Wednesday, February 24, 2010

  • Thousands write high school math tests
  • Dean of arts won't serve a second term
  • The new calendar, and other midweek notes
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Thousands write high school math tests

a release from the university's media relations office

More than 82,000 of Canada's most promising students of mathematics and computer science are this week writing one of four Waterloo-sponsored contests designed to challenge the best and brightest, including one leading to the International Olympiad in Informatics.

The top four contenders from more than 80 countries will gather at UW this August, as the IOI comes to Canada for the first time. They will spend a week demonstrating such computing skills as problem analysis, design of algorithms, and data structures, programming and testing.

"The winners of the International Olympiad in Informatics truly are amongst the best young computer scientists in the world," said computer science professor Troy Vasiga, who is chair of IOI 2010. "The participating countries — more than 75 competed in Bulgaria last year — send up to four students and two leaders, all keen to capture a gold medal in this olympiad."

The first stage for Canadian students is the Canadian Computing Competition, run by UW's Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing. Close to 2,300 students wrote that test yesterday. Students abroad will write on Wednesday, with testing centres run by Tsinghua University in Beijing and the University of Hong Kong.

The 20 best students are invited to advance to the next stage, attending a week-long camp in Waterloo in May. This second stage involves workshops to further develop the students' skills and abilities, extracurricular activities and a six-hour contest. The top four students will represent this country when the IOI comes to Canada for the first time.

"The various contests we run challenge the participants to stretch the math and computing abilities to their highest level," said Vasiga. "The winners of last year's Canadian Computing Competition — who came from such diverse communities as Coquitlam, Toronto and Windsor — more than held their own competing against the world's best students."

Canadian students in Grades 9, 10 and 11 are also challenging themselves this week by writing one of three mathematics challenges. The CEMC's Pascal, Cayley and Fermat math contests are an opportunity for students to have fun and to develop mathematical problem-solving abilities appropriate for their respective grade levels.

More than 80,000 students will write the three math tests, in Canada or abroad, tomorrow. Another 8,000 students routinely write the contest from a dozen countries around the world.

Founded in 1995, the CEMC has become Canada's largest and most recognized outreach organization for promoting and creating activities and materials in mathematics and computer science. Its activities include a series of contests, web resources, a large series of publications, and workshops and seminars for students and teachers in elementary and secondary schools across Canada and around the globe.

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Dean of arts won't serve a second term

Ken Coates, dean of the faculty of arts since July 2006, will not be a candidate for a second term, president David Johnston has announced. UW deans generally serve a first term of five years and a second term of three years.

[Coates]Johnston told UW’s board of governors earlier this month that Coates (left) “will not be seeking a second term as dean of arts, and we regret that. The good news is that he is a flourishing scholar who continues to publish and have remarkable ideas about higher education.”

Coates, a historian, is a specialist in the Canadian north, and came to Waterloo after administrative positions at the University of Saskatchewan, the University of New Brunswick at Saint John, Waikato University in New Zealand, the University of Northern British Columbia, and the projected Sea to Sky University in BC.

During his years as dean, he’s been deeply involved with the creation of the Stratford Institute and associated “digital media” programs in the faculty of arts, as well as the university’s role in the Balsillie School of International Affairs and the development of the Social Innovation Generation program.

Johnston mentioned to the board that Coates “wants to give more time to his young family, which we understand so much”. He becomes the fourth of the current deans — following Roger Mannell of applied health sciences, Deep Saini of environment, and Tom Coleman of math — to leave office after a single term.

"The decision to not seek renewal as dean was a very difficult one,” Coates said in a comment after the announcement, “made more so by the superb interactions that I have had with faculty, students and staff across the University of Waterloo. 

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as dean and have found great delight in working on a variety of fascinating and important projects.  Five years in a deanship is a very long time, however, and the commitment required places great restrictions  on teaching, research and outreach, aspects of the  university that I treasure deeply.

“In the year and a half remaining in my term, I look forward to supporting the core activities of the Faculty of Arts, implementing the new Faculty initiatives, and otherwise helping advance the UW cause.

“The prospect of returning to a faculty position, and back to full-time teaching and research, appeals to me a great deal, so the transition at the end of a wonderful time as dean will be an easy one.”

The next dean will be chosen through the usual Policy 50 process involving a nominating committee and a faculty vote, followed by approval from the university senate and board of governors. The target date for appointment of a new dean would be July 1, 2011.

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The new calendar, and other midweek notes

Yesterday's Daily Bulletin reported on pay increases that were recently given to a number of women faculty members to correct "anomalies" in their salaries. Quoting the faculty association's Forum newsletter, I mentioned three such faculty members and then 14 more, for a total of 17. A note quickly arrived from David DeVidi, past president of the association: "There were in fact six faculty members whose salaries were identified as clearly anomalous and who received an immediate adjustment, not three as I'd said." Six plus 14 is, let's see, 20 in total. "We will print a correction in the next Forum, of course," DeVidi said.

[W] Weekly report on Warrior sports

Men's basketball playoff game tonight at McMaster

The registrar's office sends word that the 2010-11 undergraduate calendar is now on the web and ready for use. Its arrival comes just in time for next week's opportunity for students to "pre-enroll" for fall term undergraduate courses. Pre-enrolment will run March 1-7 on Quest. There's no absolute commitment — that comes later, with "class enrolment" in June — but the advance process helps in developing the fall timetable with a minimum of conflicts. The new calendar joins previous years' documents on the registrar's web site, where calendars are archived back all the way to 1963. (I'm told that one of the difficulties facing inexperienced users of the UW web site is the way material from old calendars sometimes rises to the top of search results; it's wise to check the date on things like course listings and program regulations when you find them online.)

An announcement from the student awards and financial aid office this week says that Waterloo is joining several other universities in offering undergraduate financial aid to dependents of Canadian Forces personnel killed while serving in an active mission. The Project Hero award recognizes the sacrifice of military families while serving their country. "Waterloo is very proud to offer this financial assistance and support to the children of those Canadian Forces personnel who have lost their lives in service to this country," said Maureen Jones, director of student awards and financial aid. She said UW will provide financial assistance for tuition fees during eight academic terms and on-campus residence and meal plan fees for the first year of study. To be eligible, Project Hero candidates must be a dependant of a Canadian Forces member killed while on active duty, under the age of 26, and registered as a full-time undergraduate student at Waterloo, in a program of study eligible for funding by the province of Ontario. The arrangement is part of Project Hero, an effort involving the Canadian Forces and launched by former Chief of Defence Staff General Rick Hillier and Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel Kevin Reed. Hillier is now chancellor of the Memorial University of Newfoundland.

The children of Peter Goetz, a Waterloo artist who died in 2007, have donated 16 of their father’s watercolour paintings to Conrad Grebel University College. The works range in content from landscapes, to buildings, to Old Order Mennonites, and capture a glimpse of what the artist saw as the serenity and sense of community in the region. “Goetz’s paintings delight us, and they give us new eyes to see the world around us,” says Grebel faculty member Hildi Froese Tiessen, [Winter scene]co-editor of several volumes on Waterloo County art. Goetz honed his skills as an artist at the Doon School of Fine Arts, where he studied under Fred Varley of the Group of Seven. In 1986 his work was featured in Waterloo County Landscapes 1930–1960, a volume that also included work by fellow Mennonite painter Woldemar Neufeld and by Ralph Conner, George Eitel, John Schlacter, Ralph Bechtel and Ralph Hodgson. Goetz, along with these five men, in varying combinations, spent Saturday mornings for many years in outings about Waterloo County to polish their craft. “Peter Goetz was part of a very significant and accomplished but largely unheralded group of artists to emerge among the Mennonite refugees who fled the Soviet Union in the 1920s,” says Henry Paetkau, president of Grebel. “We are thrilled to add his paintings depicting Mennonite life in Waterloo County to the college’s growing art collection.”


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Link of the day

Freedom to Read Week

When and where

Blood donor clinics Wednesday-Thursday 10:00 to 4:00, Student Life Centre multi-purpose room.

‘So You Think You Can Dance Waterloo’ auditions continue Wednesday-Friday, Physical Activities Complex; competition March 27. Details.

Free noon concert: Mennonite art songs (Mel Braun, baritone, and Laura Loewen, piano) 12:30, Conrad Grebel UC chapel.

School of planning speaker: Fred McGarry, Centre for Community Mapping, 12:30, Environment I room 354.

Sociology colloquium: Anthony Doob, University of Toronto, "Politics, Policies, and Imprisonment in Canada, 1958-2010”, 2 p.m., Hagey Hall room 1108.

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

Café-rencontre: Catherine Dubeau, département d'études françaises: “Freud en bulles! Psychanalyse et bande dessinée francophone”, 14h30, Modern Languages salle 245.

Career workshop: “Multiple-Mini Interview Practice Session” 4:30, Tatham Centre room 1214. Details.

Federation of Students town hall forum on the co-op experience, 5:00, Student Life Centre great hall.

RefWorks introductory workshop presented by UW library, Thursday 10:00 or Tuesday 11:30, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Waterloo Centre for the Advancement of Cooperative Education seminar: Kerry Mahoney, career services, “Student Learning Outcomes:  Online and Face-to-Face Instruction Using Subjective and Objective Measures” Thursday 12:30, Tatham Centre room 2218.

Surplus sale of UW furnishings and equipment, Thursday 12:30 to 2:00, has been cancelled.

International Spouses monthly gathering: Elisabeth Adrian, career services, “Business Etiquette and Professionalism” Thursday 12:45, Columbia Lake Village community centre.

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

Library workshop: “Conference Proceedings” Thursday or Monday 1:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Greg Cummings, information systems and technology, retirement party Thursday 3:30 p.m., South Campus Hall, Laurel Room, RSVP elmartin@

Career workshop: “Success on the Job” Thursday 3:30, Tatham Centre room 1208. Details.

Department of English speaker series: Sarah McNamer, Georgetown University, “Medieval Literature and the History of Emotion” Thursday 4:00, Humanities room 373.

Computer Science Computing Facility ‘town hall meeting’ on improving the undergraduate computing environment in CS, Thursday 4:30, Davis Centre room 1302. Details.

Author reading at St. Jerome’s University: Governor General’s Award winner Fred Wah, Thursday 4:30,  StJ room 3027.

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

Render (UW art gallery) opening of new exhibition, “Dear Haven” Thursday 5 to 8 p.m., East Campus Hall. Details.

Arriscraft Lecture: David Gissen, California College of the Arts, “Subnatural Histories” Thursday, cancelled.

Bojangles dance showcase: “Dance for Haiti” Thursday 7:00, Humanities Theatre.

Movies at the Critical Media Lab: “Videodrome” (Canada 1983), Thursday 7:30 p.m., 191 King Street West, Kitchener.

Religion and Public Life Conference at Wilfrid Laurier University, Friday 9:00 to 4:30, Paul Martin Centre. Details.

Warrior Weekend activities in the Student Life Centre, Friday and Saturday from 9 p.m., including dance lessons, fruit, crafts, movies, Black History Month Gala. Details.

Brain Bee for high school students, sponsored by department of kinesiology, Saturday 10 a.m., Lyle Hallman Institute room 1621. Details.

DaCapo Chamber Choir, based at Conrad Grebel University College, winter concert Saturday 8:00 p.m., St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church, Kitchener. Details.

Positions available

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

• Clinic cashier/ receptionist, school of optometry, USG 3
• Scheduling coordinator, information systems and technology, USG 4

Yesterday's Daily Bulletin