Dean's Message - November 2017

One of the highlights of October is fall convocation. This fall, we conferred more than 400 undergraduate degrees, over 100 Master’s degrees, and nearly 25 PhDs. We also recognized Abby Hu as the graduating student  who “best exemplifies high academic standing and good student citizenship” with the KD Fryer medal, and one of the best-known researchers working in combinatorics, Fan Chung Graham, with the conferral of a DMath.

Once we launch our graduates on their way, we like to stay in touch. October took us along the eastern seaboard of the U.S. to host 50th celebrations in both Boston and New York City. It was an opportunity for our alumni to catch up with classmates, receive updates about Waterloo, and meet local students working in the area.

I am pleased to congratulate this year’s winners of the Alumni Achievement Medals. We will welcome these prominent alumni back to campus in January:

  • Brian Arbogast, BMath ’86 – Alumni Achievement – Director, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Patrick Hayes, BMath ’12 – Young Alumni Achievement – Co-founder and VP of Engineering, SigOpt
  • Niky Kamran, PhD ’84 – Alumni Achievement – Professor, Mathematics and Statistics, McGill University
  • Dora Vell, MMath ’87 – Alumni Achievement – CEO & Managing Partner, Vell Executive Search

As our alumni continue to lead in their respective fields, our students and researchers do the same. We would like to congratulate several students and faculty that received awards and distinctions:

  • Maura Grossman and Edith Law received John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF) awards from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) to provide them with infrastructure support to expand their research programs.
  • Corey Cinnamon and John Brzozowski received the Sheng Yu Award for the best paper at the 22nd International Conference on Implementation and Application of Automata (CIAA 2017).

  • Four teams from Waterloo placed in the top 10 at the 2017 ACM ICPC East Central North America Regional Programming Contest. Like last year, Waterloo owned the podium placing 1st, 2nd and 3rd.

One of the things that sets us apart in the Faculty of Mathematics, is our ability to attract distinguished visitors. In October, we showcased outstanding thinkers in the Computer Science Distinguished Lecture Series which included Jeff Ullman of Stanford University and James Demmel of the University of California, Berkeley.

Forty-seven of our students had the opportunity to travel to attend outstanding presentations. They joined 18,000 strong, technical women at the Grace Hopper Conference in Orlando, and returned with the belief that they belong in tech. Jo Atlee remarked, “The greatest takeaway was there is no such thing as a typical computer scientist. There is no CS culture that one needs to fit into.”

Our culture and talent attracts attention around the world. We are proud to say that the David R. Cheriton School was listed 15th globally in the latest U.S. News and World Report Best Global Universities. The University of Waterloo has also recently been ranked by Research InfoSource as the top Research University of the Year among Canadian comprehensive universities and second by Maclean’s for Best Overall, Highest Quality, and Leaders of Tomorrow.

We continue to strive to reach higher, and we are building a plan to get there. Strategic planning for the next five years in the Faculty of Mathematics is well underway, and you can still help. Please make sure to complete the survey if you have not already. Together, we can make the next 50 years even greater.


Stephen M. Watt

Dean, Faculty of Mathematics - University of Waterloo

Stephen Watt

P.S. Make sure to register for the upcoming Bridges Lecture Perfumery: the art and science of smell with Luca Turin of the Alexander Fleming Institute and Saskia Wilson-Brown of Institute for Art and Olfaction.