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Monday, April 11, 2011

  • Town hall will hear Hamdullahpur's vision
  • Talking sabbaticals at noontime tomorrow
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Town hall will hear Hamdullahpur's vision

Staff and faculty members will hear some ambitious plans for the university’s future if they come to the Humanities Theatre this afternoon for the twice-a-year “town hall meeting” with Waterloo’s top executives.

The event — hosted by president Feridun Hamdullahpur, provost Geoff McBoyle and vice-president (external relations) Meg Beckel — starts at 3:00 and will include the traditional question period, based on queries submitted in advance by e-mail. But the president, in particular, plans to give a substantial introductory talk as well, outlining some of the things he has in mind as he settles in as the university’s sixth president.

Most ambitiously, he’ll talk about a goal that’s telegraphed in the title announced for today’s event: “What does it mean to be a global top 100 university? Opportunity and obligation.”

A glimpse of life among the world's top 100 institutions came earlier this year, when Waterloo was listed in the 91-to-100 group in a “reputation” ranking issued by Britain’s Times Higher Education newspaper. Then just this week, Waterloo’s name appears in several places in rankings of “World University Rankings by Subject — Engineering and Technology”, published by the consulting firm QS.

The QS listing puts Waterloo 36th among the world’s top universities in Computer Science and Information Systems (still behind such Canadian rivals as Toronto, McGill and UBC; 41st in the world in Civil and Structural Engineering; and 46th in Electrical Engineering. Waterloo is lumped into the “51-100” group in two other listings, Chemical Engineering and Mechanical, Aeronautical & Manufacturing Engineering.

Waterloo is “a great university with a unique approach”, Hamdullahpur is expected to tell today’s audience, outlining the importance of the Waterloo i-word — “innovation” — and its pervasive connections with the world of industry in achieving impact and success. He’ll share his conviction that the Sixth Decade Plan, now four years old, points the right direction for the university but needs to be “refocused”, made more specific, to be a useful guide for the rest of the decade.

An important part of the focusing, he’ll say, is to build a “stable, sustainable” administrative structure, at a time when several top jobs are vacant, and some areas, including the student success office and the international office, need to be expanded and strengthened. The president might sketch out some plans for administrative change over the coming year.

Then he’ll turn the microphone over to McBoyle, himself an “interim” administrator as provost and vice-president academic, to talk about some more specific issues. Likely to be among them: the 2011-12 budget, and how the money taken from departments across the university in the annual 2 per cent funding cut will be redistributed to build strengths.

McBoyle may also talk about growth in international activity, building plans, and what’s going to be done to lower the student-faculty ratio, a perennial goal.

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[The calm before the run]

Students at St. Jerome's University, some of them in whimsical team costumes, pause for a moment before Relay for Life events on April 1. The fifth annual Relay raised more than $19,700 to support cancer care and research. Besides the day-and-night runs along a route around the college, the Relay included promotions and inspirational events. In celebration of cancer survivors and in tribute to loved ones who have died, luminaries (ceremonial lights) were blessed at a midnight service in Notre Dame Chapel and placed along the walkway in Alumni Court.

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Talking sabbaticals at noontime tomorrow

Nancy Matthews — wife of a Waterloo faculty member, and a veteran of the international moves that sometimes come with a sabbatical leave — will give a “Sabbaticals 101” presentation on campus tomorrow, sponsored by the UW Recreation Committee. She’ll speak Tuesday at 12 noon in Dana Porter Library room 329.

[Matthews with her book]Sabbaticals 101 is also the title of Matthews’s book, subtitled “A Practical Guide for Academics and Their Families”. Copies will be for sale at tomorrow’s talk. “Whether you're planning your first or fourth sabbatical, travelling across the world or just settling into a city nearby, bring your questions and sabbatical tales to share,” UWRC suggests. “Spouses and partners welcome!”

Says Matthews (right): “I've now led a number of these sessions at different universities, including one at Waterloo two years ago, and found them to be quite fun. Most of the time is filled with questions and discussions on issues such as visas, taxes, housing hassles, the ‘trailing spouse,’ children's schooling, and re-entry issues. Each session has been different, though, reflecting the interests and queries of the group. Some experienced UW "sabbatical veterans" have said they'll attend Tuesday's event, so participants should get some additional perspectives.”

She adds: “The book definitely has local content — not only does David teach at Waterloo, I volunteer here, and both our sons are students.” David Matthews is in the department of statistics and actuarial science. Matthews, who serves as organizer of the International Spouses group when she’s at home, has accompanied him on six sabbatical or academic exchange trips over the years.

“More importantly,” she goes on, “many of the anecdotes in the book are from Waterloo profs. In addition, although I have an American publisher (New Forums Press), the University Bookstore's Espresso Book Machine normally prints all the Canadian copies of my book.”

Meanwhile, here’s the latest installment of names and details for Waterloo faculty members who are currently on sabbatical. The plans as listed are taken from information submitted to the university’s board of governors, which has to give approval for all sabbatical leaves. All these sabbaticals are for six months that began January 1.

Paul Thagard, philosophy: “During this sabbatical leave, I plan to write a book, tentatively called The Multilevel Mind: Building Cognitive Social Science. This book will argue that explaining psychological and social phenomena requires attention to mechanisms that operate at four levels, including neural and molecular levels as well as psychological and social ones.”

Britt Anderson, psychology: “The sabbatical has the goal of advancing my research and teaching. My research on probability models of spatial attention and neural correlates of ‘updating’ in decision making will benefit from more time and the freedom to visit other laboratories (including those conducting primate neurophysiology, e.g. Brown University) to obtain converging evidence for my models. The teaching goal is to draft a manuscript for a textbook to support my teaching of computational neuroscience techniques to psychology students at UW.”

Mario Boido, Spanish and Latin American studies: “I will finish editing my book  manuscript of Limits and Convergences: The Word/Image Relationship in Contemporary Latin America. I will also continue to advance on a new project funded by UW/SSHRC entitled Image Resistance: Representations of History and Identity in Latin American Visual Culture. I plan to travel to Guatemala, Argentina, and Mexico to research for my project Image Resistance which focuses on the visual construction of historical and cultural memory, in particular on the question of how counter-hegemonic discourses of resistance are imaged in Latin American visual culture.”

Anton Burkov, physics and astronomy: “I am planning to spend half the leave at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics in Santa Barbara, California, and the second half at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California. Both institutions are among the top places for theoretical condensed matter physics in the world and I expect to greatly benefit from the interaction with the local faculty and visitors.”

Jun Cai, statistics and actuarial science: “Concentrate on the current project supported by NSERC, develop a new project, and carry out cooperative research.”

Joan  Coutu, fine arts: “Completion of revisions of book mss. Whigs and Sculpture, and research on my new project, Public Art in Canada in the 1930s.”

Geoffrey Fong, psychology: “I will continue to work in my role as Chief Principal Investigator of the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project; the research project is across 20 countries which focuses on evaluating the impact of tobacco control policies of the WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control, the world’s first-ever health treaty.”

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Lieutenant-Governor visits

Ontario Lieutenant-Governor David Onley will visit campus today during a Waterloo trip centred on the local KidsAbility Centre for Child Development. At the university, he will tour the Institute for Quantum Computing, the Accessibility Centre in the Dana Porter Library, and the Tatham Centre's facilities for persons with disabilities. No public events are planned.

Link of the day

Louie Louie

When and where

Library extended hours during exam season: to April 21, Davis Centre library open 24 hours (except Sunday 2 to 8 a.m.), Dana Porter Library open 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily.

Winter term examinations April 8-21; unofficial grades begin to appear in Quest, April 22; grades become official, May 24.

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

Scientific and Technological Literacy Series: Heather Douglas, University of Tennessee, “How to Weigh Evidence” 4:00, Hagey Hall room 373.

Mathematics contests sponsored by Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing : Euclid (grade 12), Tuesday. Fryer (grade 9), Galois (grade 10), Hypatia (grade 11), Wednesday.

Staff career seminar: “Get LinkedIn” Tuesday 7:00, Tatham Centre room 1112. Details.

Problem Gambling research speaker: Charles Livingstone, Monash University, “Whose responsibility is problem gambling?” Wednesday 11:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library.

‘Single and Sexy’ auditions for September performances, Wednesday 3:30 to 8:30, Humanities Theatre.

Staff career seminar: “Trends in Leadership from UW Recruiters” Thursday 12:00, Tatham Centre room 1112. Details.

E-waste green day dropoff for staff, faculty and the public, Saturday 8:00 to 4:00, East Campus Hall (off Phillip Street): computers, peripherals, TV sets, phones, microwave ovens, stereos, cellphones accepted for recycling.

Education Credit Union lunch-and-learn session: “Purchasing a Vehicle” April 21, 12:10, Davis Centre room 1302, RSVP by April 15 to janinew@

QPR suicide prevention training session April 21, 1 p.m., Math and Computer room 4068, registration required, information ext. 32797.

Good Friday, April 22, university closed.

Graduate Student Research Conference April 25-28; keynote speaker, cartoonist Jorge Cham, Monday 3:00, Davis Centre. Details.

Annual used book sale sponsored by Canadian Federation of University Women, April 29 (9:00 to 9:00) and 30 (9:00 to 1:00), First United Church, Waterloo. Details.

Spring term classes begin Monday, May 2.

PhD oral defences

Chemical engineering. Jorge Vazquez, “Experimental and Modeling Study of Nickel, Cobalt and Nickel-Cobalt Alloy Electrodeposition in Borate-Buffered Sulphate Solutions.” Supervisor, Mark Pritzker. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Thursday, April 21, 2:00 p.m., Doug Wright Engineering room 2534.

Health studies and gerontology. Andrea Foebel, “Heart Failure Among Older Home Care Clients: An Examination of Client Needs, Medication Use and Outcomes.” Supervisor, John Hirdes. On display in the faculty of applied health sciences, BMH 3110. Oral defence Tuesday, April 26, 9:00 a.m., Matthews Hall room 3119.

Electrical and computer engineering. Kian Haghdad, “Parametric Yield of VLSI Systems Under Variability: Analysis and Design Solutions.” Supervisors, Mohab Anis and Karim S. Karim. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Tuesday, April 26, 9:00 a.m., CEIT building room 3142.

Combinatorics and optimization. Irene Pivotto, “Even Cycle and Even Cut Matroids.” Supervisor, Bertrand Guenin. On display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Tuesday, April 26, 10:00 a.m., Mathematics and Computer room 5136B.

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