Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Convocation considerations after a virtual celebration

Abir Khaled and daughter Ola Elkhatib graduated from the University of Waterloo this spring. They sit together with their lawn signs.

It was an extra special time in the Khaled and Elkhatib household as Abir Khaled and daughter Ola Elkhatib graduated from the University of Waterloo this spring. Abir earned her PhD in Analytical Chemistry and Ola has graduated from chemical engineering. Congratulations to you both.

The University of Waterloo first-ever virtual Convocation celebrations took place last week. More than 6,400 graduating students were recognized as they received more than 6,700 degrees, diplomas, and certificates as the University pivoted to a virtual recognition due to COVID-19 that was intended to create a meaningful remote Convocation experience for Waterloo graduands.

Here's how the virtual Convocation celebrations went, by the numbers:

  • The average open rate for the personalized Convocation email was 81.6 per cent. Compare that to Spring 2019 Convocation, where the average in-person attendance rate was 75.2 per cent.
  • There were more than 17,000 views of the personalized Convocation videos;
  • Videos were shared to more than 12,000 unique users;
  • There were 1.36 million overall impressions on social media;
  • #UWaterlooGrad trended in Ontario on June 17, 2020;
  • There are 24,000 combined pages viewed across the Convocation website.

561 people picked up celebratory lawn signs as part of the celebration, 22 per cent of which were faculty and staff members eager to recognize our latest cohort of graduates. 100 additional signs were placed around the University's main and satellite campuses.

Regina Vera-Quinn's 1994 Convocation photo.Graduating students received their diplomas by mail in a package that included the diploma, an alumni handbook, and a W Store post card. More than 3,500 class composites were also mailed out to graduands. Several faculties customized their mailouts with additional materials.

The Daily Bulletin also put the call out for employees to revisit their own Convocation experiences in support of the virtual celebration, and several of you did just that, including Regina Vera-Quinn, coordinator of Spanish introductory courses in the Department of Spanish and Latin American Studies, who scanned and submitted her graduation photo Brandon Sweet and David Johnston on the Convocation stage in 2002.from 1994. And, what the heck, while we're on the subject: here is yours truly about to receive his hood from then-President David Johnston in 2002. Who knew that less than five years later I would be writing speeches for him?

As part of the personalized Convocation video messages sent to graduating students, the University's deans were asked a critically-important question: just what did they think the Canada Geese were up to now that they had the full run of campus?

Their answers are below:

Remembering Distinguished Professor Emeritus Ralph Haas

Distinguished Professor Emeritus Ralph Haas.

Distinguished Professor Emeritus Ralph Haas, a retired faculty member in Civil and Environmental Engineering, passed away on Friday, June 19. He was 87.

Haas was born in Alberta and obtained a BASc and MASc from the University of Alberta before finishing his PhD at the University of Waterloo in 1968. Before completing his PhD Haas taught engineering at Carleton University.

Professor Ralph Haas in the late 1970s.Professor Haas pioneered the systems concept and development of engineering technology for managing networks of paved roads. His research intrests included the economic analysis of highway and pavement, pavement performance evaluation, the structural analysis of pavement structures, highway materials and information systems, sulphur-asphalt technology, and pavement rehabilitation and recycling.

In 1968 he was appointed Associate Professor in Civil Engineering, making full Professor in 1972. In 1974 he was named Association Chairman in Civil Engineering and served as the department's chair beginning in 1978. He held a number of visiting professorships with the University of Texas at Austin.

In 1978 he became president of Pavement Management Systems, a spinoff company based on his research activities (and those of his colleagues) at the University of Waterloo that used technology to monitor and analyze paved road and road infrastructure conditions. He published hundreds of research papers, journal articles and more than a dozen books, including one entitled Modern Pavement Management, which at the time was the only book in the world on the subject of pavement management; it was intended as a textbook for road and highway management professionals.

His innovations led to many management and economic benefits for public transportation agencies in Canada and around the world.

Professor Ralph Haas in an undated photo.Haas retired from the University in 1996, but continued to teach and conduct research on road improvements. He was the founding director of Waterloo's Centre for Pavement and Transportation Technology (CPATT) and the centre's senior adviser. 

Haas was named Distinguished Professor Emeritus in 1997. In 1999 he was invested as a Member of the Order of Canada. He also received the Construction Innovation Forum's Nova Award in 1999, an award described as "the Nobel Prize of the construction industry." In 2001 he was elected to the Royal Society of Canada. Haas received the Professional Engineers Ontario Engineering Medal in the Research and Development Category in 2005 in recognition of his national and international reputation for important contributions to pavement engineering and infrastructure management. Haas was also a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering and recipient of the Queen's Golden Jubilee and Diamond Jubilee medals. In 2014 he received the US National Academies Transportation Research Board’s highest honour, the Roy W. Crum Award for Outstanding Achievement in Transportation Research. Haas was one of just three academics to have been named Honorary Life Member of the Transportation Association of Canada.

The University of Waterloo's Faculty of Engineering named a room in Engineering 3 the Ralph Haas Infrastructure and Sensing Analysis Laboratory in recognition of his influential research and teaching.

Ralph Haas in 2018.In 2018 he received an honourary degree from the University of Alberta.

Not content to pound the pavement merely for research purposes, Haas was passionate about long distance running, completing many 10K, marathon, and ultra marathon races in North America and abroad ranging from the Midnight Sun on Baffin Island to Comrades in South Africa.

A private memorial service will be held at the Erb & Good Family Funeral Home. Relatives and friends may join the family in the livestream of the service at on Saturday, June 27 at 1:00 p.m.

Read the Faculty of Engineering's tribute to Professor Haas on Waterloo Stories.

Sustainability certificate now available in LEARN; other notes

Sustainability Certificate icons over top of a campus scene.

The Sustainability Office "is excited to share that the Sustainability Certificate is now available on LEARN to support independent, asynchronous learning for employees. This series of courses is available to all university employees to help Waterloo embed sustainability into campus culture, one of the major goals of the University’s Environmental Sustainability Strategy. It includes seven modules that cover key local and global sustainability issues, what the University is doing, and tools and resources for employees to integrate sustainability into their own departments, homes, and beyond."

Employees can access the course under the Self Registration tab on LEARN and register using their WatIAM credentials. For more information, please visit the Sustainability Certificate webpage.

Note: The Sustainability Office will continue to deliver group offerings remotely in the fall term. Employees can choose the independent OR group learning stream, but cannot mix and match courses from the two streams at this time.

Here's what's coming up at the Centre for Career Action (June 22 – June 26)

  • Tuesday, June 30: Interviewing Effectively (PhD and Postdocs), 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
  • See CCA’s offering of virtual programming online. Students can register on WaterlooWorks.  
  • Centre for Career Action virtual drop-in advising hours for June: 
    • Online résumé, cover letter and interview support, Career consults, and Work search drop-ins running 12:00 to 1:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Students can book virtual drop-ins on WaterlooWorks.  

A slate with the words "online survey" appears on a tablet screen.

There is still time to complete the 2020 Internal Communications Survey. Faculty and staff members at the University can check their email inboxes for a link to the survey, which should take about 10 minutes to complete. By completing the survey, you are helping to identify specific aspects of the University’s internal communications activity that are meeting your needs as a member of the University community, and those that could use improvement. The survey will be available until Friday, July 3.

Link of the day

40 years ago: The Blues Brothers

When and Where to get support

Students can visit the Student Success Office online for supports including academic development, international student resources, leadership development, exchange and study abroad, and opportunities to get involved.

Award from GSEF-GSA-GSPA for thesis-based master’s and PhD students who have lost funding because of COVID-19.

Instructors can visit the Keep Learning website to get support on adapting their teaching and learning plans for an online environment. The following workshops are current offerings from the KL team (CTE, CEL, ITMS, LIB):

Teaching Online: Basic Skills for TAs, June 1 to 30.

Teaching Online: Advanced Skills for TAs, June 1 to 30.  

Introduction to OER Textbooks, Wednesday, June 24, 2:00 to 2:30 p.m.

Introduction to OER Activities, Exercises, and Student Work Examples, Thursday, June 25, 10:30 to 11:00 a.m. 

Introduction to OER Courses, Tuesday, July 7, 10:00 to 10:30 a.m. 

Remote Course Design Essentials, Wednesday, July 8. 

Employees can access resources to help them work remotely, including managing University records and privacy of personal information

Interested in learning more about engaging your students in an online course? The Centre for Extended Learning has created a new resource for you called "Fostering Engagement: Facilitating Online Courses in Higher Education"

This Open Educational Resource was designed for post-secondary instructors and teaching assistants who would like to better understand the critical role of facilitation in online course delivery, and build practical skills and strategies that are relevant, effective, and authentic.

Here are some tips for staying healthy while working from home.

The Writing and Communication Centre has gone virtual. We have many online services to help you meet your goals, including: Virtual Pre-booked and Drop-in appointments, Online workshopsVirtual Grad and Faculty Writing CafésInstagram Live Q&A sessionsLive PJ-Friendly Write-insOnline learning resources, and Online programming for Master’s and PhD students. Whatever you’re working on, we’re here to help! Visit our website for more information.

We understand that these circumstances can be troubling, and you may need to speak with someone for emotional support. Good2Talk is a post-secondary student helpline based in Ontario, Canada that is available to all students.

If you feel overwhelmed or anxious and need to talk to somebody, please contact the University’s Campus Wellness services, either Health Services or  Counselling Services.

The Library has published a resource guide on how to avoid information overload.

The Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo (FAUW) continues to advocate for its members. Check out the FAUW blog for more information.

The University of Waterloo Staff Association (UWSA) continues to advocate for its members. Check out the UWSA blog for more information.

WUSA supports for students:

Food Support Service food hampers are currently available from the Turnkey Desk on weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the Student Life Centre. If you have any questions please email us at

MATES – Providing general online Peer Support via Skype to undergraduate students. To set up an appointment, please go to:

Glow Centre - Providing online Peer Support for the LGBTQ2+ community via Skype to Undergraduate students. To set up an appointment, please go to:

The Women’s Centre – Providing online Peer Support via Skype to undergraduate students. To set up an appointment, please go to:

RAISE – Providing online Peer Support via Google to undergraduate students. To set up an appointment, please go to:

The Bike Centre – Now open by appointment for your bicycle repair and rental needs in the Student Life Centre. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please go to:

Centre for Academic Policy Support - CAPS is here to assist Waterloo undergraduates throughout their experience in navigating academic policy in the instances of filing petitions, grievances and appeals. Please contact them at . More information at

WUSA Commissioners who can help in a variety of areas that students may be experiencing during this time:

WUSA Student Legal Protection Program - Seeking legal counsel can be intimidating, especially if it’s your first time facing a legal issue. The legal assistance helpline provides quick access to legal advice in any area of law, including criminal. Just call 1-833-202-4571

Empower Me is a confidential mental health and wellness service that connects students with qualified counsellors 24/7. They can be reached at 1-844-741-6389.

When and Where (but mostly when)

Warriors Coaching Clinics. Every Wednesday from June 3 to July 15. Free online sessions highlighting a wide range of topics featuring Warriors Coaches and staff. Register in advance for the zoom link.

NEW - Warriors Jump Into June Challenge. Weekly challenges from June 8 to July 4 (Movement, Sleep, Water and Nutrition). Post your photo for a chance to win a $100 box from truLOCAL each week. Stay healthy Warriors!

NEW - Healthy Warriors at Home. Free programming including Online Fitness, Personal Training, Health Webinars, Personalized Nutrition and more. Open to students, staff, faculty and alumni. Register today.

NEW - Waterloo Warriors Online Camps. Online youth experiences including basketball, hockey and multi-sport camps for a variety of ages. Starting at $48.00/week. Register today.

Intro Session: Pitch to Win, Wednesday, June 24, 6:30 p.m.

The Post-COVID-19 Reboot, “Rebooting with Research: Our virtual future” (panel session 6 of 6) Thursday, June 25, 1:00 p.m.

Public Writing – Turning an Academic Paper into a Blogpost (with Elise Vist and James Skidmore), Thursday, June 25, 1:00 p.m.

Healthy Minds, Creative Concepts: Stress Management, Thursday, June 25, 4:00 p.m., Virtual Event. 

Science Innovation Hub Guest Lecture: Science Around the World with Senjuti Saha, Friday, June 26, 10:00 a.m.

Managing the Pandemic through Contact-Tracing Apps: Technological innovation or a Challenge to Privacy and Civil Liberties? Lunch and Learn session in collaboration with Defence Security Foresight Group and Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute - Moderated by CPI Executive Director Dr. Florian Kerschbaum with Panelists Bessma Momani, Plinio Morita and Douglas Stebila. Friday June 26, 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. Zoom platform. Register by Thursday, June 25.

Concept $5K Applications Close, Sunday, June 28, 11:59 p.m.

Graduate literature reviews A: Organizing research, Monday, June 29, 10:00 a.m. Live Q & A on LEARN.

International Live Chat #2 – Adjusting to a New Culture, Tuesday, June 30, 9:00 to 10:00 a.m.

Navigating Academic Integrity Issues in Online Teaching and Learning, Tuesday, June 30, 10:00 to 11:30 a.m.

Canada Day holiday, most University operations closed, Wednesday, July 1.

Grammar studio I: The most common grammar trouble spots, Thursday, July 2, 2:00 p.m. Live Q & A on LEARN.

University of Waterloo internal communications survey deadline, Friday, July 3.

Design & deliver I: Structure and deliveryMonday, July 6, 10:00 am, Live Q & A on LEARN.

International Live Chat #3 – Thriving in First Year, Tuesday, July 7, 9:00 to 10:00 a.m.

Science Live Chat, Wednesday, July 8, 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Intro Session: Billion Dollar Briefing, Wednesday, July 8, 6:30 p.m.

Positions available

On this week's list from the human resources department, viewable on the UWaterloo Talent Acquisition System (iCIMS):

  • Job ID# 2020-5459 - Administrative Manager - Communication Arts, USG 7
  • Job ID# 2020-5442 - Student Service Specialist - Office of the Registrar, USG 5-6

Internal secondment opportunities:

  • Job ID# 2020-5409 - Recruitment & Engagement Officer - Mathematics Dean's Office, USG 9
  • Job ID# 2020-5404 - Manager, Integrated Communications - University Relations, USG 11