Monday, May 4, 2009

  • Public health officials give flu advice
  • Arctic warning wins 'public policy' prize
  • Of teaching, wireless, admissions and more
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Public health officials give flu advice

from a “Guidance Document for Workplaces and Educational Settings” issued late last week by Waterloo Region Public Health

Workplaces/ educational settings are not responsible for screening employees or students for illness. Employees and/or students returning from a human swine influenza affected area (e.g. Mexico) should not be excluded from the workplace/ educational setting, unless they are ill.

Employees/ students returning from an infected area do not require a doctor’s note, swab or immunization (e.g. seasonal flu shot) prior to returning work/ school.

Employees and/or students who experience flu-like symptoms within seven days of their return (from an affected area) should stay home from work or school until his/her symptoms are gone, and limit contact with others. If their symptoms worsen they should contact their health care practitioner (doctor).

Background: Swine influenza (sometimes called swine flu) is a strain of the influenza virus that usually affects pigs, but which may also make people sick.

Swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans. From time to time, human infections do occur, resulting in human swine influenza. Human swine influenza is a respiratory illness that causes symptoms similar to those of the regular human seasonal flu.

Symptoms include headache, chills and cough followed by fever, loss of appetite, muscle aches and fatigue.

As April 2009, cases of human swine influenza have been reported in Canada. More cases are expected in the coming weeks.

Are there special instructions or guidelines for workplace settings? Overall, proper cough etiquette and hand hygiene measures are the most effective way to prevent transmission of influenza.

Workplaces, can, however, provide liquid soap, disposable towels and/or hand-dryers in washrooms so people can practice proper hand hygiene; clean commonly-used equipment with a low grade cleaner or diluted solution of household bleach (1 part bleach: 99 parts water), for regular cleaning.

People returning from Mexico or an affected area should not be prevented from attending school or work.

People who recently travelled to Mexico and experience flu-like symptoms within seven days of their return should contact their doctor. They should not go to the hospital emergency department unless directed to do so by their physician or unless they are seriously ill.

The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that Canadians postpone elective or non-essential travel to Mexico until further notice.

What can employees/ students do to stay healthy? People can lower their risk by practicing the usual, preventative practices against a range of illnesses, that is:

  • Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze by using a tissue or coughing into your sleeve or upper arm (or into the “crook of your elbow”). Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand rub/sanitizers are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread easily that way.
  • If you get sick, Public Health recommends that you stay home from work or school until your symptoms are gone, and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
  • If your symptoms worsen, contact your health care practitioner (doctor).

For more information: Workplaces or members of the community who have questions or want more information can call Region of Waterloo Public Health at 519-883-2289.

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Arctic warning wins 'public policy' prize

A book described as “a clarion call to all Canadians”, and written by four academics including two at Waterloo, is this year’s winner of the $35,000 Donner Prize, an annual award for the best book on Canadian public policy.

[Book cover]The book is Arctic Front: Defending Canada in the Far North by Ken S. Coates, P. Whitney Lackenbauer, William R. Morrison and Greg Poelzer. Published by Thomas Allen Publishers, it was one of five 2008 books shortlisted for this year’s Donner. The award was announced Thursday night.

Coates is UW’s dean of arts and a professor of history; Lackenbauer is a history professor at St. Jerome’s University and a Fellow of the Canadian International Council. Morrison is based at the University of Northern British Columbia and Poelzer at the University of Saskatchewan.

As the publisher puts it: “A truly integrated volume by four of Canada’s leading Northern specialists, Arctic Front is a clarion call to all Canadians about our endangered Arctic region, challenging the country to step away from the symbols and myth making of the past and toward the urgent political, environmental and economic realities of the 21st century.

“With passion and sharp words, Arctic Front confronts Canada's longstanding neglect of the Far North and outline what needs to be done to protect our national interest.”

Coates was previously short-listed for the Donner Prize in 2000 for The Marshall Decision and Native Rights. The annual prize rewards “excellence and innovation in Canadian public policy writing; inspiring lively debate on public policy issues and rewarding provocative and excellent work that speaks to an informed readership and an open exchange of ideas and public debate.”

"Winning the Donner Prize means a great deal to us,” Coates says. “It tells us that the topic — Arctic sovereignty — is important, that our book is having an impact. The Prize provides a foundation for discussing our ideas further, for raising the issue on a national level, and for opening doors to policy-makers, politicians and others interested in public affairs.

"Historians have long believed that their work speaks directly to the issues of our time. Clearly, specialists in public policy agreed that a solid historical review of Arctic sovereignty contributes substantially to the national and international debate on this issue."

And he adds: “That two UW authors are associated with Arctic Front demonstrates yet again this university's support for combining scholarly and applied work. This is the second Donner Prize to go to UW faculty in the past two years, a sign of the growing interest on campus in public policy and informed academic contributions to the great debates of our time."

The book combines historical overview with a direct commentary on contemporary Arctic affairs, arguing that the current debate about the Arctic fits into a pattern of externally-generated interest. “We get interested in the Far North when others are interested,” as Coates puts it. One other concern: “The country as a whole is becoming more southern, more urban and with more people from southern, warm climate countries. The national romantic notions about the Arctic do not automatically resonate with newcomers.”

More from the book’s publisher: “Through a lively and engaging history of the region, Arctic Front reveals how Canadians and their governments have ignored this region for generations; expanded Canadian sovereignty over the past hundred years by reacting to other countries' challenges; become the least effective of all circumpolar nations in responding to the needs of the Arctic; neglected our obligations to the North, including a failure to capitalize on the human and economic resources of this vast land or to establish a presence that would make any foreign claims to offshore resources inconceivable.

“As global warming continues to melt the ice in the Northwest Passage and the competition for northern resources heats up, Canada, the authors warn, will be forced to defend this area from a position of grave weakness.”

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Of teaching, wireless, admissions and more

The first day of the term is a good day to talk about teaching, as the Presidents' Colloquium on Teaching and Learning is being held featuring a lecture by Gary Poole of the University of British Columbia. The talk is titled “But Will That Be on the Test? Encouraging Deeper Learning” and starts at 2:00 in the Humanities Theatre. A wine-and-cheese reception follows; everybody is welcome. Poole writes: “Like all of us, students expend learning effort according to messages they pick up regarding how much effort is required. We often espouse the importance of deep learning, yet may employ strategies that send the message that surface learning is appropriate. How do we build curriculum, assessments, and in-class activities that make it more likely students will engage in deep learning?” The lecture is the first half of the annual Learning About Teaching symposium, which continues tomorrow with two workshops that Poole will facilitate in the Flex Lab of the Dana Porter Library. The morning session focuses on “using door-opening concepts” in teaching, and the afternoon workshop further examines deeper learning. Both workshops have limited enrolment and are restricted to faculty members. Poole will perform again Wednesday as the keynote speaker for “Opportunities and New Directions: A Research Conference on Teaching and Learning”, being held at Conrad Grebel University College.

"We're set to go," says Mike Patterson of information systems and technology, as UW introduces new laptop authentication software. The target date is May 14. Testing was done in late April and succeeded on the third try, he reports. He explains the plan: “The new system will bring back the system security check software known as MinUWet. Your Quest/ADS and/or Nexus credentials will still work. During the test phase, you will be able to run MinUWet and see what your results would be. You will gain full access to the network regardless of these results. If your system fails a MinUWet check and you believe that to be an error, you should contact your local computing helpdesk or the CHIP. After the May date, passing MinUWet will be required for all Windows machines to gain full access to the network. We are making these changes in order to allow us to better control client access to the network. Along with the MinUWet system for NAC (Network Access Control), network administrators will be able to more easily blacklist users with problematic applications or machines.”

Nancy Weiner, the associate registrar (admissions), reported at week’s end that, as of April 28, UW has made a total of 12,355 offers of admission for fall 2009 first-year full-time studies. “This is an increase of 3% compared to last year around this time,” Weiner said in a memo. “The final round of OSS decisions and final round of completed non-OSS files for decisions will be made by mid-May. Students have until May 28 to confirm their offer of admission.” The number of admissions sent out so far ranges from 3,830 for the faculty of arts to 923 for applied health sciences. The admissions are intended to lead to a first-year class of 5,911 students who accept their offers and actually show up on campus in early September.

Opening ceremonies for the spectacular addition to UW’s Optometry building that lights up a stretch of Columbia Street will be held on Friday, June 5, the optometry school has told its alumni in their spring newsletter. “Through your generosity,” optometry director Thomas Freddo writes to graduates, friends and corporate partners, “we have raised $8 million toward our $12.4 million expansion and renovation campaign. The expansion and the upcoming major renovation of our main clinic provide new stage upon which UW will educate and train the next generation of Canadian optometrists.” The opening celebration will be a feature of optometry’s annual reunion and continuing education weekend, June 5-7, which also includes technical courses, a reunion dinner, and the annual Woodruff and Bobier distinguished lectures, as well as a continuing education program for optometric assistants and staff.

[Knechtel]Marguarite Knechtel (right) retired from the civil and environmental engineering department on April 30, and a reception in her honour was held on her last day. A colleague sums up Knechtel's years on campus: "Her career began as faculty secretary in the chemical engineering department 1988-98. She was disability advisor in human resources, 1998-2000. She came to the civil engineering department in 2000-2004 as faculty secretary and then took the position of administrative co-ordinator, graduate studies, from 2004 until her retirement."

The second annual Ontario University Students’ Chinese Contest was held April 24 at Renison University College, with eight universities participating. The contest drew an audience of 200 people, officials at Renison’s Confucius Institute report, and top honours went to UW students who took first, second, and third prizes. David Dales, who placed first, will travel to China in July to represent Canada in the final round of a competition that will draw students from more than 100 countries. UW’s Katie Meredith shared second prize with Geoffrey Tan, a university of Toronto student. And Waterloo’s Hana Lee, shared third prize with two students from U of T’s Scarborough campus. It’s the second year in a row that a UW student has earned a first-place distinction, as last year Bryan Van Biesbrouck placed first in Ontario and third in China.


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Spring term begins

Class schedule





Food services



Link of the day

Kent State University, 1970

When and where

New student orientation: campus tours Monday 10:30 and 1:30, Tuesday 3:00 and 5:00, leaving from Student Life Centre great hall. Services fair Tuesday 4:00 to 6:00, SLC lower atrium. Undergraduate and graduate students welcome. Details.

Graduate House welcome-back wine and cheese party for graduate students, Tuesday 6:00 to 8:00.

Music and Culture in London: Music 355 study trip, May 6-20. Details.

Library books due: books borrowed on term loan before the beginning of April are due May 6; renewals online.

Library workshop: “Smart Searching” Wednesday 1:30, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

David Johnston Run for Health (fourth annual) around the ring road, walk or run, Wednesday 4:15 p.m., starts at Needles Hall, participation free, register ext. 84830.

Summer Camp Fair with more than 40 children’s camps represented, Wednesday 5:00 to 7:00, University Stadium, Wilfrid Laurier University. Details.

Columbia Lake Health Club “lifestyle learning” session: “Yoga History”, Wednesday 5:30 p.m., 340 Hagey Boulevard.

Recreation and Leisure Studies 40th anniversary leisure studies research forum, Thursday 8:45 to 4:30, Lyle Hallman Institute. Details.

High school rugby tournament Thursday, Columbia fields. Details.

Walking trails in the K-W area visual tour by Karen Anderson, city of Waterloo, sponsored by UW Recreation Committee, Thursday 12:00 noon, Math and Computer room 5158.

‘Research tools and library services’ workshop for new graduate students, Thursday 12:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

International student orientation for new students from outside Canada, organized by Waterloo International, Thursday 12:30 to 4:00, Needles Hall room 1116. Details.

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

Formula SAE race car unveiling and open house, Thursday 5:30 to 6:30, Student Life Centre. Details.

Canadian Forum on Theology and Education meets at St. Jerome’s University May 7-9; details. Keynote speaker: Rev. Diarmuid O’Murchu, “Evolutionary Faith”, Thursday 7:30 p.m., Siegfried Hall, all welcome.

Graduate Student Leisure Research Symposium Friday, Lyle Hallman Institute. Details.

E-waste Green Day sponsored by UW central stores and Greentec Recycling Services: drop off electronic items (on approved list) for free recycling, Saturday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., East Campus Hall.

DaCapo Chamber Choir, based at Conrad Grebel University College, spring choir, “Fire & Air”, Saturday, May 9, 8:00, St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church, Kitchener, tickets $20 (students $15).

Mothers’ Day brunch at the University Club, Sunday, May 10, seatings at 11:00 and 1:30, $24.95 per person, reservations ext. 33801.

Class enrolment appointments for fall term courses posted in Quest May 11; appointments June 22-27 for continuing students, July 13-26 for new students; open enrolment begins July 27.

UW Blooms annual exchange of seeds, seedlings and garden supplies, Monday, May 11, multipurpose room, Student Life Centre.

Herschel Space Observatory launch event with live video and remarks about UW’s involvement, May 14, 8:30 to 9:30 a.m., Humanities Theatre.

‘The Wedding Singer’ produced by K-W Musical Productions, May 14-16, 20-23 at 8 p.m., May 23 at 2 p.m., Theatre of the Arts, tickets $29 at Humanities box office.

Victoria Day holiday Monday, May 18: UW offices and most services closed, and classes cancelled.

Friday's Daily Bulletin