From entrepreneurs to volunteers, we all pitch in: April in review

As we come to the end of yet another term, I’m glad to be able to share with you some events and initiatives that took place on campus during the month of April so far. Furthermore, my monthly update is a chance for me to recognize a few of the many exceptional members of our community each month, whether they are faculty, staff, students, or alumni.

When it comes to alumni: on Thursday, April 9 in Toronto, Alumni Relations hosted a pitch event. This wider celebration of the entrepreneurial ecosystem at University of Waterloo showcased some truly innovative startups in a pitch competition. The audience consisted of a wide representation of our community as well, with Waterloo alumni, staff, faculty, and co-op students. Following the pitches, alumni participated in an interactive voting to determine the pitch winner. Eye Check, who won the pitch competition and a $5,000 award, approaches vision assessment in an accessible and mobile manner. Well done to all the incredible startups who pitched at the event!

In my role as chair of the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities, I participated in Canada’s Business Higher Education Roundtable this month; a group of 27 leading executives from the private sector, universities, colleges, and polytechnics. The collaboration in this roundtable will place a focus on helping young Canadian graduates transition from their academic education to the workforce; a highly important discussion in our current post-secondary climate.

The Fifth Annual Canada Excellence Research Chairs (CERC) meeting was held on campus on April 13 and 14. The two day meeting brought together CERC holders from across Canada to the University of Waterloo to share key developments and the latest discoveries in their respective research programs. The first day featured plenary lectures by the most recently appointed chairholders, and the second day had three parallel sessions in the key research areas of: environment, health, and quantum information. Concluding the second day were two outreach events for local elementary and high school students. The two-day event was a wonderful opportunity to hear from top-tier researchers in disciplines that are priorities for our university.

Just this week I was proud to kick off the #UWEarthWeek campaign. Sustainability is important to our campus, and I invite you to watch our video kicking off #UWEarthWeek 2015. Join me in celebrating our community’s environmental successes, and in making our plans for the future.

April 12-18th was National Volunteer Week: an opportunity for us to thank those in our University of Waterloo community who give back both within and beyond our campus, I was pleased to be a part of a video wishing you all a Happy National Volunteer Week 2015. Community Relations & Events also published an excellent blog series highlighting some devoted volunteers among our faculty, staff, students, and alumni. Thank you again to our fantastic volunteers in our community!

This month two researchers from the University of Waterloo were honoured with funding for Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarships. The scholarship funding exposes students to participate in internships or academic study in another Commonwealth country. Congratulations Susan Elliott and Ashwin Nayak on the award, I wish you all the best in your learning abroad.

In partnership with Communitech, the Accelerator Centre, and Waterloo Innovation Summit, on April 2 we were proud to host a guest session with speaker, strategist, entrepreneur, and University of Waterloo alumnus, Salim Ismail. I was pleased to introduce Salim in his presentation, Exponential Organizations, based on his book of that title, which won the 2014 Business Book of the Year. Salim’s talk was an insight into how organizations can stay relevant and competitive, a topic which was highly relevant for any community.

On the subject of inspirational leadership, let me close by congratulating board members William (Bill) Watson and Catherine Booth for being named chair and vice-chair, respectively, of the University of Waterloo Board of Governors. These illustrious Waterloo alumni will serve in their new roles from May 1, 2015 to April 30, 2017.

Also, my congratulations to Sandra Banks, whose appointment as our new vice-president, university relations became effective April 6.

With these and other recent appointments, we can all take pride in the talent that Waterloo continues to attract to our professoriate, our student body, and our leadership team.

Finally, with the term coming to an end and tomorrow being the last day of exams, I wish you all continued success in your academic and professional endeavours!

Sincerely,

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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