Friday, December 14, 2018

President's Community Impact Award winners named

Feridun Hamdullahpur and the winners of this year's President's Community Impact Awards.

This year's recipients of the President's Community Impact Award (PCIA) have been named.

The winners were revealed at last night's President's Holiday Dinner.

Launched in 2017 as a legacy to the University’s 60th anniversary, the annual President’s Community Impact Awards recognize and celebrate those who embody the spirit of innovation and contribute to making Waterloo region strong and prosperous.

There are two categories: Community Leaders and University Leaders.

Community leaders

Mike Beazely.Michael Beazely - Professor Mike Beazely of the School of Pharmacy has contributed to the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council and has been involved with the Waterloo Region Integrated Drug Strategy (WRIDS) since its inception. As chair of the WRIDS since 2017, Mike’s leadership has contributed to prevention resources, partnerships with school boards and the Waterloo Region Local Health Integration Network, and promotion of student volunteer engagement in this critical community issue.

Robin Mazumder.Robin Mazumder - Robin Mazumder is a PhD candidate in cognitive neuroscience at the University of Waterloo. Robin has served on the City of Kitchener Cycling & Trails Advisory Committee and as Guest Librarian to the Kitchener Public Library in 2016. He partnered with the Waterloo Region Local Health Integration Network and the Kitchener Downtown Community Health Centre to make light therapy lamps available
at all KPL locations and to the Waterloo campus.

Professor Colin MacLeod, chair of Waterloo's Psychology department, accepted the award on Robin’s behalf.

University Leaders

Sustainable Waterloo Region logo.Sustainable Waterloo Region - Sustainable Waterloo Region (SWR) programs such as TravelWise and the Regional Sustainability Initiative have helped shape the University of Waterloo’s sustainability strategy, which was recognized with a SWR Breakthrough award in spring 2018. A unique partnership between SWR, the Cora Group, EY Canada and the University’s David Johnston Research & Technology Park (R&T Park) led to the opening of Canada’s first net-positive multi-tenant building in the R&T Park this fall.  Many UWaterloo students and faculty are SWR volunteers.

Executive Director of SWR Tova Davidson accepted the award on behalf of the organization.

Volunteer Action Centre Waterloo Region logo.Volunteer Action Centre Waterloo Region - In 2014, the Volunteer Action Centre Waterloo Region (VACWR) began a formal partnership with the University’s Federation of Students (FEDS), leading to the launch of the FEDS Volunteer Centre one year later. To date, the online volunteer database has made more than 2,000 meaningful community connections for Waterloo students, as well as staff and faculty. VACWR is a regular participant at our bi-annual​ campus Volunteer Fairs, and have also partnered with the University’s Centre for Career Action, St. Paul’s Greenhouse, and the First Year Engineering Leadership conference.

Jane Hennig, Executive Director, Volunteer Action Centre, accepted the award on behalf of the organization.

For more information, check out the President's Community Impact Awards website.

Feedback session for Freedom of Speech policy Monday

An opportunity to discuss the University’s Draft Policy 8 on freedom of speech is coming up on Monday, December 17.

On August 30, 2018, the Office of the Ontario Premier issued a news release directing universities across the province to develop and post institutional freedom of speech policies by January 1, 2019. The news release stated that there would be annual monitoring regarding compliance and penalties in the form of grant reduction for non-compliance.

The University of Waterloo already has policies and agreements regarding the rights of employees and students to academic freedom, and freedom from undue interference, harassment, discrimination and physical harm. While the University has made statements about its commitment to free speech when controversial speakers have come to campus in the past, it does not have a formal policy on this point as required by the directive.

After discussion with other universities and a review of the University of Waterloo’s policies in light of the provincial directive, a determination has been made that a short policy statement is necessary to fully address the government’s requirements.

The draft policy is intended to fill this narrow gap without changing any existing rights or responsibilities of employees and students. The policy states that the University is committed to providing an environment in which individuals and groups can express themselves, provided the content or manner of that expression is not contrary to law, University governing documents, and does not interfere with free speech of others.

Similarly, individuals and groups have the right to protest expression by others provided that the nature of protest does not interfere with the rights of others. The policy also affirms that existing policies and procedures for handling complaints will apply.

All University relations committees (Undergraduate, Graduate, Faculty, and Staff) were asked to seek input from as broad a range of individuals as possible on the draft policy.

In light of the ongoing discussion around the draft policy, a meeting has been scheduled for members of the University community to offer their feedback on Monday, December 17 from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Board and Senate room in NH 3407.

Velocity graduate student startup fund launches

Graduate Student Startup Fund banner.

Velocity has announced the launch of a new startup fund initiative for graduate student entrepreneurs.

The Velocity Graduate Student Startup Fund will provide $20,000 in funding for a startup and acceptance into the Velocity Garage incubator program.

The fund is made possible through the generosity of Sam Pasupalak, a successful Velocity alumnus. Pasupalak co-founded artificial intelligence company Maluuba, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2017. His generous donation will allow graduate students at the University of Waterloo to follow in his footsteps and work on building world-class companies.

Teams are eligible to apply for the fund if they have at least one co-founder who is currently, or has been in the last 12 months, a University of Waterloo graduate student. More information on the fund and eligibility can be found at

Applications are open and will close January 20, 2019 at 11:59 p.m.

President's Holiday Luncheon and other notes

A University of Waterloo mug piled high with marshmallows.There's still time for faculty and staff to register for the President’s Holiday Luncheon, which will be held on Friday, December 14 at 12:00 p.m. in Fed Hall.

Charmaine Dean, vice-president, research and international and nine Waterloo researchers visited the Technion Israel Institute of Technology in November and attended a workshop to explore collaborative research in water, nano science, quantum information processing, artificial intelligence, and cybersecurity.

Charmaine Dean, Vice-President, Research and International meets with Boaz Golany, Vice-President, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology during a visit to Technion in November.

Charmaine Dean, Vice-President, Research and International meets with Boaz Golany, External Relations and Resource Development, Technion Israel Institute of Technology during a visit to Technion in November.

The Waterloo-Technion partnership was established in 2014 following a donation from the Gerald Schwartz and Heather Reisman Foundation and has supported a number workshops, 11 research projects and generated an additional $3.4 million in new grants, and a spin-off company.

Upcoming office closures

All Federation of Students offices will be closed today.

Institutional Analysis and Planning (IAP) will be closed on Monday, December 17 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for their holiday luncheon.

The Science Undergraduate Office will be closed on Monday, December 17 from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Finance, including Student Financial Services, will be closed on Monday, December 17 from 12:00 p.m to 1:30 p.m. for a special holiday event. If students have questions during that time, please email or call ext. 38466.

Parking Services will be closed on Tuesday, December 18 from 11:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for their annual holiday lunch. If anyone has any questions please email

The Engineering Undergraduate Office will be closed on Wednesday, December 19 from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. 

The University of Waterloo Optometry Clinic will be closed from 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, December 19 and Friday, December 21.

Reminder: Take the President's Town Hall survey

Whether you attended the President's Town Hall Meeting on November 21 in person, watched it online, or didn't attend the meeting, University Communications and the President's Office is interested in hearing your views on the meeting format and content. 

The President's Town Hall Meeting survey is now open and will run until Friday, December 21.

Your feedback is important and will help enhance future President’s Town Hall meetings.

Link of the day

It's a simian celebration: Monkey Day

When and where

Holiday Luncheon Buffet at the University Club, Wednesday, November 28 to Friday, December 21, 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., University Club.

University Christmas Project – register to sponsor a family in need this Christmas, drop off wrapped and labelled gifts by Friday, December 14, Tatham Centre. To sponsor a family, contact Shannon Taylor,

IT Seminar: Whatever happened to Drupal 8? Friday, December 14, 9:00 a.m. to 9:45 a.m., MC 2009. 

President's Holiday Luncheon, Friday, December 14, 12:00 p.m., Federation Hall.

Retirement celebration for Jerry Hutten, Friday, December 14, 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., University Club. 

WRITING WITH VISION: A toolkit for your manuscript, Monday, December 17, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., OPT WLRC.

Retirement Reception for Linda Richards, Monday, December 17, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., E7 2nd Floor Event Space. Please RSVP to Kari Griffiths.

NEW - Freedom of Speech policy discussion session, Monday, December 17, 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., NH 3407.

Holiday Buffet Luncheon in Federation Hall, Tuesday, December 18, 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., Federation Hall.

Advent Jazz Vesper Service, Tuesday, December 18, 7:00 p.m., Conrad Grebel University College Chapel.

Portfolio & Project Management Community of Practice (PPM CoP) session, “Community of Practice: What is it and future direction,” Wednesday, December 19, 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., East Campus 5 (EC5), 1111. 

Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology webinar, Wednesday, December 19, 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.

UWRC Book Club, “The Steady Running of the Hour” by Justin Go, Wednesday, December 19, 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m., LIB 407.

Retirement celebration for Elsa Woodhall, Thursday, December 20, 4:00 p.m., Book Store.

On-campus examinations end, Friday, December 21.

Co-operative work term ends, Friday, December 21.

myHRinfo learning and development shutdown, Friday, December 21. Service will be available through Workday as of January 7, 2019.

Casual Time Entry System shutdown, Friday, December 21. Service will be available through Workday in January 2019.

School of Pharmacy graduate studies seminar featuring Professor Heather Mair, Recreation and Leisure Studies, Friday, December 21, 11:00 a.m., PHR 1012.

Grades begin to appear in Quest, Saturday, December 22.

University holiday closure, Monday, December 24 to Tuesday, January 1, 2019, most buildings and operations closed. University reopens Wednesday, January 2, 2019.

Absence Management System shutdown, Monday, December 31. Vacations and absences will be tracked in workday beginning January 7, 2019.

PhD oral defences

Applied Mathematics. Humeyra Kiyak, "Qualitative Properties of Hybrid Singular Systems." Supervisor, Xinzhi Liu. Thesis available from MGO - Oral defence Tuesday, January 8, 2019, MC 5417.

Mechanical & Mechatronics Engineering. Hongtao Sui, "Synthesis and Characterization of Energetic Materials." Supervisor, John Wen. On display in the Engineering graduate office, E7 7402. Oral defence Wednesday, January 9, 2019, 9:30 a.m., E5 3052.

Physics & Astronomy. Keith Ng, "Sensing the shape of spacetime: detector response and entanglement harvesting in curved space." Supervisor, Robert Mann. On deposit in the Science graduate office, PHY 2013. Oral defence Wednesday, January 9, 2019, 10:00 a.m., B1 266.

Electrical & Computer Engineering. Mohammad Haghtalab. "Disordered-Based Electromagnetic Devices." Supervisor, Safieddin Safavi-Naeini. On display in the Engineering graduate office, E7 7402. Oral defence Thursday, January 10, 2019, 1;00 p.m., E5 2004.