From spring to summer, a season of celebration
This month has been a busy and exciting one for both the University and for me. There has been so much to celebrate and there is much more to come.
At the beginning of the month we held our quarterly Board of Governors meeting where I gladly shared many notable achievements that Waterloo staff, faculty and students have accomplished. Highlights include the Co-op Students of the Year and the three sustainability leaders from Waterloo who have been named to the annual Corporate Knights Top 30 under 30 List. I invite you to read over the agenda for my complete report and those of my colleagues.
The annual Keystone Picnic, held on June 5, continues to be a great celebration of the Waterloo family. I was happy to serve Waterloo faculty, staff and retirees their lunch. It was a pleasure meeting you and hearing your stories. Congratulations to the 2015 Keystone Picnic Committee on a fantastic event.
From June 9 to 13 the community celebrated University of Waterloo’s Spring 2015 Convocation. As degrees were conferred upon 4,737 undergraduate and 980 graduate students I had the opportunity to talk to some of Waterloo’s newest alumni as they crossed the stage. When they were asked the question “What’s next?” the responses I got were inspiring. It makes me proud to hear that graduates of Waterloo want to change the world, make it a better place, and do it in an innovative and creative way that is uniquely theirs. Relive the celebration by reading the Storify and checking out the Twitter hashtag #UWaterlooGrad.
While Convocation speaks to students who are finished their Waterloo degree we also celebrated the future for students on our campus. Earlier this week there was an exciting moment for Waterloo Housing and Residences as we broke ground for the new student residence adjacent to UW Place.
The new residence’s innovative blueprints speak to the excellent student experience we provide our Waterloo Warriors, our optimism for the future of this institution and for our ability to ensure that bright future for our students. Providing an excellent residence experience is key to ensuring the best overall experience for our students.
We’ve made our commitment to the student experience essential to our University’s operations through the Strategic Plan we rolled out almost two years ago.
Providing a vibrant student experience is one of our eight core priorities, along with co-operative education, research and academic excellence, and a number of additional high-level strengths.
I had the opportunity to amplify our University’s strengths as I participated in two partnership events this month. On June 15 I traveled to Israel to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, the country’s leading innovation university, for the establishment of a collaborative quantum communications satellite project.
While in the United Kingdom on June 18 I signed a MOU with King’s College London that will launch collaborations on science and technology projects, which will help build our institutional relationship with an institution strong in STEM disciplines.
These latest agreements build on a string of high-value, high-profile partnerships that are helping establish Waterloo as one of the most internationalized universities in Canada, a key strategic plan goal.
As spring gives way to summer, we should all take the opportunity to celebrate Canada’s most important day, its birthday, on Wednesday, July 1. I’m delighted to invite you to the 31st annual University of Waterloo – Federation of Students Canada Day Celebration starting at 4:00 p.m. at Columbia Lake Field. The celebration promises to be our biggest ever, with an expected attendance topping 60,000, and featuring live musical performances on the OpenText Stage, children’s activities and entertainment on the TVOKids Stage, a terrific food fair, and of course, our outstanding fireworks display at 10:00 p.m.
Canada Day is our best opportunity to say thank you to our friends and partners right across Waterloo Region, so help us give back to our community by bringing your families, friends and neighbours out to the best Canada Day celebration in town. Don’t forget to wear your red and white or your black and gold as we celebrate together.
I wish you all the best this summer.
President and Vice-Chancellor
Accessible performance brings Sound of Music to life for low-vision community
This is the latest in a series of #UWCommunity stories that feature Waterloo in the community.
This past Sunday, June 21, a mixture of staff and faculty from the University of Waterloo’s Low Vision Clinic accompanied over 20 members of our community to the Stratford Festival for an accessible, live audio described performance of The Sound of Music.
One of North America’s longest running arts festivals, the Stratford Festival is committed to providing enhancements to their programming, including facilities and services that give patrons with disabilities the resources they need to have a memorable theatre experience. For theatre lovers with visual impairments, the festival offers live audio described performances designed to enhance the experience for patrons. A narrator gives details of costumes, sets, and key onstage action delivered to the theatre-goer through a discrete headset. The description service supplements the spoken dialogue happening on stage, without interfering with it, as the narrator describes actions that people might otherwise miss.
The University of Waterloo’s Low Vision Clinic embraced this outstanding service, creating a new opportunity for theatre lovers with visual impairments in Waterloo Region by adding a sense of community through group tickets and seating, transportation, and lunch, as well as a guest speaker from Accessible Media Inc. who talked about described audio and video available to support participants’ daily lives at home
Low Vision Therapist at the University of Waterloo, Heidi Panchaud, believes the university has a role to play in helping our aging community members find the right services:
“It’s about making people aware of resources. We need to help give them options. The generation that’s aging now is different from before. They’re tech savvy and they’re active.”
The low vision community is a growing, underserved population, and with the baby boomers aging, retiring, and developing vision-related concerns, these opportunities are timely and can give those living with visual impairments in our community a sense of independence and the ability to continue their favorite hobbies.
Melinda Szilva, Low Vision Rehabilitation Counsellor acknowledges how these unique performances can foster a sense of inclusion and community:
“Making plays accessible is about inclusion and helping people continue an activity that they may have long enjoyed with spouses, family, kids, and friends. Without descriptive audio, a performance like this could be an isolating experience. They may stop going. We wanted to help reclaim that experience.”
The University of Waterloo Low Vision Clinic is raising awareness of the various services and assistive devices (many that are customized) that are offered through Canada’s only English speaking Optometry School. The clinic is accredited by the National Accreditation Council for Blind and Low Vision Services.
Panchaud and Szilva say that the Low Vision Clinic takes an innovative and holistic approach to low vision rehabilitation:
“By offering this event we were trying to bring patients joy through enabling social connections and shared experiences.”
Sit-Stand Workstation workshop and other notes
Procurement and Contract Services is hosting a demonstration of Ergotron sit-stand workstations on Monday, June 29 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in the DC 1301 fishbowl.
The workstations convert a standard desk into a height-adjustable standing work environment.
Michelle Banic of Institutional Analysis and Planning (IAP) snapped this photo of a watchful hawk on the EIT balcony yesterday morning.
Melloul-Blamey Construction is wasting no time in getting down to business with construction on the new residence adjacent to UW Place and nothing says construction season like the closure of a roadway. In this case, site service work will close the roadway between Eby Hall and Wilmot Court for approximately 3 weeks on or about Monday, July 6. Access will be maintained at the University Avenue end of the roadway.
What's that? Eby Hall and Wilmot Court not ringing a bell? They are two of the buildings that make up the UW Place residences, along with Beck Hall, Wellesley, Waterloo and Woolwich Courts.
Human Resources is reporting that retiree Mary Freiheit died June 12. Mary began working at the University of Waterloo in February 1987, holding the position of Food Services Assistant in Food Services before retiring in July 2004. She is survived by her husband, Erwin.