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Friday, February 10, 2012

  • University Teaching Fellows announced
  • Engineers will take their obligation
  • Appraisal season is upon us
  • Editor:
  • Brandon Sweet
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Class was in session yesterday as community leaders joined with members of the university on campus at the Back to Class event (more about that down below). From left to right: Yvonne Fernandes, Councillor, Ward 4, City of Kitchener, Jeff Henry, Councillor, Ward 6, City of Waterloo, Geoff McBoyle, Vice-President Academic and Provost, Michael Harris, MPP, Kitchener-Conestoga, Elizabeth Witmer, MPP, Kitchener-Waterloo, Mark Seasons, associate professor, School of Planning, Faculty of Environment, Donna Ellis, Director, Centre for Teaching Excellence, and Rob Leone, MPP, Cambridge.

Photo by Chris Hughes, ELED Photography

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University Teaching Fellows announced

a news release from the media relations office

The University of Waterloo announced today a new program to enhance the depth and effectiveness of student learning at the institution.

Geoff McBoyle, vice-president academic and provost at Waterloo unveiled the University Teaching Fellows program to guests at Back to Class, an event highlighting innovation in teaching at the university. Local and provincial elected officials attended the presentation, which took place in tandem with similar activities at other universities in Ontario.

“The University Teaching Fellows will provide leadership in teaching within each faculty to foster learning outcomes for students. Today’s announcement demonstrates our commitment to teaching excellence,” said McBoyle.

The program will result in even greater sharing of best practices in teaching and learning across all academic areas, more teaching development activities, an increase in teaching indicators such as teaching awards, and even better student course evaluation scores.

Waterloo already has in place the Centre for Teaching Excellence (CTE). It emphasizes the importance of good teaching by supporting the development of the highest quality of instruction through its work with departments and faculty at all career stages.

“A reliable indicator of a university’s value is the success of its students. Waterloo graduates go on to have an impact on our province and our country,” said Feridun Hamdullahpur, Waterloo president & vice-chancellor. “Student success comes with teaching excellence. We are committed to enhancing our students’ learning opportunities through this and other initiatives.”

Yesterday’s Back to Class event also included a student panel discussion on the undergraduate experience from the learners’ perspective, a presentation from Mark Seasons, associate professor and recipient of the Distinguished Teacher Award, and a tour of Environment 3 and the many teaching and learning opportunities that its innovative design supports.

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Engineers will take their obligation

by Chris Redmond

There will be 977 more Canadian engineers before tomorrow is over, as graduating students from the faculty of engineering take part in the Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer and put on the Iron Ring for the first time. The ceremonies will be followed by the biggest party of an engineering student’s campus years — the Iron Ring Stag — and preceded by smaller celebrations today.

In helping to stage the traditional (and distinctively Canadian) ceremony, the Faculty of Engineering works with an independent agency, Camp 15 of the Corporation of the Seven Wardens, which will be conducting the Ritual in four ceremonies tomorrow. The associate dean (co-operative education and professional affairs) in the engineering faculty, Wayne Parker, says some 255 candidates are scheduled for a 12:00 ceremony, 252 at 1:00, 238 at 2:00 and 232 at 3:00, all in the Theatre of the Arts. The ceremonies are not open to the public.

The first Iron Ring ceremony at UW was held in the spring of 1963. The wardens’ web site gives this background: “The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer has a history dating back to 1922, when seven past-presidents of the Engineering Institute of Canada attended a meeting in Montreal with other engineers. One of the speakers was civil engineer Professor [Herbert] Haultain of the University of Toronto. He felt that an organization was needed to bind all members of the engineering profession in Canada more closely together. He also felt that an obligation or statement of ethics to which a young graduate in engineering could subscribe should be developed.

“Haultain wrote to Rudyard Kipling, who had made reference to the work of engineers in some of his poems and writings. He asked Kipling for his assistance in developing a suitably dignified obligation and ceremony for its undertaking. Kipling was very enthusiastic in his response and shortly produced both an obligation and a ceremony formally entitled 'The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer.'

“The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer has been instituted with the simple end of directing the newly qualified engineer toward a consciousness of the profession and its social significance and indicating to the more experienced engineer their responsibilities in welcoming and supporting the newer engineers when they are ready to enter the profession.

“The Iron Ring has been registered and may be worn on the little finger of the working hand by any engineer who has been obligated at an authorized ceremony of the Ritual of the Calling of the Engineer. The ring symbolizes the pride which engineers have in their profession, while simultaneously reminding them of their humility. The ring serves as a reminder to the engineer and others of the engineer's obligation to live by a high standard of professional conduct. It is not a symbol of qualification as an engineer — this is determined by the provincial and territorial licensing bodies.”

Waterloo’s graduating engineers have typically shown their joy by dressing up in exuberant outfits and parading on campus before the Iron Ring ceremonies. With the ritual now held on a Saturday, such celebrations are focused on today, as part of a week of social events organized by GradComm, an offshoot of the Engineering Society.

“During the morning,” says the GradComm web site, “most classes choose to get together at someone’s house for breakfast. Typically each class decides on a theme and class members dress in costume accordingly. After breakfast, classes usually come to campus together as a group. In the past, students would visit their former professors on this day. If you are planning on visiting a professor who is holding a lecture, be sure to talk to them in advance to schedule a reasonable time and ensure that you are not disrupting an important lecture or midterm.”

After the ceremony tomorrow comes the Iron Ring Stag, being held this year at the Waterloo Inn. A tradition of that event: everybody wears black, all black. And amid the merriment, the Tool, mascot of UW engineers, will be introduced — and the newly ringed ones permitted to touch its metal for the first time ever.

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Appraisal season is upon us

It's that time of year again, for staff members across campus and the managers they report to. Annual performance appraisals are to be completed and filed with the human resources department by March 15, says a pair of memos from Alfrieda Swainston, manager of salary administration.

There is “no change to the performance evaluation forms” this year, Swainston writes. That’s not to say that changes haven’t happened. New this year is a Performance Management Website developed “for all things performance to support both Staff and Managers in completing the process.” All the necessary forms and guides for staff and managers alike are found on this new page, as well as tips on conducting appraisals and details on available training. Staff members can also find information “which will assist your understanding of the process and tips which can be of assistance to you to ensure your experience is a good one.”
Additionally, managers will be able to use a new portal for capturing performance ratings through the Manager Self-Serve in PeopleSoft. The portals allow managers to view the last 5 years of their staff members’ ratings. “This is the first step in creating an automated performance management system,” Swainston writes.

As always, appraisal is done on a 1-to-5 scale, on a form that assesses such "work performance factors" as client service, working relationships, communication, job knowledge, "taking the initiative to make things better", problem-solving and time management. A rating of 3 says a staff member’s performance “was fully satisfactory in all key areas”; a performance worth a 4 rating builds on fully satisfactory and “significantly exceeded the requirements of the job in one or more key areas”.

The resulting merit rating is a factor in determining an individual staff member's annual May 1 pay increase. (Under the current four-year salary recommendation approved by the Board of Governors, salary scales in 2012 will be increased by three per cent, and the regular merit program still applies.)

Says Swainston's memo to staff, sent yesterday: “Appraisals are a two way conversation and this is a good time for you to identify your areas of success, areas that you would like to work on improving and opportunities for job enhancement, training and further development as well as a discussion of the working environment.”

Other sections of the appraisal form ask whether the staff member has "the tools and equipment to do your job" and whether communication and feedback from the manager are adequate. The form ends with "mutually agreed upon goals and objectives" for the year ahead. The staff member is expected to sign the form to indicate that he or she has seen the paperwork and heard the supervisor’s opinions, and is encouraged to make comments, especially if he or she disagrees with anything in the appraisal.

Performance reviews are to take place between February 1 and March 10, with the performance ratings entered by managers between February 21 and March 15. The deadline for submitting the completed hard copy performance evaluation documents to Human Resources is March 22.

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SharePoint down this Sunday for upgrade

The following is a message from IST: The SharePoint service (https://sharepoint.[SITENAME]) will be down for a system upgrade on Sunday, February 12 from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

During the system upgrade there will be no access to any SharePoint services or SharePoint sites.

This means that SharePoint will not be available via any web browser, as a network share, or as an Outlook resource. On systems where SharePoint has been mapped as a network resource a connection error may be displayed. This error will go away once SharePoint is back online.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the IST Helpdesk at ext. 84357 or helpdesk

Link of the day

The Plimsoll line

When and where

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.

Waterloo sports this weekend: Swimming at OUA Championships, Friday, 10:00 a.m., Saturday, 10:00 a.m. Women’s volleyball vs. Brock Friday, February 10, 7:00 p.m. Men’s hockey vs. Laurier Friday, 7:30 p.m., at Men’s Hockey Ultimate Warrior Night. Women’s basketball vs. Western, Saturday, 12:00 p.m.

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@

Senate Graduate & Research Council, Monday, February 13, 10:30 a.m., NH 3004.

Fundraiser event for victims of the Hampstead crash, Monday, February 13, 12:00 p.m., Renison Great Hall.

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.

Water Institute Seminar featuring Zafar Adeel, "Crawling under the roadblocks to global water solutions?", Wednesday, February 15, 11:30 a.m., LHI 1621.

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.

Graduate Student Association pub lecture series featuring the Perimeter Institute's Lee Smolin "Is Time real?", Wednesday, February 15, 4:00 p.m., Grad House.

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.

Pension and Benefits Committee meeting, Friday, February 17, 8:30 a.m., NH 3004.

WatCACE workshop, Friday, February 17, 11:30 a.m., TC 1208

Senate Finance Committee meeting, Friday, February 17, 1:00 p.m., NH 3004.

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