Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Waterloo will reduce carbon footprint of its pension, endowment investments 50 per cent by 2030

Plants sprouting from soil.

The University of Waterloo has committed to reducing the carbon footprint of its pension and endowment investment portfolios by 50 per cent by the year 2030 and is committing to achieving full carbon neutrality by 2040.

Prioritizing the need to protect financial returns on its investments, in a new report to the board of governors, an expert group recommends changes in investment policies to address both the financial risks and opportunities associated with climate change.

“In recent years we have taken steps to becoming more sustainable investors and today we continue our journey to integrate climate risk into our investment policies,” said Cindy Forbes, chair of the Board of Governors. “To protect our investments, we’re making the decision that we will reduce our exposure to carbon. In doing so we are protecting our primary fiduciary duty to maximise pension fund and endowment returns using measurable science-based targets.”

Waterloo’s board of governors endorsed recommendations from a Responsible Investing Advisory Group that included expert advisors, students, faculty, staff and board members.

In a summary provided to board members, the group recommended that the University:

  • take a proactive approach to incorporate climate risk when investing the pension and endowment funds in order to achieve the risk-adjusted returns necessary to deliver the purposes of the funds,
  • pursue a carbon exposure reduction strategy by phasing-out investments exposed to significant climate change risks,
  • make investments that support climate change innovation and transition, and
  • avoid all material direct investments in fossil fuel exploration and extraction companies.

The commitment is the next step for the institution, which recently declared a climate emergency and has already reduced active equity investments in the energy sector by 69 per cent since initial responsible investing consultations in 2016.

“I am proud that with this new commitment, the University is continuing to show leadership by aligning its investment practices with its teaching, research, and operations on climate change while protecting our long-term financial investments,” said President Feridun Hamdullahpur. “As we made clear with our climate emergency declaration, we acknowledge the grave realities of a warming planet. As an educational institution, we also recognize our responsibility to contribute to climate change mitigation to allow current and future generations of students to live in a sound environment.”

With the focus on climate risk and the integration of ESG considerations to support investment decision making, the group expects that the University’s active equity managers will not hold any material positions in fossil fuel exploration and extraction companies by 2025. The University will review progress towards achieving its carbon reduction investment targets in 2023 and 2026.

Waterloo has enshrined ESG as a lens for University investments in the Statement of Investment Policy and Procedures (SIPP) for the Pension Plan as well as in the Investment Guidelines for Endowment funds since 2018. The University also became a signatory to the UN Principles for Responsible Investing in May 2020 and has since signed the Investing to Address Climate Change Charter with other Canadian universities.

Read the full announcement on Waterloo News

PART implementation team publishes report on Black Studies program

The President's Anti-Racism Taskforce (PART) Black Studies Implementation Team has published a report on the development of a Black Studies program at the University of Waterloo.

The report presents a comprehensive summary of efforts that administration, faculty, staff, and students at the University of Waterloo pursued from July 2020 to June 2021 to develop academic programming in this discipline, and includes the results of a survey of the University community taken in the spring. The purpose of the report was to publish a centralized collection of the implementation team's activities in developing programming in Black Studies, to describe ongoing and future directions, and make recommendations for further development and support of Black Studies at the University of Waterloo.

The report was drafted by Dr. Vershawn Young, lead of the Black Studies Implementation Team and a professor in English Language and Literature and Communication Arts in the Faculty of Arts, with research assistance from MITACS international intern Varsha Gopal.

The survey, circulated in March, received 480 responses, with undergraduate students making up 35 per cent of respondents, staff 30 per cent, faculty 21 per cent, and graduate students 6 per cent. Among the survey's findings:

  • 26 per cent of faculty mentioned their willingness to teach a course in Black Studies/Indigenous Studies program;
  • 29 per cent of students have already taken a course on Black Studies and 35 per cent of students have already taken a course on Indigenous Studies;
  • 87 per cent of students expressed interest in taking a Black Studies course and 90 per cent of students expressed interest in taking an Indigenous Studies course. 

The full report is available as a Google Doc.

"The interest in Black Studies across campus is encouraging," says Professor Young. "I am most impressed by the initial show of student interest in our upcoming courses and the support from colleagues in various faculties who are helping the discipline come to fruition at the University."

In the immediate term, two new diplomas in Black Studies are set to be approved this week by the Arts Undergraduate Affairs Group (UGAG): a Diploma in Fundamentals of Anti-Racist Communication and a Diploma in Black Studies. 

CUT Award recipient helps students develop their understanding of math

A message from the Centre for Teaching Excellence and Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs.

Justin Toth.The Certificate in University Teaching (CUT) program provides a comprehensive teacher development experience that is open to PhD students at the University of Waterloo. Completion of the program is recognized by a certificate issued by Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs and listed on the student’s transcript.

Each year, the Centre for Teaching Excellence and Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs award one CUT program participant in recognition and celebration of effort and reflection that go above and beyond the program requirements.

We are excited to announce that the 2021 CUT Award has been awarded to Justin Toth, a PhD student in the Department of Combinatorics and Optimization. The award recognizes Justin’s strong commitment to his development as a university instructor.

We spoke to Justin about his experience with the CUT program and his thoughts about teaching in a post-secondary environment.

Can you tell me a little bit about your graduate research? What drew you to it, what aspect do you find most interesting?

My research is in algorithmic cooperative game theory. Cooperative game theory studies solution concepts for equitably sharing the wealth generated by a group of collaborators, taking into account fairness with respect to each individual’s contribution. The study of cooperative game theory becomes algorithmic when one starts to consider the computational complexity of devising algorithms for computing various solution concepts.

I find the field interesting because it has many meaningful applications, but also the techniques from mathematics and computer science we bring to bear are quite beautiful. It is quite lucky for both of those things to be true at once.

For the CUT program, you “designed and delivered your classes to help students develop a conceptual and procedural understanding of math while building their confidence as learners.” What did that process look like for you?

The key to building student confidence is for them to continuously overcome challenges just outside their comfort zone, and to feel they did so independently. Thus my process always starts with student assessment (no stakes) to get a feel of where the students are. From there, I tailor learning outcomes to represent a meaningful challenge for the students without overwhelming them. I want to be asking them leading questions and to give them opportunities to explore and problem solve. I want them to feel like they came to the result on their own. I find mathematical concepts are retained much better when the students discover them rather than being told them. They really gain a sense of ownership over the material that way.

It sounds like the CUT team was impressed by how thoughtfully you engaged with concepts and teaching principles, and the ways in which you integrated them in ways that were appropriate to your subject domain. Is there any more you can say about that?

The feedback from CUT instructors and teaching observations was immensely valuable to me. I really tried to sit with that feedback and reflect on it. For me, the goal always was for every element of critical feedback to devise an actionable step I could take in my next teaching session to improve upon it.

What did you get out of the CUT program? How do you hope to apply what you’ve learned?

I developed confidence as an instructor, an understanding of pedagogy I never had before, and many practical techniques for designing course material. The biggest thing I got out of CUT was a conscious awareness of the many different facets of high-quality teaching. I applied what I learned in CUT to teaching CO 327 Deterministic OR Models in the Spring of 2019 and 2020. Being the only instructor for the course during those terms I really leaned heavily on the skills I developed in CUT to plan the course lectures and assessments.

Anything else you’d like to share about yourself or your experiences at Waterloo or in the CUT program?

My experience in graduate studies, including the CUT program, was overwhelmingly positive. It was challenging at times, but that challenge always led to periods of growth for me, and I’m fortunate to be surrounded by immensely supportive faculty, staff, and peers to assist in overcoming those challenges.

Waterloo joins "faster, together" vaccination campaign

Times Have Changed banner.

The University of Waterloo is joining a growing coalition of industry and sector organizations, businesses and individuals who want to help get Canadians back together, faster. The Faster, Together campaign has been designed to help Canadians overcome vaccine hesitancy.

"This is a voluntary effort of a wide variety of people working together to promote Covid-19 vaccine acceptance and help speed a recovery from this pandemic," says the campaign's promotional material. The campaign got its start as a collaboration between pollster Bruce Anderson and Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, and participating organizations are being added to the list of participants on a daily basis.

This campaign makes creative materials available in a variety of shapes and sizes and for different applications (TV, digital, out of home, social shareables, etc). The assets can be downloaded on the campaign's website.

Hail the Concur-ing hero, welcome the School of Public Health Sciences, and other notable notes

"After a brief two-week closure, Concur has now reopened and is accepting non-FPER expense reimbursement claims," says a note from Finance. "The two-week closure was meant to allow for the transition to the new Concur Automated Workflow. With the reopening, Claimants will no longer need to manually identify the appropriate approver prior to expense claim submission. This information will now be automatically pulled from Workday (for one-over-one) and Unit4 (for financial approval). Not only will this save Claimant’s time in preparing their expense reimbursement claims, but also Reviewers’/Approvers’ time as the claim routing will now happen automatically."

"Full details on the new workflow can be found on the Finance Resources news siteConcur Automated Workflow website, as well as in our Finance Newsletter *Updated Dates* Concur Workflow Reminder."

Any questions regarding the new automated workflow can be directed to Finance.

School of Public Health Sciences new logo.The School of Public Health and Health Systems (SPHHS) is pleased to announce that their name has changed to the School of Public Health Sciences (SPHS) as of June 1. The SPHS website now reflects this update, and social media platforms will follow in the coming weeks. The change will not be fully in effect until later in the year, however most instances of the new name should be updated by September 1. 

"If you have references to the School on your websites or systems, please go ahead and update them," says a note from the SPHHS. 

The School of Public Health Sciences continues to offer bachelor of science and bachelor of public health programs, research and professional master’s programs and a doctoral program.

Link of the day

Ontario lifts Stay-at-Home order

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 – Open via Appointments and Rentals

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

Bike Month, Tuesday, June 1 to Wednesday, June 30.

De-Escalating Difficult Student Situations, Wednesday, June 2, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Concept Working Session: Researching Like a Pro, Wednesday, June 2, 5:30 p.m., virtual event.

Responding to Disclosures of Sexual Violence, Part 2: Thursday, June 3, 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Alumni Weekend, Friday, June 4 to Saturday, June 5.

Concept Intro Session: Conversing with Confidence, Tuesday, June 8, 5:30 p.m., virtual event.

W4: Waterloo Womxn + Nonbinary Wednesdays Workshops, Wednesday, June 9.

More Feet on the Ground Mental Health Training, Wednesday, June 9, 9:30 a.m. to 12 noon.

NEW - Concept Working Session: Customer Validation Practice, Wednesday June 9, 5:30 p.m., virtual event.

NEW - Conrad School, Part-time Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET) Info.Session, “Meet the Part-time MBETs” Online information session and Q&A with current part-time MBET students and alumni, Wednesday, June 9, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Positions available

On this week's list from the human resources department, viewable on the UWaterloo Talent Acquisition System (iCIMS):

  • Administrative Support Coordinator - Optometry and Vision Science, USG 5
  • Job ID# 2021-6636 - Information Systems Specialist (Business Systems Analyst) - IST, USG 10 - 12
  • Job ID# 2021-6600 - Marketing Specialist - Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association, USG 7
  • Job ID# 2021-6534 - Partnership Development Officer - Science - Dean of Science Office, USG 10

Secondments/Internal temporary opportunities

  • Job ID# 2021-6634 - Accreditation Coordinator - Electrical and Computer Engineering, USG 6
  • Job ID# 2021-6598 - Anti-Racism Communications Manager - University Communications, USG 11
  • Job ID# 2021-6627 - Communications Specialist - Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association, USG 7
  • Job ID# 2021-6522 - Graduate and Postdoctoral Programming Specialist - Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs, USG 9
  • Job ID# 2021-6629 - Records Coordinator - Co-operative and Experiential Education Business Services, USG 6 - 7
  • Job ID# 2021-6668 - Senior Manager, Media Relations and Issues Management  University Communications, USG 12

Federated University and Affiliated Colleges opportunities