Tuesday, March 16, 2010

  • The ability to see disabilities in a new way
  • Manifold morsels in the middle of March
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs
  • bulletin@uwaterloo.ca

[Glass tiles, concrete, aluminum in patterns]

Mirror image: "In Friday's Daily Bulletin," writes Doug Morton of the Davis Centre library, "mention was made of the glass on Engineering 5. You may want to reflect on the fact that glass is being added to the new Quantum-Nano building too." He sent along this photo to help with the thought process.

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The ability to see disabilities in a new way

“Disability accommodation” is about to become a hot topic on campus, because of new requirements in Ontario’s law — but I hadn’t planned on being affected quite this personally.

I’d anticipated some meetings about a communication plan for the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, articles in the Daily Bulletin about the training UW will have to offer about “customer service” for people with disabilities, things like that. And here I am unexpectedly walking with a cane and passing up a trip over to Tim's because it’s just too far to hobble, even in Roll Up the Rim week.

The experience is giving me a whole new appreciation for the “persons with disabilities” who rely on the university’s disabilities office in Needles Hall, as well as the safety office, the occupational health arm of health services, and other departments and helpers.

It was last Thursday that I suddenly became one of the people who need help. It was a sunny day, you’ll remember, and during the lunch hour I was walking across the campus, heading up a pathway beside Westmount Road in the direction of Ron Eydt Village. I saw a mud-puddle approaching, and watched a young man who was some distance ahead of me on the path detour around the puddle and over a patch of grass. When I got to the water hazard, I took the same detour — but my left foot slipped in the mud, the ankle twisted, and I went down on all fours, uttering a word that’s not suitable to be recorded here.

Sprained ankle — chiropractic therapy — lightweight steel cane — ice packs — Friday off work — sympathetic family over the weekend — back on campus yesterday, far from mobile. It’s hardly a serious injury, and I think I’ll be back to normal in a few days, but at least the experience has given me a chance to learn about some things I wasn’t very familiar with until now:

• Yesterday morning, I filled out an “accident investigation report”, which asks things like “the size, weight and type of equipment and materials involved” as well as “What steps have been taken to prevent recurrence?” (Fewer steps on wet grass, anyway, I'm thinking. And here's an irony: one of the doctoral theses listed in today's Daily Bulletin, in the "PhD oral defences" column at right, is a study of how fear affects falling.)

• The point person on staff and faculty injuries is Linda Brogden, the occupational health nurse. In one phone call, she gave me some advice on looking after sprained ankles, undertook to ask for short-term parking near my office (“only for a week, because parking is in very short supply”), and promised to get in touch with the safety office to discuss supportive arrangements like a stool under my desk that could support my leg for faster healing. I'll be hearing from safety this morning, I gather; they also have to do paperwork for the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.

• Since they’re in the same building where I work, I dropped in on the office for persons with disabilities, where administrative assistant Ruth Huard gave me an introductory sheaf of brochures. Some of them didn’t pertain at all to my needs (I won’t be needing adaptive technology for low-vision students, for instance, or special arrangements for writing exams). But they do give a glimpse of the range of things the OPD looks after, from a books-on-tape program to a transportation van, from tutor services to liaison with the housing office.

The Ontario government says that “about 1.85 million people”, or one in seven people in the province, have disabilities of some kind. That’s the background to the AODA, which was passed unanimously by the Legislature in 2005 and is gradually coming into force. It imposes requirements in five key areas — the built environment (buildings and other structures), customer service, employment, information and communications, and transportation — and it’s in the news this spring because an “accessible customer service standard”, developed under the Act, applies to public sector agencies, including universities, as of January 1, 2010. We’re going to be hearing a lot about how UW is complying so far and about what still needs to be done.

Watch the Daily Bulletin for some of that information. And while my own disability is minor and (I’m hoping) very short-term, at least it’s giving me a new point of view on why these new measures are needed and what’s involved in making them happen.

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Manifold morsels in the middle of March

The March break open house is under way today — the event known for many years as Campus Day, a chance for high schoolers who are considering their September options to get a first-hand look at Waterloo before they make a decision. Organizers are now saying some 6,200 visitors might be on hand. The weather could hardly be better (forecast high of 14 Celsius) and prompts comparisons with some years when visiting students and parents had to battle sleet to get here. "We hope this day will increase the number of applicants who confirm their offers of admission," says Kim McKee of the visitors centre, who's coordinating the open house with a small army of volunteers and staff. Details of the event are online, of course, and so is a web video feed for those who can't be in Waterloo (or Kitchener or Cambridge, since the satellite campuses are also taking part).

Nominations are being invited for this year’s Award of Excellence in Graduate Supervision. Says a memo: “The Graduate Studies Office in collaboration with the Graduate Student Association established this award to recognize exemplary faculty members who have demonstrated excellence in graduate student supervision. Normally three faculty members will be recognized each year at Spring Convocation. The recipients will be honoured with a $1,000 award. Graduate student supervision requires complex interaction between graduate students and the graduate supervisor. An outstanding graduate supervisor is a mentor, an advisor, a role model, a humanist and a strategist. A caring and effective supervisor possesses a high level of energy and ingenuity. Each nomination must be made by current or former graduate student(s) supervised by the nominee and supported by one or more senior academic colleagues who are familiar with the supervisory record of the nominee.” Nominations are due at the graduate studies office no later than June 11.

A call was issued recently for candidates to serve in faculty and graduate student seats on the university senate, and, as it turns out, many of those positions (but not all) have been filled by acclamation. A memo from the university secretariat lists those who will join the senate by acclamation: for applied health sciences faculty, Paul Eagles, Recreation & Leisure Studies (May 1, 2010 to April 30, 2011); Diana Parry, Recreation & Leisure Studies (May 1, 2010 to April 30, 2013). For arts faculty, Tara Collington, French Studies (May 1, 2010 to April 30, 2013). For engineering faculty, Rick Culham, Mechanical & Mechatronics Engineering (May 1, 2010 to April 30, 2013). For environment faculty, Olaf Weber, Environment, Enterprise & Development (May 1, 2010 to April 30, 2013). For science faculty, Brian Dixon, Biology (May 1, 2010 to April 30, 2013). For Conrad Grebel University College faculty, Marlene Epp, History and Peace & Conflict Studies (May 1, 2010 to April 30, 2013). For graduate students, Michael Makahnouk, Earth Sciences (May 1, 2010 to April 30, 2012) and Feisal Rahman, Civil & Environmental Engineering (May 1, 2010 to April 30, 2012). The memo adds: "No nominations were received for the mathematics faculty seat (May 1, 2010 to April 30, 2013)." Elections are to be held for seven faculty-at-large representatives and one St. Jerome's University representative; an announcement of that vote will appear in this space later this week.

Lisa Weber and Bonnie Fretz of the dean of science office were in Haiti, on a church-related service trip, at the time of the January 12 earthquake, and had dramatic stories to tell on their return. The support for Haiti continues, a flyer announces: “The already deprived Haitian people were struck with a massive earthquake, which has taken many lives and disrupted so many more people of this impoverished nation. Please join us to help the Canadian Red Cross help Haiti.  A silent and live auction, two great local Bands along with a DJ — something for everyone! 100% of the proceeds are going to the Canadian Red Cross Haiti Relief Fund and the Tent Project. Come out and help raise money, and have fun doing it.” The party is this Friday night at the Waterloo Regional Police Association Hall in suburban Cambridge. Tickets are $15 per person (“includes midnight buffet”) and, no surprise, Lisa Weber is among the people selling them; so is her sister-in-law, Debbie Tytko of the library’s acquisitions department, datytko@ uwaterloo.ca.

The Writers’ Trust of Canada announced last week that a recently retired UW history professor has won the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing. The winner is John English for his biography Just Watch Me: The Life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, 1968-2000, published by Knopf Canada. The prize was awarded at the Politics and the Pen gala in Ottawa. A news release adds that the $25,000 prize, “Canada’s most prestigious literary award for political writing”, is sponsored by CTVglobemedia and supported by the Politics and the Pen gala. Said the three-person jury that selected the winner: “Drawing upon previously inaccessible materials, John English deepens our understanding of the private, as well as the public, life of Pierre Trudeau. Just Watch Me sets a new standard for Canadian political biography.” English is a former Member of Parliament himself, and until a surprise development last fall was the founding director of the Waterloo-based Centre for International Governance Innovation. His earlier book about Trudeau, Citizen of the World, was nominated for the same prize in 2006. He also authored an acclaimed two-volume biography of Lester Pearson.

Kathryn Fedy, marketing coordinator for UW’s retail services, sends along what she calls “an exciting update” following a event last fall: “Alumnus author Douglas Smith, who contributed his short story ‘Radio Nowhere’ to Campus Chills, has been short-listed for the 2010 Aurora Awards for this piece under the category Best Short Form Work in English. Campus Chills features chilling tales born from the dark shadows of campuses across Canada. All thirteen original tales of terror are written by talented Canadian authors. Launched October 22, 2009, exclusively at the University of Waterloo Book Store, Titles Bookstore McMaster University, University of Alberta Bookstore and Dalhousie University Bookstore, this anthology was originally produced on the Espresso Book Machine located at the Waterloo, McMaster and Alberta bookstores. In addition to Douglas Smith (BMath '75), other UW alumni to contribute short stories to the anthology include Julie E. Czerneda (BSc '77) and James Alan Gardner (BMath '76). The introduction was written by Robert Sawyer, the ‘dean of Canadian science fiction’. Campus Chills is still available for purchase at the Book Store, South Campus Hall, or online.”

Here's a quick e-mail from Sarah Pries at Conrad Grebel University College: "Grebel 100 is a student, staff and faculty fitness club at Conrad Grebel University College started this term. The goal individually is to run/walk/swim 100 miles in 100 days. The communal goal was to run across Canada in the 100 days. In 67 days the Grebel community has successfully crossed Canada! As well, 17 people have already reached their 100-mile goal. You can follow the progress online."

And . . . writing in Friday's Daily Bulletin about the national teaching honour received by Waterloo's Alan Morgan, I said that eight such awards, the 3M National Teaching Fellowships, had been presented this year. In fact, there were a total of ten.


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Link of the day

Brain Awareness Week

When and where

Waterloo Unlimited design program for students in grade 11, through Friday. Details.

Architecture student co-op job interviews for spring term, through Thursday in Cambridge, Friday in Toronto; rankings March 22-23. Details.

Waterloo Institute for Health Informatics Research presents Shawky Fahel, The JG Group, and Robert Rosehart, WLU, “Intelligent Senior Independent Living Spaces” 12:00, Davis Centre room 1304.

Computer Science Club presents Elyot Grant, “Approximate Hardness and the Unique Games Conjecture” 4:30, Math and Computer room 5158.

‘Dental School Interviews’ preparation workshop 5:30, Tatham Centre room 1208. Details.

Live and Learn Lecture: Colin MacLeod, department of psychology, “Attention and Memory and How to Improve Them” 7:00 p.m., Waterloo Public Library main branch.

‘Return to Antarctica’ author Adrian Raeside speaks about his book, 7:30, senate and board chambers, Wilfrid Laurier University.

Centre for Teaching Excellence workshop: “Graphic Syllabus” Wednesday 10:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

St. Patrick’s Day luncheon at University Club (lamb and barley broth, pork chop, North Sea perch, Bailey’s cheesecake) Wednesday 11:30 to 2:00, reservations ext. 33801.

UWRC Book Club discusses The Optimist’s Daughter by Eudora Welty, Wednesday 12:00, Dana Porter Library room 407.

Education Credit Union workshop: “Let’s Talk Mortgages” Wednesday 12:15, Davis Centre room 1302, reservations janinew@ ecusolutions.com.

Free noon concert: Trio Albonata (violin, cello, piano) Wednesday 12:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel UC chapel.

Career workshop Wednesday: “Success on the Job” 4:30, Tatham Centre room 1208. Details.

Exchanges in Germany: information session for engineering and science students, Wednesday 4:30, Davis Centre room 1304.

Blood donor clinic Thursday 10:00 to 4:00; Friday 9:00 to 3:00; March 31, 10:00 to 4:00, Student Life Centre multipurpose room, appointments call 888-236-6283.

Career workshop: “Work Search Strategies” Thursday 10:30, Tatham Centre room 1208. Details.

Book publishing seminar: Randy Schmidt, UBC Press, speaks on scholarly publishing in humanities and social sciences, Thursday 11:00, Humanities room 373.

Arriscraft Lecture: Neil Spiller, University College London, “Communicating Vessels” Thursday 6:30 p.m., Architecture lecture hall, Cambridge.

Jewish Studies Lecture: Michael Higgins, St. Thomas University, "Luminous and Vexed — Benedict XVI and the Jews: A contorted alliance” Thursday 7:30 p.m., Siegfried Hall, room 1030, St. Jerome's University.

Conference on Financial Reporting Quality in Emerging Markets, hosted by school of accounting and finance, Friday, Hagey Hall room 2104.

St. Jerome’s University Somerville Lecture in Christianity and Communications: Joe Gunn, Citizens for Public Justice, “Muted and Maligned Voices: Public Justice and the Canadian Churches” Friday 7:30 p.m., Siegfried Hall.

Dragons’ Den open auditions (looking for aspiring entrepreneurs to appear on CBC series) Monday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., CBET, 295 Hagey Boulevard. Details.

‘Sweats to Suits’ style advice by Jas Banwait, Waterloo alumnus and owner of Toronto tailoring company, March 23, sessions 1:00 and 2:30, great hall, Student Life Centre. Details.

Alumni outing in Calgary to Flames vs. Ducks hockey, March 23, 5:00 reception preceding game. Details.

First Robotics Competition Waterloo regionals, competition for high school students, March 25-27, Physical Activities Complex. Details.

Surplus sale of UW furnishings and equipment, March 25, 12:30 to 2:00, central stores, East Campus Hall, off Phillip Street.

Vancouver alumni reception March 25, 6 p.m., during GLOBE conference and trade fair. Details.

University Choir spring concert: “Voices of Light” March 27, 7:30 p.m., St. John’s Lutheran Church, 22 Willow Street, tickets $10 (students $8).

Town hall meeting with UW executives for faculty and staff, Thursday, April 8, 3:00, Theatre of the Arts. Submit questions to townhall@ uwaterloo.ca.

PhD oral defences

Chemical engineering. Baminahennadige Ramila Peiris, “Development of Fluorescence-Based Tools for Characterization of Natural Organic Matter and Development of Membrane Fouling Monitoring Strategies for Drinking Water Treatment Systems.” Supervisors, Hector Budman, Raymond Legge and Christine Moresoli. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Friday, March 19, 12:30 p.m., J. R. Coutts Engineering Lecture Hall room 208.

Kinesiology. Laura Hauck, “Understanding the Influence of Fear of Falling on Clinical Balance Control — Efforts in Fall Prediction and Prevention.” Supervisors, Jim Frank and Stephen Prentice. On display in the faculty of applied health sciences, BMH 3110. Oral defence Friday, March 19, 1:30 p.m., Lyle Hallman Institute room 2703.

Management sciences. Michael Sheppard, “Antecedents of High-Growth and Gazelle Enterprises: An Empirical Study.” Supervisor, Rod McNaughton. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Tuesday, March 23, 9:30 a.m., Carl Pollock Hall room 3263.

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