- Talking co-op with the president
- "Beyond the Global City"
- Brandon Sweet
- Communications and Public Affairs
Talking co-op with the president
Feridun Hamdullahpur recalls the first time he heard about co-op at Waterloo. It was during a faculty meeting early in his career at his “previous, previous institution,” and co-operative education was on the agenda.
“Probably more than half of the faculty members said, ‘Well, that’s nonsense.’ There was a lot of objection because it was outside-the-box thinking. Then we said, ‘Look at the University of Waterloo and how they’re doing it.’”
Many years later, the world is still looking to see how Waterloo is doing it, but now it is Feridun Hamdullahpur himself who is leading the university towards continuous innovation and excellence.
The Sixth Decade Plan identifies Co-operative Education as one of the six foundational pillars of the university. What does it mean to be a foundational pillar?
FH: Every university has a mission statement. That mission is meant to somehow distinguish each university from thousands of others. In our case, we distinguish ourselves as a university committed to academic excellence and research, but we also identify co-operative education as one of our foundational pillars. It is something very unique here which distinguishes us from many other institutions because it is not just an office, it is not just a tool: co-op is part of our educational philosophy. It is part of the DNA of this institution.
What constitutes leadership in co-operative education?
FH: In a race, if you are in second or third position, your objective is to follow the first person and develop a strategy as to when you can speed up and pass that person. That is not our case. We are that number one person – we are the fast track.
But to me, it’s not a competition – it’s not a basketball game, it’s not a car race. It is about how we can continue doing something that is fantastically unique, innovative, and which benefits our students tremendously. It’s not just our students; our faculty, our staff, the entire university, the entire industry, in a way, the entire country benefits from this, because it is so new, and so different from anything that is not co-op. So in that regard, we need to be right at the leading edge of this field.
Right now we pride ourselves on being the world’s largest co-op program, which is certainly the pride we deserve. But we can’t just sit back and say, “Well, life is great! Let’s put our feet up and enjoy.” To me, it’s absolutely the opposite way. It makes us work faster and harder to ensure that we are constantly innovating in this field. There should be no plateau with co-op.
“This is a case where we lead the world. It is our challenge and obligation to make sure that we are not stagnant. ”
To be at the leading edge, you have to be continually connected both internally and externally. You have to be able to see the world from the top of the CN tower, but also be able to see things here at a microscopic level- and be able to connect the two. On one hand, we need to maintain our current activities and operations, but on the other hand, we shouldn’t get buried into the details of what’s happening and forget about what’s next. We must build and implement our strategic plan based on our vision of what co-operative education will look like ten years from now, at the University of Waterloo and around the world.
What is your vision of a model co-op employer?
FH: A model co-op employer will have to really value our co-op students and their contributions. They will distinguish that they are not summer students, they are not interns - they are co-op students, and it means something different. Co-op students should not be viewed like short-term spot employment that will fulfill certain needs of the employer; it’s a long-term investment for both sides.
The model co-op employer should be prepared and open to benefit from our co-op students, but at the same time be prepared and willing to provide feedback. One of the reasons that we need this feedback is for the most important person, the co-op student, and their development.
Without diluting the depth and quality of our academic programs, how can we add certain elements so that the student is better engaged with what they are learning, and it is relevant with what’s outside in the world? That’s the kind of interaction I would expect from a model employer.
Through our students, if the university can then establish a longer term relationship with that employer, and engage with them in research and development activities, I would call this a model partnership with a model employer.
One of the goals of the Sixth Decade Plan is to make Waterloo into a model co-op employer. What do you see this looking like?
FH: We should do things exactly as we expect of those who employ our students. There’s a fine line. We don’t want to be seen as just hiring a lot of our own because we have to. We hire our co-op students because they are the best. We hire them because we have needs. We believe that co-op students do a very important job here and are an integral part of our business and employment strategy. Without them, I don’t think that we could fully function.
But our responsibility starts after we hire those co-op students. Are we really getting the best out of these students? Are we - as an employer and an educational institution- continuing with their education? Are we adding anything to their learning or business or work experience? And do we have that communication with the co-op office, which is right next door?
If we have those things in place, then I think that we are a model co-op employer. However, we are an employer with one thing in mind: students come first. When we benefit from their work, we believe that it is just the beginning of a long-term process.
"Beyond the Global City"
Policies promoting Toronto as a global city and provincial economic engine have been seen as beneficial to the development of all of Ontario, yet much of the province has borne significant environmental, social, economic, and political costs as a result of one city's growth.
Beyond the Global City, a new book edited by University of Waterloo Distinguished Professor Emeritus Gordon Nelson, presents a kaleidoscopic view of the province - the rich fields and small towns of the southwest, the productive agricultural lands of rural Huron County, historic Kingston and the Upper St. Lawrence, the social and cultural diversity of the Ottawa valley, the near mythical woodlands and waters of Muskoka and Georgian Bay, and the heavily exploited coasts and waters of the Great Lakes - to provide a deeper understanding of its various communities.
For the full article and ordering information, visit: https://uwaterloo.ca/environment/beyond-the-global-city
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• Take part in a quick and easy online survey. The survey is open to all users of myHRinfo (employees, managers, students). Go to the myHRinfo login page to get more information on the survey.
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Link of the day
When and where
Shad Valley program, July 1 to July 27.
International Spouses event: "Cooking Risotto Italian-style" Friday, July 27 at 12:45 p.m. Must pre-register. See website for details. http://intlspouses.wordpress. com/next_meeting/
Co-op employer interviews to July 31.
Examination period begins July 30, runs to August 10, 2012. Details.
Audit Committee of the Board of Governors meets Monday, July 30, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.. NH 3004
Retirement celebration for David Mason, Tuesday, July 31, 3:30 p.m., Laurel Room, South Campus Hall.
All Retail Services locations closed August 6 for the Civic Holiday
Centre for Career Action workshop on law school applications, Thursday, August 9, 12:00 p.m., TC 1208.
Water Institute Seminar Series feat. Dr. Everton de Oliveira, UNESP - State University of Sao Paulo at Rio Claro, Brazil. "Water compensation: A breakthrough to make it happen?"
Friday, August 10, 10:00 am, DC 1304
UWRC Book Club, "The Sentimentalists" by Johanna Skibsrud, Wednesday, August 15, 12:00 p.m., LIB 407.
Mathematics Faculty Honeybun Reunion, Saturday, August 18. Details.
CTE656 Getting Started in LEARN, session 0039, Tuesday, August 21, 10:00 a.m., FLEX Lab, LIB 329. Register through myHRinfo.
International Spouses event: "Singin' in the Rain" (with Gene Kelly)
Sunday, August 26 at 1:00 p.m. Must pre-register. See website for details. http://intlspouses.wordpress. com/next_meeting/
Fall 2012 Promissory Notes and payments are due August 27.
CTE656 Getting Started in LEARN, session 0040, Wednesday, August 29, 1:00 p.m., FLEX Lab, LIB 329. Register through myHRinfo.