Friday, May 22, 2009

  • Talk explores pharmacy research
  • The new kids: how well prepared?
  • Keystone Karnival set for June 3
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Talk explores pharmacy research

from a UW Media Relations news release

Jake Thiessen, director School of PharmacyThe founding director of the University of Waterloo's school of pharmacy and health sciences campus will provide an insider's view of health research at the new downtown Kitchener site during a public talk next week.

Dr. Jake Thiessen will give the pharmacy school's inaugural talk in a new health and healing lecture series. The series will invite top researchers to share the latest discoveries in various diseases, treatments and technologies.

Thiessen's presentation, entitled Building a Healthier Future: Discovery and Innovation at the Health Sciences Campus, takes place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 28 in the School of Pharmacy's lecture hall, 10 Victoria Street South. The public event is supported by Scotiabank.

"The lectures are designed for a general audience, and no medical or scientific knowledge is required," said Thiessen. "Our intent is for every lecture guest to leave with something new, whether it is new knowledge, greater understanding, or even fresh hope."

In his lecture, Thiessen will describe current research activities in the school of pharmacy and highlight what's coming next and what the future may hold. He will also set the stage for topics to be explored in future lectures, which could range from cancer treatment to pain management to robotic surgery to aging.

Seating is limited and admission is free. Advance registration is required: please email or call 519-888-4499. Parking is available at the building.

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The new kids: how well prepared?

“We are cramming more into four years than we should,” UW president David Johnston said about the Ontario high school curriculum as he briefed UW’s board of governors on secondary school issues.

The topic came up as part of Johnston’s quarterly “environmental scan” for the board’s April meeting. He got talking about how well high school prepares Waterloo’s students for what they encounter on campus, prompted by news about high school graduation rates and the level of education of Waterloo Region residents.

It was something of a good news, bad news story, as the president first cited a news release from Ontario’s ministry of education announcing that high school completion rates have increased by 9 percentage points in four years, from 68 per cent in 2003-04 to 77 per cent in 2007-08. “This announcement was made four weeks ago and got very little press coverage,” said Johnston.

The bad news came in the form of a “Trends, Opportunities and Priorities” report from the Workforce Planning Board of Waterloo Wellington Dufferin (formerly known as the Waterloo-Wellington Training and Adjustment Board), highlighting the fact that Waterloo Region lags behind the provincial rate of university degree holders in two age cohorts: ages 15-24 and ages 25-34. “It’s counter-intuitive,” Johnston said during his presentation. “If we want Waterloo Region to be the Knowledge Capital of Canada we have a ways to go.”

These pieces of information provoked a question from a board member: could the educational attainment gap could be related to recent changes to the high school curriculum and the struggle that university students encounter during their first year?

“I think the experience of the elimination of Grade 13 in Ontario is a loss of foundational content, and we are cramming more into four years than we should,” replied Johnston. “Addressing that portion of our young population that has the least success is the right thing.”

Deans comment on students' readiness

He then called UW’s deans, asking for their observations about how high schools prepare students for university work. The discussion that followed echoed points about the quality of current students that were raised in an April 6 news release from the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations.

“It is noticeable in the elimination of the double cohort,” said one administrator, recalling the avalanche of students in 2004 when the old five-year high school program and the new four-year program produced graduates at the same time. “Math preparation has taken a hit. We are guilty of expecting too much.”

Said the dean of applied health sciences, Roger Mannell: “We’re getting very capable students, but part of the challenge is helping them make the adjustment. There’s a generational difference — they’ve had a lot of extra support from their parents.”

“Writing skills are a real problem,” said dean of arts Ken Coates. “They don’t have as much practice in writing.” He noted there were two other challenges: “These young people are coming with a profound sense of entitlement. They come in with a really high expectation of being served, not of working hard.

“There’s the problem of focus,” said Coates. “We can complain about it, but it’s about building transition.” He noted that it’s easy to recognize that a student is having difficulties by the end of the first term, but the challenge is to identify struggling students before the term ends and offer assistance. “One thing we have to do is help them earlier.”

Tom Coleman, dean of mathematics, said his faculty has revised some of its courses to take into account the lack of preparation that students are receiving in high school. “Our students are still strong,” he said, “but we’ve adjusted.”

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Keystone Karnival set for June 3

Clown for Keystone KarnivalThe annual Keystone Campaign celebration, this year called Keystone Karnival, takes place Wednesday, June 3, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., on the BMH green beside the Physical Activities Complex. (The two-hour time period is considered paid time off for all faculty and staff.)

Invitations went out to staff, faculty, and retirees this week, and today a memo went out from President David Johnston. "It is that time of year again, when the UW community joins together to celebrate the incredible success of the Keystone Campaign" — which, according to the Keystone web site, amounts to nearly $8.8 million from more than 2,300 staff, faculty and retiree donors, as part of Campaign Waterloo.

This year's celebration will feature a special team challenge: a carnival-style scavenger hunt. There will also be free food and drink, games and activities (try Ring Road Racing, the Coin Toss, Darts, or the Strongman Competition), door prizes, and entertainment – including music by Katrina Di Gravio of organizational and human development and Ian Taylor of athletics and recreational services. Steve Brown of mathematics will emcee.

A corresponding celebration will be held for evening staff the same day, 10 to 11 p.m., in the Festival Room, South Campus Hall.

Anyone who needs help getting to the event or information about free parking, call ext. 37581.

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Less flu, more pay, and other notes

In keeping with the "ramping down" of Swine Flu response measures in the region and province, this notice was sent yesterday from the office of the vice-president, academic and provost, Amit Chakma: "... as of today, I am withdrawing the direction that all university-related travel to Mexico be cancelled and the University will honour travel claims for University business. Public health continues to advise that everyone continue to practice the safety precautions of washing hands frequently, staying home when ill and coughing into one’s sleeve."

This notice from Alfrieda Swainston in human resources: "Annual Increase Advices are now available on myHRinfo. Sign-in as normal and select Salary Increase Advice and click on 'Details'. Hard copy advices will be mailed later this week for staff members who have irregular working arrangements or who have elected to receive hard copy pay advices."

A note to those planning to attend the retirement party for Marie Schmidt, a staff member in of Finance, who is leaving the university after 31 years. "In lieu of gift, Marie would like the money to go towards the Staff Enhancement Fund." You may send a cheque to Lisa Doherty at ODAA, South Campus Hall, stating that "This is in honour of Marie Schmidt’s retirement, and the money goes towards the Staff Enhancement Fund.” A receipt will be issued for amounts over $10. The party happens Friday, May 29, 3 - 5 p.m., in Davis Centre room 1301. RSVP by May 26.

The UW Staff Association reminds members that they can get discount tickets to African Lion Safari, Canada's Wonderland, and Ontario Place through the association's sharepoint site.

Approximately 4,000 people — students and their families — will be swarming across campus on Saturday for You @ Waterloo Day. These are the ones who have received offers of admission to Waterloo and have come to explore labs, classrooms, residences, and athletic facilities, sample the food, speak to professors and current students, question staff in student awards, admissions, and other offices, generally find out what life is like at Waterloo, and, organizers hope, leave with their minds made up to accept their offers.

CPA staff

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Link of the day

Birthday of Arthur Conan Doyle

When and where

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

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

Today is last day to pre-register for the International Spouses “Grow Your Own Herb Garden” presentation by Samm McKay, next Thursday, 12:45, Columbia Lake Village community centre. Details.

Pension and benefits committee 8:30 a.m., Needles Hall room 3004.

Microteaching session organized by Centre for Teaching Excellence, 10 a.m., Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Bombshelter Pub concert: “My Darkest Days” with “Age of Daze”, doors open 9 p.m., $10 at door.

Research Advancement Centre (475 Wes Graham Way) hot and cold water shut down Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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 to 5 p.m., Student Life Centre. Details.

Winter term grades become official on Quest, Monday.

International Conference on Urban Drainage and Road Salt Management in Cold Climates, hosted by UW school of planning, May 25-27, Arts Lecture Hall. Details.

Career workshop: “Career Interest Assessment” Monday, 2:30, Tatham Centre room 1113. Details.

Philosophy Grad Student Colloquium: Andrei Moldovan, PhD student University of Barcelona, Monday, May 25, 3:30 p.m., Hagey Hall room 334.

Canadian Health Economics Study Group annual conference May 26-27, Arts Lecture Hall. Details.

Library workshop: “GIS for Grads” Tuesday, 10:30, Map Library, Environment I. Details.

Waterloo Region rapid transit public consultation centre Tuesday, 2 to 8 p.m., First United Church, Waterloo. Details.

Career workshop: “Networking 101” Tuesday, 4:30 p.m., Tatham Centre room 1208. Details.

WPIRG presents: Gardens, Local Food and Communities, with Candace Worsbecker of the Community Gardening Council of Waterloo Region, Tuesday, 5:30 p.m., Math and Computer Building room 2034. Details.

‘Understanding the Learner’ workshop sponsored by Centre for Teaching Excellence, Wednesday, 12:30, Davis Centre room 1302. Details.

Smarter Health seminar: Carolyn McGregor, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, “Neonatal Health Informatics: Uncharted Discovery” Wednesday, 3 p.m., Davis Centre room 1302. Details.

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

‘Learning from Ontario’s Best Lecturers’ workshop sponsored by Centre for Teaching Excellence, Thursday, May 28, 10:30, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

‘Black Holes: A Ninety-Year Journey’ International Year of Astronomy lecture by Laura Ferrarese, University of Victoria, Friday, May 29, 7:30, CEIT room 1015. Observatory tour follows.

Commuter Challenge 2009 encourages any mode of travel except driving a car alone to work. Register here as an individual or as part of the university. Challenge takes place May 31 - June 6.

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

Waterloo's 98th Convocation Wednesday, June 10, to Saturday, June 13; all ceremonies in Physical Activities Complex. Details.

Matthews Golf Classic for students, staff, faculty, retirees and guests, Monday, June 15, 12:00 noon, Grand Valley Golf Course. Registration closes May 29. Details.

Canada’s Wonderland trip Friday, June 19, buses leave Davis Centre 9:30 a.m., tickets $45 at Federation of Students office.

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