Wednesday, October 7, 2009

  • Principal seeks 'to get Renison better known'
  • 'Enjoyable' search tool for the library
  • If your office is a horror story . . .
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Principal seeks 'to get Renison better known'

Depending on who gets counted, Glenn Cartwright is the sixth, or seventh, or maybe tenth principal of Renison University College. He says he’s been described with quite a variety of ordinal numbers. But the photos that hang on the wall of the Renison concourse show nine previous principals and acting or interim principals, all the way back to Rev. Chester Mixer in 1959, and Cartwright’s happy enough with that count.

[In academic regalia]And the job is definitely his now, as he took office August 1 and was formally installed September 12 in a ceremony at a local Anglican church. (Left, UW provost Feridun Hamdullahpur attends Cartwright at one point during the installation event.)

Since his arrival, he’s been “in listening mode”, he said in an interview last week. “My priority is to talk to people, find out what they’re doing, and see how I can support them.”

At the same time, since the arrival of new students at the beginning of September, he’s also been on the other end of the handshake. “I don’t know how many welcoming speeches I’ve given now!” he laughed. “It’s been a great joy.”

Cartwright was previously a professor in the department of educational and counselling psychology at McGill University, and former interim dean of the Centre for Continuing Education there. “I’m basically a teacher,” he said last week. “I began teaching in 1965, so I’ve been at it a long time.

“I see it as a great challenge to create a warm friendly environment and keep it going — and, if I can, extend it.” After all, he said, students “have to feel psychologically safe, they have to feel comfortable,” as a context for the challenge of learning. (“We are an Anglican college who are hospitable to all,” he added, observing that only about a third of Renison’s students now come from an Anglican Church background.)

When his five-year appointment as principal and vice-chancellor was announced earlier this year, the chair of Renison’s board, Lynn Schumacher, noted his strong background in some key areas: “As a preeminent scholar and researcher, and an able administrator with strong ties and working connections to the Middle East and Asia, Dr. Cartwright brings to Renison a unique set of attributes that will greatly enhance Renison’s profile as a post secondary institution committed to academic excellence, research, and global social responsibility.”

A news release noted that Cartwright is “a pioneer in educational computer applications . . . he introduced and specialized in large-scale, computer-assisted instruction at McGill. . . . His research interests in educational computer applications currently centre on consciousness and virtual reality. As a psychologist he has written and lectured widely on Parental Alienation Syndrome.”

The nominating committee and board of governors didn’t bring him to Renison to “fix” any particular problems, Cartwright says; “there was nothing to fix!” However, they did encourage him to build up the college in one direction at least: “They liked the idea of stressing a little more scholarly activity, research, perhaps with a view to developing additional graduate programs.”

He amplifies: “We have to realize we’re a teaching college, but teaching has to be informed through research.” In fields such as social work and social development studies, where Renison does much of its teaching, that research is likely to happen “within communities of practice”, Cartwright suggested: ideas move from the academic to the working professional and back again, with practical experience informing theory as well as vice versa.

“You have to create a culture of research,” he said, and while Renison is not famous as a research centre, activity has increased because of interest by some of the newer and younger faculty. Besides social work and SDS, Renison has programs in East Asian studies, operates an English Language Institute and teaches in the arts generally. A minor and diploma program in Islamic studies has just been approved. (“That’s going to be a growth area,” says Cartwright.)

“One of my biggest challenges,” says the new principal, “will be to get Renison better known.” It’s a balancing act, with a college that for many purposes is part of UW (its students receive Waterloo degrees) but also claims its own identity, especially in the Anglican community and in its specialized fields.

His image of the four “federated and affiliated” colleges, including Renison, is that they’re “facets of the gemstone . . . we each present a different view of the University of Waterloo to the world. The university really belongs to us all, and it’s up to us all to contribute.”

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'Enjoyable' search tool for the library

UW’s library has a new catalogue interface — and in case that technical term leaves you lukewarm, the library promises that it’ll make the whole experience of looking for information “intuitive, seamless, and enjoyable”.

[Primo logo]The new tool is called Primo. A frequently-asked-questions page explains that it will allow library users at UW, the University of Guelph and Wilfrid Laurier University to “find and access a wide range of print and electronic resources from a single search point. With a user-friendly interface, it has many design features to improve your research experience.

“Primo's unique features include the potential to provide access to an endless number of external repositories, such as e-books collections and digitized images; social software features, such as tagging and reviewing, to encourage knowledge sharing and creation; integration with Google Books search; the option to sort search results by popularity and relevance.”

Primo is a replacement for the Trellis system, which was introduced in 1998 by the “Tri-Universities Group” of Waterloo, Laurier and Guelph. Well, sort of a replacement. In fact the Trellis interface continues to be available, and in a slightly different meaning of the word, so does Trellis itself.

“Trellis is our catalogue,” explains communications and liaison librarian Nancy Collins. “It includes records for things like books, e-books, journals, e-journals, maps, etc.

“Primo is our new search interface that has replaced Trellis as the primary search tool. Trellis is still operating underneath (as Primo's source for book records etc.), but in coming months Primo will expand to pull in other data sources. For example, Primo will be expanded to allow for article searching, because we'll be pulling in the indexing for databases. As another example, we will be pulling in data for external repositories. This could include things like the public domain items that were digitized in the Google/Michigan Digitization Project.”

What users can find through Primo does not yet include course reserves or journal articles. “We aim to add these and other new resources such as GIS data in the near future,” the FAQ page says. “Primo will eventually become a one-stop source for all your academic searching needs.”

Some background explanation from that page: “Unlike TRELLIS, Primo is primarily a ‘discovery layer,’ meaning that it doesn't actually contain the detailed records, just the indexing. For this reason, Primo often links back to Trellis for the full bibliographic records. Similarly, once Primo is expanded to enable article searching and indexing for external repositories, it will only act as an intermediary interface through which you will be able to find and access resources.”

After every search, it says, the user will find a link to interlibrary loan (a software system called RACER) at the bottom of the screen, under the heading “Haven't Found What You're Looking For?” On the other hand, if UW or one of the other TUG libraries does have the item, “Primo is constantly being updated with the latest library items and current circulation status, so you will know immediately if an item has been checked out.”

It says more than 100 libraries worldwide are using or implementing Primo, which is a software product from Ex Libris Group. It went live for users on the TUG libraries’ web sites at the beginning of September.

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If your office is a horror story . . .

[Hallowe'en graphic]Hallowe'en gets to be a bigger deal every year, it seems, and a challenge from UW's PDEng and WatPD offices will make it that much more so. Here's the word from Kate Busse, administrative assistant for PDEng, and the departmental web site: "Join WatPD and PDEng in raising funds for the United Way by dressing in costume and/or decorating your office on October 30. Dress up by yourself, with a team in a theme or turn your office into a crypt! Challenge your co-workers to do good while looking ghostly (or ghastly). Fantastic prizes for participants have been generously provided by campus and community supporters. All money raised will go to United Way. Register by noon on October 28 to be included in the judging. We'll be looking for originality, effort and overall appearance, so bring out your dead! Or your pumpkins — whatever makes the day fun for you!" Entry fees are $5 per person or workspace, $10 per team, with remittances going to Joy Harris (j4harris@ in the Tatham Centre.

And that's just one of the activities that are rolling this month in support of the United Way. Here's another, as reported by Sandra Machan from Engineering II: "The Civil and Environmental Engineering department are once again hosting a silent auction and a raffle with all proceeds going to United Way. The silent auction ends at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 8, in E2 room 2336. There are over 35 items donated. Some of the auction items are a 'local flight for two', candles, purses, collector’s plates, basket of preserves, decorative star and many other items. The raffle is on a party basket with a value of over $125.. The tickets are $2 each or 3 for $5. The draw will be made after 2:00 p.m. on Thursday." All this, and individual pledges too, aims at raising more than $200,000 in support of some 40 local agencies, including the YMCA, the K-W Multicultural Centre and the Red Cross. Incidentally, I wrote the other day that the community-wide United Way had a goal of $5.3 million for this year, but it seems that's not entirely accurate. The organization is actually budgeting on a three-year basis now and not zeroing in just on the fall campaign, so we'd be better to start thinking in broader terms: $21 million for local good works over the next three years, including campaign receipts and other United Way efforts year-round.

"Each year," says a flyer from UW's continuing education office, "we experience IT projects from hell that we know will turn into an operational disaster. But do any come close to RMS Titanic's track record of four years in development (1909-1912) and four days in operation? Entertaining and full of intriguing historical details, this workshop" — wait a minute, what workshop? That would be "Lessons from History: Titanic Lessons for IT Projects" — "this workshop helps project managers discover how the lessons learned from Titanic's project and disaster can be applied to IT projects today." The session is scheduled for Friday, October 23, at the CE classroom on Gage Avenue in Kitchener. Also coming up: "Fundraising in Tight Times" on October 21; "Business Analysis Essentials" November 2-4; "Untechnical Communication" November 25.

Just before the beginning of the main employer interview period, when co-op students were really feeling the pressure about winter term jobs, something went wrong with JobMine, the online system that's supposed to be their key tool. Olaf Naese of the co-op education and career services department reports: "On September 29 from 6:00 until 11:59 p.m. the volume of users logged into the system and trying to upload resumés and cover letters was so great that everything slowed down. This caused a number of students to miss getting all of their job applications in by the job posting closing time at midnight. We had many complaints from students about this and so we opened up the posting with and extended deadline of midnight on September 30. I think this helped a lot, although students are still annoyed with the 'poor' service they get from JobMine. Of course, a replacement for JobMine is in the works and addresses the known issues with JobMine. Unfortunately it won't be ready for a number of terms." Meanwhile, the interview period has started, and job matches are scheduled to happen (again through JobMine) on October 30.

And . . . I hope the author's tongue was somewhat in his cheek when he wrote "All we need is love" in the mathematics student newsletter the other day, lamenting that "we software engineers get no love" because they're half mathie, half engineer, and at home nowhere. "Software students are fragile creatures," he ventured. "Showing them kindness can do you some good. . . . Let's institute a campus-wide Hug a Software Engineer Day." And today's the suggested day.


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[Balloons]Link of the day

Balloons around the world

When and where

Imaginus poster sale in the Student Life Centre, through Thursday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday, October 9, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Retail Services open house and grand opening for new and renovated stores (Bookstore, Waterloo Store, Write Stuff, and ESmart, South Campus Hall; TechWorx, Student Life Centre) final day. Details.

British universities: representatives of Newcastle, Oxford Brookes and Leicester available to discuss their graduate and professional programs, 11:00 to 2:00, Student Life Centre.

Keystone Campaign Run/Walk for Excellence 11:45, around ring road starting at Davis Centre. Details.

‘Navigating Through the University Application Process’ brown-bag seminar aimed at faculty and staff who know future students, 12:00, Needles Hall room 1116.

Free noon concert: Beethoven and Bender (violin, cello and piano), 12:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel UC chapel.

Waterloo Institute for Health Informatics Research seminar: Catherine Burns, systems design engineering, “Understanding Cognitive Work in Healthcare” 12:00, Davis Centre room 1302.

Career workshops today: “Thinking about an International Experience?” 2:00, Tatham Centre room 1208; “International Work Term Procedures” 3:30, Tatham 1208. Details.

Biomedical discussion group: speaker is Eric Jervis, chemical engineering, 2:30, CEIT room 3142. Details.

‘How Green Is UW?’ discussion with UW Sustainability Project, 5 to 7 p.m., Environment I courtyard.

Alumni networking workshop: “The Power of LinkedIn” 6 p.m., Tatham Centre room 2218. Details.

UW Farm Market Thursday 9:00 to 1:00, Environment I courtyard: local produce, preserves, honey, baked goods.

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

Career workshop: “Work Search Strategies” Thursday 3:30, Tatham Centre room 1208. Details.

International learning experience (Mexico) information session Thursday 5:30, Renison UC chapel lounge. Details.

Dead Sea Scrolls lecture: Derek Suderman, Conrad Grebel UC, “Rediscovering Jesus’ Scriptures” Thursday 7:00, Grebel great hall.

Jake Sivak, recently retired from school of optometry, reception celebration Friday 4 to 6 p.m., University Club.

Toronto Drama Troupe production of “I Am in Love with My Ex-Wife” (in Chinese) Friday 7:00, Humanities Theatre. Details.

Thanksgiving Day holiday Monday, October 12, UW offices and most services closed, classes cancelled.

Class enrolment appointments on Quest for winter 2010 undergraduate courses, October 12-17. Open enrolment begins October 19.

‘Mini-Pharmacy School’ series of six public lectures, Tuesday evenings beginning October 13, 6:30, Pharmacy building, fee $100. Details.

Silversides drama event: Antoni Cimolino, general director of Stratford Festival, in conversation with Jennifer Roberts-Smith, UW drama, October 15, 10 a.m., Theatre of the Arts.

Faculty of Environment alumni and friends event, launch of the Centre for Ecosystem Resilience and Adaptation, presentation of alumni achievement award, October 15, 6 p.m., Toronto Botanical Gardens. RSVP online by October 8. Details.

Oktoberfest ‘Universities Night” at Bingemans, October 15, from 8 p.m., buses from campus (tickets at Federation office, Student Life Centre).

Niagara Falls and winery tour organized by Federation of Students and International Student Connection, October 16, buses leave UW 9 a.m., tickets at Fed office, Student Life Centre.

Faculty of Mathematics building project ground-breaking October 16, 1:00, site north of existing Math and Computer building.

Go Eng Girl open house in engineering faculties for girls in grades 7-10, October 17. Details.

Institute for Quantum Computing open house October 17, 2:30 to 5:30, RAC building, 475 Wes Graham Way; preceded by panel discussion 1:00. Details, reservations for panel.

Federation of Students annual general meeting October 19, 1:00, Student Life Centre great hall.

Positions available

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

• CTE Liaison (Faculty of Engineering), Centre for Teaching Excellence, USG 8-9
• Pattern analysis and machine intelligence secretary, electrical and computer engineering, USG 4
• Program and process management specialist, co-operative education and career services, USG 12
• Assistant director, planning and financial management, co-operative education and career services (one-year secondment or contract)

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