Thursday, January 16, 2020

Waterloo mourns loss of students, alumni

Photos of the deceased at the memorial event.

On Wednesday January 15, the University of Waterloo held a memorial event for the victims of Ukrainian International Airlines Flight PS752. The event was attended by more than 600 Waterloo campus community members and others from the wider Waterloo community who joined in solidarity with the friends and family of those who were lost. More than 1,000 people had viewed the livestream by Wednesday afternoon.

176 people died in the crash on January 8. Among the victims were Waterloo PhD students Marzieh (Mari) Foroutan and Mansour Esnaashary Esfahani, as well as alumnus Mojgan Daneshmand, her husband Pedram Moussavi, a former post-doctoral fellow, and their children, and School of Optometry and Vision Science alumnus Dr. Neda Saddighi.

Feridun Hamdullahpur speaks at the memorial event at Fed Hall.Vice-President, University Relations Sandra Banks was the master of ceremonies at the event, which included remarks from President Feridun Hamdullahpur, Mayor of Waterloo Dave Jaworsky, Graduate Student Association President Naima Samuel, and guests who spoke on behalf of the victims including Professor Safieddin Safavi-Naeini of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Mazda Kompanizare of the Faculty of Environment.

"To each of the families, friends, colleagues and extended university community around the world, our entire community - myself, my senior administration - all together we mourn with you," said President Feridun Hamdullahpur. "We have lost so much life and love."

"Those lost will leave a deep void in our hearts and in the research and academic community."

"We share our mourning with our colleagues from across Canada who are grieving the loss of so many talented, vibrant and loved individuals who also died in the crash...The Canadian academic community welcomes thousands of international students, faculty and their families every year to our community, to our campuses and to our institutions so they can pursue their dreams at our universities," said President Hamdullahpur. "We lost so many from this community last week. Our world was brighter with each of them, and we will miss all that they brought to our institutions and disciplines. But most of all we will miss what they brought to our communities. They simply made us better - their personalities, friendship, sense of humour and so much more, are deeply and dearly missed."

Birgit Moscinski sang the national anthem at the beginning of the event and closing music was provided by Iranian-Canadian musicians Padideh Ahrarnejad and Ali Massoudi from Toronto playing the tar and tonbak, both traditional instruments of Iran.

The memorial included a nationwide moment of silence where academic institutions across the country joined together to pay tribute to their students, alumni and colleagues who perished in the crash.

The livestream of the event is available online.

Committee provides update on pensions, benefits

The Pension & Benefits Committee (P&B) has circulated a memo updating University employees on the next steps for potential changes to the University's pension plans and is seeking community feedback.

"On December 9 and 17, 2019 the Pension & Benefits Committee (P&B) hosted a total of five public information sessions for members of the University of Waterloo pension plan detailing prospective changes to the university’s pension plan," says the memo. "A copy of the presentation as well as a video recording of one of the five presentations is posted to the P&B website."


The changes under consideration by P&B are:

  • Over a three-year period, to have a phased increase in member contributions rates so as to restore the cost sharing between members and the university back to the 50/50 target, along with an overall funding strategy to maintain the viability of the pension plan; and
  • To make the periodic changes to the pension caps in the registered pension plan.

"A comprehensive explanation of the proposed changes, including the rationale and anticipated benefits to maintaining the health of the pension plan, is given in the recorded presentation as well as in a summary document posted to the same webpage on the P&B website."

"It is anticipated that the Pension & Benefits Committee will formally consider the changes to the pension plan at the P&B meeting on Friday 17 January 2020; subject to approval by the committee, the final recommendation would be anticipated to be brought as a recommendation to the Board of Governors meeting on Tuesday 4 February 2020."

"The Pension & Benefits Committee would welcome your thoughts on the proposed changes to the pension plan contribution rates, caps, and funding strategy – please share your thoughts via the web form." 

Gordon's alive!? Flash reaches end-of-life in 2020

The homepage of classic Flash-based website

Was Homestar Runner the best Flash-based website of the 2000s, or the best Flash-based website of all time? The correct answer is yes.

A message from Information Systems & Technology (IST) and the Centre for Extended Learning (CEL).

On December 31, 2020, Adobe will be discontinuing support for Flash Player; most web browsers will disable and block Flash before this date. University of Waterloo materials using Flash must be converted to other technology before that time.

The Centre for Extended Learning (CEL) offers a conversion service for training materials that have been authored in Flash to any University of Waterloo department. This service includes: 

  • Evaluating current Flash-based training materials
  • Advising on AODA/accessibility compliance and mobile use
  • Conducting the conversion 
  • Performing quality and consistency checks

CEL has developed a considerable amount of expertise in this area as the department has been converting online course materials away from Flash since Fall 2017.

A fee will apply for this service and a detailed estimate will be provided to interested departments. Please contact Senior Production Manager, Matt Justice ( to discuss how CEL can assist.

Link of the day

Waterloo's Harmony Lunch to close January 24

When and Where

Music Ensemble auditions for Winter 2020 open for registration, December 2019 to Friday, January 24.

Free Instructional Dance and Martial Arts Week, Monday, January 13 to Friday, January 17.

Student Leadership Program – Building Your Credibility, Thursday, January 16, 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., NH 1110. Register on UWaterloo Portal.

Chemistry Seminar featuring Robert Batey, Department of Chemistry, University of Toronto, “Natural Product Inspired Synthetic Methods Development: Targetting Macrocycles and Alkaloids,” Thursday, January 16, 2:30 p.m., C2-361 (Reading Room).

Grad Student Community and Conversation Circle, Thursday, January 16, 3:30 p.m., HS 1106 – Register on GoSignMeUp.

Student Leadership Program – Conflict ManagementThursday, January 16, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., NH 1110. Register on UWaterloo Portal.

Concept by Velocity - Winter Term Kickoff, “Great resources, snacks, and swag? What a Concept!” Thursday, January 16, 5:30 p.m., Claudette Millar Hall Great Hall.

Conditioning Classes Registration Deadline, Friday, January 17.

Seminar: Waterloo AI Institute, “Emotion-cognition Interactions as Deep Active Inference, featuring Ryan Smith, Associate investigator, Laureate Institute for Brain Research, Friday, January 17, 10:30 a.m. DC 1302.

Knowledge Integration seminar: “Conflict Transformation with Contemplative Spiritualities and Mindfulness”, featuring speaker Betty Pries, co-founder and CEO, Credence & Co., Friday, January 17, 1:00 p.m., EV2-2002.

Philosophy Colloquium Series presents Dr. Dave DeVidi, “Bottom-Up Logical Pluralism,” Friday, January 17, 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Hagey Hall 336,

Men’s Hockey vs. Guelph, Camp and Minor League Day, Friday, January 17, 7:00 p.m., CIF Arena.

Master of Taxation Open House, Saturday, January 18, 2020, 9:30 to 11:00 a.m., 220 Yonge St, Unit 115, Toronto. To register visit,

Women’s Volleyball vs. Lakehead, Bell Let’s Talk Day, Residence Day, Warrior Rec League Day, Saturday, January 18, 12:00 p.m., PAC Main Gym.

NEW - Women Inspiring Women: Student/Faculty Mixer, Monday, January 20, 2:30 p.m., E7 second floor pitch space. 

University Senate meeting, Monday, January 20, 3:30 p.m., NH 3407.

Coping Skills Seminar - Challenging Thinking, Monday, January 20, 4:30 p.m., HS 2302 – Register on GoSignMeUp.

Workday Support, Tuesday, January 21, 2020, 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., EC1 1021. No registration required.

NFRF Transformation Stream Notice of Intent Webinar for faculty, Tuesday, January 21, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., William G. Davis Centre, Room 1302.

Concept by Velocity - Turn Your Research Into a Startup, “Calling all graduate students, attend a panel discussion with local founders.”, Tuesday, January 21, 4:30 p.m., Conrad Hub, Engineering 7.

NEW - Research Ethics drop-in session for faculty and students, Wednesday, January 22, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., Dana Porter Library (study booth on the main floor).

NEW - Career Advancement for Women (for employees only), Wednesday, January 22, 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.

NEW - Preventing Depression Relapse: A Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy Group, Wednesday, January 22, 2:00 p.m., HS 2302 – Register on GoSignMeUp.

NEW - FAUW Lecturers Social, January 22, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., Grad House.

NEW - Coping Skills Seminar – Thriving With Emotions, Wednesday, January 22, 6:00 p.m., HS 2302 – Register on GoSignMeUp.

PhD oral defences

Chemistry. Braden Kralt, "Lipodepsipeptide Antibiotics: Total Synthesis and Mechanism of Action Studies Using 19F-NMR." Supervisor, Scott Taylor. On deposti in the Science graduate office, PHY 2013. Oral defence Thursday January 16, 10:00 a.m., C2 361.

Chemical Engineering. Sileola Bukola Ogunlaja, "Effects of Nanoparticle Interfacial Additives on Phase Inversion of Pickering Emulsions." Supervisor, Rajinder Pal. On display in the Engineering graduate office, E7 7402. Oral defence Thursday January 16, 3:30 p.m., E6 2022.

Management Sciences. Yaser Abolghasemi Dehaghani, "Three Essays on Business Analytics: time-series causality, panel data analysis, and design of experiments." Supervisor, Stanko Dimitrov. On display in the Engineering graduate office, E7 7402. Oral defence Friday January 17, 9:30 a.m., CPH 3623.

English Language and Literature. David Thiessen, "The Flesh Made Mind: Language and Embodiment in Fourteenth-Century Middle English Literature." Supervisor, Sarah Tolmie. On deposit in the Arts graduate office, PAS 2428. Oral defence Friday January 17, 1:30 p.m., HH 232.