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Thursday, June 16, 2011

  • Festive black gowns in the summer sun
  • Seats available at recital tonight
  • Board talks of percentages, ratios, dollars
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Festive black gowns in the summer sun

The faculty of arts is in the Convocation spotlight today, with 597 students set to graduate at the 10 a.m. ceremony and 595 more at the 2:30 ceremony, both in the Physical Activities Complex.

Organizers will be hoping for a little less excitement than they coped with yesterday, when fire alarms in the PAC went off about halfway through the presentation of degrees to environment and applied health sciences students. Registrar Ken Lavigne asked the participants and spectators to leave the building, and there was a delay of about 45 minutes before the ceremony resumed. The afternoon session of Convocation, scheduled to start at 2:30, was delayed to 3:00 as a result.

For today’s Convocation, the division between the two ceremonies is by subject, with Accounting, Economics, English and others included this morning, Psychology and Social Development Studies, among other subjects, this afternoon. Students officially registered with St. Jerome’s University, Renison University College and Conrad Grebel University College are in the afternoon group.

The speaker for this morning’s ceremony is Lawrence Hill, Toronto-born author of Black Berry Sweet Juice and The Book of Negroes. The latter book is based in part on research first done by Jim Walker, of Waterloo’s department of history, and Walker will introduce Hill this morning as he receives an honorary Doctor of Letters degree.

Speaking as valedictorian, on behalf of the graduating students, at the morning session will be Kieng Iv, who’s receiving an honours degree in economics. The Alumni Gold Medal recognizing the top graduate from the arts faculty this year will be presented to Essence Ng, whose degree is in accounting and financial management.

Two retired faculty members will also be honoured this morning: Robert Kerton, economics professor and dean of arts 1999-2006, as “distinguished professor emeritus”; Anne Zeller, of the department of anthropology, as “distinguished professor emerita”.

[Collard at the keyboard]At this afternoon’s ceremony, the university will give an honorary degree to Jean-Phillipe Collard (left), a French pianist who has made many recordings and played with orchestras around the world. Rather than giving a Convocation speech, Collard will play on a nine-foot Steinway grand piano brought in for the occasion. His program: the first and last movements (“Grave-Doppio”, 7:35, and “Presto”, 1:45) of Frédéric Chopin’s Sonata number 2 in B flat minor, opus 35.

The valedictorian this afternoon will be Elizabeth Watkins, who’s graduating with a BA in speech communication. Joëlle Doucet, receiving a degree in Spanish, will be presented with a Governor General’s Silver Medal, recognizing one of the university’s top bachelor’s degree graduates for this year.

A Governor General’s Gold Medal, “for outstanding academic performance in a master’s program”, will be given to Nora Boyd, who received her MA in philosophy at last fall’s Convocation. Her graduate work was supervised by Doreen Fraser of the philosophy department, who reports that Boyd “demonstrated a mastery of complex arguments appropriate for a faculty member” as she worked at the interface of philosophy and physics.

Also this afternoon, Angus Kerr-Lawson, retired from the departments of philosophy and pure mathematics, will be recognized as a “distinguished professor emeritus”. Two Distinguished Teacher Awards will be presented, to Steven Bednarski (history, St. Jerome’s University) and Ted McGee (English, St. Jerome’s). And Chris Eliasmith of the philosophy department will receive an Award of Excellence in Graduate Supervision.

At both Convocation sessions today, the national anthem will be sung by Jake Willms, retired staff member from the dean of arts office who is now an Honorary Member of the University.

The arts faculty’s departmental awards “for distinguished academic achievement” go to Todd McEachern (accounting and financial management), Evan Taylor (anthropology), Andrea Barrales-Hall (classical studies), Derek Cvitkovic (drama), Amanda Yao (economics), Angela Hostetler (English), Sarah Clarke (fine arts), Krysteena Gadzala (French), April Ross (geography and environmental management), Rebecca Kaster (German), Ketri Grisé (history), Victor Yee (legal studies), Marjorie Hopkins (medieval studies), Katelyn Harrington (music), Jessica Rempel (peace and conflict studies), Reuben Eby (philosophy), Katherine Meredith (political science), Jeffrey Hughes (psychology), Deborah Birkett (religious studies), Janelle Martin (social development studies), Raymond Taylor (sociology), Joëlle Doucet (Spanish), and Jennifer Smith (speech communication).

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Seats available at recital tonight

The public is welcome at a recital to be given this evening by Jean-Phillipe Collard, the internationally known pianist who is receiving an honorary degree from Waterloo this afternoon.

Collard, particularly well known as an interpreter of works by French composers including Gabriel Fauré and Camille Saint-Saëns, will play all four movements of Frédéric Chopin’s 1839 Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor (he’s playing the first and fourth movements as his Convocation address earlier in the day). Then he’ll play the ten movements of “Pictures at an Exhibition”, an 1874 work by Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky, including the famous passage often known in English as “The Great Gate of Kiev”.

The recital will be given in the Theatre of the Arts, Modern Languages building, starting at 7:00, and will last about an hour. Admission is free; some seats are still available now that invited guests have indicated whether they’ll be able to attend.

It’s been a busy couple of days for Collard, who played Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major in an outdoor concert in Chicago’s Grant Park last night. He’s scheduled for a concert in Paris a week from today as part of the Chopin Festival.

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Board talks of percentages, ratios, dollars

Tuesday’s meeting of the board of governors touched on everything from construction projects to student-faculty ratios, with the emphasis on the financial issues that are the board’s main concern. The 36-member governing body, which meets quarterly, includes people from both inside and outside the university, and has final responsibility for money, property and legal matters at Waterloo.

Here are some of the things that came up during the two-and-a-half-hour meeting in Needles Hall:

The “retention rate” — the percentage of students who successfully complete first year and come back for second year — has risen to 89.4 per cent from last year’s 89.0 per cent. President Feridun Hamdullahpur said that’s a step in the right direction, although it doesn’t reach the goal he had set of increasing the figure by a full percentage point this year and each of the next two years.

The board approved a three-page procedure for the “transition” of teachers who are currently “continuing clinical lecturers” and will, if they meet a committee’s standards, become “clinical faculty” and eligible for tenure. The procedure was worked out by the faculty relations committee and is also expected to receive approval from the university senate. It would see the clinical lecturers, who are mostly in the school of optometry, moving to be assistant, associate or full professors during 2012 and 2013.

Linda Kieswetter, associate vice-president (principal gifts), told the board that fund-raising brought the university $65.3 million in 2010-11, the fiscal year that ended a few days ago. “While these results are lower than the goals that had been set for the fiscal year,” her report said, “we are confident that a number of extraordinary pledge commitments that have been delayed and did not close as planned, as well as several major gifts currently in discussion, will be realized in the near future. This bodes well for fiscal 2011-12.”

Somebody asked when the Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre, long under construction at the centre of the main campus, will be ready for occupancy. Moving in will be a gradual process this fall and winter, said vice-president (administration and finance) Dennis Huber. One board member, Paul Koendermann, an executive of construction firm Aecon Group, added an observation. He’s familiar with buildings from sea to sea across the country, he said, and the QNC — with multiple air handling systems, vibration and magnetism damping, clean rooms, heavy equipment and so on and so on — is probably “the most complex building in Canada”.

The board gave final approval to creation of a School of Public Health and Health Systems, based on the present department of health studies and gerontology. The new school will come into existence on September 1.

When provost Geoff McBoyle spoke of his priorities for the current year, including “starting a process of reducing the high student/faculty ratio”, a student member of the board asked whether the often-expressed goal of a 20:1 ratio — a faculty member for every 20 students — is realistic. (The present figure is approximately 27:1.) Yes, said McBoyle, adding that the thing to do is start moving the number downward and see where it gets to. A 20:1 ratio is eventually achievable, he said, “if not by 2017,” the end of the Sixth Decade planning period, “at least by 2020.”

The board authorized its Building and Properties Committee to award a contract for construction of the planned $45 million addition to the science buildings, which would otherwise be delayed since the full board won’t be meeting again until late October. Five “teams” of designers and contractors are qualified to bid for the job on a design/build basis, the board was told, and their proposals are due in August. The new wing is planned to go in the corner between Biology I and Biology II, and will likely require moving the landmark greenhouses that face the Dana Porter Library.

Catherine Booth, the Canadian Tire executive who is chair of the university’s Building and Properties Committee, told the board that “all funding provided under the Knowledge Infrastructure Project was expended by March 31, 2011.” KIP is a division of the federal government’s economic stimulus program, and gave its grants on the condition that the money might disappear if the resulting construction wasn’t done by the end of Ottawa’s 2010-11 fiscal year. At Waterloo, KIP funds largely supported the construction of Engineering 6, Math 3 and Environment 3.


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Notes for a Thursday

Waterloo Regional Council voted last night in favour of a proposed light rail transit system for Kitchener-Waterloo. On the main issues, the council vote was 9-2. Trains could be rolling in 2017. Details are on the Region's web site.

A correction to the June 10 Daily Bulletin: that was Michel Stolarchuk, not Michael Tribou, pictured as a member of the Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition team. Another team member not seen in the photo was Yan Ma. "We were not 4 points behind the grand prize," a note from one team member clarifies, "we were 4 points behind winning the first place in the design competition."

Link of the day


When and where

Co-op employer interviews for fall work term (main group), final day of the initial period. Rankings open Friday 1:00, close June 20 at 2:00; match results available 4:00.

Convocation Liturgy at St. Jerome’s University, 10:00 a.m., Siegfried Hall.

Chemistry seminar: Guang Yang, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, “Controllable Biofabrication Based on Microbes” 10:00, CEIT building room 2053.

J. W. Graham Medal Seminar: Zack Urlocker, “Disrupting the Software Industry in Five Not-So-Easy Steps” 2:00, Davis Centre room 1302.

Career workshop: Success on the Job, 2:30 p.m., Tatham Centre room 1208. Details.

Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology presents Cyril Hilsum, University College London, “Flat-Panel Electronic Displays” 3:30, CEIT room 1015.

School of Computer Science distinguished lecture: Bruno Buchberger, Joannes Kepler University, “Can Mathematical Invention Be Automated?” 4:30, Davis Centre room 1302.

Deadline for 50 per cent tuition fee refund for spring term courses, June 17.

Pension and benefits committee Friday 8:30 a.m., Needles Hall room 3004.

Information systems and technology professional development seminar: Canadian Higher Education Information Technology Conference highlights, Friday 9:00, IST seminar room.

Library workshop: “Exploring the World with Google Earth” Friday 2:15, or June 30, 10:15, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Heritage Resources Centre workshop on “Cultural Heritage Landscapes” Saturday-Sunday, Picton, Ontario. Details.

Bike repair workshop sponsored by WPIRG and Bike Centre, Saturday noon to 5 p.m., Student Life Centre room 101A. Details 519-888-4882.

Conrad Grebel University  College Mennonite Heritage Dinner, fund-raiser for Mennonite Archives of Ontario, Saturday 6:30 p.m., Grebel dining room, tickets $100, information clichti@

Roads closed for Waterloo Classic race, Sunday 9 a.m. to noon: University Avenue (Philip to Westmount); Westmount (University to Columbia, northbound only); also Seagram Drive (Albert to University), 9 to 10:30 only.

Pre-enrolment for winter 2012 undergraduate courses, June 20-26 on Quest. Details.

Applied health sciences alumni networking reception at Canadian  Public Health Association conference, Monday 4:30, Palais des Congrès, Montréal. Details.

25-Year Club annual reception Tuesday 6:00, Physical Activities Complex, information ext. 32078.

Summer Solstice celebration and fund-raiser for Heartwood Place, music by Steven Page and Alysha Brillinger, Tuesday 7:00, Federation Hall.

Young alumni get-together at Boiler House pub, Toronto, Tuesday from 8 p.m. Details.

Co-operative Education and Career Services reunion of present, former and retired staff, June 22, 3:00 to 6:00, Tatham Centre, information ext. 33926.

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