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Spring Convocation 2016

Friday, June 17, 2016

Congratulations to today's graduates and honorees!

From the University of Waterloo Daily Bulletin:

Today, graduating students in the Faculty of Mathematics will receive their degrees. 

Graduating this morning are students in St. Jerome's University registered in Mathematics programs, as well as students in the Faculty of Mathematics. Programs celebrating this morning include Applied Mathematics, Combinatorics and Optimization, Computational Mathematics, Information Technology Management, Mathematical Economics, Mathematical Finance, Mathematical Physics, Mathematical Studies, Mathematics/Business Administration, Mathematics/Chartered Accountancy, Mathematics/Financial Analysis and Risk Management, Mathematics/Teaching, Mathematics Three Year General, Pure Mathematics, and Scientific Computation/Applied Mathematics.

187 undergraduate students, 51 Master's students, and 7 PhD candidates will receive their degrees.

Bearing the mace is Frank Zorzitto, Professor Emeritus, Department of Pure Mathematics. Birgit Moscinski will sing the national anthem.

Wai Ho Christopher Ng is valedictorian and will deliver an address.

Barry Mazur.Barry Mazur will be given an Honorary Doctor of Mathematics and will address Convocation. Professor Mazur is the Gerhard Gade University Professor in the Department of Mathematics at Harvard University. He is both a brilliant mathematician and an extraordinary teacher, and is considered a world-leading expert in number theory.

Professor Mazur is one of the most influential mathematicians alive today. He pursued his undergraduate studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but was not granted a bachelor’s degree on account of failing a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps requirement. His mathematical ability was nonetheless recognized and he went on to earn his PhD in mathematics in 1959 from Princeton University. From there, he would make many important and seminal contributions in number theory, automorphic forms and algebraic geometry. His work and his vision have affected the direction of number theory, such that a former dean of Harvard College once stated "It is not an exaggeration to say that the next generation of number theorists came out of Mazur's overcoat". In addition to his significant accomplishments, he displays a unique ability to engage biologists, economists, physicists, and others to trace the ways in which mathematics is integral to the structure of knowledge in their disciplines.

He is the recipient of four major prizes from the American Mathematical Society (AMS) and the Mathematical Association of America (MAA).  Mazur was elected a member of the National Academy of Science in 1982, and in 2001, he was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society. In 2013, he was awarded the National Medal of Science by President Barack Obama, which is the United States' highest recognition for scientists and mathematicians.

Frank Zorzitto.Frank Zorzitto will be named Honorary Member of the University. Zorzitto served as chair of pure mathematics for more than 11 years, the longest in the department's history, and under his care the department has developed an enviable reputation for its exceptional level of collegiality on top of its academic contributions. Indeed he was an early proponent and pioneering supporter for the hiring of women in a discipline that sees heavy male representation, as well as fostering an environment where successful mathematicians could also be committed parents.

His exemplary record of service includes: Board of Governors (two years); Senate (12 years) and Senate committees; the Faculty Association; the teaching excellence council; nomination committees including for the university president and faculty dean; chair of Faculty Council; his record of strong engagement with high schools, and much more. In 1993 he won the University's Distinguished Teaching Award, and he is co-author of a number of advanced and high school level textbooks.

In the afternoon ceremony at 2:30 p.m., students from Actuarial Science, Biostatistics, Business Administration/Mathematics Double Degree, Computer Science, Computing and Financial Management, Quantitative Finance, and Statistics will receive their degrees. 675 undergraduates, 70 Master's students, and 23 PhD candidates will receive degrees. Follow along with the Convocation livestream.

Dean of Mathematics Stephen Watt will bear the mace into the Physical Activities Complex. The national anthem will be sung by Birgit Moscinski.

The class valedictorian is Isabel Jiayo Ji, who will address Convocation.

David Choi receives the Governor General's Silver Medal for highest standing in an undergraduate degree program.

Minyang Han receives the Governor General's Gold Medal for highest standing in a Master's degree program.

Tas Tsonis will be awarded the J. Wesley Graham Medal in Computing and Innovation.

Raymond Cheng will receive the University of Waterloo Alumni Gold Medal in recognition of academic achievement.

Jimmy He will receive the Jessie W.H. Zou Memorial Award for excellence in undergraduate research.

Xuling Wang will be granted the Samual Eckler Medal for Highest Standing in Actuarial Science.

Tor Myklebust will receive the Outstanding Achievement in Graduate Studies award at the Doctoral level.

Professor Johnny Wong.Johnny Wong will be named Distinguished Professor Emeritus. During the last forty years, Professor  Wong has had a long and distinguished career at Waterloo with significant contributions to research, teaching and administration. His prolific research career includes thirty-nine journal publications, 78 articles in refereed conference proceedings and a patent for early work on telephony over the internet. His most significant work concerns the architecture and performance of communication networks, and he is regarded as a pioneer in the use of queuing theory and simulation for analysis of communication algorithms in distributed systems.

He has supervised 17 doctoral students to completion, as well as 48 master’s students; many of these students have gone on to prominent careers in academic and industrial fields. He has been on the editorial boards of several high ranking journals, has served on technical program committees for numerous prominent conferences, and has served on several NSERC committees. He is also is well-known for his many roles in administration, including: Associate Provost, Computing (1989-94); Director, Institute for Computer Research; coordinator, Bell University Laboratories (1998-02); and Director of the Cheriton School of Computer Science (2003-2006).

Professor David Taylor.David Taylor will be named Honorary Member of the University. Professor Taylor provided 38 years of outstanding service to the University of Waterloo, including a distinguished career of service in administrative roles.

He served a six-year term as associate dean for undergraduate studies and a four-year term as director of the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science. He also served a term on Senate, and a term on the Board of Governors (as one of the elected faculty Senators) including on the Board Executive Committee. Further, Professor Taylor served twice as associate chair (curriculum), once in the 1980s and once in the 1990s; he also served his research field well in conference committees and journal editorships as a senior researcher of his notable stature.

His painstaking, exacting work was driven by his consistent goal of identifying what is good for the university (rather than just his corner of it), his excellent preparation, and his sense of justice and fairness. His work on staff relations within computer science is one of the more unsung of his achievements. Perhaps most important, he spent much of his career lending his skills to the betterment of the university such that many in the university community would affirm that he served when necessary, not only when desirable.

Photograph of Barry Mazur by Jim Harrison.

Photograph of David Taylor by Katelyn Debus.