Thursday, August 20, 2020

University commits to actions to address systemic racism

President Feridun Hamdullahpur.

This is an excerpt of an article originally published on Waterloo Stories.

Feridun Hamdullahpur, president and vice-chancellor, has announced a series of actions to address systemic racism following weeks of consultations.

In an email to campus, Hamdullahpur confirmed that the University intends to establish academic programs for Black Studies as well as Indigenous Studies and will also set goals to increase the number of Black and Indigenous faculty members.

The eight commitments are the first actions to come from recent consultations and will allow the University to develop a collaborative approach to developing a long-term sustainable strategy for tackling systemic racism.

“These meetings have shown me how much our institution needs to do to address anti-Black, anti-Indigenous, indeed all forms of racism faced by people on our campuses,” said Hamdullahpur. “As we move to strengthen our community, our approach will remain focused on consultation driven by BIPOC individuals. I want to stress how enormously valuable the input has been so far – we have tremendously passionate people who are helping to make our University better.”

Stressing that the eight actions are “only the first actions in … a series of recommendations that will come from further consultation”, Hamdullahpur confirmed that the University will:

  • Start the process to establish both a Black Studies program and an Indigenous Studies program.
  • Create a Black cultural centre on campus.
  • Begin the implementation of a system in Human Resources to diversify applicant pools for employees and address barriers in recruitment and hiring processes for BIPOC individuals. 
  • Set a goal for increasing Black and Indigenous faculty representation and commit to funding the positions once we have the systems in place to support the hiring processes and targets are established.
  • Include the University’s policy on equity in the boilerplate of every syllabus, containing a code of conduct and steps which will be taken if that code is violated. 
  • Develop a non-credit anti-racism module and make it available to all students.
  • Commit funds to explore the possibility of establishing a Transitional Year Program for BIPOC high school students.
  • Immediately become a member ofthe National Centre for Faculty Development and Diversity, an independent centre providing tools, mentoring and support for faculty members, postdocs and graduate students.

“These actions will help us to accelerate our previous efforts to tackle racism,” said Hamdullahpur. “I hope that they also demonstrate our sincere commitment to listening to and learning from our community.”

Read the rest of the article on Waterloo Stories.

Fall 2020 Convocation will be delivered virtually

In-person convocation ceremonies will not take place on campus in October.

"As the University of Waterloo continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, the well-being of our students, their families and our campus community is our top priority," wrote President Feridun Hamdullahpur in a memo circulated to employees yesterday. "The decision to not host in-person convocation ceremonies was a very difficult one to make. Each spring and fall, we see many faculty, staff and students volunteer — bringing our whole community together to celebrate our students’ academic achievements." 

"Thank you to everyone who celebrated our graduates with social posts, lawn signs and personal accolades. It’s actions like these that showcase our Waterloo community, here and around the world. In a similar fashion, we ask you to celebrate with our fall graduates this October."

President Hamdullahpur also sent a memo to the more than 1,300 students set to graduate in October. "Convocation is the culmination of years of your hard work, passion and commitment," the president wrote. "Our decision to forgo in-person convocation ceremonies was a difficult one to make, but we made it with your health and safety top of mind."

The University is moving ahead with plans to host a virtual convocation celebration in October.

Personalized convocation emails will be sent to graduating students on October 23 and 24. These convocation emails will include messages from the President and from the valedictorians from each faculty. In addition, live virtual celebrations are being organized that will take place on Saturday, October 24 as follows:

  • 9:30 a.m. ET — Mathematics
  • 11:00 a.m. ET — Arts
  • 12:30 p.m. ET — Environment
  • 2:00 p.m. ET — Engineering
  • 3:30 p.m. ET — Applied Health Sciences
  • 5:00 p.m. ET — Science

Fall 2020 PhD graduands, across all faculties, will also be invited to attend a live virtual celebration on Friday, October 23 from 12 to 1 p.m. ET.

"We know that students and their families may wish to celebrate this milestone in person," President Hamdullahpur writes. "Students will have the option to attend a ceremony in person at another time. While we know that this may not be an option for some students, we want to make sure that option is available so students that are able may come back to campus and celebrate their accomplishments."  

"The past five months have shown how resilient and understanding our community is in the face of unprecedented times that are impacting each of us. Thank you to everyone for working together to ensure the best academic experience for our students."

Waterloo employees can join the UWaterloo community on social to celebrate October's graduates by using the hashtag #UWaterlooGrad.

Updated information is available on the convocation website. Anyone with questions is invited to contact

Waterloo sign at south campus on the move

An artist's rendering of the new location of the University of Waterloo sign outside the Dana Porter Library.

A rendering of the new location of the University of Waterloo sign outside the Dana Porter Library.

As part of the ongoing Wayfinding update at the University, the Waterloo sign at the University Avenue entrance to campus will be moved and replaced by a new installation.

The process to consult, design and build the University’s wayfinding system started in 2017. As part of the integrated system, a large three-piece glass and aluminum sign will soon be constructed at the University Avenue entrance.

A rendering of the proposed South Campus Waterloo sign installation at University Avenue."Designed for long-life as well as aesthetics, the new sign will provide visitors with their first exposure to the visual language required for navigation," writes Tony Frost, associate vice-president, marketing and strategic initiatives in a memo circulated to employees earlier today. "Along with the new installation, the iconic Waterloo sign at the University Avenue entrance will be moved to a safe, centrally-located space near the Arts Quad, Dana Porter Library and Grad House this Fall."

The original Waterloo sign was the winning entry in the 2011 Innovate, Integrate, Implement contest and was developed by a team of Engineering and Environment students. The idea behind the design was to create a grand concourse at the busy intersection and the sign was installed in the fall of 2012.

"Over the years it has become a favourite photo backdrop for students and visitors. Unfortunately, its location so close to traffic has raised safety concerns as it requires photographers to stand in the road, putting them at risk of being struck by bikes, cars, trucks and buses," Frost writes. "Early in the Wayfinding project, we communicated that we would like to move the sign to a safer, highly visible location. We also surveyed the campus community for feedback on a safe and convenient space for a large logo sign that could be used for photos/selfies be best located."

The question elicited 457 responses from students, staff, alumni, and faculty which broke down as follows:  

  1. Arts Quad/Dana Porter/Grad House - 125
  2. SLC/new PAC area for use at Convocation - 93 
  3. Visitor Centre area/Between SCH and TC - 83 
  4. SLC Courtyard/ BMH Green - 45 
  5. Rock Garden/QNC - 26 
  6. DC Green - 10 

The Waterloo sign will be removed this month, taken for refurbishment and reinstalled later this fall. The University will share further updates regarding the unveiling at the new location.

Link of the day

What's the buzz? It's World Mosquito Day

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.

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):

Getting Ready to Facilitate Online Courses: TA Training, beginning July 13.

NEW - Webinar: Copyright for Teaching, Thursday, August 20th, 10:00 a.m.

Active Learning Online Part 2, Thursday, August 20, 1:00 p.m.

NEW - Webinar: Copyright for Teaching, Tuesday, August 25, 2:00 p.m.

NEW - Remote Course Design Essentials, Beginning August 26.

NEW - Using LEARN’s Quiz Feature, Thursday, August 27, 12:00 p.m.

NEW - Independent Remote Course Design Essentials. Continuous self-enroll course in LEARN

NEW - LEARN for TAs, Tuesday, September 15, 10:00 a.m.

NEW - LEARN for TAs, Wednesday, September 16, 2:00 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. You can also contact the University's Centre for Mental Health Research and Treatment.

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

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)

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 Hockey Skills Camps. Designed to provide a fun, inclusive and safe atmosphere where youth can take part in skill development and team building. Age 7-9 and 10-12. Only $50/week and includes 5 x 1 hour sessions. Register today.

Warriors Basketball Web Workouts. Register today to gain access to online content that is guaranteed to help you improve your basketball skills; regardless of your current skill level. Open to all ages. New content added weekly throughout the year for only $100. Register today.

Warriors Big 6 Summer ChallengeWeekly challenges from July 13 to August 23 focusing on Movement, Sleep, Hydration, Nutrition, Apps and Choose your own adventure.  Post your photo and tag @WlooRec on Instagram for a chance to win a $100 box from truLOCAL each week as well as $100 from Mel’s Diner for our grand prize winner. Stay healthy Warriors!

Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET). Make an entrepreneurial impact where you are today as you complete your graduate degree. Registration for the part time program is still open for Fall 2020. Learn more.

NEW - IT Seminar: Microsoft Stream, Friday, August 21, 9:00 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. Join online.

Library website downtime, Friday, August 21, 5:00 p.m., to Saturday, August 21.

Public Lecture,Will our kids be alright?” Tuesday, August 25, 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Science Innovation Hub Guest Lecture: Publishing Your Discoveries with April Pawluk, Wednesday August 26, 2:00 p.m.