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Friday, May 20, 2011

  • Centre for Teaching Excellence plans move
  • Holiday celebrates a queen, hails summer
  • Artists arrive; Google likes our mathies
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Anticipating dry pavement, these Waterloo folks were looking over the deals at the Bike Centre's May 13 auction of used bicycles. The next auction will be in September. (Photo: Scott Pearson, assistant manager, Student Life Centre)

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Centre for Teaching Excellence plans move

The Centre for Teaching Excellence will be moving into new offices this summer, the May issue of its Teaching Matters newsletter announces: “With the addition to the Environment buildings, we have been given the opportunity to bring our Math & Computer and Dana Porter Library offices together in one space in Environment 1.

“You’ll find us on the third floor of EV1 where the School of Planning faculty and staff currently sit. Our Faculty Liaisons will continue to have their offices out in their respective faculties. We will also continue to hold our events in the FLEX Lab in Dana Porter, but eventually we will be opening a new workshop space in EV1. Stay tuned as we firm up our moving plans.”

Enthusiastic response to postdoc teaching seminar

The newsletter issue acknowledges the 2011 teaching award winners across campus, reflects on the recent Opportunities and New Directions teaching conference, and includes this report on a specialized CTE program: “In March 2011, we had an opportunity to work with 22 postdoctoral fellows (nearly 10 per cent of postdocs on campus) who registered for the first offering of our new Postdoctoral Teaching Development Seminar Series.

“The series was structured as six interactive, discussion-based seminars. The goals of the program are to introduce postdocs to key topics in university teaching and learning, help them to articulate their teaching philosophies and apply course design principles to their future courses. Most of the work was done in class but some seminars included pre-class assignments, such as completing a Teaching Perspectives Inventory and creating a concept map of a ‘dream course.’

“The feedback that we received from the first cohort was enthusiastic. Many postdocs valued the opportunity to meet their peers from other departments and to have a forum for discussing teaching and learning issues. As one of the participants wrote in the program feedback, ‘These seminars were a very good initiative for postdocs to give them means in starting to build their own courses, as future professors for the young generations.’ We plan to offer the postdoc teaching development series every term. Enrolment is limited to 25 participants. For more information about future offerings, visit the CTE website.”

Profile of an outstanding student teacher

Dinushan NesanThe newsletter also announces that Dinushan Nesan (left) of the Department of Biology has been chosen as this year’s Certificate in University Teaching (CUT) award recipient. “This award, funded by an anonymous donor, is given annually to an outstanding CUT participant who has completed the program within the three terms. Dinu was selected for his commitment to developing his teaching skills, thoughtful ways of adapting teaching techniques learned through the CUT to his own courses, and educational leadership in his department.”

Nesan’s interest in university teaching, it says, “became apparent during his third year of undergraduate studies at Waterloo when he was hired as an undergraduate TA for a first-year biology course. When asked about that experience, Dinu largely credits his passion for sharing knowledge with others and his background in speech performance for helping him to teach the material effectively.

“When Dinu returned to Waterloo to pursue a PhD in biology, he continued to take on various TA assignments in lab and tutorial settings that ranged from introductory to upper-year biology courses. In 2009, his department recognized his outstanding teaching performance and named him one of the two recipients of the annual Graduate TA Award of Excellence. Over the last year Dinu took on various leadership and mentorship  roles in his department: he facilitated teaching sessions for new TAs and served on a departmental committee to review the responsibilities of graduate student TAs.”

During the second year of his PhD, Nesan enrolled in the CUT program, “which helped him become more self-aware and reflective as an instructor.” He comments: “I feel so much more conscious of my preparation before a lecture or lab session. I think I am much more mentally present during my lectures, actively evaluating and correcting myself.”

His teaching portfolio, which he prepared as part of the CUT, has plenty of evidence to show his success in the classroom: positive verbal feedback from students, rounds of applause in recent guest lectures in a large class, and consistently high student evaluations.

Nesan says he strives to explain difficult concepts in fresh and accessible ways: “The process of finding the right analogy or the right series of explanatory steps to help a student grasp a difficult concept is immensely rewarding to me. And the moment at which a student understands the idea, or is able to solve the problem they struggled with previously, is always a small moment of joy and victory for both of us.”

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Holiday celebrates a queen, hails summer

Kitchener statue of Queen VictoriaMonday is Victoria Day, a statutory holiday in Canada. Marking the unofficial start of summer, the date you can safely plant your annuals, the day will be celebrated (unless it rains) with picnics, barbecues, and fireworks.

Victoria Day also, of course, honours Queen Victoria, who reigned 1837-1901. The statue at right (photo courtesy of the City of Kitchener) stands in Kitchener's Victoria Park. Executed by Raphael Zacgnimi, it was commissioned by the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire and unveiled in May 1911 — exactly 100 years ago — by Governor General Earl Grey.

At the University of Waterloo, classes will not be held and most offices and services will be closed. This includes the bookstore and other retail services outlets, the Physical Activities Complex and Columbia Icefield, and most food services outlets, including the Tim Hortons in the Student Life Centre. Only Mudie's cafeteria in Village 1 will be open as usual.

What else will be open?

  • UW Police, 519-888-4911 (ext. 22222 on campus)
  • Student Life Centre, turnkey desk 519-888–4434 (ext. 84434 on campus)
  • Maintenance emergencies ext. 33793
  • The Dana Porter and Davis Centre libraries will be open from noon to 6 p.m. on Monday (but open regular hours on Saturday and Sunday)

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Artists arrive; Google likes our mathies

The Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (RCA) is holding its 131st annual general assembly in Kitchener-Waterloo this weekend, and according to a May 18 Waterloo Region Record article, it's a very big deal.

Doug Kirton, the Waterloo fine arts professor who is organizing the event, is quoted as saying that the conference will bring some of the most senior and respected artists in the country to this region "to help them see what is going on in the area" artistically. This year, the conference theme links arts and technology. "They're coming to the hub of Canada's technology triangle," Kirton said. "This is an interesting area, a real blend of the old and the new."

Three of the assembly's public events have connections to the University of Waterloo:

  • The University of Waterloo Art Gallery will host an Artists' Resale Rights discussion in East Campus Hall, Saturday, 5-6 p.m.
  • A Regional Showcase exhibition of work by local artists will be held at the gallery in East Campus Hall, Saturday, 6 - 8 p.m. Among the artists being exhibited are many with University of Waterloo ties, including Kirton himself, Art Green, Mike Elmitt, Will Gorlitz, Jane Buyers, Ann Roberts, and Aggie Beynon.
  • Aggie Beynon, a Waterloo alumna, a metalsmith and the owner of the Harbinger Gallery, is showing an exhibition of works by new RCA members through Saturday, with a reception at 2-4 p.m. that day.

Also in the news was the grand opening last Wednesday of Google's new downtown Kitchener office in the Tannery building. At the event, at which math dean Ian Goulden spoke, Google announced plans to donate $900,000 to the University of Waterloo. The Google Focus Award is to be delivered over three years to support research in "context-aware social media in wireless systems" by computer science professors Urs Hengartner, Charles Clarke, Gordon Cormack, and Michael Terry. Context-awareness is all about reducing the "spaminess" of social media updates to improve usability, ensure user privacy, and make information filtering more effective.

And here's one more candidate to replace the K Bay nickname for the annual brainstorming retreat of the university's top administrators. Brian Hendley, a former dean of arts and himself a K Bay veteran, suggests the executive retreat be called the "E.R. — a place you go to get fixed up when you are in critical condition."

CPA staff

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Link of the day

Descendants of Queen Victoria

When and where

Gilbert and Sullivan Society production of “Princess Ida” May 19 and 21 at 2:00, May 19, 20 and 21 at 8:00, Humanities Theatre, tickets $35 (students $20) at Humanities box office.

Drop, no penalty period ends today; deadline to withdraw from spring term courses with 100 per cent fee refund.

Cambridge Galleries exhibition, "Instruments for Free Space," opening reception tonight, 7 p.m. 1 North Square, Cambridge. Details.

PAS (Psychology) building hot water shut off Tuesday, 8 a.m. to noon.

Touring Players children’s performance: “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” May 24 (10:30 and 12:45), May 25 (10:00 and 12:30), Humanities Theatre.

Walking meditation led by Beth Bower and Linda Mackay of counselling services, Tuesday, 12:05, meet in front of Needles Hall.

Career workshops May 24: “Interview Skills, Preparing for Questions” 2:30, Tatham Centre room 1208; “Networking 101” 4:30, Tatham 1208. Details.

WatRISQ seminar: Marc Henry, Université de Montréal, “Comonotone Measures of Multivariate Risks” Tuesday, 4:00, Davis Centre room 1304.

Co-op employer interviews (pharmacy students) for fall work term begin May 25; rankings open May 27, results May 31.

DATE CHANGE Understanding Inclusivity OHD workshop: May 25, 8:30-1.m. - 12:30 p.m. Details

‘Old World, New Realities’ lecture by Warren Jestin, chief economist at Scotiabank, May 25, 11 a.m., LCAO Lecture Theatre, Accounting wing of Hagey Hall; to be followed by funding announcement.

Procurement and Contract Services Trade Show next Wednesday and Thursday, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., Davis Centre room 1301 (fishbowl). Details.

Career workshop: “Interview Skills, Selling Your Skills” Wednesday, May 25, 2:30, Tatham Centre room 1208. Details.

Kitchener and Waterloo Community Foundation town hall meeting Wednesday, May 25, 4:30, A. R. Kaufman Family Y, Kitchener; speaker Ryan Kennedy, Propel Centre for Population Health, “Building a Healthier Smoke-Free Community." RSVP by May 20: 519-725-1806, ext. 4 or

Stratford Campus “Making the Future” dinner, presentation by dean of arts Ken Coates on the vision for Stratford, Waterloo and Canada, Wednesday, May 25, 7:00, Church Restaurant, tickets $90. Details.

Co-op employer interviews for fall work term begin May 26 (main group) and continue through June 16. Details.

Water Institute Distinguished Lecture: Tony Allan, King’s College London, “Water Security and the Role of Trade” Thursday, May 26, 3:00, EIT room 1015 [NEW LOCATION]

Retirees Association annual general meeting Thursday, May 26, 3:30, Sunshine Centre, Luther Village.

Guelph-Waterloo Centre for Graduate Work in Chemistry and Biochemistry, annual general meeting Friday, May 27, 1:00, Thornborough building room 1200, University of Guelph. Seminar by Guy Guillemette, Waterloo, “Mapping the Binding and Calmodulin-Dependent Activation of Nitric Oxide Synthase Isozymes”, 3:00, followed by graduate student poster session and awards.

Final date for fee arrangements, spring term, May 31.

PhD oral defences

Psychology. Karina Schumann, “When and Why Women Apologize More than Men.” Supervisor, Mike Ross. On display in the faculty of arts, PAS 2434. Oral defence Tuesday, June 7, 10:30 a.m., PAS (Psychology) building room 3026.

Mechanical and mechatronics engineering. Brian Su-Ming Fan, “Multidisciplinary Optimization of Hybrid Electric Vehicles: Component Sizing and Power Management Logic.” Supervisors, Amir Khajepour and Mehrdad Kazerani. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Wednesday, June 8, 8:30 a.m., Engineering 3 room 4117.

Geography and environmental management. Denis Kirchhoff, “Contributions of Strategic Environmental Assessment to Planning and Decision Making: the Case of York Region, Ontario.” Supervisors, Jean Andrey and Brent Doberstein. On display in the faculty of environment, EV1 335. Oral defence Thursday, June 9, 10:00 a.m., Environment 1 room 221.

Computer science. Yiqing Huang, “Numerical Methods for Pricing a Guaranteed Minimum Withdrawal Benefit (GMWB) as a Singular Control Problem.” Supervisor, Peter Forsyth. On display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Friday, June 10, 2 p.m., Davis Centre room 1331.

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