Summer 2018 issue

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newsletter for faculty and staff | summer 2018

The silent admonishment of a summer to-do list in late August

» Doug Peers, Dean of Arts

With the new student orientation just two weeks over the horizon, I find myself in the all too familiar and depressing situation of wondering what happened to the summer, even though I always look forward to the start of the new academic year.

There are new students and new faculty to welcome, the rolling out of the Arts First program, which made me the envy of my fellow deans at our national meeting, and I am near giddy at the thought of a functioning (usually) elevator in the Hub. Our enrolments for the fall look good (especially from international students), our colleagues have done very well in recent research competitions, and Senate has approved the creation of a new school, the renaming of a department, and a new constitution for the Faculty

But I can’t help but look at the To-Do list on my desk that is silently admonishing me. It has been thirty years since I first took up an academic appointment and I still overestimate what I can manage to do in the summer. The fence still needs fixing, an annoying leak in the roof continues to baffle me, I am overdue on a book review and a manuscript assessment, and that brilliant article on Hemorrhoids, Colonial Medicine and the Indian Cavalry I have been planning to write remains a figment of my overambitious and perhaps overactive imagination. I do however have the title: “Piles of Troubles and Troubles with Piles: Penetrating Insights into Proctology and the Indian Cavalry – Hard Facts and the Real History from Below.” I did manage to get in a week in my happy place (aka the British Library where not even the sweaty conditions of the London Underground in heatwave dampened my enthusiasm at finding yet more 19th century courts martial to ponder), and saw some great plays at Stratford.

The big challenge this summer was getting everything in place for the launch of Arts First. I am grateful to all the faculty and staff who stepped up to the challenge and worked so hard to recruit in short order so many promising new colleagues and assist in helping them get their footing here on campus. We continue to look to develop new programs and courses that build upon not only our longstanding strengths at Waterloo but also tap into the new possibilities opened up by the many new hires across the Faculty.

Doug Peers

Convocation gets a facelift

» Arts communications

We're sure the gold drapes were fashionable at some point, but we were happy to see the new look at convocation this spring! Those on stage likely didn't miss the aged orange chairs that used to be borrowed from the old Board and Senate room. 

While the decor is the most notable feature of the makeover, improved signage, redesigned brochures and other digital assets and a new website were also key to improving the experience for students and their families. The look was an ideal blend of the old and the new, with the University seal and the mace keeping  traditions in mix.

a comparison of the old convocation stage with gold curtains versus the new, modern look

There was also a first for Arts this year: two ceremonies weren't enough to celebrate all of our amazing students. An evening ceremony was added this spring.

Another notable moment: Waterloo's 200,000th graduate crossed the stage. (Rumour has it the graduate was an Arts student, but we can neither confirm nor deny this fact.)

Here are some of our favourite memories from this year’s celebration (select photo to view larger image):

Welcoming two new Associate Deans of Arts (with a quick Q & A)

Ana Ferrer,
Associate Dean, Research

Ana Ferrer

Professor Ferrer joined the Dean of Arts Office in July as our new Associate Dean, Research. A member of the Department of Economics, she is an expert in labour markets, education, immigration and family economics. Prof. Ferrer is the current director of the Canadian Labour Economics Forum (CLEF), an associated researcher at the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM) and a research fellow at the Institute of Labour Economics (IZA). She also contributes to the Canadian Labour Market Information Council (LMIC) as a member of its Labour Market Expert Panel.

Q & A with Ana

What do you consider the most important function of your AD Research role?

I am very excited about my new job. I think that research is at the core of forming critical and inquiring minds, which is the mandate of our university. The Faculty of Arts does very innovative and important research that has great social impact. It will be my priority to keep support for Arts research and to come up with innovative ways to increase that support, and of course, to make sure that everybody knows what wonderful things we do here!

What is your idea of perfect happiness?


What is your idea of misery?

No chocolate.

What is your favourite food or drink? 

Let me surprise you here a little bit. Chocolate is my favourite drink, not my favourite food (the spice laden, thick hot chocolate my grandma used to make). My favourite food cannot be further from chocolate, it is paella, as my father makes it

What natural talent would you most like to possess?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to have infinite amounts of chocolate without any health concern?

Elizabeth Nilsen,
Interim Associate Dean, Graduate Studies

Elizabeth Nilsen

Professor Nilsen is our Interim Associate Dean, Graduate Studies until January 2019—joining us from the Department of Psychology, where she was recently Associate Chair, Graduate Studies. Prof. Nilsen’s research focuses on socio-cognitive development in the preschool and school years, with a specific focus on children’s communication skills. She is a research supervisor for graduate students in the Clinical Psychology program, supervises the clinical activities of graduate students training in the Centre for Mental Health Research & Treatment, and is director of the Cognitive Development Lab.

Q & A with Liz

What do you consider the most important function of your AD Grad Studies role over the six months?

As much as I’d like to push through new initiatives like “disco-wear Tuesdays”, 6 months is not much time to have such radical changes. Thus, I see continuing to support the departmental grad officers in ensuring the success of their graduate students as being my main objective. Within Arts we have diverse graduate programs and a stellar set of graduate students who are conducting exciting research – these aspects make it a pleasure to be stepping into this role.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Climbing some big rocks somewhere, watching my little ones puddle-jump, and ocean views

What is your idea of misery?

Traffic and lukewarm coffee.

What is your favourite food or drink? 

(Decent) ice cream.

What natural talent would you most like to possess?

(For the sake of my family during camping trips), the ability to carry a tune and/or remember the words to songs.

Arts & Letters — worth a look

» Arts Advancement and Arts communications

Down time? What down time? It's been a busy season here in Arts. The summer 2018 issue of Arts & Lettersour biannual publication for alumni and friends (faculty, staff, and retirees too!), spotlights researchers, students, and alumni tackling hot topics, enjoying alumni events, creating a ripple effect in the Hub, and celebrating our connections!

And a big thank you to everyone who made these new scholarships and awards possible!

Here's a look at some of this issue's features:

Three new unit names to note

Stratford School of Interaction Design & Business

Formerly know as the Stratford Campus, by now our satellite has grown six-fold in student numbers and has definitely made a name for itself in the competitive world of digital business education. Read more about the the name-change

Department of Communication Arts

After an unmentionable amount of time and effort by department members, the home base of Speech Communication, Theatre and Performance, and Digital Arts Communication has a brand new name to reflect their core teaching, practice, and scholarship strengths, as well as their collaborative opportunities.

Centre for Mental Health Research & Treatment (CMHRT)

Adding the last word, Treatment, emphasizes something that's been happening for a long time. In addition to being a Senate-approved research centre, and the training site to many cohorts of clinical psychology PhD students, the CMHRT has and continues to provide mental health services to people in Waterloo Region and on our own campus.

arts and ai

Arts and AI: Keeping it human

Could artificial intelligence take your job? Is it as unbiased as we think? We hear from professors and alumni in Arts on some of the biggest challenges of AI, and how their work impacts this important field.

Students talk with faculty member

Students tackle populism and the future of democracy

With generous support from the Jarislowsky Foundation, the new Global Engagement Seminar gives students the chance to collaboratively address global challenges of the 21st century.

Professor Carvhalo

Professor Emanuel Carvalho: Da Bomb!

Alumni, friends and colleagues join together in establishing a scholarship to honour outstanding commitment and impact in teaching and service.

Speaker at the 3MT competition

A 3MT judge reflects

The Three Minute Thesis competition showcases young people and their intellectual development, writes first-time 3MT judge, Professor Emeritus Peter Woolstencroft. It also allows the judges and attendees to grow. 

Ups and downs of the Hub elevator (in case you haven't noticed)

» Arts communications

It was a running joke for over a year — because it wasn't running at all.

As you know, the Hagey Hall Hub opened for the start of the new school year in 2016, minus a working elevator. In the many months that followed, the fate of the great glass elevator remained a mystery.

Until Arts Convocation this June, that is. In what can now be considered a case of "famous last words", our dean called out the infamous elevator in his address to students.

“I have also been hoping — perhaps unreasonably — that the elevator in the Hagey Hub would be working by the time you graduated. Sadly, the latter hope has not been realized,” Doug Peers joked. “Please bear in mind that I am a historian, not an engineer, and there is very little I can personally bring to the situation."

We're still not sure how it happened, but the elevator was up and running the next day. (A special thank you to Plant Operations and the elevator experts!) Let's hope for smooth running with plenty of ups and downs in the Hub this fall term.

Just in case you need proof:

Remote video URL

April 12 in the Hub

Arts staff and faculty wear hockey jerseys to show support for the Humboldt Broncos

“A true community comes together in good times and in tragedy. The Humboldt incident reminds us that life can change in an instant. It was important to wear our jerseys and stand with the Faculty of Arts community, the University, and our country to offer our support to the Humboldt Broncos and their families. Strength comes in numbers. #JerseysForHumboldt #UWaterlooArts” — Pat Gruber, Administrative Assistant, Economics


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

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