Tuesday, May 19, 2009

  • H1N1 outbreak activities ramping down
  • Seeking a higher profile for water research
  • Extra provincial funding, and other notes
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs
  • bulletin@uwaterloo.ca

H1N1 outbreak activities ramping down

Despite the anxiety that some pople might be feeling as a result of the deluge of news about the H1N1 flu virus outbreak, there is really very little cause for worry, says Dr. Liana Nolan, the Region of Waterloo Medical Officer of Health. She has this to say in a letter to pandemic planners in the region:

Over the past three weeks Region of Waterloo Public Health and its community partners have responded to the novel H1N1 flu virus outbreak. It has been a unique opportunity to respond to an outbreak of a novel virus and "test" some of our response plans developed over the past three years.

While the number of cases continues to increase, both the federal and provincial governments are beginning to "ramp down" their response efforts. This is in keeping with our key message that our response efforts must be proportionate with the risk.

Recent epidemiological information indicates the spectrum of illness of the H1N1 virus is similar to that of seasonal influenza. As such, the virus will continue to be detected and monitored through screening and surveillance efforts, but additional measures are not required at this time.

In keeping with the response of senior levels of government, Region of Waterloo Public Health will "ramp down" some of its efforts as well. This includes:

• Concordant with decreasing demand, as May 15, Public Health's special H1N1 hotline will be de-activated. Organizations and members of the general public will be invited to contact Public Health's regular respiratory line (519-883-2006 ext. 5506) if they have any questions or require information about the outbreak.
• Completing and publishing Incident Action Plans on a weekly rather than daily basis
• Reducing the number of Communication/Information bulletins posted and/or circulated to partners (circulation will only be done when there is a significant change)

Region of Waterloo Public Health will continue with its surveillance efforts of the novel H1N1 virus in the community. Cases of the virus will continue to be reported to (and by) the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. We will be ready to enhance our response efforts if warranted.

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Seeking a higher profile for water research

UW’s senate will hold its monthly meeting today and is being asked to give final approval to creating The Water Institute, “a coordinating body” for work by about 95 researchers across the university in one of UW’s priority technical areas.

The proposal for such an institute, which would link researchers in fields as diverse as sea ice and groundwater pollution, came from a task a year ago that was headed by associate provost Bruce Michell, himself a geographer doing water research.

Waterloo “may be the best positioned” university in North America, perhaps in the world, to be “the leading centre in water research”, the task force said then. In a proposal that’s coming to senate tonight, the graduate and research council builds on that hope: “The current level of expertise at UW in a wide range of water-oriented areas is clearly recognized as being world-class.

“This expertise is spread across the campus in different academic units and institutes and centres that have been etablished to address specific areas of water research. The evolving nature of issues related to water, however, requires institutes to function in a much broader, more integrated and flexible way.”

Having a single institute, dubbed the WI, would “significantly increase the profile and international awareness” of water work at UW and “nurture an environment of collaboration”, the proposal says.

“The institute would develop one or more new unique and interdisciplinary graduate programs focused on water,” it adds, referring in another section to a master’s program in “water science and governance”.

The provost’s office would provide $200,000 a year towards the new costs of the institute, mostly to hire two staff members, the proposal says. There would also be a faculty member serving as director, probably one of the Canada Research Chairs already at UW to work in a water-related field.

Also on the agenda for tonight’s senate meeting:

• An update on $270 million worth of building construction projects that UW currently has under way.

• An update on the engineering faculty’s “Vision 2010” planning report and progress within engineering towards UW’s Sixth Decade goals.

• A proposed requirement that there must be written course outlines in all undergraduate courses, starting this fall term.

• A proposed new “teaching preparation specialization” for interested students in UW’s undergraduate fine arts program, operated in cooperation with Nipissing University’s faculty of education.

• The annual report of the University Committee on Student Appeals, showing that the number of cheating, plagiarism and other disciplinary cases in 2007-08 was 620, compared with 615 the previous year.

The senate meeting starts at 4:30 today in Needles Hall room 3001.

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Extra provincial funding, and other notes

There were smiles on the faces of university and college leaders Friday morning, as Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Leanna Pendergast made an announcement of one-time funding for the three institutions based near her riding, including UW. Waterloo gets a $6.5 million cheque as its share of the $150 million “immediate, one-time support” first announced in the Ontario budget in March. The money will help the institutions “continue to deliver high-quality education and provide students with better facilities and greater resources to ensure their learning experience is second to none,” Pendergast said in a news release distributed at her event, held at Conestoga College. “In 2008-09, the University of Waterloo received $212.2 million in operating grants from the province. That represents an increase of 61.8 per cent over 2002-03. In the same period, the University of Waterloo received $54.7 million in capital funding.”

David DeVidi, president of the UW faculty association, wrote to his membership the other day to report that the university’s working group on salary equity for women faculty “has completed its work and issued its report. Speaking very roughly, the committee wound up dividing women faculty into three categories: those with a serious anomaly that needs to be addressed immediately; those for whom they did not detect a salary anomaly; and those for whom ‘the possibility exists for an anomaly to emerge in the short- or medium-term’, who were referred ‘to Dean/Chair to monitor with possibility for future adjustment’. A key worry for some is that whether they get a timely adjustment in the short or medium term if an anomaly emerges will largely depend on individual negotiating ability, plus the aptitude and sympathy of their Chairs — two things that are often thought to be culprits in creating anomalies in the first place. FAUW will therefore be raising, at the Faculty Relations Committee, the matter of some systematic, collective approach to dealing with the cases of colleagues in this category. We will keep you posted on how these discussions develop, and hope that our work will be of help to those colleagues in their discussions with Chairs and Deans, while also being helpful to the Deans and Chairs by letting them know how others in the same situation are handling such cases. Nothing in what I say here is intended in any way as criticism of the Working Group. It is merely an attempt to build a fair process for making the most effective use of their work going forward.”

The staff association, meanwhile, has sent out word that “All SA members have been added to the Staff Association Sharepoint site. This site is accessible from the main page of the SA website. Sharepoint is a storage site where SA documents will be archived and easily accessed by members. When you click on the Sharepoint link, you will be asked to authenticate using your WatIAM user id and password. Once in the site, documents are arranged alphabetically by topic: Annual General Meeting information (agendas, minutes, annual reports), Discount Club info, Governing Documents (containing the SA Constitution and Memorandum of Agreement), Staff News publications, etc. The archival process has been started and we continue to add documents. If there is a document you see a need for sooner than later, please let us know.”

The latest issue of the UW-published Alternatives Journal is its annual festival of books. What’s to be found there? A few lines from a publicity release about the issue: “20 book reviews, 11 teasers, 2 excerpts, 3 essays, 13 staff favourites and 20 bestsellers. Featuring a whopping total of 77 new releases and timeless classics, Alternatives Journal's 2nd annual issue on environmental books is the ultimate guide to green reading. Excerpts from Vandana Shiva's latest title, Soil Not Oil, and Alphabet City's visionary book, FUEL, light up the pages of this issue. Stephen Bocking exposes how government and industry manipulate science to serve their interests. Susan Scott reflects on the indispensable role of literature in creating lasting change. Tim Lilburn, one of Canada's leading nature poets, lends his elegant words, and environmental illustrator Briony Penn offers up a page from her sketchbook. . . .”

[Rank]Warrior interuniversity sports aren’t quite dead during the spring term: the golf squad still has competition, and can report success in the most recent one, the 4th Annual CJGA Humber Invitational at Hidden Lake Golf Club in Burlington. Waterloo’s team finished second to the two-time national champions, the Humber College Hawks, and second-year player Garrett Rank (left) was the individual winner, defeating 75 other golfers from across the province. He recorded a pair of 68s on the par-70 course, giving him a 4-shot winning cushion over Ryan Willoughby of Humber. Waterloo's 584 team total was 11 shots more than Humber. Senior Matt Sim posted a final day 73 for a 150. One stroke back were J. S. Rancourt and Bowie Abbis-Mills. Ryan Stroud tallied 152 strokes while captain Jimmy Latta scored 154. This event was a tuneup for the RCGA University/College Championships which will be hosted by Hamilton at the King’s Forest Golf Club May 25-29.

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Link of the day

Day of darkness

When and where

Energy Futures one-day conference on residential energy systems, hosted by UW faculty of environment and other agencies, today at Centre for International Governance Innovation. Details.

St. Jerome's Book Club, noon- 12:30 pm, St. Jerome's Library Study Room. First book: The Hundred Mile Diet. All welcome. Details 519-884-8111 ext. 28271

Education Credit Union brown-bag lunch: “Financing and Purchasing a Vehicle” 12:15, Davis Centre room 1302. Details.

Waterloo Region rapid transit public consultation centres today 2:00 to 8:00, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Kitchener; May 26, 2:00 to 8:00, First United Church, Waterloo. Details.

Sharcnet Symposium on GPU and Cell Computing, Wednesday, Davis Centre room 1302. Details.

UW Stratford Institute announcement hosted by UW’s president and dean of arts, by invitation, Wednesday 9:30, University Club.

Career workshop: “Explore Your Personality Type” (first of two sessions) Wednesday 10:00, Tatham Centre room 1113. Details.

‘Effective Reference Letters for Your Graduate Students’ workshop sponsored by Centre for Teaching Excellence, Wednesday 11:30, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

UW Book Club. Prisoner of Tehran by Merina Nemat, Wednesday 12:05 p.m., Dana Porter Library room 407. Details on UWRC webpage.

Centre for International Governance Innovation presents Chantal Blouin, Carleton University, “Canadian Foreign Policy in the Americas” Wednesday 7:00, 57 Erb Street West.

‘The Wedding Singer’ produced by K-W Musical Productions, continues Wednesday-Saturday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Theatre of the Arts, tickets $29 at Humanities box office.

Sharcnet Research Day with two keynote speakers and presentations on high-performance computing, Thursday Arts Lecture Hall. Details.

Avogadro Exam offered by UW department of chemistry for high school science students, Thursday. Details.

‘So You Want to Be a Faculty Member?’ workshop sponsored by Centre for Teaching Excellence, Thursday 9:30 a.m., Davis Centre room 1302. Details.

Garden designer and artist Pat Webster speaks to a class about recycling historical and geographical elements in a landscape, Thursday 11:20 a.m., Environment II room 2002, seating limited.

Computer science Distinguished Lecture: Thomas A. Furness III, University of Washington, “Cobwebs in a Virtual Brain” Thursday 4:30, Davis Centre room 1302.

Last day to drop or withdraw from courses with 100 per cent fee refund; “drop, no penalty” period ends, May 22.

You@Waterloo Day open house for students who have received offers of admission to UW, and their families, Saturday 10:00 to 2:00, headquarters in Student Life Centre. Details. Bookstore, UW Shop, TechWorx and Campus TechShop open 12:00 to 4:00.

Niagara Region wine tour organized by UW staff association, Saturday. Details.

Renison University College 50th anniversary alumni dinner, speaker Bob Rae, Saturday 6:30 p.m., tickets $100, information ext. 28657.

Bike repair for beginners sponsored by UW Bike Centre and Waterloo Public Interest Research Group, Sunday, May 24 and 31, 1:00 to 5:00, Student Life Centre. Details.

Winter term grades become official May 25 on Quest.

UW Retirees Association annual general meeting May 27, 3:30, Sunshine Centre, Luther Village.

International Spouses “Grow Your Own Herb Garden” presentation by Samm McKay, May 28, 12:45, Columbia Lake Village community cenetre, pre-regeister by e-mail (dtamsg@ yahoo.com.sg) by May 22. Details.

‘University-Industry Connection: Win-Win Strategies’ sponsored by engineering research office, May 28, 1:30, Davis Centre room 1304.

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

President’s Golf Tournament in support of athletic scholarships, June 1, Westmount Golf and Country Club. Details.

UW board of governors meets June 2, 2:30 p.m., Research Advancement Centre (475 Wes Graham Way) room 2009.

Keystone Karnival, annual outdoor event celebrating the Keystone Campaign for faculty, staff and retirees, June 3, 11:30 to 1:30, Matthews Hall green, with evening event 10 p.m., South Campus Hall. Invitations being sent across campus.

Friday's Daily Bulletin