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Friday, February 15, 2013

  • Today, we make a collect call to low earth orbit
  • New direction set for Principal Gifts program
  • An update on lessons LEARNed
  • Treat-a-Gram campaign delivers the goods
  • Family Day, Reading Week next week
  • Editor:
  • Brandon Sweet
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Today, we make a collect call to low earth orbit

Today's the day!

Starting at 11:30 a.m., the University of Waterloo's Conversation from Space begins.

By way of an exclusive satellite feed facilitated by NASA and the Canadian Space Agency, President Hamdullahpur will welcome the incoming commander of the International Space Station, Chris Hadfield, to the University of Waterloo community. He'll then turn the floor over to a representative group of University of Waterloo students who've developed questions for Chris to answer.

Don't miss the action: watch the livestream and follow the Twitter hashtag #askhadfield

While you're at it, here's some #FF ('Follow Friday') for you:




Beam us up, Mr. Hadfield!


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New direction set for Principal Gifts program

“I am pleased to report that Stephen Shapiro, our recently arrived Associate Vice-President, Principal Gifts (interim), is already making great strides in reorganizing our Principal Gifts program within the advancement portfolio,” wrote Vice-President, Advancement Ken McGillivray in an announcement on Wednesday. “His mandate is to marshal the resources necessary to build a new principal gifts team that will deepen relationships with donors who have cumulatively given $1M or more, and to build new relationships with prospects and donors who have the capacity to give at that level. The team will also support and facilitate the advancement activities of the President and the VP, Advancement.”

Shapiro started work at the university on January 14, after the retirement of Linda Kieswetter. He is an experienced fund raiser and administrator who has held senior appointments as the President and CEO, St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation in Vancouver, Associate Vice-President, Global Development and Principal Gifts, University of Alberta, Director of Development, Leadership Gifts and President’s Circle, University of British Columbia and most recently as Executive Director, Policy, Office of the Premier of Alberta, Government of Alberta.

“Building on and adapting the strategies he used with great success at the University of British Columbia — his principal gifts team brought in $350M over six years ($200M working collaboratively with the faculties and $150M raised directly, working closely with the President) — Stephen has developed a new structure and direction for our Principal Gifts team,” McGillivray continued.

The newly reorganized team will consist of:

  • Lori Gove, Director, Principal Gifts
  • Beverly Hershey, Associate Director, Principal Gifts
  • Maureen Corbett, Senior Communications Officer, Principal Gifts
  • Brendan Shea, Research Officer, Principal Gifts (temporary reassignment)
  • Sandi Rivers, Development Assistant, Principal Gifts

Two additional positions — a second Associate Director, Principal Gifts and a Stewardship Officer, Principal Gifts — will soon be filled through recruitment or reassignment.

The Principal Gifts team, working in tandem with their Alumni Affairs and advancement colleagues, will collaborate closely with the faculties and university colleges, and will help focus on further developing markets in western Canada and the Asia Pacific Region.

“In the coming weeks, Stephen and I will meet with each dean and director of advancement to share our vision for the Principal Gifts team and to discuss opportunities for collaboration with the faculties and colleges,” McGillivray concludes. “We look forward to working closely with you to achieve your advancement goals and those of the university as a whole.”

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An update on lessons LEARNed

Waterloo LEARN, the online learning system at Waterloo based on Desire2Learn (D2L) software, is operating well again after the disruptive outage that started at 3:25 p.m. on Tuesday, January 29th, lasting until Friday, February 1st at 12:30 p.m. The problem was centered at one of D2L's two hosting facilities, . Over 80% of D2L clients use D2L hosted facilities, including Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier, McMaster, and McGill universities, and many others in Canada and the US; most clients at this facility were impacted.

The problem occurred in storage systems that were undergoing upgrades started in the fall. D2L was moving data between old and new storage areas, and using a special hardware device that allowed systems to continue running even as data was migrating (a file virtualization system). This is where the problem occurred, with access to LEARN slowing almost to a halt. Access was eventually cut off and users who tried to get to LEARN saw a web page from D2L indicating maintenance was underway.

The outage affected over 1400 courses running in LEARN, causing disruptions to assignment deadlines, quizzes, access to course materials, and other course activities. Reports from D2L through the first day and a half indicated that the system should be restored at various time lines, all of which were missed. At Waterloo, updates were sent to a widening audience of support groups on campus, and twitter was used to get the message to students. Once it became apparent that the recovery time was not known, plans got underway to send notification to all professors and students, which happened between late Thursday and early Friday during the outage. While updates were issued regularly to the staff support groups, better continuity contingency plans and communications are needed. Instructors should have had information sooner on how to deliver material in others ways, on whether tests would be rescheduled, and other common questions.

The follow-up from this event has included discussions with D2L, to learn further details about what happened, and to discuss our involvement in decisions around major system changes that involve potential risks to our system. A key lesson learned is the need to be integral to the decisions about such significant change activity. Locally, the LEARN support team will work with the Faculties and other support areas to improve our communication strategies and mechanisms, both for informing people of the event and for alternate means for instructors to communicatee with students. Contingency plans are also needed for how to provide basic course needs if there were ever to be an event like this again. Finally, it is appropriate to examine the hosted solution.

John Baker, President and CEO for Desire2Learn, sent an open letter to the University of Waterloo community recognizing and apologizing for the impact the outage had on our learning environment. The message can be viewed at the following link:

After more of the diagnosis and follow-up activity has occurred, the LEARN support team will report to the community about what changes will take place to mitigate any future disruption, while working with D2L to prevent it ever happening again.


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Keystone Campaign's Treat-a-Gram delivers the goods

with files from the Office of Advancement

Thanks to the hard work of over 150 volunteers across campus, the Treat-a-Gram Valentine's Day fundraiser pulled in almost $10,000.

President Feridun Hamdullahpur and VP Advancement Ken McGillivray pitched in with the packaging effort, and advancement reports that the 2013 campaign bested last year's total volume of cupcakes shipped by an impressive 700.

St. Jerome's gets top nod for total treats received, with an intake of over 400. Next highest were CECA and Needles Hall, which each received about 375.

The final tally will be posted on Keystone's website at the end of February.

"Way to go, Waterloo!" said Dipali Batabyal, development officer for special projects. "This year's Treat-a-Gram initiative has been a huge success thanks to our volunteers and outstanding campus participation."

One golden ticket winner, Sabine Kawalec (advancement, faculty of engineering) has stepped forward so far, with the other lucky person still at large.

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Family Day, Reading Week next week

One long weekend deserves another, it seems, with the university closing for Family Day on Monday, February 18. In typical holiday fashion, a number of university services will be closed, including Retail Services, the Physical Activities Complex and Columbia Icefield. All Food Services locations are closed for statutory holidays like Family Day unless otherwise noted on their schedule.

The Dana Porter and Davis Centre libraries will have normal 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. hours on Saturday and Sunday and will be open from noon to 6:00 p.m. Monday

As always, even on holidays, the university police (519-888-4911) will be at work, the Student Life Centre (519–888-4434) will be open, and the central plant will monitor campus buildings (maintenance emergencies, ext. 33793).

Monday also marks the beginning Reading Week, which means there will be no classes next week. Waterloo's offices and services will be open, more or less as usual, Tuesday through Friday, which are regular working days for university employees. (Retail Services notes that most of its stores will be open the usual 9-to-5 hours, with the exception of E Smart in South Campus Hall and the Media.doc locations in the Dana Porter Library and EIT. VERIFY with Allan Babor of retail services)

Most food services outlets will be open during reading week, some with modified hours of operation.


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Link of the day

John Frum Day

When and where

WIN Seminar Series featuring Professor Christof Schulz, University of Duisburg-Essen, "Laser diagnostics and kinetics studies for the combustion synthesis of nanoparticles", Friday, February 15, 11:00 a.m., QNC 1501. Details.

Conversation from Space with Astronaut Chris Hadfield, Friday, February 15, 11:30 a.m., Hagey Hall. Details.

Family Day, Monday, February 18, most university services closed.

Loving to Learn Day, Tuesday, February 19, all day. Details.

WISE Lecture Series featuring André Lucena, Professor, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), "Brazil's Energy Plans and Strategies: Challenges Related to Climate Change," Tuesday, February 19, 1:00 p.m., CPH 4333. Details.

UWRC Book Club meeting, featuring "The House I Loved" by Tatiana de Rosnay, Wednesday, February 20, 12:00 p.m., LIB 407.

Retirement party for Linda Kieswetter, Wednesday, February 20, 3:30 p.m., University Club.

Stratford Campus Open House, Wednesday, February 20, 6:00 p.m, Stratford Campus. Details.

GWPI Distinguished Lecturer Series presents Dr. Xiao-Gang Wen of Perimeter Institute, “Light in the 21st Century: Waves, Particles and Noodles”. Monday, February 25, 7pm, QNC 0101. Reservations required, don’t delay! Details.

Arriscraft Lecture featuring George Baird, "Thoughts on "Agency", "Utopia", and "Property", in Contemporary Architectural and Urban Theory," Thursday, February 21, 6:45 p.m., Cummings Lecture Hall, School of Architecture. Details.

Pension & Benefits Committee meets Friday, February 22, 8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. at NH 3001.

Vision Science Research Seminar Series featuring Professor Agnes Wong, University of Toronto and The Hospital for Sick Children, “Skew Deviation: From the Laboratory to Bedside”, Friday February 22, 3:30 p.m. OPT 1129. Details.

Senate meeting, Monday, February 25, 3:30 p.m., NH 3001.

VeloCity Recruiting Event: For Startups & Waterloo's Tech Talent, Tuesday, February 26, 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., Mike & Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre. Register here.

Noon Hour Concert Series, Russian Chamber Music featuring the music of Rimsky-Korsakov, Taneyev, and Rachmaninov, with artists Sara Jane Gibbs, cello, Renee Kruisselbrink, piano, Pierre-Andre Pashley, violin. Wednesday, February 27, 12:30 p.m. Conrad Grebel Chapel. Details.

Waterloo Women's Wednesday featuring Jeremy Steffler and Katrina Di Gravio, "Sexual Orientation and and Gender Identity Workshop," Wednesday, February 27, 4:00 p.m., Grad House.

Department of English Language and Literature lecture featuring Wayde Compton, Emily Carr University, “Vancouver Versus Hogan's Alley: Urban Renewal, Negro Removal, and the Myth of Livability”, Thursday, February 28, 4:00 p.m., HH 373.


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