Thursday, June 25, 2009

  • Mitchell will serve as interim provost
  • VP explains sites for three buildings
  • UW research influenced tobacco law
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Mitchell]Mitchell will serve as interim provost

UW's number three administrator will hold the number two position on a temporary basis for the rest of the summer, president David Johnston announced yesterday in a brief memo.

"This is to advise," he wrote, "that Bruce Mitchell will serve as interim Vice-President, Academic & Provost for the months of July and August 2009.

"The work of the Nominating Committee to recommend Amit Chakma's successor is proceeding and we are making best efforts to bring it to a successful conclusion as soon as possible.

"Amit's last day at Waterloo is June 30 and we all wish him the best of good fortune in his new office as President at Western." Chakma has served as VP (academic) and provost since 2001.

Mitchell (left), an award-winning professor in the department of geography and environmental management, is associate provost (academic and student affairs), with an office next door to Chakma's on the third floor of Needles Hall. He has also been serving as acting associate vice-president (international).

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VP explains sites for three buildings

A process called “design-build” is being used to speed the planning and construction of three new academic buildings that UW is committed to completing on an unusually tight schedule, says vice-president (administration and finance) Dennis Huber.

The work has to be finished by the spring of 2011. That’s a condition of the $50 million in capital grants for the projects that are coming from the federal and provincial governments under the “knowledge infrastructure” program designed to stimulate the economy by creating jobs in construction and related fields. The grants, announced in May, will cover about 80 per cent of the buildings’ total cost, with UW obliged to find the rest of the money.

Officially there are two “projects”, one for the faculty of environment and one for math and engineering, but the second project involves two separate buildings on different parts of the campus.

Because of the tight schedule, the design-build system is being used as a substitute for the usual procedure of having an architect design a building and then construction companies bid for the contract to do the work. Instead, UW invited proposals from construction firms right at the beginning: find an architect, present a general sketch of what the building would be like and a budget for erecting it, and submit the overall plan. UW plant operations officials, the President’s Advisory Committee on Design, and the board of governors building and properties committee will choose one proposal for each building later this summer.

Groundbreaking could happen before Labour Day, and in fact site work is already happening for one of the three buildings, Engineering VI on the “east campus” near Phillip Street, Huber said.

Engineering VI is actually only half of what will some day be a “gateway” building for the engineering faculty, facing onto Phillip Street and joining other structures on the site of the present parking lot B. Engineering V, at the west (railway) end of what will eventually be the “east campus”, was started last year as the first new building in that district.

Plans are to make Engineering VI the home of the chemical engineering department, which is currently housed in UW’s oldest academic structure, the Doug Wright Engineering Building.

The other half of the “engineering and math” project is an annex to the Math and Computer building, which will rise just north of MC, across a service road and beside the General Services Complex and the Photovoltaic Research Centre. Early sketches showed it linked by an overhead walkway to the Davis Centre, but Huber says the hope now is to move the walkway far enough west that it can connect directly to an upper level of MC.

The building, which doesn’t yet have a name other than “Parcel 15” on UW’s campus master plan, is intended to be a home for the department of statistics and actuarial science and the math-and-business programs, says Jack Rehder of the dean of math office. “We are also planning two large undergraduate teaching classrooms,” he said, “plus some space for our professional masters programs.”

The third building project will be an expansion of Environment II, the low structure that faces the ring road between PAS and Modern Languages (and that’s attached to Environment I at its other end).

Huber said the plan there is to give the building a new look and add space by putting a third storey on top of the existing two levels, plus fill in some space to the north of the existing site (to the left, as seen from the ring road side) with a three-storey addition.

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UW research influenced tobacco law

UW researchers get some of the credit for legislation that was proposed by the federal government this summer — just in time for World No Tobacco Day at the end of May — according to Janet Janes of Waterloo’s Centre for Behavioural Research and Program Evaluation.

“News broke that the health minister was announcing changes to the Tobacco Act,” she reports, “and some of the changes are items that CBRPE has been researching and advocating for through the Canadian Cancer Society.”

The country “is one step closer to a cancer-free future”, she says, as the result of proposed legislation to ban most flavoured tobacco products. CBRPE researchers “continue to find that young people are enticed by snazzy cigarette packages,” says Janes, “and products laced in the same flavours as ice cream can make young people believe tobacco is safe.”

UW’s Steve Manske, who heads the national Youth Smoking Survey sponsored by Health Canada, uses the information in the survey to show policy makers what’s happening with Canadian youth. The YSS details smoking behaviours among young people and the influences on those behaviours. “Policy leaders are listening,” says Janes.

The evidence: at the end of May, health minister Leona Aglukkaq tabled legislation in the House of Commons that would ban adding flavours (with the exception of menthol) to tobacco products. That’s a step in the right direction toward making tobacco less appealing to young people, says Manske. “Chocolate, strawberry, and banana split flavoured cigarillos are an attempt at luring new smokers and preying on the youngest and most vulnerable in our society who could become addicted to tobacco.”

Statistics from the most recent YSS show the percentage of young people who have tried a tobacco product has stopped declining and flavoured cigarillos have surged in popularity for Canadian youth. In 2006-07, almost half (48 per cent) of students in grades 10 to 12 had tried cigarettes and more than one-third had tried cigarillos.

“The media has also been interested in Dr. Manske’s work,” Janes reports, with a profile appearing in the Waterloo Region Record and radio appearances for stations in Kitchener, Brantford, Windsor and Montréal.

Along with a ban on flavoured tobacco products, the new legislation will ensure that tobacco is sold only in packages of at least 20, making cigarettes less accessible financially for youths. It will also ban all advertising of tobacco products in newspapers and magazines (previously tobacco companies could advertise in publications with an adult readership of at least 85 per cent).

“Although these changes are good news for Canadians,” says Janes, “there’s still more to be done by policy makers, and scientists at CBRPE will continue to provide information to help build healthy communities. David Hammond, assistant professor in health studies and gerontology, conducts studies on the effectiveness of warning labels and says growing evidence shows they can help smokers stop smoking and help prevent young people from starting to smoke.”

Through interviews that took place around the time of No Tobacco Day, Hammond “was able to explain to Canadians,” says Janes, “that plain packaging make cigarettes less attractive to young people, reduces false beliefs that some tobacco products may be less dangerous than others, and makes health warnings including pictures more prominent.”


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Flags lowered

The flags at the main entrance to campus — and flags across Canada — are flying at half-staff to mark the death of Roméo Leblanc, Governor General of Canada 1995-99, who died yesterday.

Link of the day

Science 100 years ago today

When and where

Farm market operated by UW food services and volunteers, 9:00 to 1:00, Environment I courtyard.

Cognitive Science presents Raymond W. Gibbs Jr., University of California at Santa Cruz, “Embodiment in Metaphorical Imagination” 1:00, PAS building room 1229.

International Spouses visit to Earth Sciences Museum 1:00, CEIT building, free guided tour, children welcome. Details.

‘Using the Action Editor and Beyond’ workshop organized by Centre for Teaching Excellence, 1:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Lectures in Quantum Information series by Anthony Leggett, “The physics of topological quantum computing: selected topics”, continues today and July 30, and July 2, 2 p.m., Research Advancement Centre room 2009. All welcome.

John Starr Hamel, department of electrical and computer engineering, memorial service 3:00, St. Jerome’s University chapel.

Liz Vinnicombe, office of research, retirement reception 3:00, University Club, information ext. 33432.

School of Computer Science Distinguished Lecture: Paul Van Oorschot, Carleton University, “Learning about Human-Computer Interaction Through Graphical Passwords” 4:30, Davis Centre room 1302.

Infusion Angels innovation event: “From Concept to Production: Prototyping with Expression Blend 3” 5:00, Accelerator Centre, 195 Hagey Boulevard. Details.

Canada’s Technology Triangle annual meeting 5:30 (reception), 6:30 (featured speakers and launch of strategic plan), Sportsworld Crossing East Building, Kitchener. Details.

Menlo Park, California: Canadian consulate Canada Day reception, UW alumni participation, 6:30, Quadrus Conference Centre. Details.

Department of English presents Mary Thomas Crane, Boston College, “Analogy, Metaphor, and the New Science” 7:00 p.m., St. Jerome’s University room 3014.

Students for Palestinian Rights present Abdel-Rahman Lawendy, medical volunteer during the recent Gaza war, 7:00, CEIT room 1015.

Workshop on Cognitive Allegory sponsored by department of English, cognitive science, faculty of arts and St. Jerome’s, Friday, Siegfried Hall, St. Jerome’s University. Details.

Photovoltaic Research Centre hot and cold water shut off Friday, 8 a.m. to noon.

‘Motivation and Enthusiasm’ workshop organized by Centre for Teaching Excellence, Friday 10:30, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

QPR for suicide prevention. Open session for all staff and faculty, Friday 11:30 a.m., Math and Computer room 4068, registration phone ext. 33528.

Brian Bradley, UW police, retirement reception Friday 4:00, University Club.

Warrior Weekend events in Student Life Centre Friday-Saturday from 9 p.m., including salsa dancing, casino night, sundae and coffee bar, crafts, movies. Details.


There's the menu for the Career Café today in the Student Life Centre. "Every Thursday between 11:30 and 1:00," says Elisabeth Adrian of career services, "an advisor is on site to answer students' questions — anything related to making a career decision, resumés, cover letters, interviews, job search, and/or the professional and grad school application process. Advice is free and treats are too."

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