Dean's Update - April 2020


Lili LiuDear staff, faculty, and graduate students,

It has been six weeks since the University of Waterloo implemented work at home measures for all but those engaged in essential services. While spring 2020 is to be delivered online, many of you are wondering what will happen in the fall. The short answer is: we don’t know.
Whether or not we can return to classes in the fall will depend on public health directives. Even if students, faculty and staff can be together in September, there may be barriers that prevent some from being physically present. These barriers include travel restrictions in other countries, timing of obtaining travel visas and accommodations and the health of our university community members.
Therefore, the President and Provost have asked us to be prepared to deliver as much of our course content online as possible, especially core courses. To assist us with development of online instruction, the University has secured federal funding to create 320 co-op positions to help Faculties and academic support units with online learning, with 25 dedicated to AHS.

At the same time, instructors need to be prepared to teach in person in the event that we can return to campus. Never before has this type of course preparation demand been placed on our instructors. The University recognizes your dedication to providing our students a high quality of learning experience.
To top it all off, this fiscal year end we are faced with the harsh reality that, like all sectors, our budget will be cut. More than ever, it is critical that each academic unit meet or exceed enrolment targets. We are looking at ways to preserve staffing, support our graduate students and maintain the integrity and quality of our curricula while addressing the budget cut.
The Chinese word for crisis consists of two characters: danger and opportunity. The dangers are obvious, so let us turn to finding opportunities to fast-track ways of teaching, learning, programming and doing research that will have long-lasting benefits.

Lili Liu

AHS this monthEvents I Tips and reminders


More AHS COVID-19 help

Gloves, sanitizer, maskBesides two collections of personal protective equipment (PPE) that the Department of Kinesiology contributed as part of a call from the University and government, many others in the Faculty have helped out as well, including:

  • The School's Brian Laird, who made a sizeable donation to the Communitech PPE drive, including 65 boxes of nitrile gloves, 800 alcohol swabs/wipes and seven bottles of hand sanitizer. John Mielke and Peter Hall also donated PPE to the University's drive.
  • Third-year Health Studies student Alexandria Abbruzzino and a fellow computer science student, who started a ThankHealth project to help show gratitude to health-care workers during the pandemic.
  • Therapeutic Recreation faculty members and students, who also created a digital thank you for health-care providers. You can express your thanks by leaving comments on the Open Letter to Health Care Workers Everywhere blog.
  • Brendan Lowther, a Recreation and Leisure Studies alumnus, who has been using his spare time to fix bicycles to raise money for Grand River Hospital and other charities.

AHS COVID research

Cell imageResearch efforts into various aspects of this pandemic are also taking place in the Faculty, including: 

  • Warren Dodd and Jim Wallace, who are working with a University of Toronto team to adapt the World Health Organization's COVID-19 guidelines on how to maintain essential services for lower-resourced health-care settings, starting with the Philippines.
  • John Hirdes, George Heckman and Chris Perlman, who are part of a team that developed a COVID-19 Vulnerability Screener, a new assessment tool that can help identify older adults at risk of contracting the disease.
  • Scott Leatherdale, who is including questions about COVID-19 in the current COMPASS survey, a comprehensive questionnaire about youth health behaviour that goes to participating schools across Canada. The team has put the survey online, and will be able to collect data on how the lockdown is affecting screen time, substance use and mental health.

Troy Glover re-appointed as Chair

Troy GloverCongratulations to Troy Glover for his re-appointment as Chair of the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies for another four-year term starting July 1. He has successfully led the department since 2016 and is known for his collegial and thoughtful approach to leadership.

Faculty promotions

Congratulations as well to Ellen MacEachen (School of Public Health and Health Systems) and Joe Quadrilatero (Kinesiology) for their promotions to Professor, and to Mark Ferro (SPHHS) and Karla Boluk (Recreation and Leisure Studies) for being promoted to Associate Professor with tenure. All promotions are effective July 1.

Kudos, Amanda Raffoul 

Amanda RaffoulAmanda Raffoul, a PhD candidate in the School of Public Health and Health Systems, had much to celebrate this month. She received a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Fellowship to pursue a postdoctoral Fellowship at Boston's Children's Hospital, and just before that, was awarded a Certificate in University Teaching Award, given annually by the Centre for Teaching Excellence to a student with strong commitment to developing teaching and high achievement.



Please note that all in-person events have been cancelled or postponed until further notice.

Narveen Jandu on Beyond the Bulletin: May 1

Beyond the Bulletin avatarNarveen Jandu from the School will be interviewed in this week's University podcast, Beyond the Bulletin, on how to make and wear non-surgical masks. The podcast will be available as of Friday.

Ask our Experts, with John Hirdes: May 13

John HirdesJoin John Hirdes on Wednesday, May 13 at 12 p.m. for a free UWaterloo Community talk on long-term care and to have your related COVID-19 questions answered. Please register in advance. Several other topics over the next six weeks will be addressed by other experts.


Robyn Ibey and Wade Wilson are organizing a wellness challenge from home for the month of May. Please check your inbox for information or email Robyn Ibey to be added to the mailing list. You can participate as much or as little as you like.


A new Spotify playlist

Headphones attached to cellphoneAre you looking for a little distraction while you're taking those walks alone, or to help alleviate some of the lockdown boredom? Check out the Dean's Office Spotify playlist that our co-op students put together before finishing up their term. Thank you for your contributions to the Faculty, Azalea, Manal and Rachel!

Do you have a news item to share? Please email it to Eugenia Xenos Anderson.