Thursday, October 28, 2010

  • Top faculty recognized, and other notes
  • Astronaut visits, talks of exercise
  • Update on moving to new web software
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Team on the rocks]

The football Warriors held a weekend training camp in Huntsville, Ontario, earlier this month — "leaves in full colour, sunshine, lawnchairs at the sidelines and a football scrimmage," one participant reports. There was also an opportunity to spend time with local high school athletes and, at Camp Tawingo, with youngsters from a Toronto inner-city school: "The kids were in awe of having to share their dining hall and camp with football players." And the team posed for this photo at an outdoor site near Waterloo's new outpost at the Summit Centre.

Top faculty recognized, and other notes

"Outstanding performance awards" have been given to 75 professors in the latest round of the seven-year-old program, which recognizes “the top 10 per cent of the faculty”. A fund for such increases was created as part of UW’s annual faculty salary process in 2004. It provides permanent salary increases for the individuals selected, based on performance ratings for the previous year (in this case, spring 2010 ratings, with the increases effective May 1, 2010). A faculty member can’t receive one of the awards any oftener than every third year. "I am very pleased to announce the award recipients," provost Geoff McBoyle says in a memo listing them, "and would like to take this opportunity to congratulate them for their outstanding contributions to the University of Waterloo." Award winners include 3 faculty in applied health sciences, 20 in arts, 20 in engineering, 4 in environment, 14 in mathematics and 14 in science. Last year a total of 78 faculty members received the awards, with increases that were effective in May 2009.

[Rodgers]Jesse Rodgers (left) has been named interim director of the VeloCity student residence and technology incubator. A memo from Sean Van Koughnett, director of student success — who previously headed VeloCity directly — notes that Rodgers was seconded from the special projects group in Information Systems and Technology last year to serve as associate director, "and most recently led two new VeloCity initiatives, including the summer bootcamp for top Canadian student entrepreneurs, and the establishment of VeloCity’s incubator space in the Communitech Hub in Kitchener. In the recent past, he also served as president and past-president of the Staff Association. The search for a permanent director will begin in early 2011."

At its quarterly meeting on Tuesday, the board of governors gave the okay to a change in the guidelines that cover how the university’s endowment funds and pension funds can be invested. It heard from the board’s finance and investment committee, chaired by Bruce Gordon, a vice-president of Manulife, who said the university needs to “de-risk the investment portfolio”. A new formula would allow up to 20 per cent of the money to be invested in “alternatives” to the familiar stocks and bonds, which could include real estate and commodities. “In Canada,” Gordon assured the board, “there are some extremely highly rated, well managed mortgage funds. They are far different than the US experience.”  The pension and benefits committee added its endorsement of the change, reporting that “there is no material risk associated with the adoption” of the new “investment philosophy” document. It calls for a “long-term, value-added approach . . . sound financial position and a low price in relation to intrinsic value. No attempt is made to forecast the short term economy or interest rates.”

Also at Tuesday's meeting, registrar Ken Ken Lavigne reported on undergraduate enrolment, noting that the official November 1 count date won't arrive until next Monday. “We have clearly reached and exceeded our enrolment goals,” he said, with first-year numbers at 110 per cent of the target that was set, and overall enrolment up by 4.5 per cent, almost three times the rise that was planned for. “We’ve got a little under 22,000 full-time equivalent undergraduate enrolments” for the fall term, he said.

And . . . things will go boom today on the Village green. The annual "pumpkin explosion demonstration", organized by chemistry department technicians, is scheduled for 11:30 this morning. "These fun, albeit somewhat messy, experiments use pumpkins and liquid nitrogen," writes Richard Vollans. "If you're never experienced an exploding pumpkin and could use a short and powerful diversion, this will certainly be a delight."

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Astronaut visits, talks of exercise

Canadian Space Agency astronaut Robert Thirsk will visit Waterloo Region and the campus today to share his experiences from last year’s sixth-month expedition aboard the International Space Station with keen students and seniors.

At 10 a.m., Thirsk will give a presentation at Kitchener’s Village of Winston Park retirement home to seniors who participated in the Get Fit For Space Challenge. Over the course of Expedition 20/21, Thirsk issued the challenge to Canadians to become more physically active, encouraging participants to walk 340 kilometres — the distance to the International Space Station.

Seniors in the retirement homes associated with the Schlegel-University of Waterloo Research Institute for Aging took up the challenge, and the program was awarded the International Council on Activity and Aging’s 2009 Industry Innovation Award. Top Walker Irv Manske, a 94-year-old who logged more than 860 km, will be onstage to meet Thirsk and receive congratulations. Thirsk says he looks forward to meeting his most ardent supporters and sharing lessons learned in space that can lead to healthier aging for those on Earth.

During his six-month stay aboard the ISS, Thirsk and his crewmates participated in an ongoing research study led by Richard Hughson, a Waterloo professor of kinesiology. The CCISS (Cardiovascular and Cerebrovascular Control on return from the ISS) study investigates the effects of weightlessness on the human body.

“Long duration space flights accelerate the normal aging process and mimic the effects of a sedentary lifestyle, leading to deteriorations in health,” says Hughson. “We want to better understand these mechanisms and how best to counter these effects with daily physical exercise.”

Hughson will join Thirsk for the presentation, which will include an announcement of Hughson as the new Schlegel Research Chair in Vascular Aging and Brain Health within the Research Institute for Aging. The position will examine the role of healthy lifestyle interventions of exercise and nutrition so that more people can reach older age in good physical condition with their full cognitive capabilities.

In the afternoon, Thirsk will deliver a free public lecture in the Humanities Theatre, starting a 4:30. The Faculty of Applied Health Sciences 2010 Hallman Lecture will feature video from Expedition 20/21 with live narration, followed by a question-and-answer session and highlights of the CCISS study by Hughson. Students and the general public are invited to attend.

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Update on moving to new web software

by Patricia Bow

Faced with the approaching task of moving websites to Drupal, the new web content management system (CMS), many people on campus want to know when and how it will happen.

The CMS implementation team, led by Eva Grabinski of IST, is working on setting up Drupal to support all Waterloo websites, which number in the hundreds and include about half a million web pages. Four pilot sites are being developed first: University of Waterloo "main" (along with the Daily Bulletin), housing and residences, student life, and web resources.

It is difficult to supply a firm roll-out date for the pilot websites at this point, Grabinski says, “because of dependencies on the Web Redesign Project.” Sarah Forgrave, who leads the Web Redesign Project, estimates that the first pilot site, Waterloo main (essentially, the university’s home page), could roll out in February, if all goes as planned.

The CMS team is also developing a training and support plan to help people move their sites to Drupal. This plan should be in place for September 2011, when Drupal is expected to roll out university-wide. “Remember that there are hundreds and hundreds of sites to move into the Drupal implementation, so migrating sites into Drupal will not happen all at once, but will be staged over time,” Grabinski says.

At a meeting of communications staff from across the campus on October 20, Grabinski said that next fall’s migration will begin with the faculties’ sites, with engineering likely taking the lead.

Some groups have already begun to implement Drupal on their own. But, says Grabinski, you are “strongly encouraged” not to do so. “Areas that move ahead with implementing Drupal can expect to do rework to move their sites into the university’s central Drupal implementation.” There are several reasons why:

  • The CMS implementation team is evaluating Drupal 6 and 7, and there is no clear migration path yet from one version to the other.
  • Even if you use the same version of Drupal, the program is very configurable, so the odds are high that your implementation will not be set up like the central implementation. This will affect migration, training and support, and maintenance.
  • Central IST support for Drupal begins in fall 2011. Meanwhile, IST supports Dreamweaver and Contribute as the university’s website creation and maintenance tools.

Grabinski advises the various units to put most of their web redesign effort into planning and revamping their website content, so that it will be ready when the time comes to migrate to Drupal.

Three supportive Skills for the Electronic Workplace courses will be available: Conducting a Web Content Analysis, Writing for the Web, and (new this fall), Planning Your Website Content.

For those who are eager to start using some of the graphic elements of the university’s new visual identity, such as wordmarks and colours, the Web Redesign Project is producing guidelines for updating existing Dreamweaver websites that use the university’s Dreamweaver Common Look and Feel template. These guidelines will be available before the end of this term, Forgrave says. They will provide a way to integrate the new visual identity on your site until a Drupal web design template is worked out for the pilot websites during the next year.


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Links of the day

Erasmus Erasmus

When and where

Staff association annual general meeting 9:00 a.m., Davis Centre room 1302.

Blood donor clinic today 10:00 to 4:00, Friday 9:00 to 3:00, Student Life Centre multipurpose room.

Hallowe’en lunch 11:00 to 1:45, Festival Fare cafeteria, South Campus Hall.

Surplus sale of university furnishings and equipment, 12:30 to 2:00, East Campus Hall. Details.

International spouses group pumpkin carving for Hallowe’en, 12:45, Columbia Lake Village community centre. Details.

Library workshop: “Demystifying the Statistics Canada Website” 1:30, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library.

Royal Melbourne Institute of  Technology, Australia, representative visiting campus to discuss research partnerships, presentation 3:00, Needles Hall room 1101, information ext. 32288.

Chemical engineering seminar: Keith Gubbins, North Carolina State, “Thermodynamics and Dynamics of Confined Nano-Phases” 3:30, Doug Wright Engineering room 2529.

Career workshop: “Interview Skills, Selling Your Skills” 3:30, Tatham Centre room 1208. Details.

Dodgeball tournament in support of UW International Health Development Association malaria project, 4 to 6 p.m., Columbia Icefield gym 2, $2 donation.

Break Word poetry slam organized by young Muslim women, 6 to 9 p.m., Environment I courtyard. Details.

English professor Aimée Morrison speaks on “Social Media and Its Effects on Our Society”, Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery, part of 50th anniversary celebration for Faculty of Arts, 7 p.m., free admission.

Deadline for 50 per cent tuition fee refund for dropped courses, October 29.

Information systems and technology professional development seminar: Jennifer Keir, “Google Apps and Microsoft’s Live@edu” Friday 9:00, IST seminar room.

Canada-European Union Academic Exchange Program announcement hosted by vice-president (external relations), by invitation, Friday 9:30, The Museum, Kitchener.

Wilfrid Laurier University fall convocation Friday 10:00 and 2:30, Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex. Honorary degree to writer Lawrence Hill, morning; Order of WLU presentation to former governor Gerry McGrath, afternoon.

myCareer@UWaterloo demonstration Friday 10:30, Davis Centre room 1304, register online.

Hallowe’en luncheon buffet at University Club Friday, reservations ext. 33801.

Co-op job ranking for winter term jobs opens on JobMine, Friday 1 p.m., closes Monday 2 p.m.

Flu shot clinic at health services for “high risk” individuals, Friday 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.

International development seminar: Dai Qing, “Why China’s Three Gorges Was Dammed” Friday 2:00, MacKirdy Hall, St. Paul’s University College.

Knowledge Integration seminar: Emerance Baker, aboriginal services, “Indigenous Matters: What Does It Mean to You?” Friday 2:30,  Environment 2 room 2002.

Talk Change international development conference Saturday 9:00 to 3:00, Rod Coutts Engineering Lecture Hall. Details.

Faculty of Science annual open house Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., CEIT building. Gem and mineral show Saturday-Sunday, CEIT.

Town Hall Meeting with president and provost for faculty and staff, Tuesday 3:00 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

Staff event: “The Art of Powerful Conversations” Wednesday 3:30, Tatham Centre room 2218. Details.

Stratford campus professional development seminar: Glenn Cressman, “Internet Marketing for Business” Thursday, November 4, 9:00 to 4:30. Details.

Fall open house for future students and their families, November 6, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Details.

Retirees’ Association fall luncheon with presentation by Larry Martin, “Enriching Our Hobbies and Pastimes Through Photography”, November 10, cash bar 11:30, lunch 12:00, Luther Village, 139 Father David Bauer Drive, tickets $25, information 519-888-0334.

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