Wednesday, February 17, 2010

  • A reading week review of recent news
  • Mennonite painter's work now in print
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Snowflakes in the air over Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere]

When in Rome, you'll find it doesn't usually snow the way it does back home. But late last week, the Eternal City got its first snowfall since 2005, and architecture professor Lorenzo Pignatti caught this view looking out from the Waterloo in Rome architecture studio, across the piazza to the Church of Santa Maria in Trastevere.

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A reading week review of recent news

I got back to campus yesterday morning, after two weeks away and largely out of reach of the Internet, and the place didn’t look all that different from what I had seen at the end of January except for the half-empty parking lots and echoing hallways. Ah yes, I thought: reading week, or people sleeping off their late-night indulgence in Olympic snowboard cross and speed-skating.

“I live in a bubble,” one staff member whom I happen to follow wrote on Twitter. “I wasn’t aware it is reading week.” That’s a reminder, if one were needed, that the work of the university doesn’t stop just because classes aren’t held for a few days. Presumably faculty as well as staff members are still finding ways to fill the working day — and many students are, as the name of the week suggests, reading, or otherwise pursuing their academic work, under the chastening effect of the final exam schedule that the registrar’s office has just posted.

Tim Hortons in the Modern Languages building is among the campus facilities that are shut down for the week; likewise (and I’m sure there is no direct connection) the main floor washrooms in the Davis Centre, where maintenance work is under way.

A high priority as I returned to work was reading the Daily Bulletins that have appeared while I was away — I told you, I was far from an Internet connection — and thanking my colleague Pat Bow, who filled in as editor of what appeared in this space each morning at 9:00. Among the news highlights that struck me particularly:

• The university’s board of governors met on February 2 and approved tuition fee rates for the coming year, with officials acknowledging that a watershed is being crossed. For the first time, provost Feridun Hamdullahpur said, tuition fees brought more money into the university’s operating budget (45 per cent of 2009-10 revenue) than provincial government grants (44 per cent). These figures are dramatically different from what the university knew even ten or fifteen years ago. From a Daily Bulletin in 1997, for instance: “Tuition fees are going up to the point that they'll provide about 30 per cent of UW's operating revenue in the coming year. At the same time, government grants are dropping, to about 58 per cent.”

• The provost announced in a campus-wide memo that “all academic units, academic support units and individuals will have the option of using either the new business card and letterhead design or the current ones for a period of one year. During this period, there will be further consultations to determine a design which is suitable. This two-pronged approach allows for the advancement of our marketing strategy while respecting the desires of those who prefer a more traditional approach.” Wednesday’s Daily Bulletin clarified that the “traditional” design available for business cards and similar documents is in fact slightly changed from the familiar one, as it incorporates the Gotham typeface that’s now a key element in the university’s graphic image. Vice-president (external relations) Meg Beckel said a document called a “positioning guide” will be available across campus shortly, “so everyone can learn how to do his or her part to tell the Waterloo story in a consistent way”.

• Ian Goulden, chair of the department of combinatorics and optimization, was announced as the next dean of the faculty of mathematics, to take office July 1. That’s the same day that, as announced in the fall, Susan Elliott arrives from McMaster University to become dean of applied health sciences. Goulden will be one of just two of the six faculty deans to be appointed from inside Waterloo (the other is Terry McMahon of science).

• Tim Jackson, local entrepreneur and the first winner of the Barnraiser Award for contributions to building Waterloo Region, is coming to UW as an associate vice-president and to the Accelerator Centre as its chief executive, as of March 1. Jackson is clearly capable of wearing multiple hats, but one thing he can’t do, by law, is continue as a member of the UW board of governors while also being a university employee; I’m told that his formal resignation as one of the board’s “Lieutenant-Governor in Council” (Ontario government) appointees was submitted last week.

About the Olympic Games, by the way: I wish I had known, as I watched the opening ceremonies Friday night, that much of the spectacle was the work of a UW theatre graduate, David James. The Windsor Star had the story on Monday.

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Mennonite painter's work now in print

based on a news release from Conrad Grebel University College

[Book cover shows stylized farm]

A handsome new book on the art and life of Woldemar Neufeld, many of whose paintings are in the collection of Conrad Grebel University College, is now available: Woldemar Neufeld’s Canada: A Mennonite Artist in the Canadian Landscape, 1925-1995 (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2010).

This book, co-authored by Hildi Froese Tiessen, professor of English and peace and conflict studies at Grebel, along with her husband Paul Tiessen, professor of English and film studies at WLU, addresses some of the problems that faced Neufeld (1909-2002) when, in the 1920s and 1930s, he found himself searching for his own artistic identity in relation to two strong and oppositional influences on his life: the new nationalism in the “wildercentric” work of the Group of Seven and the late Romanticism of Homer Watson.

At the same time, Neufeld – who had emigrated to Waterloo from the Mennonite colonies of Russia in 1924, after the assassination of his father by Soviet forces –  addressed contradictory features of his own Mennonite heritage, from the vigorous opposition to art among some of his kin, to an undercurrent of strong support from a handful of influential Mennonites in Canada and the United States.

Neufeld’s studies of the urban and rural landscapes of the Waterloo Region – prominent among his work overall – are consonant with the long-standing mythology of this region as a place expressive of the harmonious mingling of the forces of culture and nature. Even after he had developed a strong reputation in New York City, where he remained active from the 1940s to the 1990s, he focused his many “Canadian” studies on Waterloo. But his visits to other parts of Canada – including the west coast, where he had a one-man exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 1937, and where he learned his colour block-printing techniques from Japanese Canadian printmakers – find expression in his work too.

The Tiessens’ text is based on their work with a vast Neufeld-related archive of memos, diaries, correspondence, reviews, and interviews acquired over the years by Wilfrid Laurier University and, on a smaller scale, by Grebel. Both Laurier and Grebel have acquired major collections of Neufeld’s work; Grebel is home to a fine collection of his early oils, watercolours and block-prints featuring Waterloo and the surrounding countryside in the 1930s and 40s.

The text makes up a 30,000 word Introduction to the book, and is liberally illustrated with photographs and other images. It is followed by the plates: first Neufeld’s paintings and drawings, then his block-prints.

Approximately 300 of Neufeld’s works are included in Woldemar Neufeld’s Canada. This is a book that is beautifully designed and elegantly produced, revealing the influence of the Connecticut-based editors (Monika McKillen and Laurence Neufeld, the artist’s son). In Kitchener-Waterloo, the Gallery on the Grand on Lancaster Street West represents Neufeld, and has on hand signed copies of the book.


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Warrior sports

Weekly report and Athletes of the Week

Men's hockey playoffs start tonight (quarter-final vs. Windsor, 7:30, Icefield)

[W]Figure skating championships at RIM Park (competition from 8:30 a.m. today, 8 a.m. Thursday; Laurier is host team)

Basketball (men and women) at McMaster tonight

'Warriors rock OUA in curling'

Link of the day

Ash Wednesday

When and where

Reading Week February 15-19; classes not held.

EV2 and EV3 loading dock closed for installation of storm and water services, through Saturday.

Chinese New Year: celebrate the Year of the Tiger, through Friday, 11:30 to 2:00, University Club, reservations ext. 33801.

UW Recreation Committee Book Club discusses A Mercy by Toni Morrison, 12:00, Dana Porter Library room 407. Details.

Staff workshop: “Exploring Your Personality Type” today and February 24, 2 to 4 p.m., Tatham Centre, register lkoblyk@

Spiritual  Heritage Education Network presents Stya Syngal, “Non-Duality of Shankara” 7:30, CEIT room 1015.

‘What is Chinese New Year?’ presentation by Waterloo International on traditional culture, Chinese calligraphy and traditional treats, Thursday noon to 1 p.m., Needles Hall room 1116.

Research and Technology Park announcement by David Johnston, president of UW, and Michael Green, president of Agfa HealthCare, Thursday 1:30, TechTown, 340 Hagey Boulevard, by invitation.

Last day for 50 per cent tuition fee refund, February 19. Drop (penalty 1) period ends, February 26.

Centre for Family Business, based at Conrad Grebel UC, breakfast seminar: “Dealing with Increasing Work Demands” Friday 7 a.m., Bingemans Conference Centre.

RefWorks advanced workshop, presented by UW library, February 22 at 10:00, March 10 at 10:00, or March 11 at 1:30, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Heritage Resources Centre lunch-and-learn session: Ronald Bean, Conestoga College, “Adaptive Reuse” Monday 12:00, Environment I room 221.

‘So You Think You Can Dance Waterloo’ auditions February 22, 24, 25, 26, Physical Activities Complex; competition March 27. Details.

Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation panel discussion: “Open Source Democracy”, Monday 2:00, Tatham Centre room 2218, RSVP info@ Details.

Graduating students’ information session and lunch sponsored by student life office and alumni affairs office, Tuesday 11:30, Student Life Centre multipurpose room. Details.

Personal Tax Planning: Brown Bag Lunch by staff association and Education Credit Union, speaker Alan Wintrip, Tuesday 12:15, Davis Centre room 1302.

Blood donor clinics February 24 and 25, 10:00 to 4:00, Student Life Centre multi-purpose room.

TEDx Waterloo “journey into the future” of “Technology, Entertainment, Design”; speakers include Raymond Laflamme, Institute for Quantum Computing, and Philip Beesley, architecture, February 25, 1 to 8 p.m., the Gig Music Hall, downtown Kitchener. Details.

Lecture and book signing: Bob Pozen, chairman of MFS Investment Management: Too Big to Save? How to Fix the U.S. Financial System, February 25, lecture at 4:30; signing at 5:30, South Campus Hall, Festival Room. Register.

Positions available

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

• Experiential coordinator/ instructor, school of pharmacy, USG 12
• Project coordinator, kinesiology, USG 8
• Supervisor, information and student services, Centre for Extended Learning, USG 6 (12-month secondment or contract)

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