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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

  • Grads awarded for 'exceptional teaching'
  • Parsing the provincial budget
  • VeloCity Demo Day today; other notes
  • Editor:
  • Brandon Sweet
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Grads awarded for 'exceptional teaching'

Four graduate students are this year’s winners of the Amit and Meena Chakma Award for Exceptional Teaching by a Student. Their names were announced at Monday night’s senate meeting by Sue Horton, the associate provost (graduate studies).

The award has existed since 1998, under a series of names, and is given “in recognition of excellence in teaching of all kinds by registered students. The awards are open to all students who have a formal teaching role at the University of Waterloo. The Selection Committee will look for intellectual vigour and communication skills in the interpretation and presentation of subject matter. Concern for and sensitivity to the academic need of the students is an important criterion.”

The winners are:

  • Keith Delaney, Earth & Environmental Sciences
  • Arash Shahi, Civil & Environmental Engineering
  • Andrea Murphy, School of Architecture
  • Hamed Shateri, Mechanical & Mechatronics Engineering

Keith Delaney.Keith Delaney (right), a graduate student in Earth and Environmental Sciences, is currently a Ph.D. student specializing in geohazards and natural disasters. His remarkable teaching abilities are greatly appreciated by the students and faculty members in his department. The enthusiasm and interest he displays in the big first year courses in which he instructs gives inspiration to undergraduates to continue in this field of study. “It is in part through Keith’s enthusiasm and passion for the Earth Sciences that reconfirms my personal decision to dedicate my studies and future career to the geoscience field”, a student writes. Another writes “Earth 121 became my favourite course”. Keith is helping to ignite the interests of students in this important field of study.

Arash Shahi.Arash Shahi (left) is a graduate student who is completing his Ph.D. in the field of Construction Management. Since joining the University of Waterloo in Fall 2002 as an undergraduate student, Arash has developed into a respected teaching assistant and mentor. His strong teaching abilities are recognized by those in his own department as he was assigned a sessional lecturer position in a 3B course with a class size of over 110. In course critiques, students consistently praise his efforts stating “Arash is very good at answering questions and guiding students”. Arash’s influence extends beyond the classroom to instructing and mentoring other graduate students to develop as teachers, through his work with the Centre for Teaching Excellence. It is noteworthy that his contribution to teaching excellence is in a broad range of areas.

Andrea Murphy.Andrea Murphy (right) is a graduate student in the School of Architecture and is currently completing her Master’s degree. Throughout her time at the University of Waterloo, Andrea has been a dedicated teaching assistant and served as the president of the undergraduate student society while being an excellent architecture student. She is recognized in the school for her affinity for the technical side of the profession as opposed to the more common interest in the design and cultural aspects. By integrating the technical and design aspects together in her tutorials, the students achieved a better understanding of the material. Her excellent teaching abilities are reflected in the students’ support, stating that she was “Clear, concise, and flexible to student needs”. Others complimented her on how familiar she was with the course, saying “her knowledge base far exceeded that required for the course”. These excellent qualities of Andrea as a teaching assistant are appreciated by all of the students in her tutorials.

Hamed Shateri.Hamed Shateri (left), a graduate student in Mechanical Engineering is currently completing his Master’s degree. He is an exceptional teaching assistant in that he is “friendly, patient, teaches at the student’s level, and open to feedback”. He is known to form close bonds with students in his tutorials in order to make an interactive student–instructor teaching environment. He is highly regarded for his genuine concern for the success of each and every student. “Hamed has helped forge me into a better student”, one student writes. His influence extends far beyond the classroom as the students ask him for advice in other aspects of being a university student, such as “techniques used to succeed”. With his extraordinary mentoring abilities and friendly personality, Hamed has helped make a difference in a large first year required course.

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Parsing the provincial budget

Finance Minister Dwight Duncan presented the 2012 Ontario budget yesterday, ushering in a new era of austerity that includes an extension of the wage freeze for members of the Ontario legislature as well as senior public sector executives, and a warning that public sector unions can expect a hard bargain at the negotiating table as current agreements begin to expire.

Overall, spending on the post secondary sector will rise by 1.9 per cent over the next three years, with the university sector increasing by 2.1 per cent. In addition, the government is keeping the recently announced 30 per cent tuition grant for eligible full-time undergraduates in place. The government also anticipates undergraduate enrolment to grow, with operating funding on the table for an additional 6,500 student spaces in 2012-2013 and again in 2013-2014.

The post-secondary sector will have to reduce its costs by 1.5 per cent through a series of proposed measures, including the use of so-called ‘policy levers’ that will have universities find efficiencies though innovation and productivity while decreasing spending on the order of $40 million in 2013-14, and $81 million in 2014-15. The government is also looking to eliminate study-abroad scholarships and implement reductions in support for non-PhD international students.

On the pension front, the government plans to introduce legislation this fall that would pool the investment management functions of smaller public sector pension plans, with “small” meaning those plans worth $10 billion or less. Duncan noted that Ontario’s 20 publicly funded universities have 25 pension plans between them. The government also expects that single-employer pension plans will to move to a 50-50 cost-sharing framework, with employees and employers sharing the costs equally, within five years’ time.

The compensation freeze for executives at hospitals, colleges, universities, school boards, and agencies has been extended a further two years, and explicitly names presidents, vice-presidents, provosts, and deans.

The Council of Ontario Universities was supportive of the budget, welcoming the government’s continued commitment to support the projected growth in student enrolment.

As with most budgets, the devil is in the details, and full details about many of these budget initiatives are not yet readily available. Expect further updates as more information surfaces.

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VeloCity Demo Day today; other notes

Some of the University of Waterloo’s emerging student entrepreneurs will compete against one another for one of three cash prizes of $1,000 at VeloCity Demo Day today, which gets underway at 2:00 p.m. in the Davis Centre foyer. More than 20 teams will pitch and demonstrate their innovative projects to a panel of judges. Winners will be announced at 3:30 p.m. and the team demonstrations will start at 3:35 p.m.

Orchestra@uwaterloo, the university's orchestra of students, staff, faculty and alumni, is playing an end-of-term concert on campus on Thursday, March 29 at 8:00 p.m. The concert features an undergraduate Computer Science student, Andrew Song, who tied for first place in the 2012 Concerto Competition. Andrew will play Wieniawski's 2nd violin concerto, a virtuoso piece. The program also includes Schumann's 4th Symphony and Debussy's Nocturnes.
The concert takes place in Humanities Theatre, and free tickets and can be reserved at the Theatre Box Office, ext. 84908.

In celebration of Women in Engineering Day tomorrow, Waterloo’s Women in Engineering group is holding a number of activities for students, staff and faculty members. Limited edition T-shirts and bandanas will be for sale for a nominal cost in the CPH foyer and people are encouraged to write on a special Wall of Words. As well, POETS will be playing several movies all day long. Jennifer Smith, vice president of Christie Digital, will be the key note speaker at a lunch time talk at 12:30 p.m. in E2-1303. Her presentation entitled “Stories from my iron ring: really…it talks!” will be followed by a Q&A session.

Here's the latest Nutrition Month "myth vs. fact" tip from Health Services dietician Sandra Ace:

"Myth": The best way to limit your sodium intake is to stop using the salt shaker.
"Truth": Surprisingly, the salt shaker is not the biggest culprit. Over 75% of the sodium Canadians eat comes from processed foods, packaged and ready-to-eat foods and restaurant meals. Only about 11% comes from salt added when cooking at home and salt you shake on at the table. The rest of the sodium you get occurs naturally in foods. To limit the sodium you eat, choose fewer pre-packaged convenience foods and restaurant meals and enjoy more home-prepared foods cooked with lower sodium ingredients.

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Link of the day

Three Mile Island

When and where

Engineering Shadow Days, Monday, March 19 to Friday, March 30.

Waterloo Centre for German Studies presents Faust in the Box by Bridge Markland, Wednesday, March 28 (English-language performance), 8:00 p.m., Theatre of the Arts, Modern Languages building. Tickets available at the door or at the uWaterloo box office. Details.

VeloCity Demo Day, Wednesday, March 28, 2:00 p.m., Davis Centre foyer. Details.

Lunch 'N Learn event, "Mortgages Made Easy" featuring Sharon Feldmann and Paul O'Reilly, Thursday, March 29, 12:05 p.m., Davis Centre 1302. Please RSVP to Janine Warry, 519-722-3050 ext. 2423 or janinew@ Presented by the Education Credit Union.

Surplus sale of furniture and equipment, Thursday, March 29, 12:30 to 2:00, East Campus Hall.

Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy presents Dr. Guy Newsham, National Research Council of Canada, "Demand Responsive Buildings: Reducing on-peak electricity use in offices and houses", Thursday, March 2329, 4:00 p.m., DC 1302. Note the corrected date.

Orchestra@uwaterloo end of term concert, "Nuages" featuring Andrew Song (violin), Thursday, March 29, 8:00 p.m., Humanities Theatre. Tickets are free and can be reserved at the theatre box office.

Third annual SMF Symposium, Friday, March 30. Details.

Knowledge Integration Senior Research Conference, Friday, March 30, 4:00 p.m., Minto Atrium, Environment 3. Details.

School of Accounting and Finance Equity Research Challenge, Friday, March 30, 4:30 p.m., HH 1102. Details.

"Unveiled," a play by Rohina Malik, Friday, March 30, 7:00 p.m., Conrad Grebel Great Hall. Free admission, tickets available online. For more information, contact Idrisa Pandit at sievents@

UW Chamber Choir, "Love of My Soul," Friday, March 30, 8:00 p.m., Knox Presbyterian Church.

Alyson Woloshyn fundraiser cocktail party and silent auction, Saturday, March 31. Details.

University Choir, "Canticum Orationem", Saturday, March 31, 8:00 p.m., Benton Street Baptist Church, 90 Benton St., Kitchener. $10 general admission, $5 students/seniors.

Lectures end April 2.

Staff conference April 3-4, Humanities Theatre and other rooms in Hagey Hall, details online.

Board of governors Tuesday, April 3, 2:30 p.m., Needles Hall room 3001.

The Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience presents the 6th annual Waterloo Brain Day, Wednesday, April 4, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., PAS 2083. Details.

Designing the Future, Faculty of Engineering reception, Wednesday, April 4, 6:00 p.m., Student Design Centre, Engineering 5. Details.

English Language Proficiency Exam in the Physical Activities Complex, Thursday, April 5.

Good Friday holiday April 6, university closed.

Drop, Penalty 2 Period ends Friday, April 6.

On-campus examinations begin Monday April 9.

Centre for Career Action workshop, "I'd do what I love...but what is it?" Friday, April 13, 9:30 a.m., TC 1112. Details.

Online Class examination days Friday, April 13, and Saturday, April 14.

Waterloo Lecture: the Representation of Apes in Medieval Art, Wednesday, April 18, 7:00 p.m., Stratford Public Library.

Surplus sale of furniture and equipment, Thursday, April 19, 12:30 to 2:00, East Campus Hall.

University senate Monday, April 16, 3:30, Needles Hall room 3001.

Official launch of the School of Public Health and Health Systems in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, Thursday, April 19, featuring keynote speaker Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland.

Positions available

On this week's list from the human resources department, viewable through myHRinfo:

• Recruitment Coordinator - David Cheriton School of Computer Science, USG 8

• Recruitment Coordinator – David Cheriton School of Computer Science, USG 8

• Basketball Coach – Athletics & Recreation Services, USG 11

• Public Affairs and Communications Specialist - Communications and Public Affairs, USG 10

Internal secondment opportunity:

• Alumni Officer, International – Alumni Affairs, USG 7-9

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