Monday, January 18, 2021

WUSA seeks input on long-range plan

WUSA long range plan banner image.

A message from the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association (WUSA).

For over a year, WUSA president Abbie Simpson met with members, staff, and faculty to deliberate on WUSA’s next five years, discussing the most prominent issues affecting students, devising strategies to address those issues and steer WUSA on a path that leads to lasting, positive change. The result of those discussions is the Long Range Plan
The Long Range Plan is a tool to help bring clarity and continuity to the goals and objectives WUSA, as an organization, set yearly. With the expected annual change in executives, Council and Board, the Long Range Plan will be the pillar against which WUSA rests its priorities and the benchmark for its yearly goals. It contains WUSA’s thematic priorities for the next 5 years as well as its advocacy priorities.  

The two sets of commitments, while not exhaustive, were chosen with careful thought to the most important and frequent pain points students have during their time on campus. Each key point is broad enough for executives and staff to find a fit for the operational plans, yet specific enough to ensure focus on providing actionable tactics that address students’ concerns. 

The key highlights of the plan are: 

Thematic Priorities 

  1. Make it easier and more accessible for students to engage with WUSA and our constituency societies 
  2. Continue commitments to build belonging and campus engagement 
  3. Support continued personal and professional growth of our students and staff  
  4. Serve students efficiently through our commercial services and operation of the Student Life Centre 
  5. Increase student support 

Advocacy Priorities 

  1. Housing 
  2. International Students 
  3. COVID-19 
  4. Equity and Accessibility of Education 
  5. Affordability 
  6. Educational Quality 

The execution of these priorities, and student involvement to hold executives accountable, will lead WUSA and the university, to become a safer, more inclusive place for all students. 

Check out more on the Long Range plan on WUSA's Library page

Abbie is happy to hear your thoughts and answer questions about the Long Range Plan if you have any. Reach out to her at

When it comes to math education, it's all fun and games

A girl works on a laptop.

by Brian Caldwell. This article was originally published on Waterloo Stories.

An online education company co-founded by two Waterloo Engineering alumni announced this week that it has secured $159 million in backing to fuel its expansion.

Prodigy Education, one of the fastest-growing education technology companies in North America, was launched by Rohan Mahimker and Alex Peters, who both graduated in 2011 from the mechatronics engineering program at Waterloo.

"From our beginnings as an undergraduate project nine years ago to today's exciting announcement, we have always operated with a simple yet compelling mission: to help every student in the world love learning,” Mahimker said in a media release. “It will continue to be our guiding light as we transform into a truly global leader in education."

100 million users worldwide

Mahimker and Peters are co-CEOs of the Oakville-based company, which has grown from 3,000 local users to more than 100 million registered users worldwide since developing a video game to help elementary students learn math.

Prodigy is well established in North America, and recently expanded to India, Australia and the United Kingdom.

The investment round was led by U.S. private-equity giant TPG Growth, which has backed disruptive technology companies such as Airbnb, Calm, Ipsy, Spotify and Uber.

'Unique value proposition'

“We believe that Prodigy's unique value proposition for teachers, parents, and students - through advanced technology that fosters a love of learning - positions the company to connect with users across the world,” said David Trujillo, a partner at TPG.

Prodigy will use the investment to drive growth, with plans to double its workforce this year to 800 people.

"We have come a long way as a company, and it's a true testament to the strength and dedication of our team," Peters said in the release.

Photo: Katerina Holmes from Pexels

IST announces new email threat protection tool

A close up of an email client's spam folder.

A message from Information Systems & Technology.

As part of the Email Improvement project, the University is transitioning to a new email security vendor, Cisco, to replace the current email threat protection tool, Proofpoint, with Cisco's Email Security (CES) solution. The new solution will be implemented on Monday, January 25.

Known impacts and considerations

The CES solution applies to Exchange/Office 365 accounts only, and student email accounts, not currently being scanned for SPAM, will be included in this implementation. SPAM email message management will also change from the current "quarantine" approach to a "tag and deliver" method.

There are many benefits to this change, including simplified email transit, consistent SPAM actions for all mailboxes, and a single place to check for all email and add/remove safe/blocked senders.

Learn more

To learn more about this change, including actions you may need to take after the implementation and related support documentation, please see the full announcement on the IST website.

Senate meets today and other notes

The University's Senate meets today at 3:30 p.m. via Microsoft Teams videoconference. Among the agenda items:

  • A motion to make regulation changes in Faculty of Arts' Liberal Arts program;
  • A motion that Senate appoint its Executive Committee as the Chancellor Review Committee, reflecting that current Chancellor Dominic Barton's first term ends in July 2021 and he is eligible to serve a second three-year term;
  • A motion to approve a new Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Political Science, including an optional experiential stream, effective September 2021;
  • Motions to approve program changes in Applied Health Sciences and Engineering; and
  • A motion to approve changes to the Bachelor of Global Business and Digital Arts, effective September 2022.

President Hamdullahpur will also provide an update on the pandemic and its impact on the University, as well as an update on recent PART activities.

WUSA welcome week logo.Winter Welcome Week also kicks off today. This start-of-term event extravaganza is intended to welcome all new and returning students to the campus community virtually this January with a week of fun events. 

Events include:

And many more to round out the week. Check the full event listings on WUSA's website.

Upcoming office closure

Campus Wellness locations will be closed on Tuesday January 19 from 8:30 a.m. 11:30 a.m. due to an all-staff meeting.

Link of the day

Martin Luther King Jr. 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.

Updated Course templates are now available within your course in LEARN to help you build and edit your content and assignment pages quickly. Support for Winter 2021 is available.

The following workshops, webinars, and events are offered by the KL team (CTE, CEL, ITMS, LIB):

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

Getting Ready to Facilitate Online Courses: TA Training, Monday, January 18, 2021, 8:30 a.m. to Friday, February 12, 4:30 p.m. 

LEARN for TAs (CTE6550), Monday, January 18, 2021, 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

NEW - Microsoft OneNote - Class Notebooks, Wednesday January 27, 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

NEW - Introduction to PebblePlus (CTE7527), Thursday, January 28, 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.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.

Stay informed about COVID cases on campus by consulting the COVID case tracker.

Whether you’re student or faculty, the Writing and Communication Centre has virtual services and programs to help you with your academic writing needs. 

  • Undergraduate students - come brainstorm, draft, revise and polish your assignments with us by meeting with one of our writing and multimodal communication specialists at a virtual appointment. Chat with our awesome peer tutors at our virtual drop-ins, PJ-friendly writing groups and Instagram Live Q&As. Or check out our online workshops at anytime, anywhere.
  • Graduate students - meet with one of our advisors at any step of the process at our virtual appointments. Take an online workshop at anytime, or join a virtual writing session at our Virtual Writing Cafés and #WaterlooWrites groups.
  • All UWaterloo instructors and faculty can request and access WCC workshops for use in your courses. You can also 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.

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

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.

Warriors vs. Laurier Blood Donation Battle. 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

Warrior Reset, January 11 to February 4. Free online program with three live fitness classes per week along with tips, tricks and worksheets to help you define your path to better health while being part of an online community. Register by January 10.

Mathematics presents Virtual Networking in Academia, Monday, January 18, 9:30 a.m.

University senate meeting, Monday, January 18, 3:30 p.m.

More Feet on the Ground Mental Health Training for Faculty and Staff, Tuesday, January 19, 9:30 a.m.

Benefits plan information sessions, Tuesday, January 19, 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Register online.

Launching a Waterloo chapter of the Canadian Indigenous Science and Engineering Society, Tuesday, January 19, 12:00 p.m.

Portfolio & Project Management Community of Practice (PPM CoP) session, "Project Management Community at uWaterloo in 2021" Wednesday, January 20, 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Register for this event

Benefits plan information sessions, Wednesday, January 20, 12 noon to 1:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Register online.

Concept Intro Session: The Entrepreneurial Ecosystem, Wednesday January 20, 6:00 p.m., Virtual Event.

Master of Taxation Virtual Information Session, Saturday, January 23, 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Register at

Gender Differences in Waterloo Graduate Engineering Student Experiences, Monday, January 25, 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., online/virtual.

NEW - Concept Working Session: Building an Entrepreneurial Mindset, Tuesday, January 26, 5:30 p.m., virtual event.