Celebrating Canada, breakthrough research; remembering Andrei Anghel: July in review

Our 30th Canada Day celebration was a smashing success, thanks to the hard work of our community relations and events team, our Federation of Students, over one hundred volunteers, and a broad range of staff from across campus.

This event was an outstanding way to celebrate Canada’s confederation 147 years ago, and to show our gratitude and pride in all that it has become.

In bringing our community to campus, the University and our students had an opportunity to say “thank you” to our partners and neighbours in the Waterloo region. The University of Waterloo’s story, right from our founding, is tightly woven into the history and development of the broader Waterloo region we know and love. Celebrating that sense of shared identity and unity of purpose was immensely rewarding – and lots of fun.

If you haven’t seen it yet, stop over at the Canada Day Celebration web page and watch the wrap-up video. It’s more than worth the couple of minutes to watch.

As July approached, we said farewell to our outgoing provost and stalwart supporter of this institution, Geoff McBoyle, and welcomed his successor, Ian Orchard, to campus. I have been delighted to work closely with Ian during his first month on our team.

Our new provost been working hard this month getting to know our university community, and getting up to speed on his large and complex portfolio as provost. As so many of you have already fed back to me: he’s doing a superb job. We are fortunate to have a researcher and administrator of his caliber in such a key role with our administration. He has been touring campus extensively and taking immense care to develop an appreciation for Waterloo’s culture, strengths, and opportunities.

Some of our research strengths were in fact on full display this month: I was delighted to join with Peter Braid, our local Member of Parliament, to make the local announcement for the University of Waterloo’s NSERC Discovery Grant recipients. As many of you know, the Discovery Grants Program is designed to convert potentially ground-breaking research projects into reality by providing it with that extra support at critical research phases.

Two of Waterloo’s leading researchers, Professor Zhongwei Chen (Chemical Engineering) and Professor John Watrous (David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science, Institute for Quantum Computing), were on hand to tell us about their research and about the positive impact the Discovery Grant program is having on Waterloo’s commitment to generating transformational research.

While I am tempted to continue on with more comment about the many positive things that took place on campus over the last few weeks, I must make a somber mention at this time.

As you know, the University of Waterloo lost a member of our family in July, when alumnus Andrei Anghel (B.Sc., ’12) was killed in the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 on July 17. As I expressed in my statement following the tragedy, our entire University of Waterloo community was shocked and saddened by the news. I must also reiterate that Andrei was an active researcher and M.D. candidate, whose work held promise both from a scientific and healthcare perspective. We are as proud of Andrei’s deep commitment to research and humanitarian causes as we are profoundly  sorrowful to have lost him.

Our hearts and minds are with Andrei’s family members and friends at this extremely difficult time. He is missed, and will be always remembered, especially in the ongoing work of scientific discovery and the advancement of research and education.

Those efforts continue unabated here at Waterloo. July has been an enormously productive month, not only in the ways I’ve mentioned above, but also in the further development of our campus facilities and buildings, and in so many other areas. Our administration team has been laying excellent track in supporting Waterloo’s growth as a world-leading institution of research and learning over these summer months, and I look forward to reporting back to you on some of this progress in the months to come.

Wishing you all the best for an excellent weekend,

Feridun

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.

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