Celebrating success abroad and at home: February in review

Friday, February 28, 2014
by Feridun Hamdullahpur

Welcome to the end of the last full month of winter. You’ve made it!

I think the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi helped us all to power through. What a performance by Canada’s athletes! Our competitors brought home a lot of hardware – only one medal less than our total haul from the Vancouver Olympics. And it sure didn’t hurt that Canada dominated in our national sports of curling and hockey.

I am immensely proud that the University of Waterloo was so well represented at the Games. As I mentioned in our #SochiWarriors video, Waterloo students Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje competed in figure skating, and three of our alumni, Daria Gaiazova, Melanie Schwartz, and Heather Moyse all brought the Warrior spirit to the Games.

Sincere congratulations to all competitors for representing the University of Waterloo and Canada with such outstanding skill and sportsmanship.

As the Olympics were wrapping up, I was heading out – to Australia, alongside a significant Canadian delegation headed for the 2014 Canada-Australia Economic Leadership Forum in Sydney. The Canadian group included key federal policymakers such as Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, and Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz. The forum, which ran parallel the G20 summit, was a great opportunity to expand Waterloo’s presence and profile in an important country. Waterloo has several emerging partnerships in Australia, and it is a region where we need to continue to develop our potential.

Western University President Amit Chakma and I represented Canada’s research-intensive universities on the trip, as chair and vice-chair of theU15. I co-facilitated a discussion with my colleague Ed Byrne, president of Australia’s Monash University, on broad educational perspectives on Australia’s and Canada’s overall economy and society. We talked about the role of universities in developing what you might call the global currencies of talent and knowledge, and of how to help ensure that our talented graduates are primed for success in a competitive but tremendously exciting global marketplace.

Unlike Heather, I didn’t take home any medals, but this experience representing Waterloo and Canada abroad was very positive. I learned a lot about the perspectives and challenges facing our peer institutions around the world.

Closer to home this month and into March, I’ll continue to support the university’s efforts as a leader in the Waterloo region. I’m so proud of the work we’re doing to play a leading and positive role right here in our own community.

One highlight for me will be on March 7, when I’ll have the honour of speaking at the International Women’s Day dinner here on campus, to celebrate the enormous contributions of female scholars and leaders at the University of Waterloo and beyond. All are welcome to attend.

As we press forward to the Spring and Summer months, Waterloo’s momentum continues to build. I look forward to leading Waterloo’s delegation to the Technion University is Israel, where research teams from both universities will gather in March  to design research plans in the three core areas of our research partnership: quantum information science, nanotechnology, and water.

Stay tuned for more news about our international efforts on Waterloo’s behalf in the weeks and months ahead, building on our continuing research and innovation successes at the global level, including recent QS rankings achievements. I look forward to sharing the news of several new exciting developments with you, related both to the University of Waterloo specifically and Canada’s university community more broadly.

Until next time, thank you for all the work you do, and for keeping at your work and studies during such a long and cold winter. The next time I write to you Spring will have sprung!

Yours sincerely,


Note to readers: from June, 2013 through 2015, the president’s monthly review was published in the Daily Bulletin, where this piece originally ran. As of January 2016, monthly reviews are published directly to this blog.