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Friday, June 24, 2011

  • The numbers game for first-year enrolment
  • Nominating committee for dean of science
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[The face behind the mask]

In action on the ice: The women’s hockey Warriors will have a new coach this season, as Shaun Reagan has been named to succeed departing coach Geraldine Heaney. Reagan, a veteran of the Laurier Golden Hawks and the Ontario Hockey League, has coached the Kitchener-Waterloo Rangers in the Provincial Women’s Hockey League for the past three years. “He stood above the rest,” says the associate director of athletics, Christine Stapleton, talking about the candidates for the coach’s position, “having local head coach experience of young women, enabling him to connect with each student athlete.” Reagan is a teacher for the Waterloo District Catholic School Board in the child and adolescent inpatient psychiatric unit of Grand River Hospital. The photo is from a Warrior game against Guelph last winter.

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The numbers game for first-year enrolment

“We’re on target in a weird kind of way,” registrar Ken Lavigne told the university senate on Monday, talking about the number of new first-year students who will be arriving at Waterloo this September.

He predicted that by the time the official count is taken on November 1, the university will have fewer first-year students than last year’s 5,981 — despite current figures showing all six faculties well ahead of their targets.

“This is somewhat witchcraft,” Lavigne joked, although dean of mathematics Ian Goulden immediately told him that the correct name for witchcraft is “statistics”.

The official target for fall 2011 first-year enrolment is 5,682, with engineering, arts and math each looking for more than 1,000 new students, and smaller numbers headed for science, environment, applied health sciences, and the two interfaculty programs (software engineering and computing and financial management). The 2010 target, which was overshot by almost 500 students, was 5,487.

As of a few days ago, a total of 6,238 students who had been offered admission for this September had accepted their offers (“confirmed” that they’ll attend Waterloo). That’s fully 10 per cent more than the target, although some of the discussion at Monday’s senate meeting, based on slightly earlier data, used a figure of 8 per cent.

Science is showing the biggest bulge, with 1,035 confirmations for an intended first-year class of 840. Mathematics, with 1,228 confirmations against a target of 1,100, is 12 per cent over its ideal enrolment.

The thing to remember, Lavigne told the senate and repeated later, is that not all those confirmed students will actually be here this fall. Some will change their minds about Waterloo over the summer; others will arrive on Labour Day as scheduled, but leave for one reason or another before the official count is made on November 10.

“We actually need the overshoot,” the registrar said, repeating that the apparent over-enrolment “should melt down . . . we’ll probably be at 102 or 103 per cent of target.” He added, as he's said many times before, that reaching an enrolment target is "an art, not a science" and hitting it exactly is impossible.

The annual growth in Waterloo’s first-year classes, whether it’s 10 per cent or just 2 per cent, brought some testy debate at the senate meeting. “Year after year, we seem to overshoot targets,” complained engineering senator Metin Renksizbulut. “We have got to find a way of improving this admissions process.”

Renksizbulut said a growing number of students makes it practically impossible to lower the student-faculty ratio from its present 27:1 level, which is one of Waterloo’s stated goals. “Yes, we intend to start working on that this year,” provost Geoff McBoyle assured him. “We made that promise to students.”

The provost noted that he was saying the university would “start” on improving the ratio, “as it is not going to occur overnight. We are also looking at average class sizes.”

But, as Lavigne pointed out, current funding formulas for universities offer “incentives to grow”. “We are between a rock and a hard place,” added president Feridun Hamdullahpur, noting that the leading way to generate more money (through government grants and also tuition fees) is to make room for more students. “If we say no to too many students, that will financially hurt us.”

The Ontario government is interested in moving away from that position, colleges and universities minister indicated in a speech last month: “What if we didn't put our institutions in a position where they felt they must grow at all costs and instead asked them to focus on their strengths?”

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Nominating committee for dean of science

A nominating committee is at work in the faculty of science, deciding first of all whether the faculty’s present dean, Terry McMahon, should be offered another term.

McMahon, previously chair of the chemistry department, has headed the faculty since July 2007. Deans at Waterloo are generally appointed for a first term of five years, often followed by a three-year second term.

Says a memo distributed this week by provost Geoff McBoyle: “This is to inform you that the Dean of Science Nominating Committee, constituted under the terms of Policy 45, is now in place and has held its first meeting.

“You are encouraged to provide your comments/views concerning the reappointment of Terry McMahon for a term of three years (commencing July 1, 2012), or the deanship in general by July 29, 2011 to any member of the Nominating Committee (see below) or to the committee secretary, Rebecca Wickens (rebecca.wickens@ All comments will be held in complete confidence by the committee.

“The ballot required under paragraph 4.B.1 of Policy 45 will be distributed when the committee completes the consultation described above.”

Here are the members of the nominating committee:

  • Jonathan Cluett, undergraduate student, jfcluett@
  • Susan Elliot, Dean of Applied Health Sciences, elliotts@, ext. 31107
  • Jenniffer Fleet, staff member,, ext. 32141
  • Lyndon Jones, Optometry, lwjones@, ext. 35030
  • Ray Laflamme, Physics and Astronomy, laflamme@, ext. 32430
  • Robbie Henderson, graduate student, robdehenderson@, ext. 35130
  • Linda Nazar, Chemistry, lfnazar@, ext. 84637
  • Carol Ptacek, Earth and Environmental Sciences, ptacek@, ext. 32230
  • David Rose, Biology, david.rose@, ext. 35208
  • Karen Trevors, staff member, karen.trevors@, ext. 32101
  • Nancy Waite, Pharmacy, nmwaite@, ext. 84485
  • Barry Warner, Earth and Environmental Sciences, barry.warner@, ext. 38340


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Link of the day

Fête nationale

When and where

Pre-enrolment for winter 2012 undergraduate courses, ends Sunday on Quest. Details.

‘Managing Your Personal Brand as a Woman Engineer’ talk by Sandy Kemsley, 1984 systems design graduate, sponsored by Women in Engineering, 12:30, Carl Pollock Hall room 3604, RSVP rwittke@

Quantum Frontiers distinguished lecture: Ralph Merkle, Singularity University, “Molecular Nanotechnology and Molecular Computing” 2:30, CEIT building room 1015.

Canada’s Wonderland trip organized by Federation of Students, Saturday, $54 in advance at Feds office, Student Life Centre.

4-on-4 beach volleyball tournament organized by Campus Recreation, Saturday, Federation Hall courts, registration ($40 per team) at athletics office, PAC.

Bojangles Dance performance Saturday 1:00 and 6:00, Humanities Theatre.

Canada Day in California: Waterloo and Canada’s Technology Triangle are among the sponsors of Digital Moose Lounge picnic Saturday 1:30 to 5:00, Huddart Park East, Woodside, California. Details.

Campus Ministry second annual picnic, Sunday 1:00 to 5:00, Finn Green, St. Jerome’s University, all welcome. Details.

Bright Starts Daycare Fun Fair to raise funds for equipment, Monday 5:00 to 7:30, Paintin Place day care, UW Place complex, includes barbecue.

‘Yoga in the Village’ free yoga and relaxation class sponsored by Employee Assistance Program, Wednesday 12:05, Village I great hall, reservations e-mail sandra.gibson@

Toronto FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, Wednesday at BMO Field, Toronto, bus sponsored by Waterloo athletics department leaves 4:45 p.m., tickets $65. Details.

Canada Day in San Francisco reception welcoming Waterloo alumni, Wednesday 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., Quadrus Conference Centre, Menlo Park. Details.

Canada Day, Friday, July 1, university closed. North campus celebrations 2 to 11 p.m. Details.

Drop, penalty 1 period for spring term courses ends July 8.

Engineering alumni golf tournament July 10, Grey Silo Golf Club, tee time 10:00, $85 (students $75), reservations at Engineering Society office or e-mail djbirnba@

Class enrolment appointments for fall term undergraduate courses: first-time students, July 11-24; open class enrolment, July 25.

Staff association golf social July 12, 4:00, Brookfield Country Club, $45 basic fee. Details.

Student Life 101 visits for future first-year students, July 14-15, 18-19, 22-23, 5-26, 28-29, August 2-3, 5-6, 8-9.  Details.

One click away

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Scientific American reports on the energy summit
Ottawa cuts spending and jobs at National Research Council
Students unveil solar car under sunny skies
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Stats Canada fact sheet on education spending
Unofficial route map of planned light rail transit

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