60 years ago: for 74 in '57, class was in session
Sixty years ago this week, the first cohort of students at what would soon be known as the University of Waterloo marched into their first classrooms – a pair of tin-roofed temporary buildings outside of Willison Hall at Waterloo College near the corner of Dearborn and Albert Streets.
Those first students at the Waterloo College Associate Faculties, which would become the University of Waterloo in 1959 by an act of the Ontario legislature, were all engineering students, and all male. They paid $54.29 for the term’s textbooks, receiving them from Elsie Fisher, who would go on to run the University of Waterloo’s bookstore for 30 years.
At the time, Waterloo College consisted of three buildings – Willison Hall (demolished in 1970), Conrad Hall (the original Evangelical Lutheran Seminary of Canada campus building, demolished in 1962) and an administrative building with classrooms (still standing today as WLU’s Arts C Wing.) The new engineering students discovered that their classes were not taking place in the academic buildings, but in the temporary structures outside – one of which was situated in Willison Hall’s parking lot!
The first of the two structures, ready for occupancy in July 1957, was about 3,800 square feet and cost about $18,000 to build. The second one was 4,500 square feet and cost $26,000.
Together they satisfied the immediate need for classroom and laboratory space for the Waterloo College Associate Faculties.
This was the proto-University of Waterloo’s first, hot summer – literally.
“The huts, as they came to be called, grew hotter and hotter,” wrote James Scott in Of Mud and Dreams, a chronicle of the University’s first decade.
Veterans of that first cohort remembered that summer as unbearable, and the tin-roof portables were not air-conditioned. Students tried hosing down the flat roofs only to find that they leaked.
"We, the engineers, had 44 contact hours per week, which included Saturday morning drafting classes," wrote Jack Kruuv, a member of that inaugural engineering class who would go on to become the first president of Waterloo's Engineering Society, and who would later join Waterloo's faculty as a physics professor for 30 years. "The huts had no air conditioning and leaked, allowing flies, mosquitoes and “what-nots” to get in (had to watch out for those “what-nots”)."
The students hit upon one solution, made an easy choice by their single-gender environment – legend has it that they stripped down to their underwear while trying to keep the beads of sweat from smudging the ink on their drafting tables.
"We were in school in the middle of summer and worked with our shirts off in the drafting class on Saturdays. Of course, sweat dripped on our drawings and more than the occasional fly was slaughtered on the drawing," recalls Kruuv. "Our drafting teacher, Mr. Cairncross, would deduct 10 marks for each drop of sweat and fly. Obviously, there were no perfect marks in those classes.”
Those first Waterloo students sweated their way through their first academic term until October, when they started the institution’s very first co-operative education work term, and a second cohort of students rotated in to begin their studies at the Associate Faculties. In those days, academic terms were three months, not four months, long.
As for those temporary buildings, known as Annex I and Annex II, they had a long and productive life, even as construction began on more permanent academic structures on the newly-acquired land that would eventually become the University of Waterloo’s main campus in January 1958.
In the fall of 1958, President Gerry Hagey was insistent that they be moved down Dearborn Avenue to where the University of Waterloo’s new campus was being built.
He instructed Mike Brookes, then superintendent of buildings and grounds, to get it done, no questions asked. This presented Brookes with something of a problem, as the two buildings, though temporary in nature, were never designed to move from their hillside foundations.
“Brookes was truly perplexed as to how to do it and as a last desperate measure hired a company by the name of Cooper Wrecking who assured him that they could do it,” writes Ken McLaughlin. “And in spite of the great odds they succeeded.”
The buildings were carefully dug out and transferred onto trailers. One of them had to be cut in half in order to fit onto the truck.
Carefully, and slowly, they were trucked over the hills and down Dearborn Street. “One of the buildings was too wide and was left overnight on the road,” writes McLaughlin. Since Dearborn Street wasn’t exactly the bustling thoroughfare that University Avenue is today, perhaps that was not a major issue.
Once installed in their new environs, they served as drafting halls, housed the University’s cafeteria, and later became the home of the administrative offices of the Students’ Council and Federation of Students before the construction of the Campus Centre in 1968.
“Being in the first class, it really forced you to try hard,” remembered chemical engineering alumnus Ron Gotts in 2012, when the Faculty of Engineering celebrated the 50th anniversary of the inaugural graduating class of Waterloo engineers. “You were pretty much on your own and had to find a way to get your work done.”
With files from Kenneth McLaughlin. Photographs courtesy of the University of Waterloo Library, Special Collections & Archives.
Part two of the Hamdullahpur era begins
Feridun Hamdullahpur's second term as president and vice-chancellor of the University of Waterloo began on Saturday, July 1.
“Waterloo benefits greatly from Feridun’s strategic initiatives, wisdom and passion for all aspects of this University’s mandate," said Chancellor Tom Jenkins when Hamdullahpur's reappointment was announced last June. "I look forward to working with him to support his efforts to achieve the ambitions and potential of this exceptional institution.”
In his first term as president, Hamdullahpur initiated efforts to raise Waterloo’s international profile and enhanced the learning experience of students with a range of projects to expand social, study, dining and recreation spaces on campus. Hamdullahpur led the development and implementation of Waterloo’s Strategic Plan, through broad consultation, detailed planning and a robust accountability framework.
Hamdullahpur was appointed president and vice-chancellor on March 11, 2011. His second term runs to June 30, 2021.
Charmaine Dean starts as VP University Research
Professor Charmaine Dean begins her five-year term as Vice-President, University Research this week.
Dean, a Waterloo alumnus, was a professor and Dean of Science at Western University before her appointment at Waterloo. Prior to her role at Western, she played a major role in establishing the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University in her capacity as associate dean of that Faculty, where she was the founding chair of the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science.
“Charmaine Dean brings to the University of Waterloo a distinguished academic career, deep relationships across faculties, industry and government, and an entrepreneurial mindset,” said Feridun Hamdullahpur in the original announcement of Dean's appointment. “I am delighted to welcome her to the University’s leadership team. I’m confident she will build on our tremendous achievements and impacts across multiple disciplines to advance Waterloo’s reputation as a leader in world-changing research.”
Dean has served as president of the Statistical Society of Canada, as president of the International Biometrics Society (Western North American Region), as president of the Biostatistics Section of the Statistical Society of Canada, and has given over 15 years of service in numerous capacities to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, as well as service to CIHR, and various international granting councils. She is a fellow of the American Statistical Association and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
In June of this year, Dean was appointed to to the Infectious Diseases, Reproductive Health, Asthma and Pulmonary Conditions Study Section at the Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health. According to the Center for Scientific Review, members are "selected on the basis of their demonstrated competence and achievement in their scientific discipline as evidenced by the quality of research accomplishments, publications in scientific journals, and other significant scientific activities, achievements and honors."
Dean succeeds George Dixon, who served as Waterloo’s vice-president, university research from July 2007 to June 30, 2017.
From provosts to deans and beyond, new terms begin
The first of this month represents a turning of the leaf for a number of senior administrative positions at the University, as new terms of office commence. Among the administrators taking up their positions as of July 1:
- George Dixon begins work as interim Vice-President, Academic & Provost. Dixon served as Vice-President, University Research from July 2007 to June 2017, and prior to that served as chair of the Department of Biology and as dean of the Faculty of Science. Dixon will be serving as interim provost for a one-year term;
- Pearl Sullivan's reappointment as Dean of Engineering was effective July 1 as well. Sullivan has served as Dean since July 2012;
- Professor Kevin Resch began as interim Executive Director of the Institute for Quantum Computing for a six-month term;
Professor Susan Tighe begins a new role as Deputy Provost, Integrated Planning and Budgeting for a two-year term; and
Professor Diana Parry starts as Associate Vice-President, Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion for a two-year term.
Congratulations to these members of the University's senior leadership team.