Fall 2022 issue

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newsletter for faculty and staff | fall 2022

Season of Light

» Sheila Ager, Dean of Arts

Sheila Ager

Hello everyone – extremely short note from me this time (which may come as a relief – I know I tend to write rather lengthy entries). I am deep into the business of finalizing a first draft of our strategic plan over the next couple of weeks, and I’m afraid I need to spend my energies there right now.

But I did really want to communicate with you all, just to say that I hope you are going to be able to wind down as December moves along and take an extremely well-deserved holiday break. It’s been another “interesting” year, and I think everyone needs it!  

So my best to all of you as 2022 draws to a close, and enjoy what I call the Season of Light. And no, I am not referring to the new Pokémon season – I’m talking about the extended global festivals associated with light. Most human cultures celebrate light and many of these festivals cluster in the time after the northern autumn equinox, responding to the gradual drawing in of the days with a glorification of light. So far this year, Diwali has just been celebrated, and Hanukkah and Christmas are around the corner. Fiat lux!

Trees decorated with lights

Niagara Falls Festival of Lights

Welcome to our newest colleagues

A warm welcome to the faculty and staff who joined Arts between fall 2021 and fall 2022.

Accounting and Finance

  • Muhammad Azim, Assistant Professor
  • Wenqain Hu, Assistant Professor
  • Tisha King, Assistant Professor
  • Miguel King, Lecturer
  • Sarah Landry, Administrative Assistant
  • David Lin, Lecturer
  • Giselle Obendorf, Lecturer
  • Lisa Pynenburg, Lecturer
  • Jennifer Roedding, Lecturer
  • Stavros Stavroulias, Administrative Coordinator and Undergraduate Advisor
  • Mingyue Zhang, Assistant Professor

Arts Undergraduate Office

  • Kristen Deckert, Academic Advisor
  • Jackie Jones, Undergraduate Recruitment Coordinator
  • Linda Kelly, Student Services Assistant 
  • Stefania Stachura, Student Engagement Coordinator

Dean of Arts Office

  • Tyler MacMillan, Development Officer
  • Zoe Tipper, Graduate Recruitment Officer
  • Olivia Vanderwal, Digital Communication Specialist

Communication Arts

  • Nazli Akhtari, Assistant Professor
  • Emma Alderman, Technical Coordinator, Theatre of the Arts
  • Adrian Buchanan, Administrative Manager
  • Carlos Fernandez, Technical Coordinator, Humanities Theatre
  • Katie Honek, Administrative Coordinator and Advisor, Undergraduate Studies
  • Adan Jerreat-Poole, Assistant Professor
  • Smita Mista, Assistant Professor
  • Mina Momeni, Assistant Professor
  • Lionnell (Badu) Smith, Lecturer
  • Melissa Zarnke, Front of House & Box Office Manager


  • Zoe Clemens, Administrative Coordinator and Advisor, Undergraduate Studies
  • Keisuke Teeple, Assistant Professor
  • Stephanie Villers, Lecturer

English Language and Literature

  • Briana Wiens, Assistant Professor

French Studies

  • Scarlett van Berkel, Administrative Coordinator and Advisor, Undergraduate Studies

Germanic and Slavic Studies

  • Onyeka Ezeh, Lecturer
  • Kira Youngblut, Administrative Assistant


  • Talena Atfield, Assistant Professor
  • Daria Ho, Lecturer
  • Robyn Wilkinson, Undergraduate Coordinator
  • Matthew Wiseman, Lecturer


  • Heather Eustace, Undergraduate Coordinator
  • Monika Kitor, Administrative Manager & Graduate Coordinator

Political Science

  • Maysah Eid, Graduate Programs Coordinator
  • Rowland Robinson, Assistant Professor
  • Melanie Slimming, Research Project Officer


  • Jennifer Bisch, Preschool Teacher, Early Child Education Centre
  • Melissa Bowman, Preschool Teaching Assistant, Early Child Education Centre
  • Nicholas Fuller, Administrative Assistant
  • Neil Hester, Assistant Professor
  • Samuel Johnson, Assistant Professor
  • Christopher Lok, Surey Manager, ITC Project
  • Emily O’Connor, Administrative Coordinator, Graduate Studies
  • Resheem Patel, Survey Management Associate, ITC Project

Religious Studies

  • Carmen Celestini, Lecturer

Sociology and Legal Studies

  • Adam Ellis, Assistant Professor
  • Colin Hastings, Assistant Professor

Stratford School

  • Wai Yin Chan, Research Manager
  • Kim De Laat, Assistant Professor
  • Lan Do, Lecturer
  • Lauren Kilgour, Assistant Professor
  • Noorin Manji, Lecturer
  • Noah Pratt, Lab Instructor/Media Technician
  • Summer Rashed, Student Services Support Coordinator
  • Darcee Rodgers, Events and Student Engagement Specialist
  • Summer Rashed, Student Services Support Coordinator
  • Tafadzwa Ushe, Information Technology Support Specialist
  • Sheila Vanmeurs, Administrative Officer
  • Will Zhao, Assistant Professor

Arts First turns five

» Robert Danisch, Professor, Director of Arts First 

Arts First turned five years old this academic year. That means we’ve had over six thousand undergraduates take our seminars, and we’ve taught over five hundred sections of courses. We’ve breathed new life into the core requirements for all students in our faculty and re-imagined what their first-year experience can feel like in the classroom.

Rob Danisch

As a part of this program, I have learned a lot over these last five years, particularly about good teaching and how talented our students are. Whenever I talk about this program, I remind people that we intentionally background the discipline-specific knowledge that we teach in our home departments so that we can foreground the processes of inquiry, communication, and analysis that are at the core of all forms of intellectual work. We do this to help students build their abilities to think deeply and critically, to speak and write effectively and eloquently, and to make evaluations and judgments about the evidence and arguments they encounter in the world. Now, more than ever, such skills can make a difference, both for our students and for the world they encounter when they graduate.

In Arts First, we practice slow teaching. We don’t rush to cover some body of knowledge; we create spaces for students to actively engage in critical intellectual work and guide them to reflect on how they might become better writers, readers, thinkers, and inquirers. This kind of slow teaching demystifies the tacit assumptions about the know-how of university work. Our classrooms become inclusive spaces because of this focus on making explicit what might otherwise be implicit in how we make and communicate knowledge. We design engaging classroom activities that put the students in the driver’s seat of their education, and we use scaffolded assignments that help students improve each step of the way. Those slow moments in the classroom, where students and teachers are actively working together, wrestling with a difficult question or problem, can be transformative and can feel meaningfully different.

This program is a shining example of what interdisciplinary teaching can be. Interdisciplinarity need not be just the combination of methods or knowledge from two different disciplines. It’s naming and exploring the intellectual spaces between disciplines, and it’s thinking about, and thinking through, the kinds of practical know-how that every discipline uses and that is integral to the future success of our students. We can use Arts First to build a broader, bolder sense of interdisciplinarity in Arts if we continue the conversation about what kind of core student capacities we want to teach and build, and what kind of critical intellectual questions we ought to investigate across our different disciplinary areas of expertise.

I hope that the next five years of this program brings more faculty into the fold, more new ideas for seminars, more excellent student work, and more of the sense of community that all of our students crave. I also hope the next five years extends the conversation about what questions or capacities lie at the core of all that we do across Arts. What do faculty and students from Psychology share with those in History? What connects work in Sociology or Economics with the creative pursuits in Fine Arts or Theatre and Performance? How can we ask questions and do work in those spaces between our disciplines and how might such an endeavor transform our own teaching and research? Those are the questions I’ll be thinking about going forward. I hope there are others reading this that will join me.

In the meantime, I want to express my deepest gratitude to all of the hardworking teachers that have made this program a success during the last five years – thank you.

Group of students walking and laughing

Celebrating Arts (one more time, in photos)

On November 2, we held our long-awaited Celebration of Arts event to mark the past three years of accomplishments by members of Arts, including a bumper-crop of Arts Awards for Excellence in Service, Research and Teaching.  

eight members of Arts looking up

Some of the 2022 Arts Award cohort, left to right: Katherine White, Bill Eickmeier, Megan Selinger, Ramona Bobocel, Elizabeth Rogers, Katherine Bruce-Lockhart, Carla Fehr, Michaela Tatu.

Dean Sheila Ager speaking at podium

Dean Sheila Ager opens the 2022 Celebration of Arts event

Bob Park speaking at podium while awardee Carla Fehr holds award

Bob Park, Associate Dean, presented a service award to Dr. Carla Fehr

Provost Jim Rush speaking at podium

Provost Jim Rush shares remarks as Dean Ager listens

Awardee Michaela Tatu holds baby and award as Dean claps

Celebrating Arts Award recipient, Michaela Tatu and her adorable baby

Giving makes you feel good

» Arts Advancement

This time every year, we hear a lot about giving. No matter what you're celebrating this holiday season, you're sure to be inundated with messages about giving thoughtful gifts and giving back to others. These are the things that make the holiday season the most wonderful time of the year, right?

According to research, giving really does make us feel good. The most recent Alumni Know podcast features alumna Sara Konrath BA ’02 (Psychology), Associate Professor at Indiana University, who studies the science of empathy and generosity. Sara will explain how giving makes us happy — and how it brings a bunch of other benefits. Plus, she's got some tips to help you get (and give) the most this season.

On November 29, we invite Arts faculty and staff to join the extended Waterloo-Arts community to support one of the Arts Giving Tuesday Challenges:

Your donations will help unlock additional gifts, including a $10,000 top-up for the fund with the most donors contributing.

Last year’s Waterloo Giving Tuesday campaign was a record-breaking, with more than 1,300 alumni, parents, faculty, staff, retirees, and friends donating more than $597,000 to support our students. This year we want to smash that record with at least 1,500 people donating $650,000 or more.

Along with feeling good, giving gives you the opportunity to win Waterloo swag! All faculty and staff who donate to any Arts Giving Tuesday Challenge, will be entered into a draw for a $100 gift card for the W Store.

You are here: Introducing our new Faculty and Staff Resources website

» Elizabeth Rogers, Communication Officer

If you’ve tried to find administrative or other information on the Faculty and Staff page of the Arts website lately, you might notice it’s starting to suffer from the website equivalent of urban sprawl. Lots of useful information, but not so easy to find your way around.

A laptop sitting open on a desk, the screen i showing the landing page for this website

Our new Arts Faculty and Staff Resources website is here to help – in fact, you’re on it now.

This new site brings things up a few levels so you can easily find content via the “mega menu.” Plus, we’ve added new content such as a Communication section with resources to help promote your work and share your story ideas with us.

You might notice things look a little different too – this new site is in the latest version of the Waterloo Content Management System (aka WCMS 3). You can learn more about the move to WCMS 3 on this site too.

Don’t worry – your old bookmarks won’t break just yet, but we do encourage you to update them and start using this website. Over the next few months, we’ll continue to redirect you to this Arts Faculty and Staff Resources website before we retire the old urban-sprawl page.

As we all know, websites are never really done and we welcome your feedback – please contact Elizabeth Rogers or Wendy Philpott.

Porcellino: lost and found

He's back and ready for nose rubs! As you may remember from our last issue, Porcellino went on a surprise visit to a certain faculty-that-shall-not-be-named. After some much-needed recovery time, our beloved boar returned to his home outside Modern Languages this fall.  

A big thank you to our colleagues in Plant Operations for rescuing Porcellino and making sure he got back to his home in one piece again.

The empty pedestal outside Modern Langages where a boar statue should have been.

Sadly, this empty pedestal was all we had over summer and early fall. Modern Languages just wasn't the same without Porcellino.

A miniature figurine of a boar sits between two orange cones over looking the Arts Student Union tent and the Arts Quad

Porcellino wasn't back in time for Orientation this fall, but the Boar Tribe found this adorable Mini-Me to oversee the festivities.

A single finger is all it takes to rub the nose of this miniature Porcellino statue

It's a good thing that even tiny nose rubs still bring good luck to the new academic year.

A piece of heavy machinery lifts and carries the boar statue, thanks to bright yellow straps fastened around his neck and waist.

Getting home isn't an easy feat when you're 700 pounds of bronze. But thanks to the Plant Ops team, Porcellino made it home safely.

The boar statue at night with a row of glowing jack o'lanterns sitting out front.

Porcellino was soon back on the job hosting Arts traditions, including Halloween pumpkins courtesy of Le Cercle Français in French Studies.

A close up of Porcellino's snout with a light dusting of snow on it.

As we approach the end of term, Porcellino is ready to have his snout rubbed for good luck.

Three events on Dec. 1 and 2

Dec. 1 at 1:00 PM — The Longhouse Labs (LLabs) outreach event. Meet artists-in-residence Tract Collective, Hodinohso:ni artists/activists creating a large, beaded map of the Haldimand Tract, learn more about the LLabs research-creation project from Professor Logan MacDonald, CRC Indigenous Art, and tour the future space of LLabs. 

Location: UWaterloo Art Gallery (UWAG) East Campus Hall 1239.
Details about the LLabs event

Artists drawing of the Longhouse attached to building

Dec. 1 at 3:00 PM – Indigenous Speakers Series with Dr. Talena Atfield on Western notions of the origins of Indigenous artistic practices versus the importance of arts and creation within the community. Dr. Atfield will be joined for a conversation with Indigenous research colleagues from the Office of Research and Faculty of Science. The Mohawk Thanksgiving will be offered by Elder William Woodworth, PhD, (Elder Bill), Elder in Residence for Engineering.

Location: Theatre of the Arts, ML, and livestream.
Details about the Indigenous Speaker Series event

Illustration of Talena Atfield with 2-Row Wampum Belt design in background

Dec. 2 at 10:00 AM — Closing Ceremony and Fire for Bridge: Honouring the Lives of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two Spirit People, takes place at the Ceremonial Fire Grounds and the bridge between Environment 3 and United College.

Details about the Closing Ceremongy

Bridge with red ribbons tied to railing

Inside Arts is published each term. Comments, ideas, and submissions are always welcome. Please email Wendy Philpott.

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