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Thursday, June 20, 2013



  • Sending mass emails? Check these guidelines
  • "Welcome to uWaterloo" preps new students
  • UWSA staff engagement survey launches today
  • Researchers solve mudball mystery


  • Editor:
  • Brandon Sweet
  • Communications and Public Affairs


Sending mass emails? Check these guidelines

Guidelines and best practices for the crafting and sending of mass emails to students, faculty, and staff are available online.

Faculty and Staff

The Communications and Public Affairs department handles a share of mass email messages intended for faculty and staff. Other frequent senders include the Secretariat, Organizational & Human Development, and Human Resources.

CPA’s guidelines for faculty and staff emails were put online last month. The guidelines cover messages sent by CPA email moderators over a number of lists administered through the “mailman” system. The guidelines define mass emails as follows:

  • Official messages from the university’s senior administration; and
  • Informational messages to the university community.

In all cases, messages sent out through CPA-administered lists “are intended to support university employees by providing them with the information needed to perform their jobs and to engage them in the work of the university. As such, messages must be in regard to university business, of general interest and importance to a sizable number of staff and faculty, and significant to the university as a whole.” According to the guidelines, information contained in mass emails should be of “significant value and newsworthiness.”

Requests for mass emails should be sent to the Associate Director, Internal Communications (that would be me, by the way), who will determine, after consulting with the sender, whether a mass email is the appropriate communications channel for the message. There are several alternatives, including:

  • An article or announcement in the Daily Bulletin;
  • An event post on the university’s Events Calendar;
  • A post or Call to Action (CTA) on the faculty or staff pathway pages (on the university’s website); and
  • Social media channels including the university’s official Facebook and Twitter accounts.

A template is available to ensure consistency of format for official messages that includes the university’s wordmark, clear “to”, “from”, and subject fields, and notation that indicates whether the email is for action or for information.


The Registrar’s Office has its own procedures for sending mass emails to students, available on a request page that includes an online request form and its own guidelines for what constitutes a valid mass email.

The Graduate Studies Office and postdoctoral office deliver mass messages to graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Requests for messages should be sent to the Coordinator, Graduate & Postdoctoral Events & Communications and the Assistant Director, Graduate Communications & Postdoctoral Affairs.

Most recently, the Student Success Office has drawn up guidelines for crafting mass emails to students.

After hearing from students anecdotally that they were receiving too many uWaterloo emails, the SSO facilitated a student consultation group about official email messages and ran a survey in December 2012 and January 2013. Some 300 students responded to the survey. Among the findings:

  • The majority of students forward their emails to a personal account.
  • 70 per cent of students read their emails on a mobile device.
  • 44 per cent want to be able to read the entire message without scrolling on their computer.
  • From the students’ perspective, tuition reminders (86 per cent), information from the Registrar’s Office including exam schedules and course selection reminders (85 per cent), and program information and events (75 per cent) were the most important messages.

With student feedback about the frequency and formatting of emails in mind, the Student Success Office put together a helpful guideline document, which is available on CPA’s  website and on the Registrar’s Office blast email page.

According to the guidelines, students want the content of the official emails they receive to be as directly relevant to them as possible. Subject lines should be brief and specific, text should be short, using bullets where possible and any paragraphs broken up by headers, hyperlinks should be used to direct students to more information on websites, and sans-serif fonts are preferred.

Emails that include a request for the student to take action have a greater likelihood of being read. Students also express frustration at receiving the same message multiple times. It’s important to think about the audience before forwarding a message to see how it could be better targeted, or perhaps not resent at all.


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"Welcome to uWaterloo" preps new students

September’s class of incoming students will be ready for university before they arrive on campus, thanks to a new community on LEARN. Beginning in July, new students are invited to join Welcome to uWaterloo, an online LEARN community, where students can tap into tools and resources to help with their transition to university life.  Upper-year mentors will monitor the community, answering questions and directing students to appropriate resources while giving students some hands-on experience navigating the LEARN environment.


“This is another way to support students in their transition, especially as students are moving to more interactive online learning,” said Gabrielle Smith, coordinator, new student transition, Student Success Office. “We are hopeful that this early connection to Waterloo resources and peers will increase a student’s success in their first year, by creating richer experiences, stronger connections and a deeper involvement in student life and academics.”

Welcome to uWaterloo was piloted with 70 students who started their Waterloo careers in winter 2013. Ninety-two percent of the participants signed in to the community over the term, spending a significant amount of time in the community, with many making repeat visits. This group was surveyed and based on their feedback, some refinements have been made to the community.

The key to Welcome to uWaterloo’s success is awareness amongst the incoming class.  The SSO encourages faculty and staff to champion this new initiative to help our first-year students with their transition to life at uWaterloo. We have created a brief video tutorial for the campus community that highlights the community’s features to help you encourage students to participate.


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UWSA staff engagement survey launches today

The University of Waterloo Staff Association (UWSA) is conducting a staff survey that launches today. The survey is being administered by the Waterloo Organizational Research Consulting (WORC) group in the psychology department. Staff members will be receiving an email from WORC today that contains a link to the survey.

"The goal of this survey is to assist the UWSA with strategic planning and to identify general staff concerns that we can work towards improving," says a statement from UWSA. "Survey results will be shared by WORC in an open forum with staff."

The survey itself is confidential. Staff email addresses will only be used for the purpose of contacting prize winners and won't be linked to response data.

And there are prizes! Staff who complete the online survey will have their names entered in a draw for a chance to win an Apple iPad, a BlackBerry Q10, two $100 Watcard gift certificates, two $50 Watcard gift certificates, and five $20 Tim Hortons gift cards.


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Researchers solve mudball mystery

Wet conditions at this past weekend's US Open generated a lot of discussion about so-called "mudballs" and the effect of mud on golf ball trajectory. So much so that Golf Digest magazine put the word out to their "hot list" of scientists to see what they could come up with.

Systems Design Engineering Professor John McPhee took advantage of the wet sod that had just been planted outside his lab in CPH, and decided to investigate the mudball phenomenon further.

"To simulate a ball landing on a wet fairway, I just threw the ball into the new sod," writes McPhee. "The 'mudball' was then hit by Dan Wilson, one of our varsity golf team members, and videoed at 20,000 frames per second by Aden Seaman (my research engineer) and me."

The results? "We found that most of the mud gets left behind at impact, so the ball is mainly influenced by a thin residue of mud that throws off its aerodynamics," McPhee writes.  "Case closed."


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Link of the day

65 years ago: a really big show debuts

When and where

Course Selection Week, Monday, June 17 to Sunday, June 23.

UW Farm Market, Thursday, June 20, Student Life Centre lower level, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Second interview cycle (Pharmacy), Thursday, June 20, 1:00 p.m.

Deadline for 50 per cent tuition refund, Friday, June 21.

National Aboriginal Day luncheon, Friday, June 21, 12:00 p.m., St. Paul's University College. Details.

First interview cycle ranking (main), Friday, June 21, 4:00 p.m.

Alumni and Friends reception at the Ontario Pharmacists' Association, Friday, June 21, 5:00 p.m., Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Details.

Job posting (architecture) open, Saturday, June 22, 7:00 a.m.

Contemporary School of Dance presents A Tribute to Disney, Saturday, June 22, and Sunday June 23, Humanities Theatre. Details.

46th Annual K-W Multicultural festival, Saturday, June 22 and Sunday, June 23, 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Victoria Park. Admission is free. Details.

First interview cycle ranking (main), Monday, June 24, closes at 2:00 p.m.

Cheriton School of Computer Science Distinguished Lecture Series featuring David Sankoff, University of Ottawa, "Computational Genomics of Flowering Plant Evolution," Monday, June 24, 3:30 p.m., DC 1302. Details.

Lunch and Learn Pension session, “Retirement Planning Tools: myPENSIONinfo/Annual Pension Statement”, Tuesday, June 25, DC 1302, 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. Details.

Postdoctoral event - Fun in the Park, Tuesday, June 25, 4:30 p.m., Waterloo Park Picnic Shelter. Details.

Job post (main) opens Wednesday, June 26, closes Thursday at 11:59 p.m.

Centre for Career Action presents Work Search Strategies, Wednesday, June 26, 10:30 a.m., TC 1208.

Student Life 101, Thursday, June 27.

UW Farm Market, Thursday, June 27, Student Life Centre lower level, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Petition to the Registrar to register late form required to become Fees Arranged after Sunday, June 30.

Canada Day Celebrations, Monday, July 1, Columbia Lake.

Canada Day Holiday, Monday, July 1, university closed.

Student Consultation Group - uWaterloo Student Portal, Wednesday, July 3, 12:00 p.m., SSO multipurpose room. Details.

Environment Lecture Series featuring Sven E. Jørgensen, University of Copenhagen, "Samsø , a Danish Island based on renewable energy," Wednesday, July 3, Waterloo Summit Centre for the Environment, Huntsville. Details.

UW Farm Market, Thursday, July 11, Student Life Centre lower level, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Student Consultation Group - uWaterloo Student Portal, Tuesday, July 16, 12:00 p.m., SSO multipurpose room. Details.

UW Farm Market, Thursday, July 18, SLC lower level, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

ChemEd 2013 conference, Sunday, July 28 to Thursday, August 1. Details.

Quantum Cryptography School for Young Students, Monday, August 12 to Friday, August 16, Institute for Quantum Computing. Details.

PhD Oral Defences

Physics and Astronomy. Gelo Tabia, "Geometry of Quantum States from Symmetric Informationally Complete Probabilities." Supervisors, Christopher Fuchs, Norbert Lütkenhaus. On deposit in the Faculty of Science graduate office, ESC-254A. Oral defence Tuesday, June 25, 1:00 p.m., QNC B201.

School of Planning. Nino Antadze, "Substantive and Procedural Equity in Environmental Planning: A Case Example of Planning Thermal Treatment Facilities for Solid Waste in the Province of Ontario, Canada." Supervisor, Murray Haight. On display in the Faculty of Environment, EV1 335. Oral defence Wednesday, June 3, 10:00 a.m., EV1 221.

Electrical & Computer Engineering. Muhammad Muhammad, "Radio Resource Management in a Heterogeneous Wireless Access Medium." Supervisor, Weihua Zhuang. On deposit in the Engineering Graduate Office, PHY 3004. Oral defence Thursday, July 4, 10:00 a.m., EIT 3142.

Environment and Resource Studies. Jennifer Balsdon, "Meadow Restoration on Former Agricultural Land in Southwestern Ontario: Social-Ecological Resilience as a Framework for Restoration Ecology." Supervisor, Stephen Murphy. On display in the Faculty of Environment, EV1 335. Oral defence Friday, July 5, 10:00 a.m., EV1 221.

English. Jason Hawreliak, "Heroism, Gaming, and the Rhetoric of Immortality." Supervisor, Marcel O'Gorman. On deposit in the Arts Graduate Office, PAS 2434. Oral defence Friday, July 5, 1:30 p.m., HH 334.


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