Skip to the content of the web site.

Friday, February 11, 2011

  • Winter query: can spring be far behind?
  • Celebration as SSHRC grants flood in
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[I heart April]Winter query: can spring be far behind?

Not to mince words: it's cold out there. "I had to stand still in the cold and wait for my camera lens to defog for this shot," says Linda Carson of the Centre for Knowledge Integration about the photo at right, taken yesterday as she walked past Conrad Grebel University College. "Snow pressed into the brick wall might be a love letter to someone in residence," she says, "but I prefer to interpret this message as a cabin-fevered plea for spring."

So how cold is it? The weather station on the north campus was registering minus-16 Celsius at 8:00 this morning. (At least there's not much wind chill: the steam plume atop the central plant smokestack is rising lazily into a blank sky, white on white.) This kind of thing has been going on for a while, as January was "the second colder-than-average month in a row," according to weather station coordinator Frank Seglenieks. He elaborates: "Unlike December, where we didn’t see any really cold temperatures, we had four days where it went below -20°C at night. This combined with many days that were a few degrees colder than average, put us at a little more than 2 degrees below average for the month. The month started out wet with lots of rain on the first, but it calmed down after that and the 54.8 mm of total precipitation was within the average range for the month. The 42 cm of snow that came down during January was very close to the long term average of 43.5 cm."

The winter term is now half over (can you say “midterm”?), and the schedule for winter term final examinations was posted online yesterday. • Looking back: The staff association reports that the pre-Christmas craft sale, held in the Davis Centre, raised a total of $1,089 for scholarship and bursary funds. • The front-page story on today's issue of Imprint, the student newspaper, deals with anti-feminist posters featuring a large portrait of Marie Curie that appeared on a number of campus bulletin boards this week.

When spring does come, nestled in the week that follows those final exams will be this year's Graduate Student Research Conference. The graduate studies office has announced the name of the keynote speaker: Jorge Cham, who's the [PhD character]creator of the popular comic strip "Piled Higher and Deeper" about "life (or the lack thereof) in academia". He'll be speaking at 3 p.m. on Monday, April 25, the first day of the four-day conference. Grads have been invited to submit abstracts of their work for presentation at the conference, either orally or as a poster. Deadline for abstracts is February 28; details are on a web site that promises "valuable experience in presenting professional-level talks and poster presentations at an academic conference". Oh, and there are prizes.

The university’s Policy 49, titled “Extra-University Activity (Faculty Members)”, has been amended slightly — final action was taken at the February 1 board of governors meeting. In place of a vaguer note, these words were added at the end of the document: “Faculty members should be aware that the Board of Governors Bylaw 1 stipulates that a university employee will be indemnified by the university when acting ‘in or about the execution of duties of his/her office or employment provided he or she acted honestly and in good faith with a view to the best interests of the University.’ Whether a particular activity is within the scope of employment may be difficult to determine in advance; the traditional legal definition is that this scope includes ‘activities that fairly and reasonably may be said to be incident to the employment or logically and naturally connected to it’ [Black’s Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition]. Activities that are outside the scope of employment and not indemnified include consulting and professional services where UW is not a signatory to the contract, consulting or other services for which a faculty member receives payment personally, and activity on non-university boards and committees that is not incident to employment at UW.”

There's news from the marketing and undergraduate recruitment office, which is responsible for bringing 5,000 new students (and not just any 5,000, but the right ones) to Waterloo each fall. Says Barb Trotter of MUR: "We regularly survey students who turn down a Waterloo offer of admission. Among the top reasons they cite are more frequent communication from the university they’ve chosen and a number of issues related to financing. This year, therefore, we’ve added two mailings to students who apply to an undergraduate program. The first includes a copy of the University of Waterloo Magazine accompanied by a letter from President Hamdullahpur. The letter acknowledges our receipt of the student’s application and invites them to take a look at the magazine to find out about some of the ideas that start here and to discover the kinds of career success our grads enjoy. We also expect that parents, who are very influential for our Millennial audience, will be interested in this mailing. The second mailing is a financing brochure from our Student Awards & Financial Aid office. It includes information about the university’s financial aid guarantee, terminology related to university money matters, important dates, tuition and other costs, suggestions for covering those costs, a fill-in personal budget, scholarships and bursaries, and OSAP. For the past two years, the brochure has been available only as an electronic flipbook, but this year it will be mailed in mid-February so that students will receive it prior to the March Break Open House."

Back to top

[Dinner guests]
Celebration as SSHRC grants flood in

A “recognition dinner” was held at Federation Hall on January 26 to honour recent recipients of grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council — “and,” says Angela Roorda of the faculty of arts, “to celebrate in general Waterloo’s impressive research achievement in these areas.”

More than a hundred people attended the event (above), including recent SSHRC grant recipients (drawn from the faculties of arts, environment, applied health sciences, and engineering), deans and associate deans, and other administrators including president Feridun Hamdullahpur and provost Geoff McBoyle. Carmen Charette, executive vice-president of SSHRC, flew in from Ottawa to attend the event, congratulating grant recipients on their achievement and thanking the many Waterloo faculty members who serve on SSHRC adjudication committees.

SSHRC is one of the three federally funded “granting councils” that among them provide Waterloo with more than $40 million a year for basic research. The other two agencies under the “tri-council” umbrella are the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

“Indeed, there is much to celebrate,” says Roorda, noting that in the 2010 university rankings done by Maclean’s magazine, Waterloo ranked first in its category of “comprehensive” universities for success in winning SSHRC research grants.

“If one looks closely at the Maclean’s numbers,” she says, “it becomes clear that Waterloo’s humanities and social sciences researchers are distinguishing themselves not only in the  comprehensive university category but among all Canadian universities. Waterloo currently ranks fourth overall for average size of SSHRC grant per full-time faculty and seventh for the number of SSHRC grants per 100 full-time faculty — far exceeding the more modest expectations expressed in Waterloo’s Sixth Decade Plan.”

The average SSHRC grant to a Waterloo faculty member last year was $11,114, according to a slide show presented during the January 26 party. (The three universities ranking higher are British Columbia, McGill, and Laval.)

More from the slide show: “Over the past 5 years our number of applications to the SSHRC Standard Research Grants program has increased by 62%. During the same period, our number of SRG grants awarded has increased by a full 160%.

“After a low of 0.9% in 2006, our percentage of total SSHRC Standard Research Grant dollars distributed each year is on the rise. We now stand at 2.3%.

“Waterloo’s 2010 Performance Indicators show that over the past 5 years Waterloo has been outperforming all other G13 universities in increasing its share.”

According to the dean of arts, Ken Coates, “Research by social sciences and humanities faculty members has real impact. We need to be more direct in letting the broader world know that the research we do changes the way we understand the human condition. University of Waterloo faculty are committed to making the world a better place — and SSHRC research is an important element in support this crucial effort.”

The slide show gave a nod to one department in particular, psychology, as “a powerhouse of tri-council grants. A full 95% of its 38 faculty member hold a total of 116 external research grants, most of them from SSHRC, NSERC and CIHR. Currently, 19 of these psychology professors are receiving grant funding from SSHRC.”


Back to top

Link of the day

Names for the wind

When and where

Class enrolment appointments on Quest to choose spring term courses, through Saturday. Open enrolment begins Monday. Details.

Award for Exceptional Teaching by a Registered Student (Amit and Meena Chakma Award) nominations due today. Details.

Mobile Internet: ‘Materialities and Imaginaries’ conference sponsored by Wilfrid Laurier University, Friday-Sunday at Communitech Hub, Kitchener. Details.

Organizational and Human Development speaker event: Dan Heath, “Switch, How to Change Things When Change Is Hard” 8:30 a.m., Humanities Theatre. Details.

Blood donor clinic at Student Life Centre, today 9 to 3; appointments, call 1-888-2DONATE.

Federation of Students annual election, results to be announced 11 a.m., Student Life Centre. Details.

Pascal Lectures on Christianity and the University continue: Mary Poplin, Claremont Graduate University, student conversation, “Is Anything Sacred?” 2:30, Hagey Hall room 1104; public lecture “Diminishing the Marketplace of Ideas” 7:30, Humanities Theatre. Details.

Knowledge Integration seminar: Larry Swatuk, international development program, “Why I Hated Larry’s Party and Why I Love It Now” 2:30, Environment 2 room 2002.

International Spouses “walk and talk” visit to Vincenzo’s Italian grocery, 6 p.m., meet at 150 Caroline Street South, all welcome, e-mail intlspouses@

St. Jerome’s University lecture: Mary Jo Leddy, “Justice Has a Face” 7:30, Siegfried Hall.

2011 Sawatsky Lecture: Donald Kraybill, Elizabethtown College, “Forgiveness in the Face of Tragedy: Amish Grace at Nickel Mines” 7:30, Conrad Grebel UC great hall.

‘Showcase Your Roots’ celebration of black culture, organized by Black Association for Student Expression and other groups, Sunday 6:00, Humanities Theatre.

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

Nanjing University Traditional Instruments Orchestra Monday 7 p.m., Federation Hall, admission free.

‘Life After the U’ panel of retirees, sponsored by UW Recreation Committee, Tuesday 12:00, Math and Computer room 5158.

Propel Centre for Population Health Impact presents “Advancing Public Health: Science and Innovation in Tobacco Control”, talk by researchers from Harvard School of Public Health, Tuesday 3:30, Sun Life Financial Auditorium, Lyle Hallman Institute, reception follows.

Ballroom Dance Club lecture-demonstration by Vanessa Lawson, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Tuesday 4:30, Lyle Hallman Institute room 1621, admission free.

School of Accounting and Finance Sun Life Financial Lecture: Deborah Moor, president, Lloyd’s Canada, “The Aftermath of the Financial Crisis” Tuesday 4:30, Hagey Hall room 1101, reception follows. Register.

International development event: Emily Pittman, returned from CIDA internship at Dzaleka refugee camp, Malawi, describes her work; networking with groups and faculty working in development, Tuesday 4:30, Needles Hall room 1116.

[Hands touch]

Featured in 'Dissocia', the drama department's winter presentation, are Cassandra Cline and a few digits from Jana Zacharias. The show continues tonight and Saturday at 8, and Saturday and Sunday at 2:00, in Studio 180 of Hagey Hall. • Wednesday's Daily Bulletin noted that the creators of "Dissocia" were advised by Waterloo's Problem Gambling Research Team. Some of those researchers are, as was stated, in the department of psychology, but group leader Kevin Harrigan is actually based in the department of drama and speech communication.

Yesterday's Daily Bulletin