Friday, July 30, 2021

Waterloo plans to hire more Indigenous, Black faculty

An illustrated profile of people facing to the left and right.

The University of Waterloo has announced it will take a step in addressing the systemic underrepresentation of Indigenous and Black faculty at our institution with the launch of new cluster hiring initiatives that will see the addition of 10 new Indigenous and 10 Black faculty members.   

“These initiatives are an important step in accelerating the progression of increased representation of Indigenous and Black faculty across the University,” said James Rush, vice-president, academic & provost. “Waterloo is committed to creating a sustainable and supportive environment for our entire community, and these hiring initiatives will bring us closer to realizing this goal.”  

As restricted hiring opportunities, the cluster hiring initiatives follow the provisions for a special program as described by the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Waterloo’s current underrepresentation of Indigenous and Black faculty allows us to take this action.   

“These necessary cluster hiring initiatives will fill important gaps in diverse ways of knowing, researching, and engaging community. There is so much for us to learn from scholars whose lived experience is rooted in First Nation, Inuit, Métis, and Black identities,” said Jean Becker, senior director, Indigenous initiatives, and interim associate vice-president Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion. “And, it is essential for young scholars to see others like them doing this important work.”   

Recruitment for these new positions is open and will continue until all positions are successfully filled. The positions are open at the assistant professor/associate professor/professor levels, with the intention to recruit faculty at a range of career stages. Positions will be available for broad areas of research across all faculties. These cluster hiring initiatives are in addition to other equity-based hiring initiatives and are not meant to replace other opportunities. The fundamental purpose of the cluster hiring initiatives is to increase representation of Black and Indigenous faculty across the spectrum of Waterloo’s teaching and scholarship activities; while there may be some natural synergies with the current development of academic programming in the areas of Black Studies and Indigenous Studies, the cluster initiatives are not intended to recruit solely/primarily for these areas.  

“I would like to acknowledge the leadership of all six deans in mobilizing these cluster hiring initiatives. We are working collaboratively with a variety of key stakeholders who have views and expertise that must be respected in increasing the representation of Black and Indigenous faculty to ensure effective recruitment, selection and onboarding of new faculty,” said Rush. “I would like to thank all those who have been involved in this process thus far and who will be in the future.”  

 For more information about this hiring initiative, please visit the cluster hiring initiatives page on the Provost’s website.

Experts discuss fall plans at the inaugural President's Forum

President Vivek Goel and the panelists on stage at Fed Hall.

Professor Kelly Grindrod, President Vivek Goel, Professor John Hirdes, and Professor Zahid Butt converse during the President's Forum.

On Tuesday, July 27, 1,309 people gathered virtually to attend the President’s Forum. This was the first event of its kind for Waterloo’s seventh president, Vivek Goel.

The forum began with a panel broadcast live from Fed Hall, moderated by the president. The panel focused on key public health factors relevant to our campus. Panelists included: 

  • Zahid Butt, assistant professor, School of Public Health Sciences;
  • Kelly Grindrod, associate professor, School of Pharmacy;
  • John Hirdes, professor, School of Public Health Sciences

Hirdes called COVID-19 a “generation-changing event.” He highlighted that 2.4 million Canadians had someone close to them - either a family member, friend or coworker die since the onset of the pandemic. 

Grindrod highlighted that the 20–29 age group may be a critical one to engage if we are to reach a 90 per cent vaccination rate provincially. Grindrod said the group has had less reason to get the vaccine, and listed lack of education as a key barrier. Grindrod also debunked some of the myths around vaccines and said that in a cost-benefit analysis, “the benefits of vaccines still heavily outweigh the risks of COVID-19.”

Butt said that beyond vaccines, some of the key initiatives needed to prevent a fourth wave are asymptomatic testing in at-risk neighborhoods, workplaces and schools, improved contact tracing and clear travel restrictions for those entering Canada. 

Vice-President, Academic & Provost James Rush gave an update on fall operations. While recent provincial directives will allow for discretion within post-secondary institutions, Rush clarified that current plans for a mix of in-person, online and blended classes would remain in place. What we can expect is an expansion of in-person experiences and services, such as athletics and recreation, dining and library services. Rush said the province is expected to announce changes in the coming weeks that will further effect Waterloo’s operations.

Vice-President, Research and International Charmaine Dean commented that the relaxed restrictions step 3 brought to research “are very welcome.” Dean noted that the oversight for research operations is now with faculty and department chairs. Other experts such as Director of Safety, Kate Windsor and Associate Vice-President, Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs Jeff Casello answered questions around the use of masks, TA support and more.

Marilyn Thompson, associate provost, human resources moderated the Q&A session. There were over 200 questions submitted before and during the event. A common theme was around mandatory vaccines. Goel clarified that vaccines are only mandatory in residence based on the recommendation of the region’s Medical Officer of Health, due to the unique risk of transmission within congregate living space. Any changes will be based on similar guidance from local experts.

Another key topic was around work from home options for the fall. In his update, Rush outlined that “due to the positive results we’re seeing, we can expect 50 per cent to be back on campus in September at least one day a week.” Goel said that there will no doubt be changes in how we teach and do research as a result of the pandemic; and this will certainly have implications for our employees on how we work. Specifics, such as whether there will be an update to Waterloo’s current work from home policy, will be decided as conversations continue in the next few weeks.

Check out the town hall video recordings and Frequently Asked (and answered) Questions on the President's Forum website. The FAQ will be updated with new information based on the questions posed at the forum.

Breaking new ground with BlackBerry

The BlackBerry founding partner suite located at GEDI.

The BlackBerry founding partner suite located at GEDI.

By Lauren Ward. This article was originally published on Waterloo News.

For more than three decades, BlackBerry and the University of Waterloo have shared a strong relationship. Spanning research collaborations and offering co-operative education opportunities, Waterloo students past and present have benefitted from starting and maturing their careers at the multi-billion-dollar company.  

More recently, the two institutions have taken their corporate partnership to the next level, expanding BlackBerry’s involvement within Waterloo’s research, student engagement and startup ecosystems, as well as shared office spaces for heightened collaboration. The five-year, multi-million dollar partnership agreement focused on driving research-powered innovation in Canada first announced in May, will also offer an annual $10,000 BlackBerry Cybersecurity and Privacy Excellence Scholarship and cross-campus co-curricular learning opportunities like hackathons.

Helping lead this expansion is Waterloo graduate Sarah Tatsis (BMath '03, MMath '04). Now the senior vice-president of IVY Platform Development at BlackBerry, Tatsis says she witnessed the passion that exists within the student body and faculty community to take cutting-edge ideas beyond the classroom and into the wider world. 

“With our new partnership, we’ve created a unique environment to help incubate and nurture the A to Z of research projects and technologies,” Tatsis says. “From Artificial Intelligence to Zero-Trust security architectures, my team and I are very much looking forward to working more closely with the University in the months and years ahead to help make an impact on a global scale.” 

Like so many other Waterloo alumni, Tatsis’ introduction to BlackBerry all started through her co-operative education program, which led her to have a more than two-decade career with the tech company.  

“Thinking back to those initial weeks where I showed my [then] University colleagues the innovative pagers that allowed people to send emails remotely, it’s humbling to see how far the company has come and how its rock-solid partnership with Waterloo continues to evolve and expand,” Tatsis says. 

From student project to multi-billion-dollar company 

In 1984, BlackBerry, known then as Research in Motion (RIM), grew out of a student project at the University of Waterloo. The brainchild of former student Mike Lazaridis (DEng '00), BlackBerry was both founded and released its first product all while Lazaridis was still an undergraduate student.

Since those first days, BlackBerry has remained close to Waterloo. Aware of the world-class engineering talent produced at the University, Waterloo became a pipeline into BlackBerry’s offices, coincidentally located short blocks away from campus.

At one point, BlackBerry had offices located right next to the University on the corner of Columbia and Philip. In 2014, these offices were acquired and officially turned into University workspaces where departments like Waterloo’s Gateway for Enterprises to Discover Innovation (GEDI) now reside. GEDI is the University's corporate engagement office, through which BlackBerry and the University of Waterloo developed this new partnership.

"BlackBerry and the University of Waterloo have had a strong relationship for more than 30 years," says Dr. Vivek Goel, vice-chancellor and president of the University of Waterloo. "Now with our new strategic partnership, BlackBerry is connected in a more significant and holistic way. We look forward to continuing to work together with a focus on emerging and evolving technologies, especially with BlackBerry Ivy."  

This shared space will be where a unique joint innovation program takes place. The joint innovation program is designed to fast-track research and technology developments into market-ready products through collaborations.  

“At BlackBerry, we are constantly searching for ways we can advance the development of innovative technologies to secure and protect our increasingly hyperconnected world,” says John Chen, executive chairman and chief executive officer at BlackBerry. “As we expand our partnership with the University of Waterloo, we are excited to see how we foster the next generation of innovators.”

What's open and closed this long weekend

Monday, August 2 is the Civic Holiday, which, in addition to adding up to a nice long weekend to start the month off, means that many University operations will be closed or operating under modified hours. Some examples of operational changes include:

  • The Student Life Centre and the Turnkey Desk will be closed on Monday, August 2;
  • Virtual reference hours at the Library (chat or email) will be available from 12 noon to 6:00 p.m.;
  • All W Store and W Print locations will be closed on Monday, August 2. The W Store and W Print teams will begin processing online orders and responding to inquires placed over the long weekend on Tuesday, August 3;

  • Food Services locations, including Tim Hortons SLC, will be closed on Monday, August 2, while The Market @ CMH will be open Monday from 11:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.;

  • Athletics facilities will be closed on Monday, August 2.

NOTE: This isn't a closing, but more of a shutdown. Electrical power will be shut down on the University's south campus on Monday, August 2 from approximately 7:30 a.m. to about 2:30 p.m. as part of the ongoing Plant Operations High Voltage 3rd Feed project. Check out the Service Interruptions page for more details about the shutdown.

Have a great long weekend, everyone. The Daily Bulletin will return on Tuesday, August 3. Wow, it's nearly August already? Where does the time go?

Beyond the Bulletin Podcast Episode 97

Beyond the Bulletin banner featuring two vintage microphones.

The latest episode of the Beyond the Bulletin podcast is now live. Over the past year, Plant Operations has made enhancements to cleaning and air filtration on Waterloo campuses, and executive director Stepanka Elias gives us the details. Vivek Goel hosted his first President’s Forum, which included a discussion about COVID-19 with three campus experts. The University will hire 10 Indigenous and 10 Black faculty members to address current underrepresentation. And gaming on your smartphone to escape boredom and negative mood can be harmful.

Link of the day

50 years ago: Ontario (briefly) lowers the drinking age to 18

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 continues to offer virtual access to learning and research materials as well as through their book pickup and delivery services. Davis Centre Library study space is open by appointment Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Special Collections & Archives can also be accessed by appointment. Library staff are available for questions via Ask Us. Full details of current service offerings can be found on their Services Updates page. The Library has also 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 Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office (SVPRO) supports all members of the University of Waterloo campus community who have experienced, or been impacted, by sexual violence. This includes all students, staff, faculty and visitors on the main campus, the satellite campuses, and at the affiliated and federated Waterloo Institutes and Colleges. For support, email: or visit the SVPRO website.

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)

Fitness Classes (CIF GYM 3). Power Yoga, HIIT and Zumba. Only $4/class. Advanced registration required.

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

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.

Spring 2021 Wellness Sessions are here. Register for sessions on Building Working Relationships, Self-Care Strategies During COVID-19, and more. To learn more about each workshop being offered this term and how to register, visit

PhD oral presentations

Applied Mathematics. Peter C. Jentsch, "Coupled models of structured contagion processes in human-environment systems." Supervisors, Chris T. Bauch, Madhur Anand. Thesis available from Oral defence Friday, August 6, 9:30 a.m.

Physics & Astronomy. Yinqiu Shi,”Molecular beam epitaxial growth of InSb quantum well heterostructures for applications in topological quantum computing.” Supervisor, Zbig Wasilewski. Thesis available by request from SGO – Oral defence Monday, August 9, 9:30 a.m.

Pure Mathematics. Patrick Naylor, "Trisections of non-orientable 4–manifolds." Supervisor, B. Doug Park. Thesis available from Oral defence Monday, August 9, 10:00 a.m.

Economics. Zehua Pan, "A theoretical and empirical investigation into the economic relationship between forested watersheds and water treatment costs." Supervisor, Roy Brouwer. Available upon request from the Faculty of Arts, Graduate Studies and Research Officer. Oral defence Monday, August 9, 1:00 p.m.