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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

  • Faculties consider 34,000 applications
  • Manuscript team designs digital tool
  • A medal, the staff conference, and more
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Faculties consider 34,000 applications

Applications for admission to Waterloo this September are up from last year’s level — and up by more than comparable figures for Ontario universities as a whole.

The numbers aren’t final, as applications will keep trickling in for weeks, but the process is far enough advanced that they’re “a reasonably good indicator”, says associate registrar (admissions) Nancy Weiner. Dated January 14, the statistics follow the main official deadline for high school students to file their intentions electronically with the Ontario Universities Application Centre.

A total of not quite 89,000 high schoolers, as well as 19,000 people from outside the province or outside the school system, filed a total of 437,110 applications, OUAC says. That’s up by 2.6 per cent from the 2010 figure.

Of those applications 34,360 are for Waterloo, and that’s 6.2 per cent more than last year at the same time. Judging by previous years, the university will accept more than half of those applications, and eventually register just short of 6,000 new first-year students this fall.

Weiner’s report breaks down the numbers in various ways, particularly distinguishing between Ontario Secondary School applications and the rest, and emphasizing first-choice applications, which represent the students most likely to come to Waterloo if the university admits them.

“Waterloo has experienced an increase of 5.9% in first choice OSS applications,” she writes, also noting an increase of 22.6 per cent in applications from Ontario high school students who fall in the visa (international student) category. Similarly, the number of non-OSS first choice applications — from other provinces, other countries, individuals currently in colleges or in the work force — is up by 12.9 per cent.

The increases come after a couple of years when Waterloo saw small drops in the number of applicants. The leading explanation then was “self-selection” — a decision by weak students not to try for Waterloo since they felt there was little chance of being accepted. The past year has brought a revamping of recruitment materials and a spectacular new effort at the Ontario Universities Fair in September, which may help explain the increase.

“All Waterloo faculties show an increase in first-choice applications” from high school students, Weiner reports, and all except arts have an increase in total applications as well. The increases in first-choice applications: 11.1 per cent in environment, 10.3 in engineering, 7.4 in mathematics, 6.2 in AHS, 4.1 in science, 1.5 in arts.

Most of the faculties are also up in applications from the non-OSS group, and those numbers “will continue to increase because the published application deadline for the majority of our programs is March 31,” (In theory, high schoolers can also apply until that date, but they’ll lose the chance at high-demand programs that was open to those applying before January 12.)

All the faculties are also showing an increase in the number of applications from international (visa) students, the admissions report also says.

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Manuscript team designs digital tool

A collaborative digital media project based in Waterloo’s department of French studies has received a $250,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

[McWebb]The researchers, led by faculty member Christine McWebb (left), will use the funding to “develop a sophisticated but easy-to-use image annotation tool designed to facilitate and perfect online searches, information aggregation, annotation, and self-organizing knowledge of enriched multirepresentational databases”, an announcement says.

The project is MARGOT, which stands for “Moyen Age et Renaissance Groupe de recherches Ordinateurs et Textes” and works to edit and publish texts from the French Middle Ages and the Early Modern period. It’s headed by McWebb and professor emeritus Delbert Russell. “The MARGOT project is an important research initiative that will bring access to medieval texts and iconography to a whole new generation of researchers and graduate students,” says Ken Coates, Waterloo’s dean of arts.

The group is developing the MARGOT Annotation Tool for Interoperable Digital Application. Says an announcement of the Mellon grant: “The digitization of artifacts currently grants accessibility only on one level: the digital material can be searched, viewed, browsed, read on the computer screen or often even on handheld devices. However, sophisticated and effective accessibility of digital materials can only be achieved through user-friendly interfaces and the applicability of digital tools.

“Through its development, the MARGOT Annotation Tool (MAT) will participate actively in developing common standards for annotation and content sharing tools (proposed by the Stanford Framework, Stanford University Libraries), which repositories of digital material will be able to implement. At the same time, MAT's development will also include multiple protocols for dealing with the unique features of archives that will not or have not yet adopted the Stanford Framework. MAT will be developed in partnership with the Waterloo Stratford Campus and several universities worldwide, such as Stanford, Johns Hopkins, Université de Fribourg, and Georgia Tech.”

Says McWebb: "The funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation allows us to expand the digital tool development so that students and scholars can work with a variety of forms of visual representation. This funding also gives us the chance to train students in the area of digital applications." Phase one of the project entails prototyping and phase two consists of usability and interoperability testing, and a full implementation. The tool will be tested for its simplicity and user-friendly design, she says.

The news release adds: “Disparate texts and image datasets (the manuscripts in question are currently in 29 locations in Europe and North America) will be accessible in high-resolution searchable images in a single virtual location that will be maintained long-term by the Sheridan Libraries at Johns Hopkins. This extensive dataset, in turn, will serve as an ideal testbed for the present and further tool development that will result in many important outcomes not only for the arts and creative sectors but for other sectors that make extensive use of images, for example medicine and the natural sciences.

“This project fits squarely with the tradition of development and commercialization of humanities-based software spearheaded by UW's Faculty of Arts: the foundation of Open Text Inc., for example, was a direct outcome of a joint initiative of UW's Departments of French Studies and Computer Sciences to create the electronic Oxford English Dictionary (OED).”

The project also has funding from the International Strategic Opportunities Program of the Ontario ministry of research and innovation.

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A medal, the staff conference, and more

[Regehr]A peace researcher with a long career at Waterloo has received the rarely awarded Pearson Peace Medal from the United Nations Association in Canada. Ernie Regehr (right) taught for many years at Conrad Grebel University College, and was for a time acting president of the college; he was also co-founder of Project Ploughshares, which was based at Grebel until going its own way in 2003. Regehr is now "senior policy adviser" for Ploughshares and a research fellow at Grebel's Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies. He was presented with the Pearson Medal by the Governor General of Canada in an Ottawa ceremony on Friday; among those attending was Grebel's president, Henry Paetkau.

"Mark your calendar!" says a memo from Jessica Lee in the Organizational & Human Development office, who says she and her colleagues are "very excited" about the 4th Annual Staff Conference this spring. The two day conference (April 6-7) "is dedicated to staff and student engagement and will include keynote speakers, workshops and a live theatrical performance on diversity." The lineup of keynote speakers includes renowned authors, activists and experts: Sean Aiken (“Talking ‘bout my Generation”), Marc Kielburger (“Me to We: Employee Engagement”), Peter Jensen (“Igniting the 3rd Factor”), Stuart Knight (“The Art of Powerful Conversation”), and Gregg Ward (“Diversity: All of Us in Higher Education”). A wide variety of workshops will be offered on topics including “Growing Your Career”, “Mental Fitness for Life”, “1st Year Transition”, and “Story Telling 101”. "With so many topics to choose from," says Lee, "there will be something for everyone over the two days. Expect to receive your personal invitation and agenda outlining all the conference offerings by Friday, February 18. Registration will open on March 1.

As well, OHD is looking for a number of volunteers to help out in various positions throughout the staff conference. "This is a great opportunity," says Lee, "for staff to collaborate with other colleagues and participate in an engaging conference. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Annette Denny, amdenny@"

More than 100 people will be attending a by-invitation dinner tonight in South Campus Hall to celebrate the flourishing level of funding coming to Waterloo from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. • Neil Craik, a faculty member specializing in public and regulatory law, has been named interim director of the School of Environment, Enterprise and Development, January 1 through June 30. • The staff association has set a February 1 deadline date for its members to apply for Staff Enhancement Grants for "personal and professional development".

And . . . Monday's Daily Bulletin talked about the genesis of the  Faculty of Environment, and its first dean, Peter H. Nash, who died January 19 and will be remembered at a service this Saturday. I wrote that "environmental studies", as it was then called, had begun as a "division", but was a "faculty" by the time Nash arrived at Waterloo July 1, 1970. In fact, that's not true. Jane Britton in the university archives has checked the records: the Division of ES came into existence July 1, 1969, and became the Faculty of ES only on November 1, 1972, by which time Nash had been dean for more than two years. The present "Environment" name was adopted in 2008.


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Link of the day

India and Australia

When and where

Employer interviews for spring term co-op jobs (“main” group of students) through February 16; pharmacy students, January 28. Details.

Colour Me Educated promotion, proceeds to Pathways to Education, kickoff event with student leaders in a dumpster in Student Life Centre great hall, from 10:30 a.m.

Employee Assistance Program presents “Handling Difficult Conversations” led by Matt Erickson, conflict management and human rights office, 12:00, Davis Centre room 1302.

Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation presents Jukka-Pekka Onnela, Harvard University, “Harnessing Network Science to Reveal Our Digital Footprints”, 2:00, Rod Coutts Engineering Lecture Hall room 112.

Library workshop: “Introduction to RefWorks” 2:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library; repeated February 4 and March 4 at 10:00. Details.

Graduate student awards reception honouring recipients of major scholarships, 3:00 to 4:30, Festival Room, South Campus Hall, by invitation.

Engineering exchange programs student panel 4:30, cancelled.

Hawaiian Night at REVelation cafeteria, Ron Eydt Village, 4:30 to 8:00.

Career workshops today: “Interested in Teaching? Check Our Your On-Campus Options” 5:00, Tatham Centre room 2218. “Thinking About Teaching?” 5:30, Tatham 2218. Details.

Perimeter Institute presents Sara Seager, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “Exoplanets and the Search for Habitable Worlds” 7:00, Waterloo Collegiate Institute. Details.

Payday for faculty and non-union staff members, Thursday.

Centre for Family Business, based at Conrad Grebel UC, skill workshop, “Winning the Succession Game” Thursday, Bingemans.

Library workshop: “Better Searching, Better Marks” Thursday 10:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library; repeated February 7 and March 17 at 1:30. Details.

Weight Watchers at Work Thursday 12:15 p.m., PAS building room 2438; information ext. 32218.

Surplus sale of furniture and equipment, Thursday 12:30 to 2:00, East Campus Hall.

International Spouses “Knitting with Maria” Thursday 12:45, Columbia Lake Village community centre, fee $2, pre-register by e-mail lighthousenm@

Centre for Teaching Excellence workshop: “Getting  Started in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning” Thursday 1:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Career workshop: “Interview Skills, Selling Your Skills” Thursday 2:30, Tatham Centre room 2218. Details.

Howard Armitage, founding director of Conrad Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology, “thank you celebration” Thursday 4:00 to 7:00, Communitech Hub, Kitchener. Details.

Career workshop: “Professional School Interviews” Thursday 5:00, Tatham Centre room 1208. Details.

Math Faculty Awards Ceremony Thursday 5:30, dinner 6:00, Festival Room, South Campus Hall, by invitation.

An Evening with David Morrell celebrating 50th anniversary of the department of English, Thursday, January 27, 7:00, Siegfried Hall, St. Jerome’s University, tickets $10. Details.

Fantastic Alumni, Faculty, Staff and Retirees Day at Warrior basketball games vs. Western, Saturday, Physical Activities Complex: women’s game 1:00, men’s game 3:00, family activities including Monster Hoops Showdown and paper airplane toss. Details.

Web phasing protocol “Understanding and Applying” information session January 31, 2:00, Math and Computer room 2009, register by e-mail pllafran@ Details.

Board of governors February 1, 3:30 p.m., Needles Hall room 3001.

Canadian Association of Planning Students annual national conference will be held at Waterloo February 3-5. Details.

FASS of the Titans annual musical comedy, February 3 and 4 at 8 p.m., February 5 at 2:00 and 7:30, Humanities Theatre, tickets at Humanities box office 519-888-4908.

Frank Esch and Andy Newman, plant operations, retirement reception February 7, 3:00 to 5:00, Davis Centre lounge, RSVP ext. 36822.

Positions available

On this week's list from the human resources department:

• Senior buyer, procurement, USG 7-10
• Payables accounting analyst, finance, USG 7
• Development officer, applied health sciences, USG 9-11
• Kitchen manager, Bombshelter,  Federation of Students, USG 6

Yesterday's Daily Bulletin