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Thursday, February 9, 2012

  • Local leaders invited to go Back to Class
  • Waterloo: here, there, everywhere
  • Thursday notes
  • Editor:
  • Brandon Sweet
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Local leaders invited to go Back to Class

with material from a Council of Ontario Universities press release

The University of Waterloo will unveil the University Teaching Fellows program when it hosts local and provincial elected officials at the Back to Class event highlighting teaching excellence initiatives at Waterloo today. Back to Class is an invitation-only event that is taking place in tandem with activities at other universities in Ontario, in collaboration with the Council of Ontario Universities.

A virtual tour of the Centre for Teaching Excellence, a presentation from a recipient of the Distinguished Teacher Award, and a student panel discussion on the undergraduate experience from the learners’ perspective are part of the event. A tour of Environment 3 and the teaching and learning opportunities that its innovative design supports will follow.

Participants from the university include Vice-President Academic and Provost Geoff McBoyle, Centre for Teaching Excellence Director Donna Ellis, Mark Morton, Senior Instructional Developer at CTE, and Mark Seasons, associate professor in the Faculty of Environment's School of Planning.

Invitees include local mayors and city councillors, MPPs and MPs, university officials, secondary school officials and other community leaders.

Several other Ontario universities, including the University of Guelph, Nipissing University, and Western University, have already held Back to Class events and more are scheduled in the coming weeks. Wilfrid Laurier University will be holding an event later today. The Back to Class initiative includes events such as visits to classrooms and labs, tours of teaching and learning centres, demonstrations of novel teaching methods, presentations by students and faculty, as well as local outreach to traditional and social media to profile teaching initiatives aimed at improving the student experience.

This initiative is part of a larger focus on teaching and learning this year, which is designed to celebrate success in this area and use those experiences to inform both institutional and public policy approaches with the aim of further enhancing the learning experience. Other activities will include the production of an Ontario report on best practices in teaching and a provincial symposium on Assessing Learning Outcomes, as well as university conferences that discuss ways to improve student engagement and inspire life-long learning.

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Waterloo: here, there, everywhere

The University of Waterloo “campus” that lies between University Avenue and Bearinger Road, occupied by academic buildings, residences, the Research and Technology Park and an environmental reserve, is the biggest swath of university property but by no means the only one, a report to the board of governors shows.

As part of the agenda material for Tuesday's meeting, the board received a two-page report from its building and properties committee: page one listing nine pieces of land owned by the university, page two itemizing 21 places where the university leases real estate.

The total: 1,111 acres (449 hectares) of land and 7.5 million square feet (697,500 square metres) of indoor space.

Of course the main campus in Waterloo includes most of that land and most of the floor space. Traditionally divided into “south” and “north” campuses by Columbia Street, the main campus has a total of 961 acres (389 ha) or about 1.5 square miles of land. It’s home to about 55 “major buildings”, depending on your definition of “major”, with 6.9 million square feet of interior space, not counting the R+T Park buildings that are occupied by entities other than the university.

But the university owns eight other pieces of land, all within a 45-minute drive of the ring road:

  • An ecological reserve at Rockwood Gorge near Guelph, 18 acres set aside for environmental research.
  • An ecological reserve at Spongey Lake near Baden, west of Kitchener, 79 acres also used for environmental work.
  • The Tri-University Library Facility or “annex” in Guelph.
  • A 41-acre property near Aberfoyle, south of Guelph, set aside for research but currently leased out.
  • The Architecture building in downtown Cambridge.
  • A small parking lot on River Street in Cambridge, across the street from the School of Architecture.
  • A three-acre property on Victoria Street in Kitchener, acquired in 2005 when the downtown health sciences campus was being planned.
  • The health sciences campus itself, four acres with two buildings at the corner of King and Victoria Streets.

The land and space that the university leases is even more diverse, and is located in four countries. That’s not even including the United Arab Emirates, where Waterloo uses, but doesn’t lease, space provided by the UAE Higher Colleges of Technology authority, or space used by Waterloo at the Sino-Canadian College at China's Nanjing University. A quick summary of locations that do appear:

  • In Waterloo: the Waterloo Tennis Club courts; parking lot E on Seagram Drive; office space at 145 Columbia Street; the Fire Research Facility at the regional landfill site on Erb Street; the Pavement and Transport Technology Facility, also at the landfill site; office space in the Accelerator building, 295 Hagey Boulevard, which in a complicated twist is built on the university’s own land; office space on the seventh floor of Allen Square at 180 King Street South, used by the Faculty of Arts for the Masters of Public Service program; and space in the Centre for International Governance Innovation used for the Balsillie School of International Affairs.
  • In Kitchener: 335 Gage Street, the home of the Centre for Extended Learning; the Artery Gallery at 158 King Street West; medical space in the historic downtown Victoria School; office space in the old PUC building at 191-195 King Street West; space in the Museum building at 10 King Street West.
  • Elsewhere in Ontario: the Architecture annex at 7 Grad Avenue in Cambridge; a twelfth-floor suite in the MaRS building on Bay Street in downtown Toronto; office space at 6 Wellington Street in Stratford; the Summit Centre for the Environment on Forbes Hill Drive in Huntsville.
  • Outside Canada: studio and office space in Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere, home to the architecture school’s Rome program; office space at 55 Broad Street in New York; a suite in an office building in Shanghai; and a nineteenth-floor space in the Malahon Centre in the Central District of Hong Kong.

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Thursday notes

"Loving to Learn Day approaches!" writes Mark Morton of the Centre for Teaching Excellence writes. This annual event was established by the University of Waterloo in 2006, and features a contest with prizes. "This year’s contest invites you to write a paragraph describing what body of knowledge you would choose, if you could instantly and effortlessly learn all there is to know about it," continues Morton. The deadline is February 12, and winners will be announced on February 14. Full details are available online.

Combinatorics and Optimization professor Penelope Haxell is one of the latest recipients of a Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award, granted by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. "This award is conferred in recognition of lifetime achievements in research," writes foundation representative Bianca Brinkmeier. "In addition, the awardee is invited to carry out research projects of her own choice in co-operation with specialist colleagues in Germany." Haxell will be working at Freie Universität Berlin with professor Tibor Szabo, who nominated her for the award, which is valued at 45,000 euros.

Waterloo's two Canada Excellence Research Chair holders, David Cory and Philippe Van Cappellen, will be participating in a Pecha Kucha lecture series in Vancouver on February 15, along with 11 other CERCs from across Canada. Pecha Kucha presentations are made up of 20 slides shown for 20 seconds each. The event, organized by the Canada Research Chairs (CERC) Program and the University of British Columbia, has been timed to coincide with the start of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting, which will feature uWaterloo president Feridun Hamdullahpur participating in a panel discussion on Sunday, February 19 entitled "Low-Carbon Innovation for an Electricity-Dependent World" with Jatin Nathwani of the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy and the Centre for International Governance Innovation's Jason Blackstock. The CERC Pecha Kucha lectures will be taking place from 1:45 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. in Lecture Theatre C300 at the University of British Columbia's Robson Square. The deadline to RSVP for this event by emailing is February 10.

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Link of the day

Heart Month

When and where

Paralympic athlete Christine Selinger presents Changing Minds, Changing Lives, Thursday February 9, 1:00 p.m., LHS 1621

Centre for Career Action workshop "Discovering Your Skills," Thursday, February 9, 2:30 p.m., TC 2218. Details.

Reading at St. Jerome’s University: poets Rishma Dunlop and Tanis MacDonald, Thursday, February 9, 4:30, StJ room 3014.

St. Jerome's University Alumni-Student Career Mixer, Thursday, February 9, 7:00 p.m., Sr. Leon White Room, Sweeney Hall. Details.

Showcase Your Roots event in support of Black History Month, Thursday, February 9, 6:00 p.m., Humanities Theatre. Tickets are $5 at the theatre box office.

Knowledge Integration Seminar: What Happened When I Woke Up, featuring medievalist Sarah Tolmie, Friday, February 10, St. Paul's room 105.

Water Institute seminar featuring Gerald Pollack, "The Secret Life of Water: E = H2O," Friday, February 10, 11:30 a.m., EV3 1408.

Student Developer Network Hackathon, Friday, February 10, 7:00 p.m., MC 3001. Details.

United Way Fundraiser featuring The Lost Faculties, Saturday, February 11, 7:00 p.m., The Museum, 10 King Street West Kitchener. Call Marilyn Thom for tickets at ext. 37188 or email mthom@

Upper Year Information Session, hosted by the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science, Monday, February 13, 3:30 p.m., DC 1302.

Arts Lecture Series 2012 featuring Chris Eliasmith, "How Brains Reason: The Mechanisms of Inference," Monday, February 13, 3:30 p.m., HH 1101. Details.

Sweet Treats and Sanctuary workshop featuring the University of Western Ontario's Dr. Margaret McGlynn, "Murder, Treason, and Sanctuary in Tudor England", Monday, February 13, reception at 4:30 p.m. in St. Jerome's Room 2011, lecture to follow in Room 2017.

The Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation presents "Clearing the Fog of Geriatrics: Applying Complex System Thinking to the Health and Care of Older Adults," Tuesday, February 14, 2:00 p.m., EV3 3412.

Centre for Teaching Excellence open house, Tuesday, February 14, 2:30 p.m., EV1325.

Valentines Dinner, Tuesday, February 14, 4:30 p.m., REVelation.

Noon Hour Concert series, featuring Elizabeth Rogalsky Lepock (soprano) and Jason White (piano), Wednesday, February 15, 12:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel University College chapel.

Chemistry Department Seminar Series featuring Prof. James W.Y. Choy, Department of Biochemistry, University of Western Ontario, "Experimental and Computational Studies of Intrinsically Disordered Prothymosin-alpha and Its Interaction with Keap1" Wednesday, February 15, 2:30 p.m. C2-361.

The Waterloo Institute for Hellenistic Studies presents a lecture by Professor Barbara Borg from the University of Exeter, "Exploring the Underground of Rome: The Roman Catacombs Reconsidered," Wednesday, February 15, 5:00 p.m., ML 349.

Beyond Borders information session, Wednesday, February 15, 6:00 p.m., STJ 3027. Details.

Waterloo Lecture: "Harry Potter: Heroic Fantasy, Murder Mystery or Videogame." Neil Randall, Wednesday, February 15, 7:00 p.m., Stratford Public Library. Hosted by the Waterloo Stratford Campus.

Studies in Islam speaker series featuring Professor Larry Harder, "The Landscape of Occupation: Contemporary Israel and Palestine," Wednesday, February 15, 7:00 p.m., Dunker Family Lounge, Renison University College.

Centre for Career Action webinar "Perfecting your interview skills," Thursday, February 16, 3:30 p.m. Details.

English Reading series featuring Giller Prize winner Esi Edugyan, Thursday, February 16, 7:00 p.m., Siegfried Hall, St. Jerome's University. Details.

Sawatsky lecture with Professor Julia Spicher Kasdorf Friday, February 17, 7:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel Chapel. Details.

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