Wednesday, June 10, 2009

  • Gold medals, black gowns: it's Convocation
  • Progress report on the new JobMine
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Gold medals, black gowns: it's Convocation

[Scene from fall convocation 2008]A total of 3,967 students will receive degrees during the eight sessions of UW’s Ninety-Eighth Convocation this week in the Physical Activities Complex.

In addition, the university will award honorary degrees, gold medals and other gongs at two ceremonies today, two on Thursday, two on Friday and a final two on Saturday, and will install its new chancellor.

A total of 3,366 undergraduate and 601 graduate students will receive their degrees and diplomas during the four-day event, the registrar’s office says. "Convocation is a proud moment for both the graduates and their families because it marks the end of a long journey filled with hard work and accomplishments," says registrar Ken Lavigne.

Proceedings begin with a 10:00 ceremony today emphasizing the faculties of environment and applied health sciences. At that event, UW will install Prem Watsa, chairman and chief executive officer of Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd., as the new chancellor. The Canadian business leader succeeds Mike Lazaridis, founder and co-CEO of Research In Motion, who is completing two terms as chancellor. The university will name Lazaridis chancellor emeritus at a ceremony on Saturday.

Watsa will address convocation this morning after his installation as chancellor. Kevin Martin, graduating with a degree in environment and business, will give the valedictory address on behalf of the 489 students receiving degrees this morning.

Also at the morning ceremony, Yinxing Hong, chancellor of Nanjing University in China, will receive a doctor of laws degree. Hong, a development economist, has played a key role in nurturing rapidly growing ties between Nanjing University and Waterloo, including the Sino-Canadian College.

This year’s Governor General’s Gold Medal, for the top-ranking PhD graduate of the year from UW, will be presented to Margo Hilbrecht, who is receiving her doctorate in recreation and leisure studies.

“The selection was made from a group of nominees with superb intellectual achievement and international reputation established while they were students,” says the dean of graduate studies, Alan George. The external examiner for her PhD reported that Hilbrecht “emerged in my mind as a superbly rare scholar, turning this rite de passage into a virtuoso performance”. Her thesis, “Parents, Employment, Gender and Well-Being: a Time Use Study”, was supervised by rec faculty member Susan Shaw.

Other awards, previously announced: Ian Rowlands, professor of environment and resource studies, will receive the Distinguished Teacher Award. Michael Sharratt, former dean of applied health sciences and a retired professor of kinesiology, and Patricia Wainwright, a retired professor of health studies and gerontology, will receive Distinguished Professor Emeritus titles. John Horton, a professor emeritus in the school of planning, will receive the Honorary Member of the University title. Ellsworth LeDrew of geography will be installed as a University Professor and Alison Pedlar of recreation and leisure studies will be presented with the Award for Excellence in Graduate Supervision.

The alumni gold medal for top graduates in their respective faculties will be presented to Elizabeth Yeung (kinesiology) for AHS and Stephanie Vanthof (environment and business) for ENV.

Departmental awards for distinguished academic achievement go to Catherine Brown (health studies and gerontology); Elizabeth Yeung (kin); Amanda Wood (rec and leisure studies); Linda Swanston (environment and resource studies); Taralyn Martin (geography and environmental management); Mark de Jong (planning); and Stephanie Vanthof (env and business).

Convocation continues this afternoon at 2:30 with a ceremony for the faculty of science. Stephanie Bell, receiving a degree in science and business (biology), will give the valedictory address, and a total of 546 students will graduate.

Robert Birgeneau, chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley, will receive a Doctor of Science degree and address convocation. A former president of the University of Toronto, Birgeneau is one of the most cited physicists in the world for his work on the fundamental properties of materials.

John Kelton, dean and vice-president of the faculty of health sciences at McMaster University, will also receive a DSc. Kelton, who was instrumental in adapting McMaster's problem-based medical school curriculum to an electronic format, developed two satellite campuses of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine in Kitchener and St. Catharines.

The alumni gold medal for the top bachelor’s degree graduate in science goes to Anam Ovais, receiving a degree in biology.

Recipients of the W. B. Pearson Medal for doctoral work are Genevieve Labbe (chemistry), David McCanna (vision science and biology), Peter Njuru (biology), Jonathan Teichroeb (physics and vision science), and Jason Venkiteswaran (earth sciences). Recipients of the Dean of Science Awards for master’s work are Kris Eldridge (chemistry), David Ostapchuk (physics), Lynn Richardson (biology), and Simon Thuss (earth sciences). Colm Ryan (physics) is cited for “outstanding achievement in graduate studies”.

Convocation sessions for arts will be held Thursday, for mathematics Friday, and for engineering Saturday, each day at 10:00 and 2:30.

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[Route map showing Kitchener and Waterloo]

Where the trains go: Waterloo Regional Council “would like to invite all community members to come and share their thoughts on the preferred rapid transit system option and implementation plan” at a public meeting tonight, 5:00 at 150 Frederick Street in Kitchener. As the map from the rapid transit web site shows, a key question is what route the planned light rail system will take in Waterloo. Trains from Kitchener will travel on or near King Street to “uptown” Waterloo, then along the existing rail line to a station at the UW campus, probably near the present University Avenue overpass. But what then: do they continue through the campus and the Research and Technology Park en route to Conestoga Mall, or do they turn down University Avenue toward Wilfrid Laurier University and then up King to the mall? Regional politicians will have to make the decision.

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Progress report on the new JobMine

a report on the planned new co-op education and career services online system, edited from the Inside Scoop newsletter for UW co-op students

JobMine is being replaced by a new online job application system that will provide users with an improved job search experience. The current JobMine was slated for re-development in 2012. This redevelopment created an opportunity to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the system, taking into account recommendations from co-op reviews conducted in 2005 and 2006.

The timing also was aligned with a variety of renewal initiatives within CECS. The overall goal is to improve the employment process for students and employers alike. Requirements and planning started in 2006 and activity ramped up during 2007. The main activity started in September 2007 with the on-site team placement (director, three full-time staff members, and nine co-op students).

Students will find the usability and the flexibility greatly increased from what they are familiar with in JobMine. One of the major areas is in the type and form of information that a student can share with employers during the application stage, and the type and form of information that employers can share. The improved student information content will help students market themselves to prospective employers, and the employer information will help employers explain to students what's attractive about specific job opportunities.

There are corresponding tools for searching and managing the information. This new feature will help students to find and apply to jobs. Employers will also have better tools for reviewing and selecting students to interview. We are also investigating various schemes to improve the ranking and matching process to get more students matched with jobs in the main round. This is becoming even more important with the economic challenges everyone is facing.

The 2006 review team also heard a great deal about "reducing the clicks," "making it faster to find and review applications," and "increasing hours of access." A lot of work has been done in these areas. The goal is to provide a system that is streamlined and direct to use.

It is a major development undertaking and is a departure from the usual "buy versus make" strategy at the University. The requirements and stakeholder needs are varied and there are few rules-of-thumb that can be used. This lack of direction creates two major challenges: dealing with multiple stakeholder groups with varied needs, and the development of a system capable of mass customization and flexibility. Approximately two-thirds of the team are co-op students, and while this has benefits, there are also issues with personnel changeover each term, training, experience and so forth. Finally, the system is being developed in parallel with other initiatives within CECS and it is always a challenge when you have several major elements changing at the same time.

Ease of use is something on which we. are spending a lot of time and effort. From the beginning we have had part of the development team dedicated to user interface design, user testing, and user feedback. In 2008 we did limited testing which is now beginning to increase. We expect to be ready later in Spring '09 to start exposing early versions of the interface to a wider population for feedback and user interface testing. A limited pilot is also being planned for Winter '10 to get feedback from system users. There's also a team of CECS staff starting to look at communications and other implementation support to ensure a smooth transition.

It will look substantially different from JobMine. Unfortunately, we cannot show a screenshot at this point, because we are constantly evolving the design based on feedback and testing. As soon as a version is ready for viewing and feedback, we will let people know. We plan to have a demo room in the Tatham Centre that will be used for early access. Later, we will create a mock system open on the web to co-op students so that the students can try out the features and provide feedback.


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Link of the day

The United Church of Canada

When and where

Waterloo Engineering Competition registration June 1-12. Details.

Co-op employer interviews (main group) June 1-18.

Wilfrid Laurier University convocation ceremony 10:00, Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts, Brantford. Details.

‘Teaching Dossiers’ workshop sponsored by Centre for Teaching Excellence, Thursday 12:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Graham Medal Seminar: Craig Eisler, Microsoft, “Software and Innovation: A 20-Year Perspective” Thursday 2 p.m., Davis Centre room 1302. Reception follows. Register ext. 37747.

School of Computer Science Distinguished Lecture: Andrew Chi-Chih Yao, Tsinghua University, “Communication Complexity and Its Applications” Thursday 4:30, Davis Centre room 1302.

Regional Transportation Master Plan public workshops Thursday (St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Kitchener) and June 16 (First United Church, Waterloo), 6:15 p.m. Details.

Lebold Endowment Fundraising Banquet at Conrad Grebel University College, Thursday 6:30 p.m., speaker Ron Mathies, “Becoming a Global Community of Faith”, ticket information ext. 24223.

Autism Update professional development session with expert panel, organized by UW school of pharmacy and KidsAbility centre, Friday 9:00 to noon, Bingemans Conference Centre, information 519-886-8886 ext. 206.

Microteaching session for international teaching assistants to practise and get feedback, Friday 9:30, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Child care festival sponsored by four on-campus child care centres, Friday 9:45, Village green, guest performer Erick Traplin.

‘Single and Sexy’ free preview performance Friday 1:00, Humanities Theatre, all welcome. Special performance for Canadian Association of College and University Student Services, Sunday 5:30 p.m.

Alan Morgan, department of earth and environmental sciences, retirement reception Friday 4:00, University Club, information e-mail klalbrec@

‘Is Christ Necessary for Morality?’ public debate (Rev. Scott Wilkinson, New Creation Reformed Presbyterian Church, and Bryon Williston, WLU department of philosophy) Friday 7 p.m., Wilfrid Laureir University, Bricker building room 201.

ACM-style programming contest to help select UW’s teams for next year’s international competition, Saturday. Details.

Brubacher House Museum 30th anniversary celebration, with speaker Ken McLaughlin, UW historian, “Saving the John E. Brubacher House: Giving the Past a Future”, Saturday 1:30, Conrad Grebel University College great hall.

Rugby men’s regional junior tryouts Sunday, Columbia fields. Details.

Matthews Golf Classic for students, staff, faculty, retirees and guests, Monday 12:00 noon, Grand Valley Golf Course. Sold out. Details.

UW Recreation Committee presents “Home Health Care: Making the Right choice”, Marie Graham of Bayshore Home Health, Monday 12:00 noon, Dana Porter Library room 329.

UW Senate meets Monday 4:30 p.m., Needles Hall room 3001.

Social work seminar: "Spirituality, Social Work and Transformation." Monday 4:30 p.m., chapel lounge, Renison University College. Free. Details.

Emergency alert system test with messages to cellphones and computer desktops, Tuesday 10:00, details to be announced.

Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology Distinguished Lecture: Yuan T. Lee, Nobel prize winner in chemistry, “Ionization Processes of Molecular Clusters” Tuesday 3:00, CEIT room 1015.

Alternatives Journal launches its new issue, “The New Ecology”, with performer Bob Wiseman, Tuesday 8:30 p.m., Princess Café, 46 King Street North.

Applied Health Informatics Bootcamp, June 17-19, Davis Centre. Details.

‘Clickers in the classroom’ workshop sponsored by Centre for Teaching Excellence, June 17, 1:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Renison University College 1950s carnival and barbecue to celebrate the college’s 50th anniversary, June 18, 11:30 to 1:00, Academic Building, all welcome.

Surplus sale of UW furnishings and equipment June 18, 12:30 to 2 p.m., East Campus Hall.

25-Year Club annual reception June 18, 6:00 p.m., Physical Activities Complex, by invitation, information ext. 32078.

Last day for 50 per cent fee refund for dropped courses, June 19.

Positions available

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

• Graduate recruitment officer, master of public services program, faculty of arts, USG 7
• Conference and events manager, Stratford initiative, faculty of arts, USG 8
• Project manager, integrated and interactive media, office of the registrar, USG 9
• Campus recreation coordinator, clubs and instructional programs, athletics and recreational services, USG 7
• Campus recreation coordinator, conditioning and wellness, athletics and recreational services, USG 8
• Online technologies consultant, distance and continuing education, USG 8-10 (one-year secondment or contract)
• Director, communications and marketing, co-operative education and career services, USG 13 (two-year secondment or contract)

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