Friday, October 30, 2020

A Virtual Affair: Our United Way campaign across campus throughout October

United Way Campaign Banner.

A message from the United Way Campaign.

This year, we've had some creative events taking place throughout our virtual campus to spread awareness and raise funds for our local United Way. We want to send a big thank you to all our supporters for your amazing efforts so far.

Just a few of our ambassador events

  • Engineering’s Mystery Silent Auction: For the past several years our Engineering department has run a virtual silent auction where staff and faculty bid on wrapped items from a series of generous donors.
  • March of the Deans Auction: This year our six deans dressed up in support of the United Way as Star Trek characters and we are auctioning off some of their amazing props to raise money for the campaign. To place a bid follow this link:
  • The Library Market: At the end of the month, the UWaterloo Library team is putting together a virtual market featuring many of their own bakers, artists, and makers.  
  • Writing and Communication Centre’s Silent Auction: An auction with a variety of crafts, snacks, and services delivered by the WCC staff.
  • Legal and Immigration Services is holding it’s second annual United Way Silent Auction. The auction is open now and runs until November 25 at 1:00 p.m.
  • The Secretariat is holding its United Way Silent Auction. The auction is open now and runs until November 20 at 4:00 p.m.
  • Advancement Airways: This year the Office of Advancement offered a passport to their staff to have access to a series of virtual activities, such as yoga, trivia, and an art night.
  • St. Paul’s Teams Auction & Virtual Trivia: On Monday, St. Paul’s first-ever virtual silent action closed where staff and faculty bid on generous items and services from small local businesses. They will also be running a spooky Halloween-themed trivia.

A Souper meal kit

This week many campus supporters picked up soup meal kits from UW Food Services, in which a portion of the purchase price of the kit will be donated to United Way.

Chef Mark Meinzinger demonstrates cooking while on a Zoom call.

On Thursday evening, those who purchased kits were able to join a virtual cooking class, featuring Chef Mark Meinzinger. It was both entertaining and informative. Mark sure helped make our butternut soup look and taste amazing.

As we’re approaching the end of October, there’s still time to give – whether that be through virtual cross-campus events, by purchasing a United Way bundle box where 100 per cent of the proceeds will go towards the campaign, or by making an individual donation through E-Pledge.

Together, we can help build a stronger community.

New addition to the Health Sciences Campus could be on its way to downtown Kitchener

A preliminary rendering of the new Innovation Arena facility.

A preliminary design concept of the proposed Joseph Street facility.

A potential partnership between the City of Kitchener and the University of Waterloo to further develop Waterloo’s Health Sciences Campus was announced yesterday.

The proposal would see a university-owned 90,000 square foot warehouse on Joseph St. become a connected health and tech community within Downtown Kitchener’s Innovation District.

“This opportunity to further develop the Health Sciences Campus marks an important milestone for the University of Waterloo and Velocity as we seek to transform health innovation through a unique culture of future-proven talent, technology and entrepreneurship,” said Sandra Banks, vice-president, university relations.

The facility will feature shared state-of-the-art labs, manufacturing and collaborative office spaces. It will provide health-tech-specific mentorship with increased partnerships and community connections and it will be the new home of Velocity.

The initiative is expected to have a significant economic impact and represents a new powerful driver for Waterloo to support Canada’s recovery.

Kitchener City councillors will have a chance to hear more details about the proposed new project at a meeting on Monday afternoon and the University will share further details with our community in the weeks ahead.

Convocation celebrations, by the numbers

A gloved hand grips the University mace.Last week, the University of Waterloo celebrated the achievements of more than 2,600 graduands through a series of virtual celebrations for this year’s fall convocation.  

The University enlisted the help of the Waterloo community to make our graduands feel special, with community members posting their congratulations on virtual message boards. Graduands received an email directly to their inboxes with their official convocation video, which included special video remarks from the President, Provost, Chancellor, Dean and their 2020 valedictorian. All graduates also had the opportunity to come together to celebrate with their colleagues at live virtual celebrations. Parents, family and friends were able to watch from all parts of the world, tuning in from as far away as Brazil, India, China, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, and Australia.

Here is how the convocation celebration went, by the numbers:

  • For the live virtual celebrations, there were 2,175 viewers across six events; 
  • The open rate for the personalized convocation email was 69.3 per cent;
  • For the personalized video, unique viewers were at 2,828 with overall views topping out at 4,630;
  • In terms of social media impressions: the convocation team had a goal of getting to 158 impressions per graduate, and they exceeded that goal, with 188.2 impressions per graduate.
  • There were over 507,000+ impressions across all social channels for the hashtags #UWaterlooGrad, #UWaterlooProud, and #UWaterlooTraditions.

Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA) hosted a special live PhD celebration for Waterloo's newest doctorate-holders, with 317 attendees. Graduates, supervisors and guests were in attendance, along with senior University officials. A moment of silence was observed for two posthumous degrees recipients, and Nashid Shahriar, winner of the Alumni Gold medal addressed the attendees.

The power of music to affect emotions, stress, and mental health

By Abby Rudy-Froese.

Good mental health is achieved through many habits like a healthy diet, exercise, connecting with others, expressing emotions in constructive ways, and the list goes on. Many of these habits can involve creating or listening to music. Of the many benefits music has on mental health, the most noticeable is the release of stress and emotions.  

Cameron Slipp using a conductor's baton.University of Waterloo Music student Cameron Slipp said, “Playing music has always been a method of stress relief for me. I often find myself noodling away on the piano when I’m stressed - and I’ve been doing that a lot lately because of the pandemic.”

“Music acts as a creative outlet for our emotions, which we often bottle up inside of us,” stated Kayla Burmaster, a Music and Psychology student. “Music can regulate our emotions. It activates the neocortex of the brain which helps calm us and reduce impulsivity.”

Anita Chen.Anita Chen, a Math student with a minor in Music, explained that over the past few months she has “improvised and composed a song on the piano to reflect, depict, and let out my pandemic-related emotions.” She continued, “I feel like I am channeling the nuances, conflicts, and states of my emotion into music. Those activities help me to express my feelings beyond words and ultimately make me more resilient.”

Anita and Cameron aren’t the only Waterloo students who use their emotions to inspire the music they create. “For some, it’s easier to express feelings by writing song lyrics or expressing it through the elemental components of the music.” Kayla reflected, “Music is often written about people’s personal experiences and it helps people feel less lonely when they find a song with lyrics that really resonate with their personal situation.”

Kayla BurmasterMusic can make a listener feel a multitude of different emotions based on the composer’s intent. Kayla explained further, “Music is proven to reduce stress. However, if you choose to listen to the theme of the popular game-based learning platform Kahoot, you may experience an increase of stress, as the music was specifically designed to create tension.”

“The way that music emotionally resonates with me varies depending on both my mood and the music.” Cameron added, “Music can make me feel calm, but it can also make me feel stressed. Music can make me feel connected, but it can also make me feel alone. I think part of the beauty of music is its power to embody and amplify any emotion.”

The Conrad Grebel University College Music Department at UWaterloo is mindful of the connection between music and mental health. While music ensembles can’t be in-person this term, the new virtual format provides students with the opportunity to let out their emotions, connect with others, and create music together, all which will help improve mental health.

In addition, UWaterloo’s Thrive program brings attention to the importance of “building positive mental health.” Thrive week is held the first week of November and includes events about simple mindful cooking, managing stress as a university student, and “Noondaagochige,” a virtual Noon Hour Concert presented by Grebel.  On November 4, saxophonist Olivia Shortt will share her new music pieces as well as those of artists she’s met over the past few years.

Though it is not being released during Thrive week, Grebel will release a Noon Hour Concert on November 25 called “Music for Self-Isolation.” Guitarist Mariette Stephenson will play some pieces by composer Frank Horvat. While at home, Frank was struggling to figure out how to share his music since people can’t come together and play music. He came up with a solution and has written 31 solos and duets for every type of musician to enjoy in their own home. Both Horvat and Stephenson, though performing and playing alone, are still using their music to build community and stay connected with others.

“The pandemic makes me realize how music-making can contribute to my resiliency,” Anita added. All of these musicians have become more resilient and improved their mental health by overcoming challenges and negative emotions posed by the pandemic by simply playing and listening to music.

Beyond the Bulletin Podcast episode 64

Beyond the Bulletin podcast logo featuring two vintage microphones.

The latest episode of the Beyond the Bulletin Podcast is now live. The Faculty of Arts celebrates its 60th anniversary and Sheila Ager, its dean, reflects on its beginnings and the importance of the arts in society. More than 2,600 people earned degrees at fall convocation. Mansour Esnaashary Esfahani and Mari Foroutan, who were killed in the Ukrainian International Airlines crash, received PhD degrees posthumously. Jaya Gupta, a nanotechnology student who died of cancer, received an honorary bachelor of applied science. Four postdoctoral researchers receive the AMTD Waterloo Global Talent Postdoctoral Fellowship, thanks to the generous donation of Calvin Choi, a Waterloo alumnus. Book your flu vaccination.

Links of the day

In the spirit of Halloween: BEHIND YOU

Science answers the question: what is the scariest movie of all time?

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):

Remote Course Design Essentials, beginning August 26.

Independent Remote Course Design Essentials. Self-directed, continuous self-enrollment course in LEARN.

Remote Course Design Essentials, beginning Wednesday, November 11. 

Assessment Design Cafe, Friday, November 20, 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. 

Employees can access resources to help them work remotely, including managing University records and privacy of personal information. Here are some tips for staying healthy while working from home.

The Writing and Communication Centre is rolling out virtual services and programs for fall term: 

  • Undergrad students -- work with us to brainstorm, draft, revise, and polish assignments by meeting with our writing advisors in virtual appointments. Chat with our friendly and knowledgeable peer tutors in our virtual drop-ins and PJ-friendly writing groups. Or experience an online workshop at your own pace. 
  • First-year Warriors! Check out Waterloo Ready to Write to build your skills for writing success.
  • Graduate Students -- meet with an advisor in a virtual appointments, take an online workshop,  join the grad writing community at our Virtual Writing Cafés and #WaterlooWrites groups, develop your academic voice at Speak Like a Scholar, or make progress on your thesis at Dissertation Boot Camp.
  • Instructors and faculty -- Request and access WCC workshops for use in your courses, join a virtual writing group, or speak with a writing advisor about a writing project.

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.

NEW - The Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre facilitates the sharing of Indigenous knowledge and provides culturally relevant information and support services for all members of the University of Waterloo community, including Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, staff, and faculty.

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 1-833-628-5589.

When and Where (but mostly when)

Healthy Warriors at Home. Free programming including Online Fitness, Health Webinars, Personalized Nutrition and more from Warriors Athletics and Rec. Open to students, staff, faculty and alumni. Register today.

Renison English Language Institute continues to offer virtual events and workshops to help students practice their English language skills.

Speak Like a Scholar, Friday, October 30, 5:00 p.m.

TEDxUW 2020, Saturday, October 31, 12 noon to 4:00 p.m.

Portage-Global Water Futures Research Data Management webinar series: “Using the Open Science Framework to Enhance Your Research Projects, Wednesday, November 3, 1:00 p.m. Registration details are available here.

WaterLeadership: Develop a Knowledge Mobilization Plan for Your Grant Proposals (Q&A with Nancy Goucher), Tuesday, November 3, 1:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

NEW - More Feet on the Ground Mental Health Training for Students, Wednesday, November 4, 9:30 a.m., Online – Register on GoSignMeUp

NEW - Noon Hour Concert: noondaagochige, Wednesday, November 4, 12:30 p.m., Online, Free.

NEW - Concept Intro Session: Billion Dollar Briefing, Wednesday November 4, 5:00 p.m., Virtual Event.

NEW - Cheriton School of Computer Science Distinguished Lecture Series, featuring Oren Etzioni, Allen Institute for AI and the University of Washington, “Semantic Scholar, NLP, and the Fight Against COVID-19,” Thursday, November 5, 3:30 p.m., Zoom.

Waterloo’s annual travel survey for employees and students is available until Friday, November 6.

Warriors vs. Laurier Blood Donation Battle, until December 2020. Join your fellow Warriors, donate blood and help us win the Blood Battle against Laurier for a second year in a row. Set up a profile or add the PFL code: UNIV960995 to your account if you have a account already. Questions? Contact