Friday, April 30, 2021

Preparing for more on-campus work in the fall and beyond

President Feridun Hamdullahpur sent a message to employees yesterday outlining some of the University's plans for increasing on-campus work in the fall term and beyond. More employees are expected to join those whose on-campus work has continued throughout the pandemic shutdown in order to support on-campus experiences for students in the fall term.

"Since the pandemic hit, most of you have worked from home offices, kitchen tables, basements and bedrooms," President Hamdullahpur wrote. "At the same time, a significant number of people have continued to work on our campus to ensure physical operations and support key services for students and research. I thank you all for your commitment and service – wherever you have worked."

"I know that not everyone’s experience working remotely has been the same. For many of you, working from home has been very natural and you have flourished. For others, working from home has been a challenge. Whatever your experience, many of you are no doubt keen to return to campus."

"We are planning for a scenario this September which would allow us to expand in-person experiences for many more of our students. This means we need to prepare for more employees to join those who have continued to work on campus."

"Leaders across the University are planning for a gradual transition to more employees on campus. We remain focussed on keeping you safe and well. This means we'll stay adaptable to Public Health guidelines as well as student needs."

Get vaccinated as soon as you are offered the chance

"Importantly, the federal government currently anticipates that every person for whom vaccines are approved and recommended will be immunized by September," President Hamdullahpur writes. "Of course, this depends on the continued supply of vaccines. We will watch this closely, but this is reason for optimism. If you have a chance to get vaccinated, please do so as soon as possible with whatever vaccine is available."

"If you need time away from work to get vaccinated, we are offering two hours of leave for your vaccination appointments. Whatever your role on campus, these hours are there for you to make sure you can get vaccinated at your convenience. We will not deduct these hours from any other leave balances. If you need more time, please talk to your supervisor to work out your plan to get a shot."

Longer-term planning for new ways of working is getting underway

"We are focussed now on our plan to expand on-campus experiences in September," writes President Hamdullahpur. "As we plan for the fall and the future ways we will work, we will always be guided by our shared mission to support positive student experiences."

Over the next few months, the University is launching the following employee-focused actions:

  • Leaders will focus on the roles that will return to campus to support on campus experiences before the end of 2021. We'll continue to be mindful of all health and safety precautions to keep you safe as this limited return to campus life begins.
  • Department heads will begin discussions with your teams about how to work with the future in mind. These conversations will help frame the University’s direction on how to adapt to the future of work.
  • We will continue to engage and communicate with you over the coming months and let you know when we plan to move forward with changes to our work life and workplaces.

You can come to a town hall meeting soon to begin our collective conversation

"We know many of you will have questions and comments about the plan to establish our “next normal” of work," President Hamdullahpur writes. "With this in mind, I'm inviting you to come to a town hall to share your views, concerns and suggestions to help us plan. The town hall will happen on May 11, and you can expect to see an invitation in your inbox soon."

"The COVID-19 pandemic has been a time of constant change and uncertainty. It's also a unique opportunity for us to learn from our experiences and think about new, different or better ways of working. We’ve said so often that we were built for change. I’m proud to lead an institution that I know is ready to tackle these challenges and opportunities with courage and determination. Thank you."

Online learning pioneer, distinguished teacher and trusted administrator to retire

Steve Furino shares a laugh with one of his students.

Steve Furino shares a laugh with one of his students.

By Lisa Kabesh.

Over 100 faculty and staff gathered online last week to wish Steven Furino, lecturer at the Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing (CEMC) and former associate dean, undergraduate, all the best as he retires from the University of Waterloo.

The bird watcher and nature lover was set to retire in the spring of last year, but when the pandemic hit, Furino chose to postpone retirement and help the Faculty of Mathematics navigate the complex shift to online learning.

Now, a year later, Furino is ready to retire, and colleagues and former students shared the impact the teacher, leader, innovator, advocate and friend had on the Faculty of Mathematics and the University of Waterloo.

Furino’s career spanned nearly 33 years at Waterloo—19 at St. Jerome’s University followed by 13 with the CEMC. He would take on numerous leadership and service roles over the course of his career, including associate dean at St. Jerome’s and at Waterloo and as board member and treasurer of the Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo (FAUW).

While at St. Jerome’s, Furino would come to be known as a leader and a problem solver. The math professor was one of the architects of Quest, Waterloo’s student information system—a novel and groundbreaking program. Furino took that innovative spirit into the classroom.

“Steve is at heart a teacher,” said Ian VanderBurgh, director of the CEMC. Steve was awarded the Outstanding Instructor of the Year Award by undergraduate students in the Faculty of Mathematics in 1998 and received a Distinguished Teaching Award in 2007.

Described as a passionate, energetic and warm instructor by his colleagues and former students, Furino forged new pathways for online learning on campus.

“He was a pioneer in the online education movement in the Faculty of Mathematics,” said VanderBurgh.

Aldo Caputo, director of the Centre for Extended Learning (CEL), highlighted Furino’s impact “on the ability to deliver math content online, before there were easy ways to do so.”

Furino developed Math 680 and 692, both early online course offerings in the Faculty of Mathematics. He also played a significant role in the development of Mobius, an online authoring and delivery environment designed specifically for STEM classrooms that is now in use around the world. At the CEMC, he helped spearhead the creation of online mathematics courseware for high school students. In 2020, users visited CEMC courseware over 14 million times.

“He helped us get ready for the pandemic even before it happened,” said Mark Giesbrecht, dean of mathematics.

“We will miss him, but because of him, Waterloo Math is a much better place.”

University optometry clinics to offer discounted eye exams for employees

An optometrist conducts an eye exam.

A message from the School of Optometry & Vision Science.

On April 6, the Board of Governors approved a motion to provide staff and faculty and their eligible dependents with a basic vision care plan that will provide a reimbursement of $85 per participant every two years for eye exams, beginning May 1, 2021.

The School of Optometry & Vision Science asks you to consider us among your options. Our optometry clinics cover the full spectrum of eye and vision care, providing comprehensive primary eye care and advanced vision services for patients of all ages.

Currently, the cost of a comprehensive eye exam at our clinics is $100. However, for all university employees and eligible dependants looking to utilize the new vision care plan, the School will be discounting the cost of comprehensive eye exams to $85 after May 1, 2021. University employees will also receive a discount of 10 per cent on all purchases made from the clinic’s optical dispensary, including glasses, contact lenses, eye drops and select at home treatments.

Please note – unfortunately, the basic vision care plan does not cover the cost of specialty services at our clinics.

To schedule an appointment at the main clinic (200 Columbia Street West) or the downtown Kitchener Health Sciences Optometry clinic (10B Victoria Street South), please visit our website to make an appointment on-line or call 519-888-4062 ext. 4062.

To keep our patients and personnel safe during the pandemic, our optometry clinics have implemented COVID-19 procedures to limit the risk of infection, as per the Waterloo Region’s public health guidelines.

Take care of your catalytic converters and other notes

Campus police are warning departments that have their vehicles parked and stored in isolated areas on campus that there has been a rash of thefts of catalytic converters from vehicles in Waterloo region, including those belonging to Central Stores and other departments just this week.

Catalytic converters have been a part of vehicle exhaust and emission control systems for decades, and are targeted by thieves due to the precious metals used in their construction.

"These thefts are taking place throughout the night and involve suspects crawling under vehicles and cutting off the catalytic converter, which can be done quite quickly," says a note from Director Alan Binns. "My officers are doing extra patrols to try to prevent the opportunity for these thefts and to catch someone in the act."

Binns suggests that all vehicles should be parked in well-lit, well-travelled areas, preferably where video surveillance is available.

Anyone with questions should contact UW Police Services at 519-888-4911 or extension 22222.

A note from across the creek: Associate Professor and Director of the Tri-University History Program Jane Nicholas was featured on CBC Radio’s “Ideas” program last week on the subject of 'flappers' in the 1920s and the moral panic that surrounded them. Professor Nicholas is the author of The Modern Girl: Feminine Modernities, the Body, and Commodities in the 1920s.

Information Systems & Technology has announced that registration for the IT Professional Development (ITPD) courses for May and June is now openAll courses will be held online using Microsoft Teams Meeting. Registering for and dropping a course will continue to be done through Workday.

Beyond the Bulletin Episode 86

The Beyond the Bulletin Podcast logo featuring two vintage microphones.

The latest episode of the Beyond the Bulletin Podcast is now live. Professor Chris Bauch and his team in Applied Mathematics create computer models that outline likely effects of government decisions, public-health measures, and our own behaviour during the pandemic. The extension of the current provincial shutdown and stay-at-home order affects in-person teaching, on-campus research, and other operations. We mourn the loss of professor Tom Coleman, from the Department of Combinatorics and Optimization, a former dean of the Faculty of Mathematics. Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion announces spring workshops. And a Return to Campus Town Hall will take place May 11.

Link of the day

A scene from the "Bee Movie" where Barry asks "you like jazz?"

You like jazz?

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.

Course templates are available within your course in LEARN to help you build and edit your content and assignment pages quickly.

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

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.

The Writing and Communication Centre has virtual services and programs to help undergrads, grad students, postdocs and faculty members with academic writing.

Co-op students can get help finding a job and find supports to successfully work remotely, develop new skills, access wellness and career information, and contact a co-op or career advisor.

The Centre for Career Action assists undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs, staff, faculty, and alumni through navigating career services that are right for them. You can attend a one-on-one appointment or same day drop-in session at the CCA for assistance with cover letter writing, career planning and much more. You can also book an appointment online or visit our Live Chat to connect with our Client Support Team. The CCA is here to help you.

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 TreatmentGood2Talk is a post-secondary student helpline available to all students.

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 Indigenous Initiatives Office is a central hub that provides guidance, support, and resources to all Indigenous and non-Indigenous campus community members and oversees the university Indigenization strategy.

The Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre, based at St. Paul’s University College, provides support and resources for Indigenous students, and educational outreach programs for the broader community, including lectures, and events.

WUSA supports for students:

Peer support  - MATES, Glow Centre, RAISE, Women’s Centre - Visit to book an appointment

Bike Centre – Will be reopening soon

Campus Response Team, ICSN, Off Campus Community and Co-op Connection all available online. Check for more details.

Food Support Service food hampers are currently available from the Turnkey Desk on weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 7:00 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 caps@wusa.caMore information is available.

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 (Online Fitness)

Drop-in to Warrior Virtual Study Halls on Wednesdays from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Come together in this virtual space to set goals and work independently or in groups each week.

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

IT Seminar: Computer Science Computing Facility (CSCF) Update, Friday April 30, 9:00 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. Join online.

Copyright and Software, Friday, April 30, 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Please register to receive a link to this event on WebEx.

Rupi Kaur Live, Friday, April 30, 9:00 p.m.

English Conversation Circles, Monday, May 3.

Dissertation Boot Camp, Friday, May 7.

Return to Campus Virtual Town Hall, Tuesday, May 11, 1:30 p.m.

Breaking Free From Low Mood, Tuesday, May 11, 2:30 p.m.

36th Annual Meeting of the Canadian Biomaterials Society, Thursday, May 13 to Saturday, May 15. Hosted by the University of Waterloo.

Indigenous-Mennonite Encounters: Conference Preview, Thursday, May 13, 10:00 a.m.