- Transitions: editor home, president leaving
- New buildings and 'sacred space'
- Chris Redmond
- Communications and Public Affairs
A team from Latvia is among the 81 entries in the International Olympiad in Informatics, under way this week on campus and at other locations in Kitchener-Waterloo. They're seen at a practice session Sunday before yesterday's first round of competition. Volunteer university and high school students who speak the teams' languages are serving as guides for the teams, who reached the IOI by winning regional and national programming competitions. Photo by Michael Strickland.
Transitions: editor home, president leaving
I returned to campus yesterday after several weeks away, and began assessing what's changed, besides the precipitous drop in activity that results from the end of the spring term. Early impression: looking out my office window, I see a lot more mirror tile reflecting blue sky and fluffy white clouds from the surface of the university's newest building, which we are reminded is always to be called the Mike & Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum Nano Centre.
The university's biggest news during my vacation was, of course, the announcement in Ottawa that president David Johnston is moving on, as of October 1, to become Governor General of Canada. Not surprisingly, there was a lot of media attention to this development:
- 'Appointment ends rock star era' (Hébert, Star)
- ‘Federalist extremist’ (Globe)
- ‘A presidential look’ (Star)
- 'A culture of high aspirations' (Record)
We can expect September to feature many farewells and tributes to Johnston, who has served as the university's fifth president since June 1, 1999, and was scheduled to continue in office until next summer. Watch for details of a testimonial dinner on the 14th and an on-campus celebration on the 17th.
In Johnston's place, as of October 1, provost Feridun Hamdullahpur will become interim president of the university — not just "acting president", the role he might have when Johnston takes a vacation, but "interim", continuing in the top job until the new president is chosen and arrives. This sort of thing has happened once before, in 1969-70, when founding president Gerry Hagey became ill and found it necessary to leave office on short notice. On that occasion, vice-president (academic) Howard Petch was named "president pro tem" and served for 17 months until the arrival of the university's second president, Burt Matthews.
It wouldn't be too surprising if another announcement came out before long, involving the appointment of an acting provost, someone to sit at Hamdullahpur's desk while he's sitting at the presidential one. The two officials work closely together in Needles Hall.
So the leadership change was the dominant news story while I was away, but I see, skimming through Daily Bulletins and my electronic inbox, that I also missed a spectacular rainstorm on July 23, an interesting calculation that the new Harmonized Sales Tax will actually be a money-saver for Ontario universities, and news of new artificial turf being installed in Warrior Field. (As for the Warrior football program itself, I'm told that a report and announcement of 2010-11 plans should be available very soon.)
For this information and much more, I'm indebted (and so are readers) to my colleagues Pat Bow and Brandon Sweet, who edited the Daily Bulletin in my absence. Many thanks to them and all those who assisted them.
New buildings and 'sacred space'
Meanwhile, I hear, people are moving into Engineering 5; must get over there in the next few days and have a first-hand look. And spectacular things are happening on the Environment 3 construction site, with giant structural members being lifted skyward. EV3 is going to be a "LEED platinum" building, officials have now confirmed. My e-mail yesterday included a copy of a note from a faculty member in the school of architecture, who says the Daily Bulletin "should be embarrassed to have neglected to credit the architects responsible for the design of EV3" in recent reporting. "Buildings don't just appear out of nowhere," he writes. "The design of a building as complex as this requires a great degree of expertise, innovation and hard work. I have the greatest respect for Mark Seasons and he should be credited for his leadership in this enterprise. But to credit the contractor, and not the architect? What are you thinking?" Apparently we were thinking that EV3 is a "design-build" project, in which Cooper Construction plays both roles; but it wouldn't have hurt to say so.
Spring term exams ended on Saturday, and we now have a few relatively quiet days on campus. As yesterday's Daily Bulletin noted, only a few food services outlets are open on campus (though I was pretty relieved to confirm that Pastry Plus here in Needles Hall is among them). The libraries are open for limited hours, 8 to 5 Monday to Friday and 12 to 5 on weekends. The Physical Activities Complex is closed, through the Columbia Icefield is still operating. Engineering Science Quest and Arts Computer Experience are running their final day camp sessions of the summer, and the athletics department has young athletes on campus this week for intensive camps in volleyball and hockey. Thirty-some students from the Master of Public Health program are on campus (and in Ron Eydt Village) for a two-week intensive course . . . hmm, add up all these programs, and others I haven't mentioned at the moment, and maybe the university isn't all that deserted after all.
And of course the activity will go through the roof on the Labour Day weekend, September 4-6, when thousands of new students arrive, to be followed by more thousands of returning students ready for the fall term. A memo went out the other day to faculty members and staff department heads, inviting them to be part of the "residence move-in engagement project" as the newcomers arrive. The project was devised by Bud Walker, associate provost (student services), says university housing officer Chris Read. Says Read: "It’s a great opportunity for us to show the more personal side of Waterloo to both students and their parents, putting them at ease about what lies ahead. This day comes with the full spectrum of emotions for our incoming students. Most of them are worried, excited, curious and hesitant, and are accompanied by family who feel the same. We hope that you will join us in making the rounds to welcome our new students and their parents. We know many people see the residences as a big maze of tiny rooms, but this maze becomes a home for over 5,000 of our students. The more work we do on making this place welcoming, the more successful the students are at making the transition from home to university a smooth one. We hope that you’re interested in being part of the weekend."
The move-in weekend will be followed by orientation (another thing on my to-do list, now that I'm back at the desk, is to find out whether the orientation schedule is ready) and then the beginning of fall term classes on September 13. Another academic year will be in full swing, just days from now.
So the vacation mindset needs to recede, and quickly. However, I'm still enjoying memories of several lakes where I spent some of my summer time, including Clark, Huron, Michigan and Chautauqua. I'll just mention some days I enjoyed at the Chautauqua Institution, where the orchestra played Lerner and Lowe and the weekly program theme was "sacred space". Several speakers reflected on places that serve to make connections with the divine, the cosmic, the past, the future — places such as cathedrals, battlefields, observatories, even museums. There wasn't much mention of universities in that context, but I wonder if there aren't people for whom the Dana Porter Library or the Conrad Grebel chapel conjure up similar feelings of inspiration, humility and greatness all at once. Something to think about as I start another year at Waterloo.
Link of the day
When and where
University Club closed through September 7.
Spring term marks now appearing on Quest; marks become official September 20.
Ontario Mennonite Music Camp for students aged 12 to 16, August 8-20 at Conrad Grebel University College. Details.
Men’s volleyball coed summer camp August 16-20, Icefield.
UWRC Book Club discusses The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, Wednesday 12:00, Dana Porter Library room 407.
St. Jerome’s University conference “Education to Globalize the Human Mind” Friday-Sunday, Ron Eydt Village conference centre. Keynote address by Michael Higgins, former president of SJU, Saturday 1:30 p.m.
Feds Used Books open Saturdays, August 21 and 28, in addition to regular Monday-Friday hours.
Domestic hot water will run cold in all buildings inside the ring road, plus Village I, August 24-26, for maintenance on steam mains. During this period, no water from domestic hot water taps from Tuesday 8 p.m. to Wednesday 7 a.m.
Surplus sale of university furnishings and equipment, August 26, 12:30 to 2:00, East Campus Hall. Details.
St. Paul’s University College Masters Golf Tournament, August 27, Glen Eagle Golf Club, Caledon. Details.
Fall term fees due Monday, August 30 (fee arrangements), September 8 (bank payment). Details.
Women’s field hockey camp August 30 through September 1, Warrior Field. Details.
Women’s basketball back-to-school camp August 30 through September 3, Physical Activities Complex. Details.
Labour Day holiday Monday, September 6, UW offices and most services closed, classes not held.
Orientation 2010 for new first-year students, September 6-11. Details.
English Language Proficiency Examination September 8. Details.
Doors Open Waterloo Region, September 18, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., includes Institute for Quantum Computing, the Doris Lewis Rare Book Room, the School of Architecture, and the former PUC Building at 195 King Street West, Kitchener, now the home of Social Innovation Generation. Details.
Open class enrolment for fall term courses ends September 24.
PhD oral defences
Electrical and computer engineering. Preetha Thulasiraman, “Resource Allocation in Relay Enhanced Broadband Wireless Access Networks.” Supervisor, Sherman X. Shen. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Thursday, September 2, 2:00 p.m., CEIT building room 3142.
Computer science. Gregory M. Zaverucha, “Hash Families and Cover-Free Families with Cryptographic Applications.” Supervisor, Douglas Stinson. On display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Friday, September 3, 9:30 a.m., Davis Centre room 1331.
Chemical engineering. Rungisma Yeetsorn, “Development of Electrically Conductive Thermoplastic Composites for Bipolar Plate Application in Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cell.” Supervisors, Michael Fowler and Costas Tzoganakis. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Thursday, September 9, 9:30 a.m., Doug Wright Engineering room 2534.
Physics and astronomy. Chanda R. Prescod-Weinstein, “Cosmic Acceleration as Quantum Gravity Phenomenology.” Supervisors, Lee Smolin and Niayesh Afshordi. On display in the faculty of science, ESC 254A. Oral defence Thursday, September 9, 11:00 a.m., Biology I room 266.