Thursday, June 25, 2020

Remembering Tom Brzustowski, Waterloo's first provost

Vice-President, Academic Tom Brzustowski sits at his desk in Needles Hall in this 1985 photo.

Vice-President, Academic Tom Brzustowski sits as his desk in Needles Hall in this 1985 photo.

Thomas Brzustowski used to tell a story about how he was representing the University of Waterloo at a conference in France, when at one point a French delegate approached him, peered at his name tag, and exclaimed, "Why would anybody name a university after such a great defeat?"

Brzustowski, a former member of the Faculty of Engineering and Provost Emeritus, passed away on Friday, June 19.

Born in Warsaw, Poland in 1937, Brzustowski came to Canada in 1948 and became a naturalized Canadian citizen in 1954. In 1957 he worked in the Thermodynamics section of Avro Aircraft, moving to the Combustion section of Orenda Engines in 1958, both in Malton, Ontario, home of the Avro Arrow.

Professor Tom Brzustowski in an undated photo.Brzustowski graduated with a BASc in Engineering Physics from the University of Toronto in 1958, and a Master’s and PhD in Aeronautical Engineering from Princeton in 1960 and 1963, respectively. His research areas included thermodynamics and combustion, rocket propulsion, celestial mechanics, and spectroscopy.

Brzustowski joined the University of Waterloo’s Department of Mechanical Engineering in September 1962 as an assistant professor. In September 1964 he was appointed Associate Professor, becoming a full Professor in September 1966. He served as Chair of Mechanical Engineering from 1967 to 1970, and as Associate Dean, Graduate Studies from 1971 to 1974.

Brzustowski served on a number of key committees and governance bodies at the University, including the committee that drafted the University of Waterloo Act in 1972, the task force that drafted the University’s first policy covering its computing facilities, and the Senate’s tenure committee. He chaired a special Senate committee in 1967 and 1968 that effectively reorganized the University’s approach to graduate studies. He also served on the University’s Senate and Board of Governors.

Tom Brzustowski in a turtleneck circa 1975.In 1975 he was appointed Vice-President, Academic of the University, succeeding Howard Petch, who had departed Waterloo to serve as President of the University of Victoria. From September to December 1976, he was named Acting President of the University. As Vice-President, Academic, Brzustowski chaired the University’s long-range planning committee, which set the guidelines for the institution’s growth and development over a ten-year period. During this time, he also worked to established the University’s Distinguished Teacher Awards, which are still awarded today.

He was reappointed to a second term as vice-president, academic in 1980, and a truncated three-year term (at his request) in 1985. In 1986, Brzustowski led the committee that produced the University’s “Fourth Decade Report,” the first of three “decade plans” that were the forerunners to today’s Strategic Plan.

Even as the University’s top academic official, Brzustowski carried on his teaching and research, and gave undergraduates top priority for appointments with him, on the grounds that they had the shortest deadlines, recalls Chris Redmond, founding editor of the Daily Bulletin.

In June 1987, Brzustowski’s portfolio was expanded to include new duties as the University’s first “provost,” in effect becoming the University’s chief operating officer as well as its senior academic administrator.

Tom Brzustowski circa 1985.Not long after receiving the provostial title, Brzustowski departed from Waterloo to serve as deputy minister in the Government of Ontario from 1987 to 1995, first in the Ministry of Colleges and Universities and later on the deputy of the Premier’s Council on Economic Renewal in 1991. At the Ministry of Colleges and Universities, Brzustowski succeeded Alan Adlington, who had previously served as Waterloo vice-president, academic from 1961 to 1970. In doing so, Brzustowski joined an exclusive club of former senior University of Waterloo administrators who had transitioned to the public service, including Al Adlington and Douglas Wright as deputy ministers and former Waterloo president Burt Matthews, who served as chair of the Ontario Council on University Affairs from 1982 to 1984.

He was appointed President of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) in October 1995, and reappointed in 2000, retiring in 2005. Brzustowski was the second former top Waterloo administrator to head a major federal scientific agency, after Arthur Carty. After his retirement from NSERC, Brzustowski returned to the University of Waterloo as a senior advisor to the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) for a three-year term. He played a unique role in advancing the Institute by establishing linkages with industry and governments as well as national and international research organizations and individuals. Following his term as advisor, he continued to serve as a member and Chair of IQC’s board of directors. Check out a number of video interviews he recorded while a member of the IQC board.

Brzustowski also served as the RBC Professor in the Commercialization of Innovations in the School of Management at the University of Ottawa.

Reflecting on his time at Waterloo, Brzustowski once said, “It was a consciously innovative environment…The University was filled with people just out of graduate school who had ideas about how to make the University better for other graduate students, combined with senior academics who were dissatisfied with their previous universities and came to Waterloo determined to do things better. Professors were expected to develop new curricula and were free to make mistakes, and if we didn’t we were not really doing our job.”

Tom Bzrustowski in 2013.During his academic career he published more than 60 research papers and undergraduate textbooks on thermodynamics. He authored a number of publications on Canadian innovation and prosperity, including The Way Ahead: Meeting Canada's Productivity Challenge and Innovation in Canada: Why We Need More and What We Must Do to Get It.

“There is a wonderful symmetry to my time with Tom Brzustowski,” writes University historian Ken McLaughlin. “The new Vice-President Academic, replacing the sometimes-stern Howard Petch, visited all of the academic departments, including the sometimes-threatened Department of History. In walked the young V-P Academic challenging us to a lively discussion of Alvin Toffler’s ground-breaking new book, Future Shock. What a contrast to his predecessor. When Tom returned to Waterloo as Chair of the Board of the Institute for Quantum Computing, I walked into his office, only to be challenged again by a heated debate about his new book, Innovation in Canada: Why We Need More and What We Must Do to Get It. A restless intellect seeking to push the boundaries is my lasting impression of Tom.”

Brzustowski held honorary doctorates from institutions including Alberta, Concordia, école Polytechnique de Montréal, Guelph, McMaster, Ottawa, Royal Military College of Canada, Ryerson, and Waterloo, and received the Engineering Alumni Medal from the University of Toronto.

He was an Officer of the Order of Canada and a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering, the Engineering Institute of Canada and of the Royal Society of Canada. He won the Angus Medal of the Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering in 1976, 1978, and 1982. In 2006 he received the Ontario Professional Engineering Association’s Gold Medal for making “significant and lasting contributions to research and development in Canadian engineering.”

Jennifer Kieffer named Interim Associate Provost, Integrated Planning and Budgeting

Jennifer Kieffer."I am delighted to announce that Jennifer Kieffer has agreed to serve as Interim Associate Provost, Integrated Planning and Budgeting on a one-year secondment commencing July 1, 2020," wrote James Rush, vice-president, academic & provost, in a memo circulated to Executive Council yesterday.

"Jennifer Kieffer has worked in Institutional Analysis and Planning (IAP) for fifteen years, first as an Institutional Analyst and, since 2013, as the Senior Manager of the Policy and Enrolment Planning team. Jennifer is an active member of the Council on University Planning and Analysis (CUPA), an affiliate of the Council of Ontario Universities (COU), and in 2018 was selected by CUPA as the recipient of the Marty England Award for leadership and excellence within the CUPA community. In her roles in IAP, Jennifer has provided leadership to enrolment planning and has ensured UW compliance with Ministry of Colleges and Universities (MCU) policy as pertains to government funding and tuition. Jennifer has also played a significant role in helping to negotiate each of the Strategic Mandate Agreements (SMAs) Waterloo has signed with the provincial government in recent years."

"With the departure of Susan Tighe from the Deputy Provost and Associate Vice President Integrated Planning and Budgeting combined role, I am taking the opportunity to reorganize some responsibilities according to the needs and workflows in the Provost Office portfolio under a new structure," the provost writes. "Creating a distinct AP Integrated Planning and Budgeting role and transitioning this to a full-time staff role is one priority component of this. In the coming weeks, I will provide further information regarding other components of transitioning to a newly organized portfolio in order to best meet the current and future leadership needs of my office."  

"I am grateful to Jennifer for taking on this important leadership role at the University of Waterloo," the provost's memo concludes. "Please join Feridun and I in congratulating Jennifer on her appointment."

Waterloo Ready is up and running

Waterloo Ready banner.

More than 8,000 new University of Waterloo undergraduate students will be experiencing their first term of university mostly online. Although it is certainly not what they expected when they applied, these students have the support of the Waterloo community behind them – including staff, faculty, and upper year peer mentors. Faculties and academic support units have partnered to create Waterloo Ready - a program to support and engage new undergraduate students over the summer and right through their first year.

Waterloo Ready provides a structure for the integration of several new student transition services, resources and initiatives - delivered by the Student Success Office, the Faculties, the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association, and many other campus partners. Students will be engaged in faculty-specific live chats, LEARN modules, peer mentorship and an integrated communications strategy including email, web and social media.

Incoming undergraduate students have been contacted by a peer success coach to welcome them to the University. Over the next few weeks, each of these students will be matched with a mentor from their faculty. The peer mentors are a team of more than 200 upper year students who will provide a personal connection to help new students navigate all the things they need to know and do in the coming weeks and months. Students will be connected with resources to get a head start on learning and with tools to help them prepare for life outside of the classroom.

The Waterloo Ready program focuses on the value of connections and preparation. “Our incoming students are joining the Waterloo family at a unique time in history. Providing them with built-in connections through the peer-matching program will go a long way in ensuring that new students feel connected and engaged throughout the summer and into the fall,” says Chris Read, associate provost, students.

Each week, incoming students will hear from current Waterloo students through email, online chats, video calls and social media. They’ll get a glimpse into life at Waterloo and a built-in network of peers to help them through their transition.

Our goal is to help our new undergraduate students feel connected, part of our community and ready to start their studies in the fall, whether it be in-person, online or both.

To see planned and sent emails to incoming students, as well as the program timeline, you can visit the Student Success Office’s staff and faculty resources site.

For more information about Waterloo Ready, please contact Heather Westmorland, Student Success Office –

Incoming graduate students have been invited to participate in Waterloo Grad Ready – a transition program designed specifically to support new master’s and doctoral students. Stay tuned for more details next week; if you have questions in the meantime, please contact Marta Bailey, Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs –

Library announces Print Pickup @ Porter

A message from the Library.

A graphic showing a library cart full of a books.The Library is pleased to offer a new print pickup service to faculty, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who, for the purposes of research, require access to University-owned print materials not available electronically.

Print Pickup @ Porter will begin accepting web requests for print items from Davis and Porter libraries during the week of June 22. Pickups will be available at Dana Porter Library, outside the main entrance starting Friday, June 26.

Submit your request through the Omni discovery catalogue for pickup. You will receive an email when your items have been retrieved and packaged for you. Measures for social distancing and accessibility will be in place for the safety of our staff and users.

We look forward to supporting your research needs through our new Print Pickup @ Porter service. We are working to expand this service to include other campus locations, non-critical needs, and for undergraduates by the end of the summer.

Link of the day

25 years ago: Hollywood discovers the Internet

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. 

NEW - Fostering LGBTQ2S+ Inclusion in Online Learning, Thursday, June 25, 12:00 p.m. 

NEW - Introduction to PebblePlus, Monday, June 29, 1:00 p.m. 

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

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

Remote Course Design Essentials, Wednesday, July 8. 

NEW - Introduction to Best OER’s in STEMThursday, July 9, 2:30 to 3:00 p.m.

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.

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!

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.

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.

NEW - HREI201: Cultivating Consent Culture from an Intersectional Lens, Monday, July 6, 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

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.

NEW - Grammar studio II: Sentence structure and punctuation, Thursday, July 9, 2:00 pm, Live Q & A on LEARN.

NEW - Engineering Live Chat, Thursday, July 9, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.