role of the Ontario Council of Graduate Studies (OCGS). Major responsibility for periodic reviews of graduate programs will move from OCGS to the University, providing a singular opportunity for the incoming Associate Provost, Graduate Studies, in collaboration with the Faculty Deans, to shape the institutional processes through which such reviews occur.”

Application go to the provost; the announced deadline is February 15.

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[Talking with his hands]

The career path goes something like this, 1997 graduate Peter Sweeney was apparently telling one student in informal conversation following the Wednesday evening "Career Night" at the Tatham Centre sponsored by UW's faculty of arts. Some 100 students showed up to eat pizza and hear from four alumni, including Sweeney, whose political science degree led him to his current post as president of the St. Mary's Hospital Foundation in Kitchener. Other speakers were Mandy Lam (English 2007, now with Open Text), Melinde Whitfield (speech communication 2008, Research In Motion), and Tony Wagner (economics 1985, Northgate Arinso Canada). Photo by Alex Lippert, faculty of arts.

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Cellphones got emergency test alert

by Martin Van Nierop, communications and public affairs

UW officials conducted a test of several emergency communication systems yesterday, including text messages to about 11,000 cellphone users. The message said "This is a test of UW's emergency communication system. FYI. No action required."

Also tested were a new pop-up message system which appeared on about 2,500 computer screens, as well as a voicemail message to telephones across campus.

"We're pleased all three methods that we tested worked, and we encourage everyone who has not yet registered their cell phone number to do so," said Dan Anderson, director of UW Police Services. If you are a student, faculty or staff member and did not receive a cell phone text message, you can enter your cell phone number through the student Quest system or the employee myHRinfo system. The mobile numbers are collected every couple of weeks so they can be entered into the emergency warning system

The emergency warning system currently includes three technologies: cell phone text messages; voicemails to most UW telephones; and pop-up alerts on computer screens with a link to a special emergency-only home page.

These alerts will only be engaged in cases of major emergency where there is significant threat to people's lives. Other methods designed to extend the reach of the emergency communication system, including a public address (PA) over special phones, will be introduced later this year.

This was the first of what will be several tests in the months to come. Feedback on yesterday's test is being collected from various sources in order to improve all the systems. The Daily Bulletin will inform the campus when the next test will take place.

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Student reports on seeing Nobel events

This afternoon's speaker in the weekly Knowledge Integration Seminar Series is Kaleigh Eichel, the first KI student to play that role since the series began in the fall. Eichel, who's in first year in an undergraduate program that also began just a few months ago, will speak under the title "Tiny Goldfish in International Waters: the Question That Led Me to the Nobel Prize Week". Her talk is scheduled for 2:30 in Environment II room 2002.

[Comet goldfish]The goldfish in question are the ones in the science fair project that won her top honours last year at the International Science & Engineering Fair in Atlanta, when she was a high school student in Strongsville, Ohio, near Cleveland. There's news video online about her project, "The Ability to Learn: Learning and Communication Between Comet Goldfish", which examined teaching and learning behaviours in fish. Her data suggests that comet goldfish exhibit active teaching behaviour in addition to mimicry, learning-by-seeing. "This opens the questions of whether active teaching is a mechanism of adaptation to abrupt changes in an animal's environment and whether this behaviour is an example of altruism."

Winning at the science fair brought her scholarships and also an invitation to visit Stockholm in December during the awarding of the 2008 Nobel Prizes. There she spent time with other young scientists from around the world in the Stockholm International Youth Science Seminar, as well as meeting Nobel laureates and giving two presentations of her own. "One of the best parts about the lectures," she wrote to a mentor back in Ohio, "was the chance to walk up to the stage afterwards as part of the SIYSS group and speak to the laureates without being stopped by the wall of security preventing the advancement of media. And the Nobel laureates were all very friendly. They seemed to enjoy talking to students more than speaking to the press."

This afternoon she'll talk about her Nobel Week experience and the science fair project that took her there, says Darlene McGeer, undergraduate advisor in the Centre for Knowledge Integration. "This talk is the first student presentation made by a member of the first-year Knowledge Integration class."


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[Posing with cheque]

A delegation of students from UW's chapter of World University Service of Canada attended the WUSC annual assembly in Ottawa recently and handed over a cheque to national officials, starting the sponsorship process for two refugee students who will arrive in August, begin studies at UW and live at St. Jerome's University and Conrad Grebel University College.

Link of the day

Charles I

When and where

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

Fee arrangements for winter term: last day January 30.

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

Federation of Students election candidates public forum 11:00 to 2:00, Student Life Centre great hall. Election takes place February 10-12.

Career workshop: “Interview Skills, Preparing for Questions” 1:30, Tatham Centre room 1208. Details.

Warrior sports this weekend: Volleyball vs. York on Friday, women’s game 6:00, men 8:00, PAC; at Laurier on Saturday, women 2:00, men 4:00. • Basketball vs. Windsor on Saturday, women’s game 2:00, men 4:00, PAC. • Women’s hockey vs. Western, Saturday 2:00, Icefield; at Toronto on Sunday. • Men’s hockey at Lakehead, Friday and Saturday. • Track and field, McGill team challenge, Friday-Saturday. • Curling (men and women) crossover tournament at Brock, Friday-Sunday.

Fine Arts Film Society Malaysian cinema series: “Gubra” (2006), 7:00, East Campus Hall room 1220.

‘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.

Super Bowl XLIII at the Bombshelter pub, Student Life Centre, Sunday, doors open 4:00, cover $7 in advance, $9 at door.

Geography and environmental management professor Johanna Wandel, “Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation in Canada’s High Arctic and Dry Belt” Monday 12:00, Kitchener Public Library main branch.

‘Wellness and Health: Eating Mindfully for 2009’ sponsored by counselling services and health services, Monday 12:00, Student Life Centre multipurpose room.

Therapeutic Recreation Awareness Week student-run information booth Monday and Tuesday 1:00 to 5:00, Student Life Centre.

Career workshop: “Exploring Your Personality”, first session Monday 2:30, second session February 9, Tatham Centre room 1112. Details.

Montréal alumni reception Monday 6:00 p.m., Wienstein & Gavino’s, Crescent Street. Details.

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

Ontario/Jiangsu student exchange information session Tuesday 3:00, Needles Hall room 1116. Information: ext. 33999.

'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, Tuesday 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, Wednesday 10:00 to 3:30, RIM Park, Waterloo. Details.

Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology information session Wednesday 4:00 p.m., 295 Hagey Boulevard (also February 11).

Blood donor clinic February 5, 10:00 to 4:00, and February 6, 9:00 to 3:00, Student Life Centre, book appointments at turnkey desk or call 1-888-236-6283.

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

Guelph-Waterloo Physics Institute Distinguished Lecture: David Goodstein, California Institute of Technology, “Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil”, Thursday 4:00 p.m., Perimeter Institute lecture theatre.

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

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

FASS 2009: ‘Live FASS, Die Tomorrow’, a “spy-themed musical comedy” performed by faculty, alumni, students and staff, February 5 (8:00), 6 (7:00 and 10:00) and 7 (8:00), Humanities Theatre, tickets $7 on Thursday, $10 other nights, at Humanities box office.

ACM-style programming contest February 8, 1:00 to 4:00, preceded by practice contest, Math and Computer room 2037. 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.

Engineering Shadow Day for Grade 11 and 12 students, March 4. Details.

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