Friday, January 15, 2010

  • Departments asked: anyone in Haiti?
  • Election time, flu time, innovation time
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Both with big smiles]

Bonnie Fretz, left, posed with co-worker Lisa Weber at the airport as they left for Haiti last week. Weber and her son are part of a work group sent by Waterloo's Glen Acres Baptist Church to the Mission of Hope facility north of Port-au-Prince. The two women are colleagues in the faculty of science administrative office, and Fretz decided to go along on what was to be a one-week trip.

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Departments asked: anyone in Haiti?

As the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti continues to dominate the news of the world, UW officials said yesterday they’re not aware of any Waterloo researchers or students who were in the Caribbean country at the time Tuesday’s disaster struck.

The only UW people there were two staff members in the faculty of science, Bonnie Fretz and Lisa Weber, who had travelled to Haiti on their own time as part of a church-sponsored service project. Both, as well as Weber's teenage son, were reported safe on Wednesday, though it’s not clear how soon they’ll be able to return home.

Kristin Snell of Waterloo International confirmed yesterday that there are no research faculty or students visiting Haiti. “Waterloo International keeps a file of all the emergency contacts for students going overseas,” she added. “Most would be exchange students, and we don’t have any exchanges in Haiti. Co-op has confirmed already that they don’t have any students there.”

But there’s no compulsory, university-wide registry system for overseas travellers, and just in case somebody might be in Haiti who isn’t known to Waterloo International, the office sent a memo to department heads yesterday asking for information.

The government of Canada has issued a warning against “non-essential travel to Haiti”, reporting that “On January 12, 2010, a strong earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale struck close to Port-au-Prince. Reports indicate that the earthquake caused extensive damage to infrastructure. Power and telecommunications are severely disrupted. Health services remain limited, as a hospital in Port-au-Prince has collapsed. The Airport in Port-au-Prince is also currently closed to all commercial flights, and roads leading to the Dominican Republic are currently impassable.

“Canadians in need of assistance are encouraged to make their way to the Canadian Embassy in Port-au-Prince, and should bring any and all forms of Canadian identification with them. Canadians should be advised that assistance at the Embassy is limited to basic shelter on the compound grounds, food and water, as the building itself and power and telecommunications services have been greatly affected by the earthquake.”

A nurse from Elmira, just north of Waterloo, is among the Canadians confirmed dead in the earthquake, which is thought to have killed tens of thousands of people in Port-au-Prince and the surrounding area in the nation of 9 million people. Haiti is customarily described as “the poorest country in the western hemisphere”, with a culture that goes back to mass slavery during the days of the Spanish Empire.

A number of UW people have experience or connections in Haiti, including David Perrin, now president of St. Jerome’s University, who taught there for two years, and Lisa Szepaniak, a staff member in electrical and computer engineering, who has been there repeatedly working on relief and development projects.

“Both projects that I support in Haiti have been devastated by the earthquake,” Szepaniak reported in a brief message yesterday. “Lisa Weber and her son are truly blessed to be able to offer support directly to Haitians right now and to be witnessing the miracles that raise up from such devastation. I can't imagine what her family is going through, though!“ And she added: “If anyone wants to contact me for guidance on how they can help, well, that would be wonderful.”

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Election time, flu time, innovation time

I spoke yesterday with Chris Neal, vice-president (administration and finance) of the Federation of Students, who's keeping busy this week with extra responsibilities. The Feds are currently without an "executive researcher", the professional staff person who would customarily serve as chief electoral officer in the annual elections, and so election duties have landed in Neal's lap. Nominations were closing last night for the 2010-11 executive as well as positions on students' council and on the UW senate. It appeared, as the nomination period drew to an end, that two of this year's executive, president Allan Babor and VP (internal) Sarah Cook, are planning to be candidates for re-election. That's going to leave Neal with even more work to do during the campaign period, which starts January 26. He'll add the title of "acting president", and VP (education) Justin Williams will be "acting VP (internal)" while the incumbents are campaigning.

With the H1N1 influenza apparently on the wane, attention has been turning to the “seasonal” flu, the more familiar version of influenza that typically hits Ontario during the cold winter months. This year’s variant of the seasonal flu is known as H3N2. “Those at high risk of seasonal flu,” says a warning from the Ontario health ministry, “include the elderly, the very young, and those with pre-existing health conditions that compromise their immune systems.” Vaccinations against the seasonal flu are available at a clinic offered by UW’s health services that started yesterday and continues today, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in rooms 2134 and 2135 of the Student Life Centre. “All members of our community are welcome to attend,” says health services, “including employees and students, visitors and family members.” Vaccinations against H1N1 flu, which were offered on campus for much of the fall term, will also be available.

The search for UW’s next president is under way, as the Presidential Nominating Committee has now been put together and was scheduled to hold its first meeting this week. An announcement of its plans, and a list of the full membership, will likely be public within a few days. Meanwhile, the university secretariat has announced the results of several elections that were held to fill some of the seats on the committee. One staff member: Bob Copeland, 171 votes; Ibrahim Inayatali, 35 votes; Kevin Krauel, 42 votes; Tina Roberts, 168 votes; Trevor Grove, 120 votes. (Regular and unionized staff: 2,261.) One engineering faculty senator: Keith Hipel, 43 votes; Robert-Jan van Pelt, 17 votes. (Regular engineering faculty: 268.) One arts faculty senator: Tara Collington, 47 votes; John North, 23 votes. (Regular arts faculty: 250.) Two faculty at large: Brent Doberstein, 25 votes; David Porreca, 24 votes; David Welch, 52 votes; Elizabeth Meiering, 63 votes; Emanuel Carvalho, 69 votes; George Freeman, 108 votes; James Skidmore, 50 votes; Tim Kenyon, 86 votes; Zoya Leonenko, 35 votes. (Regular at-large faculty: 1,010.)

[Ladies in party dresses]The annual French Studies formal for students, professors and alumni is scheduled for January 23, and today's the last day for ticket sales; the photo at right is from last year's party. • The Federation of Students will kick off something called the Blue Chair Campaign on Monday, drawing attention to the cost of higher education and the level of student debt. • Central stores, which operates UW's mailroom, wants departments to be aware that postal rates went up January 11 (first-class postage within Canada is now 57 cents).

The VeloCity "incubator residence" will hold its VeloCity 101 beginning-of-term event tomorrow in Rod Coutts Engineering Lecture Hall, with presentations in the first part of the day from innovators associated with, and the EightyTwenty Group, followed by student "pitches" for their projects. Associate director Jesse Rodgers explains that "VeloCity 101 is the start of term conference for students living in VeloCity that we have run every term to help kick start their term working on their own startups. This term we introduced a week of brainstorming and a StartupWeekend at the start of term and are using VeloCity 101 as way for students to pitch the ideas they have worked on and get some early feedback along with some presentations from entrepreneurs from Toronto and Waterloo. It's a great day to find out what VeloCity is all about and network with local entrepreneurs." Participation for outsiders is by ticket.

Other would-be innovators are occupied today and tomorrow with the student run EpCon at the Waterloo Inn. "EpCon will bring together North America's leading tech gurus and 300 student tech enthusiasts from schools across Canada," says media coordinator Faraz Syed, "to discuss innovation and development of various technologies. We will be showcasing talks from a variety of technology leaders, including Mike Lee of Rogers, Steven Woods of Google, Electronic Arts, Cisco, Social Media Group, Primal Fusion, just to name a few." A mixture of keynote talks, seminars and tech-themed games runs both days, winding up with a Saturday night banquet.

Photographer Rufina Wu was expected to be on hand last night for a reception opening the new exhibition in the “Design at Riverside” gallery in UW’s Architecture building. Under the title “Portraits from Above”, it focuses on Hong Kong’s rooftop communities: “Self-built settlements on the roofs of high-rise buildings have been an integral part of Hong Kong’s history for over half a century . . . . Rufina Wu (Canada) and Stefan Canham (Germany) utilize the tools of an architect and the tools of a photographer to document the rooftop communities of five buildings located in older districts in the Kowloon Peninsula. Text records of the residents’ stories, measured drawings of each distinct rooftop structure, and high-resolution images of the domestic interiors of more than twenty households offer an unprecedented insight into the everyday life of Hong Kong’s rooftop residents. Rufina Wu was born in Hong Kong in 1980. She is a graduate of the UW School of Architecture and received AIA Medals for her Bachelor of Architecture thesis (Three Gorges Commune) and Master of Architecture thesis (Beijing Underground). She splits her time between Hong Kong and Vancouver.” The Portraits from Above book, winner of the 2008 International Bauhaus Award, is a 275-page bilingual paperback, for sale at the gallery ($38).


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Link of the day

First solar eclipse of the year

When and where

Change of coverage period for student health and dental plan continues through January 22. Details.

Frost Week social events sponsored by Engineering Society, winds up today. Details.

Open class enrolment ends today; drop, no penalty period ends January 22 (last day to withdraw with 100 per cent fee refund). Last day to register and pay fees, January 29.

Science alumni ski day Friday, Osler Bluff Ski Club, Collingwood. Details.

University Club “Themed Fridays”: Indian food, 11:30 to 2:00, reservations ext. 33801.

Knowledge Integration seminar: Paul Thagard, philosophy, “Who Are You? The Self as a Complex System” 1:30, Math and Computer room 4061.

Warrior sports this weekend: Men’s volleyball vs. Windsor Friday 7 p.m. (PAC); at Guelph, Saturday. • Women’s volleyball vs. Guelph Saturday 6 p.m. (PAC). • Track and field, CanAm meet at Windsor, Friday-Saturday. • Swimming, Ontario Cup at Toronto, Saturday-Sunday. • Curling, west sectionals at Western, Saturday-Sunday. • Basketball (men and women) at Guelph Saturday. • Women’s hockey at WLU (Waterloo Memorial Rec Complex) Saturday 7:30 and Sunday 7:30. • Nordic skiing qualifier at Guelph, Sunday.

‘Screening the Caribbean’ film series at Wilfrid Laurier University, Fridays 7 p.m., Bricker building room 201. Details.

Co-op job postings for spring term job begin January 16 on JobMine.

Research Advancement Centre (475 Wes Graham Way) electrical power shutdown Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Used book sale outside Renison University College library, Monday 10:00 to 2:00.

Heritage Resources Centre annual general meeting Monday 12:00, Environment I room 221.

UW senate Monday 4:00, Needles Hall room 3001.

Cultural Encounters, Encountering Cultures series: Sheila Ager, classical studies, “Greeks, Persians, and the Birth of Orientalism” Monday 4:30, Arts Lecture Hall room 113.

Waterloo Public Interest Research Group presents Sam Trosow, “The Copyright Debate: Finding the Right Balance for Teaching, Research and Cultural Expression” Monday 5:30, Rod Coutts Hall room 301.

Banff Festival of Mountain Films Monday 7:00, Humanities Theatre.

Teaching-Based Research Group drop-in session for faculty and staff interested in research about teaching and learning, Tuesday 10:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library.

UW Recreation Committee presents Henry Zech, The Investors Group, “Beat the Tax Man” Tuesday 12:00, Math and Computer room 5158.

‘Bridging the Gap to Retirement’ workshop presented by Employee Assistance Program, Tuesday 12:00, Davis Centre room 1302.

Alumni in Toronto: Networking event at Banana Republic, Thursday 6 p.m. Details.

Blood donor clinic January 21 (10:00 to 4:00) and January 22 (9:00 to 3:00), Student Life Centre. Appointments 1-888-236-6283.

Fall term grades become official January 25.

Volunteer and Internship Fair January 26, 11:00 to 2:30, Student Life Centre. Details.

Ontario Engineering Competition hosted by UW this year, including displays, debates, career and graduate studies fair, keynote address by Larry Smith (economics), January 29-31. Details.

Application deadline for pharmacy program, entrance in January 2011, is January 31, 2010. Details.

UW board of governors February 2, 2:30 p.m., Needles Hall room 3001.

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