Monday, June 14, 2010

  • Convocation to see gold medal awarded
  • Open house at 'Centre for Extended Learning'
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Dirt and empty space]

Fifty years ago this week, faculty members in gowns and mortarboards gathered for the university’s First Convocation, held June 18, 1960, in what was then called Seagram Stadium. Ted Batke (chemical engineering, and soon to be named vice-president, academic) chats with Arthur Cowan (physics) in the parking lot. Half a century later, with the 100th Convocation approaching, comes news of Cowan’s death on May 18, 2010. He came to Waterloo in the founding year, 1957, was chair of the department of physics for 12 years, and continued on faculty until his retirement in 1989. The photo was taken by Marjorie Barber, wife of Bert Barber, director of the “coordination and placement” (now co-op and career services) department, and is from a collection of her pictures now held by the university archives in the Dana Porter Library.

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Convocation to see gold medal awarded

It’s convocation week, and among those receiving special honours in the course of eight ceremonies will be biology student Andrew Doxey, winner of this year’s Governor General’s Gold Medal as the top PhD graduate of 2010.

“The selection was made from a group of nominees with superb intellectual achievement and international reputation established while they were students,” says a memo from the associate provost (graduate studies), Sue Horton.

Doxey “has been an outstanding student ever since he arrived at the University of Waterloo as an undergraduate student almost a decade ago, as demonstrated by receipt of an exceptional number of awards and recognitions,” says Roland Hall, associate dean of science. “Amongst his most notable achievements is that Andrew was continuously funded throughout his graduate training by the prestigious NSERC Alexander Graham Bell Graduate Scholarship (both master’s and doctoral levels).”

His PhD thesis, supervised by biology professor Brendan McConkey, is titled “Tracing the Molecular and Evolutionary Determinants of Novel Functions in Protein Families”, but the external examiner, Nicholas Provart of the University of Toronto, declares that “The title of Andrew’s thesis could more succinctly be ‘Understanding how life became the way it is!’ I found his thesis to be absolutely fascinating reading, and it represents truly a very impressive body of bioinformatic analyses that covers many aspects of how genes are created and evolve to acquire new or mimetic functions, from surface arrangement of amino acid side chains to expression pattern changes, to evolution of host-like protein characteristics for immune system avoidance. The thesis represents a new way of thinking about relationships between genes and proteins, beyond the classical sequence homology paradigm.”

The gold medal will be presented at Wednesday’s 2:30 p.m. ceremony, for graduates from programs in the science faculty. That’s the second ceremony in this week’s 100th Convocation, which begins with the Wednesday 10 a.m. ceremony for applied health sciences and environment.

Subsequent ceremonies are Thursday at 10:00 and 2:30, for arts; Friday at 2:30, for mathematics; Saturday at 10:00 and 2:30, for engineering; and Sunday at 9:45 a.m., for MSc graduates from the Perimeter Scholars program. The Sunday convocation will be at the Perimeter Institute, with all the other ceremonies  held in the main gym of the Physical Activities Complex.

Two retired staff members will be recognized as Honorary Members of the University this week: Steve Breen, who spent a long career as manager of hardware support in the information systems and technology department, and David Dietrich, who served as director of pensions and benefits in human resources. Breen will be recognized on Friday, and Dietrich on Wednesday morning.

Five retired faculty members will be welcomed as distinguished professors emeritus: Jacob Sivak of optometry (Wednesday afternoon), James Brox of economics and John English of history (Thursday morning), Scott Vanstone of combinatorics and optimization (Friday morning), and Robert MacPhie of electrical and computer engineering (Saturday afternoon).

A total of 16 people will receive honorary degrees:

  • Former federal health minister Monique Bégin and remote sensing expert Peter Adeniyi of Nigeria, Wednesday morning.
  • Canadian astronaut Julie Payette and University of Toronto neuroscientist Harold Atwood, Wednesday afternoon.
  • Pierre Nepveu, scholar of Québec literature and culture, and Rice University accounting professor Stephen Zeff, Thursday morning.
  • Waterloo real estate agent and community leader Mary Bales, and German social scientist Karl Acham, Thursday afternoon.
  • Ohio State mathematician Barbara Lee Keyfitz, Texas A&M mathematician and administrator Ronald Douglas, and Google researcher Stuart Feldman, Friday afternoon.

Former UW provost Amit Chakma, now president of the University of Western Ontario; Tayeb Kamali, vice-chancellor of the Higher Colleges of Technology in the United Arab Emirates; and University of Alberta president Indira Samarasekara, all on Saturday morning.

Vijay Singh, water resources expert at Texas A&M. and Jan Carr, CEO of the Ontario Power Authority, Saturday afternoon.

Convocation will also see other honours presented, including awards for distinguished teaching and graduate supervision, and the installation of two University Professors whose status was announced earlier.

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Open house at 'Centre for Extended Learning'

An open house tomorrow will celebrate the new name of the "distance and continuing education" office and introduce some visitors to a UW outpost they probably haven't seen before.

The venue is 335 Gage Avenue, off Westmount Road in Kitchener, where distance ed ("the correspondence program" to real old-timers) has been housed for the past decade.

[CEL banner]An announcement last winter said the office was being rebranded as the Centre for Extended Learning, and now with the signs ready (left)and some plans to talk about, the doors are open. Faculty members are particularly invited to tomorrow's event, between 3:30 and 5:30 p.m.

Christine Liebig of CEL writes to explain the change in title: "The need for a new name has been recognized for the past few years as enrolments have increasingly come from students who are not at a distance at all — students who are selecting online options in combination with in class offerings to make up a full course load right here on campus. 

"Many naming ideas were considered, and input was sought from Ron McCarville (professor in Recreation and Leisure Studies whose research interests include marketing and consumer behaviour), as well as a consultant who has also been working with the university on the broader branding initiative. 

"Online to replace Distance might have seemed like a natural switch, as all of our credit offerings are now delivered online. However, it was decided that this may be too limiting as we look to the future.  The ‘next big thing’ in delivery of learning is still unknown, but we felt that ‘extended learning’ captures our goals of providing access to University of Waterloo education opportunities to wherever students may be located, in whatever format makes sense to them.  As such, we are extending learning beyond the classroom and helping learners to extend their career opportunities!"

The Centre for Extended Learning currently includes two units that will also have new names: Waterloo Online and Waterloo Professional Development. Says Liebig: "Waterloo Online represents our course design, development, and delivery support services. Projects include undergraduate and graduate level courses and programs (such as new professional master's degrees in Environment and Business and Math for Teachers), as well as non-credit certificate programs.

"Waterloo Professional Development markets non-credit course offerings to working professionals, corporations, and professional associations. We have focused our efforts in these areas, abandoning the ‘general interest’ courses we have offered in the past that are typically part of the broader continuing education field.

"This Tuesday, we will be celebrating our new name, our new image (incorporating the uWaterloo branding elements), and over 40 years of providing distance, online, and continuing education to learners. You are welcome to join us." RSVPs should go to jmoser@


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Governor General expected tonight

The Governor General of Canada, Michaëlle Jean, will visit campus this evening, attending a Magnetic North Festival performance in the Theatre of the Arts. Jean, along with her husband, Jean-Daniel Lafond, will attend other Festival events and tour a Research In Motion manufacturing facility during her visit to Kitchener-Waterloo.

Link of the day

What is so rare?

When and where

Ring road closed between PAS building and Needles Hall, because of Environment 3 construction work, June 10 to July 12.

Co-op job rankings for pharmacy students open today, match results Tuesday.

Biology II chilled water and air conditioning out of service today to 5 p.m.

Senate graduate and research council 10:30 a.m., Needles Hall room 3004.

Media conference to discuss Waterloo football team and tests for banned substances, 11:00, information mstrickl@

Gwen Lipke, retired from human resources, died June 9, funeral service 11 a.m., Waterloo Pentecostal Assembly, 395 King Street North.

Matthews Golf Classic for staff, faculty, retirees and friends, Grand Valley Golf Course, 12:00 noon, includes dinner. Details.

Alumni networking event at CBC headquarters, Toronto, guest Denise Donlon of CBC radio, 6:00. Details.

Master of Fine Arts thesis exhibition by Sasha Nelson, “Instruments”, opening reception 7 p.m., UW art gallery, East Campus Hall; show continues through July 9.

Magnetic North theatre festival continues. Events on campus: gibberish workshop today 12:30; “Elephant Wake” Monday 8:00, Tuesday-Friday 7:00, Saturday 2:00; directing class Saturday 2:00. Details.

Maxwell’s Made-to-Measure Clothing one-day promotion Tuesday at Columbia Lake Health Club, 340 Hagey Boulevard.

Chilled water and air conditioning out of service Tuesday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Environment I and II, Modern Languages, Arts Lecture Hall.

Institute for Computer Research presents Sam Lightstone, “Making It Big in Software” Tuesday 11:30, Math and Computer room 4021.

New faculty workshop: “Kick-Starting Your Grant Application” Tuesday 11:45, Rod Coutts Hall room 207. Details.

‘Yoga on the Green’ led by Sandra Gibson, health services, sponsored by UW Recreation Committee, Tuesday 12:00, outside Graduate House.

Music book launch: Helen Martens, Conrad Grebel UC, Felix Mendelssohn: Out of the Depths of His Heart launch event Tuesday 4:30, Toews Atrium at Grebel.

Career workshop: “Thinking About Med School? Perspectives of a Waterloo Grad” Tuesday 6:00, Tatham Centre room 1208. Details.

Farm market Thursday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Student Life Centre lower atrium (also June 24, July 8, 15, 22).

J. W. Graham Medal Seminar: Steven G. Woods, Google Inc., “Reinventing the Way the World Works” Thursday 2:00, Davis Centre room 1302, reception follows.

Co-op job rankings for “main group” students open Friday 1 p.m., close June 21 at 2 p.m., results 4 p.m.

PhD oral defences

Geography and environmental management. Alberto Fonseca, “Requirements and Barriers to Strengthening Sustainability Reporting Among Mining Corporations.” Supervisor, Mary Louise McAllister. On display in the faculty of environment, EV1 335. Oral defence Thursday, June 17, 11:00 a.m., Environment I room 354.

Electrical and computer engineering. Paul Laforge, “Tunable Superconducting Microwave Filters.” Supervisors, Raafat R. Mansour and Ming M. Yu. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Friday, June 18, 1:30 p.m., CEIT building room 3142.

Geography and environmental management. André Luiz Fonseca Naime, “Managing Exposure to Pipelines’ Risks: Improving Risk-Based Regulatory Processes.” Supervisor, Jean Andrey. On display in the faculty of environment, EV1 335. Oral defence Monday, June 21, 10:00 a.m., Environment I room 221.

Physics and astronomy. Jeffrey A. Quilliam, “Disorder, Geometric Frustration and the Dipolar Interaction in Rare-Earth Magnets.” Supervisor, Jan B. Kycia. On display in the faculty of science, ESC 254A. Oral defence Wednesday, June 23, 2:00 p.m., CEIT building room 2053.

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