Friday, June 18, 2010

  • Last ceremonies in the 100th Convocation
  • 'Brothers' speak at Warrior football rally
  • Project studies 'adapting' to climate change
  • Other hot news on a hot Friday
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Last ceremonies in the 100th Convocation

We're at the halfway point in the university's 100th Convocation, with four ceremonies completed and four more to go. This morning the stage is dark, but at 2:30 this afternoon comes a ceremony for the faculty of mathematics. Saturday there are two engineering ceremonies in the Physical Activities Complex, at 10:00 and 2:30, and a final, miniaturized ceremony is scheduled for Sunday at 9:45 a.m. in the Theatre of Ideas at the Perimeter Institute.

Some of the honours to be presented at these ceremonies haven't been announced yet (the program books were still at the printers last night). More names will appear in the Daily Bulletin next week, but right now here are a few highlights of this afternoon's mathematics ceremony:

  • Honorary degrees to Barbara Lee Keyfitz, professor of mathematics at the Ohio State University who has made major contributions to the study of nonlinear partial differential equations; Ronald Douglas, a Texas A&M researcher in functional analysis; and Stuart Feldman, one of the developers of Unix and now a vice-president of Google Inc. Keyfitz will give the Convocation address.
  • Installation of Steve Breen, a systems administrator who retired last year from the department of information systems and technology, as an Honorary Member of the University.
  • Recognition of Scott Vanstone, retired from the department of combinatorics and optimization and St. Jerome's University, as a Distinguished Professor Emeritus.

At Saturday morning's ceremony for engineering:

  • Honorary degrees to Amit Chakma, former vice-president (academic) and provost at Waterloo, now president of the University of Western Ontario; Tayeb A. Kamali, vice-chancellor of the Higher Colleges of Technology in the United Arab Emirates, the agency that is Waterloo's partner in developing the UAE campus; and Indira Samarasekara, president of the University of Alberta. Chakma will give the Convocation address.
  • Presentation of the Excellence in Graduate Supervision award to Alexander Penlidis of the chemical engineering department.

At Saturday afternoon's ceremony:

  • Honorary degrees to Jan Carr, CEO of the Ontario Power Authority, and Vijay P. Singh, a water resources researcher at Texas A&M University. Singh will give the Convocation address.
  • Presentation of the Excellence in Graduate Supervision award to Mohamed Kamel of electrical and computer engineering.

The Saturday afternoon event will mark the graduation of the first 63 nanotechnology engineering students. Launched in 2005, the innovative nanotech program "teaches how to use the special properties that arise when materials are fabricated on the nano-size scale," a news release explains. "The program draws from and benefits such areas as materials science and engineering, chemistry, physics, biology and medicine."

It quotes chemistry professor Fred McCourt, the acting director of the program: "It's very pleasing to see the graduation of our first students in nanotechnology engineering, which is a field that's growing rapidly and is expected to generate two million jobs worldwide by 2015. The new and cutting edge nature of the program as well as the multi-disciplinary nature of the work is reflected in these students."

Sunday's ceremony at Perimeter will see the graduation of the first class, some two dozen students, in the Perimeter Scholars International program, which offers a Waterloo MSc in physics with the involvement of Perimeter researchers.

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'Brothers' speak at Warrior football rally

Now, the latest on the controversy over the university’s decision to suspend Warrior football for a year. Players and supporters of the team held what was announced as a news conference in the Columbia Icefield at noontime yesterday, but media (including nine TV crews) played a minor role compared to a crowd of around 200 fans, many of them clad in yellow “Believe” T-shirts. “Let them play!” they chanted, especially when Carl Zender, who has served as an assistant coach and is father of wide receiver Dustin Zender, demanded that the university “do it right! Let the clean 53 play!” Those would be the Warriors who passed their March 31 test for steroids. Zender said “half” the team are now considering transferring to some other university to play for the 2010 season, and gave university officials a 24-hour deadline to change their minds (“no suspension! Probation!”) before the exodus begins.

Several players spoke at the hour-long event (audio) (Record). Quarterback Luke Balch was emotional as he told the crowd his teammates — “the guys here, my brothers” — had been prepared to go ahead with this season. He said losing their chance at a final year of play before graduation was “a hard thing to swallow”.

Defensive back Patrick McGarry said firmly that “roommates and friends were unaware” of the use of steroids by several team members. The Warriors overwhelmingly supported drug testing of the whole team this spring, he said: “We wanted to prove we were clean.” And they thought the players who did test clean would be able to go ahead and take the field this September; “the announcement Monday was an absolute shock,” he said.

The rally heard from several other speakers, including a young man from Napanee District Secondary School who had enrolled to play Warrior football this fall and spoke of “grief and anger” that he won’t be able to do so. As the event wound up, Germanic and Slavic professor David John gave a faculty perspective, saying that he thought the suspension decision by provost Feridun Hamdullahpur was wrong, but that he does believe UW’s administration has the best interest of students at heart.

A statement from Needles Hall last night said the university "remains committed to the principle of clean and fair play, and the decision stands to suspend the team from competition. It's important to state it is our intention that football will continue, including this fall for which a full program of football activities, excluding competitive games, is being planned. But we are fully committed to our student athletes' success and remain completely committed to participating with a team in 2011. Meanwhile the review of the team and program as it relates to the banned substance issue continues, and it is the university's intent not to comment further until that review is completed."

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Project studies 'adapting' to climate change

Intact Financial Corporation and the University of Waterloo yesterday announced “an innovative research project that will identify the most appropriate initiatives and action plans that governments, businesses and civil society could undertake to better adapt to the potential impacts and consequences of climate change on Canada's ecological systems, its social fabric and the economy”.

Adaptation, a news release explains, seeks to reduce Canada's vulnerability to climate change and allow the country to take advantage of potential opportunities. It complements, but does not replace, mitigation efforts, which aim to reduce the rate and magnitude of climate change. The three-year project, Climate Change Adaptation Project: Canada, is being funded in full by a grant from Intact Foundation.

Intact Financial is the largest provider of property and casualty insurance in Canada and includes the Intact Insurance, Novex Group Insurance, belairdirect and Grey Power brands.

“While discussions about climate change mitigation have received a lot of attention in recent years, issues around how we adapt to current and future climate change realities need further research and concrete action,” said Charles Brindamour, president and CEO of Intact. “This project is exciting because it will further the knowledge base accumulated over the last few years and will outline tangible implications and opportunities for Canada.”

The study will be headed by Blair Feltmate, director of sustainable practice in the school of environment, enterprise and development (SEED) in Waterloo's faculty of environment.

"Given the inevitability of climate change, it is critical for Canada to identify priority actions that need to be taken to limit and adapt appropriately for potential impacts," Feltmate said. "This is the first time a project of this kind has been undertaken in Canada. What makes the project unique is that it will embody tangible recommendations that federal, provincial, municipal and First Nations leaders, as well as businesses and citizens, could pursue to take meaningful action."

There are four main components to this research project. First, the project will run comprehensive climate projections for Canada relative to temperature, precipitation and wind patterns for the years 2030 and 2050. Findings will then be presented to a group of approximately 35 thought leaders and experts who will identify two or three critical adaptation issues in their respective area of expertise.

An Adaptation Advisory Committee of 30 highly regarded leaders from governments, industry, finance and non-government organizations as well as academe and private citizens will then identify eight key areas for which further research will be commissioned. Upon completion of this research a final report will outline “actionable initiatives that Canada could pursue to best adapt to changing climate conditions”.

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Other hot news on a hot Friday

A memo from Don Haffner in the plant operations department notes that the construction of Math 3 building, north of the Davis Centre, involves putting up a bridge to the new structure, connected to the existing overpass between Davis and the Math and Computer building. "Fencing will be erected Monday," he writes. "The area affected is the grass berm between the Math loading dock and the walkway on the west side of DC. Unfortunately the three parking spaces at the loading dock will be lost during construction. Pedestrian traffic will be redirected with signage. Access on the Math road will be reduced slightly to allow concrete footing installation. Vehicle access will be maintained at all times, as this is a fire route."

The Magnetic North theatre festival winds up this weekend, with performances and events too numerous to mention. But here's one of them: "One of the acts participating in this year's program," I'm told, "is Flush Ink Productions' Asphalt Jungle Shorts, a different kind of theatre that takes place in a variety of locations during a walk through Kitchener's downtown. The artistic director is Paddy Gillard-Bently, a FASS alumni of years past. We also can claim current undergrad and theatre veteran Jessalyn Broadfoot, and new staff member Dr. Bruce Wolff as cast members. Shows run Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights this week and next. Meet up at the Silver Spoon in Downtown Kitchener (right across from City Hall) at 7:45 p.m." Right on the Waterloo campus, there's “Elephant Wake” in the Theatre of the Arts tonight at 7:00 and Saturday at 2:00. And there's a directing class Saturday at 2:00 in, I think, Studio 180 of Hagey Hall. Festival details are online.

The Waterloo Store, the bookstore, and Write Stuff, all in South Campus Hall, will be open from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday for the convenience of Convocation visitors. • University (chief) librarian Mark Haslett has been elected to the board of directors of the Canadian Association of Research Libraries. • The city of Cambridge will be holding its Mayor's Celebration of the Arts tonight — but without involvement from Waterloo's school of architecture, for the first time since the school moved to Cambridge in 2004.

Finally a correction: Tristanne Connolly of St. Jerome's University, who received a Distinguished Teacher award at Convocation yesterday afternoon, is a professor of English, not of French.


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[Book cover]

Forty-five years after the publication of the landmark sociological work The Vertical Mosaic, by John Porter, the author and his book are the subject of a study by Rick Helmes-Hayes of Waterloo's department of sociology and legal studies. Measuring the Mosaic is the first biography of Porter and provides a detailed assessment of his writings on power, mobility, and the way Canadian society works. It's published by University of Toronto Press.

Link of the day

UpTown Country Fathers' Day

When and where

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

Last day for 50 per cent tuition refund for spring term courses, June 18; “drop, penalty 1” period ends June 25.

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

Club That Really Likes Anime weekend of shows, Friday from 4:30, Saturday from 2:30, Arts Lecture Hall room 116. Details.

Matthews Hall original section, electrical power shut down Saturday, 7 a.m. to noon.

Guelph Arboretum visit sponsored by Natural Landscaping Team, Saturday, bus leaves Davis Centre 11 a.m., tickets $7 from Federation of Students.

Mahler Conference 2010: “A Symphony Must Be Like the World” Saturday 2:00 to 7:00, Conrad Grebel UC. Details.

Contemporary School of Dance recital Saturday 6:30, Sunday 2:00, Humanities Theatre.

Perimeter Institute formal greetings event for Stephen Hawking, Sunday 4:00, by invitation; broadcast on TVOntario 8 p.m.

Pre-enrolment for winter 2011 undergraduate courses, June 21-27 on Quest.

Organizational and Human Development speaker series launch: Garry Watanabe, “The Inside Edge: Mental  Fitness Skills for High Performance” Monday 3:00, Humanities Theatre. Details.

University senate monthly meeting Monday 4:00, Needles Hall room 3001.

Deep Saini, dean of environment, farewell open house  Tuesday 2:30 to 4:00, Environment I room 347.

25-Year Club annual reception Tuesday 6:00, Physical Activities Complex, by invitation, information ext. 32078.

QPR suicide prevention program training session Wednesday 12:00, Math and Computer room 4068, register ext. 33528.

Jake Thiessen, school of pharmacy, retirement reception Wednesday 3:00 to 5:00, Pharmacy building 7th floor, RSVP ext. 84499.

Lorraine Nesbitt, counselling services, retirement reception Wednesday 3:30 to 6:00, University Club, RSVSP cbernard@

PhD oral defences

Computer science. Aniket Kate, “Distributed Key Generation and Its Applications.” Supervisor, Ian Goldberg. On display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Friday, June 25, 10:00 a.m., Davis Centre room 1331.

Psychology. Justin Cavallo, “How Self-Esteem and Executive Control Influence Self-Regulatory Responses to Risk.” Supervisor, John Holmes. On display in the faculty of arts, PAS 2434. Oral defence Friday, June 25, 10:00 a.m., PAS building room 3026.

Systems design engineering. Adel Fakih, “Recursive Estimation of Structure and Motion from Monocular Images.” Supervisor, John Zelek. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Tuesday, June 29, 9:30 a.m., Engineering II room 1307C.

Psychology. “Sensory Beliefs about ‘Light’ and ‘Low Tar’ Cigarettes Influence the Belief That ‘Light’ and ‘Low Tar’ Cigarettes Are Less Harmful.” Supervisor, Geoff Fong. On display in the faculty of arts, PAS 2434. Oral defence Tuesday, June 29, 10:00 a.m., PAS building room 3026.

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