Waterloo celebrates five recipients of this year's Most Powerful Women award
Five women from the University of Waterloo were named among the top 100 most powerful women in Canada in the annual rankings released by the Women’s Executive Network (WXN). This year’s list includes Jacqueline Beckford-Henriques, Suzanne Kearns, Anita Layton, Carolyn Ren and Pearl Sullivan (in memoriam).
WXN rankings are widely seen as a measure of exceptional impact for leadership in business, research, the arts, public administration and community advocacy. Past winners include the novelist Margaret Atwood, Canada’s first woman astronaut Roberta Bondar and former governor general Michaëlle Jean, who is now chancellor of St. Paul’s University College.
Although the WXN rankings designate the most powerful women in Canada, the organization takes a somewhat unconventional approach to defining power. Whereas other rankings may understand power as a measure of wealth, status or physical strength, WXN sees power as grounded in compassion, humility and the promotion of collective wellbeing.
As part of its mandate, WXN sets out to support equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in senior leadership throughout professional and public life in Canada. The organization also hosts professional development workshops and produces research on EDI, women in the workforce and women in leadership in Canadian companies.
Pearl Sullivan, who died in November 2020, was the former dean of engineering at the University of Waterloo, the first woman to hold the position. Just the fifth woman across Canada to head a school of engineering, she was a dynamic force for Waterloo engineering and the entire university. Under her leadership from July 2012 to December 2019, the faculty reimagined engineering education and research with revolutionary spaces and transformative programs that will ensure Waterloo remains a leader in engineering well into the future.
A champion of the faculty’s work in disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence, advanced manufacturing, nanotechnology, robotics and wireless communications, she expanded the potential for industry collaboration and government support in key research areas. Passionate about supporting students, she was dedicated to ensuring they had a complete understanding of engineering principles and the tools and facilities they needed to succeed.
In 2015, Sullivan launched the faculty’s Educating the Engineer of the Future campaign. She worked tirelessly to achieve its ambitious goals of building Engineering 7 and providing students with enhanced experiences to help them achieve their aspirations. Sullivan was a powerful voice for women and a strong advocate of full diversity and inclusion in engineering.
Jacqueline Beckford-Henriques has been the head coach of the Waterloo Warriors swim program since 2017. Before joining the Warriors, Beckford-Henriques was the head coach of the Jamaican National swim program, coaching at three different Olympic Games (2000, 2004, 2008). In 2019, Beckford-Henriques was named the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Coach of the Year for the men’s team.
Beckford-Henriques co-founded The Alliance, an anti-racism group at the University of Waterloo working towards educating members of the Waterloo community and the larger community on equity, diversity and inclusion.
She is also a member of the OUA Black, Biracial and Indigenous committee, working to create inclusion and eliminate racism across university sport in Ontario.
In the world of swimming, Beckford-Henriques is currently working on a template for a Learn to Swim program for the BIPOC community in Waterloo that would be free to participants. The hope is for that template to be transferable to other universities and other sports where barriers for BIPOC communities exist.
Suzanne Kearns is a professor in Waterloo’s aviation program and director of the newly launched Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Aeronautics (WISA). With the air transport sector being an out-sized contributor to climate change, Kearns’s vision is to create a sustainable future in aerospace and aviation.
Through WISA, Kearns approaches sustainability as three pillars of equal importance: social, environmental and economic.
By fostering interdisciplinary inquiry, cross-sector partnerships and experiential learning, Kearns is harnessing Waterloo’s excellence in technology and environmental research to address all three pillars — and the interconnections between them — to create meaningful, long-term solutions.
Kearns is credited with writing the book on how to start a career in aviation. Her text, "Fundamentals of International Aviation" has been translated into multiple languages. Working with the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Kearns developed a “fundamentals of aviation” (AviFun) course designed to support professional development, providing fundamental knowledge to inspire people to consider the different fields of aviation as they explore their professional goals and career path.
Anita Layton is the Canada 150 Research Chair in mathematical biology and medicine, associate dean of research and international in the Faculty of Mathematics, professor of applied mathematics, computer science, pharmacy and biology and the chair of the university’s research equity, diversity and inclusion council. She has produced a sustained body of work that has impacts in scientific computing, renal physiology and medicine, with over 170 publications in top-tier journals and over 4,400 citations.
Layton serves on the NSERC Leaders Network to shape the development of research policies and programs across Canada and is an editor with journals including SIAM Journal on Applied Dynamical Systems and SIAM Review Book Section.
She is a member of the women in mathematics committee and the women in computer science committee, which work to promote opportunities for women and girls in STEM fields.
Alongside her research and service, Layton is a dedicated teacher and mentor of undergraduate students, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, with many promising young researchers working in her various labs and supporting her research programs.
Carolyn Ren, a professor of mechanical and mechatronics engineering, is the director of the Waterloo Microfluidics Laboratory. The lab is dedicated to gaining a fundamental understanding of microfluidics and nanofluidics and developing chip-based technology for biological, chemical and biomedical diagnosis, analysis and treatment.
Ren is a member of the Waterloo Institute of Nanotechnology, the Waterloo Centre for Microbial Research, the University’s Water Institute and Centre for Bioengineering and Biotechnology. She is also a member of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists of the Royal Society of Canada and a fellow of the Canadian Society of Mechanical Engineers. From 2009 to 2019, she held a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Microfluidics and Lab-on-a-Chip technology.
An entrepreneur, Ren has co-founded four companies with different specializations: Advanced Electrophoresis Solutions Inc, which works in protein separation; Quantwave Technology Inc., which focuses on microwave sensing for water and food quality control; Air Microfluidic Systems Inc., which is involved in soft robotic wearable systems; and Alphaxon, which works in protein fractionation.
Centre for Extended Learning celebrates Cindy Rempel's career
By Matt Justice.
The Centre for Extended Learning’s Cindy Rempel is retiring after serving Waterloo for over 43 years.
Cindy has lived every minute of the evolution of distance education from paper to fully online. Many of us claim to be a part of that timeline, but Cindy covers the entire epoch. She has literally been hands on in the transition from paper to cassette tape, to CDs, to online MP3s and now to HTML. It’s really quite remarkable how she’s evolved, and had to evolve, as the instructional technology environment around her has changed over the decades. It hasn’t been without its challenges, of course. As Cindy recalls, she and colleagues had “Angel is the Devil” t-shirts made in reference to an early Waterloo online learning management system, and she further laments when now-Registrar Cathy Newell Kelly made her learn WordPerfect.
As you might well imagine, Cindy has worn many hats during her time, and she’s also parked in many different lots, as she’s followed CEL, formerly Distance and Continuing Education, formerly Correspondence, around the campus and indeed at times, off campus. Next time you’re in the lobby of EC3 turn your gaze to the display of black and white photos from yesteryear, many of which feature Cindy prominently.
Cindy will be known to many faculty and departmental administrators across campus through her CEL work coordinating textbooks for online courses. (That process is now transitioning to the W Store).
Cindy is one of those people an office needs. And, not because of the job she performs—although that’s handy too—but rather because of the relationships she makes, the humour she brings and the laughter she generates. She always has advice to give, most of it good. She is real and genuine and a straight shooter. She is the person with the not-so-secret cookie stash. She’s been incredibly unlucky with computer viruses – we still don’t really know how she catches them. She is a FileMaker queen, and she will get you out of a printer jam in a flash. She has made many life-long friends at Waterloo and she will be missed.
As CEL’s Director Aldo Caputo acknowledges, “It would be difficult to quantify the positive impact Cindy has had on teaching and learning at the University. During her long career, she has supported thousands of course offers, helping ensure a positive learning experience for Waterloo students no matter where they were and has consistently been a strong advocate for student service and high quality education. Her contributions are immeasurable."
Your Daily Inspiration; Board of Governors agenda; and other notes
Today's Daily Inspiration
Congratulations to the Keeping Well at Work Daily Inspiration Contest Prize Pack Winners: Alice Law, Gillian McKenzie-Yorke and Bonnie Bishop.
Today’s Daily Inspiration recognizes the power of the ‘check-in’: Today might be a great day for you, but you might notice someone you work with isn’t quite themselves. Would you check in with them? It’s as easy as saying “Hey, I’m just checking in...how are things for you today?”
Holding space for someone can change everything. It's also important to know when to recommend more help to those you work with. We have excellent resources for Waterloo employees who need more support, like our Chaplains, Employee & Family Assistance Program (EFAP) and more.
The University's Board of Governors meets today at 1:30 p.m. on Microsoft Teams. Among the agenda items:
- An update on Presidential priorities and the University's Strategic Plan;
- A presentation by Vice-President, University Relations Sandra Banks on Communication and Marketing Strategy;
- A motion to reappoint Ernst & Young as the University's external auditors for the fiscal year ending April 30, 2022;
- A motion to approve a revised $22.14 million budget (representing a $4.64 million increase) for renovations to the third floor of the Earth Sciences & Chemistry Building (ESC);
- A motion to approve a revised budget of $34.4 million to the Board of Governors for the renovation of UW’s warehouse building on the Health Sciences Campus in downtown Kitchener as part of the Innovation Arena initiative; and
- A motion to approve a number of investment managers for the IQC Trust.
The latest entry in Conrad Grebel University College's Noon Hour Concerts series takes place Wednesday, October 27 at 12:30 p.m. "The Heart of a Woman" will feature Anna Ronai, an accomplished pianist who is also the Music Department's piano instructor who will accompany operatic soprano Jennae Tomalty. Tomalty is a recent graduate from the Faculty of Music at Wilfrid Laurier University in June 2021 where she earned a Bachelor of Music, honors performance with distinction. Having been involved with music throughout her life, she has performed in community theatre, recitals and opera performances and loves the versatility and freedom that music offers. Recent winner of Wilfrid Laurier Concerto Competition in 2020, she looks forward to her next live performance with the Wilfrid Laurier Orchestra in the near future. She is so grateful to have this opportunity to perform live with Anna Ronai and looks forward to the continued connection to many new friends through music.