A new year with new opportunities: January in review

I am thrilled that coming into the new year I will soon be able to present a University of Waterloo flagship publication to you: The inaugural University of Waterloo State of the University Report 2014-15. This report provides insight into who and what we are at University of Waterloo, including our strengths in transformative research, experiential education, and innovation. Its title, Defining Tomorrow, is fitting as we enter the new year and look to seize new opportunities for the University.

Watch your inbox for a message from me about the official release in the coming weeks.

This month we held our eighth Mini-Town Hall on our eight strategic themes, this time on the theme of experiential education. The discussion was productive on such an area of strength and of high priority to the University, and served to help keep up the momentum as we execute on our Strategic Plan.

Last week, I was honoured to speak at the Top Employer 2015 Greater Toronto Area reception. In the last nine terms, 47 per cent of all co-op students at Waterloo were employed in the GTA. Employers in the GTA are critical to making our co-op system the exceptional program it is, both in scale and quality. It was a privilege to honour some of our top employers and learn about their experiences with co-op.

The new Dean of Science, Robert Lemieux, was announced this month for a five-year term. Robert Lemieux is a respected scholar and administrator, currently associate dean (research) in the Faculty of Arts and Science, and professor in the Department of Chemistry at Queen’s. His research accomplishments have been recognized through the 2012 Samsung Mid-Career Award and previously by an Ontario Premier’s Research Excellence Award in 2000 and one of the inaugural Queen’s Chancellor’s Research Awards in 1999. It is a great privilege to welcome Robert Lemieux to the team. He will succeed current Dean Terry McMahon at the end of his term on June 30.

Federal Members of Parliament Scott Brison and Ted Hsu toured campus late this month, spending the morning visiting centres for transformative research on campus, including: the Sedra Student Design Centre, the Institute for Quantum Computing, the Waterloo Centre for Automotive Research, the Multi-Scale Additive Manufacturing Laboratory, and also the Tatham Centre for an overview of experiential education at Waterloo. The afternoon was spent touring some of Kitchener-Waterloo’s tech innovation hubs, including: Waterloo Alumnus’ startup Vidyard, Desire2Learn, and Google.

Premier Kathleen Wynne also visited campus this month, participating in an open discussion with students on topics surrounding post-secondary education, including: student housing, mental health, national and international education, and improved access to food resources for low-income students. The Premier visited various Universities in a weeklong tour, creating open discussion with a focus on creating opportunities for young people, and preparing an educated future workforce.

Several days ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Saudi Arabia to participate in a “dialogue of civilizations” at Imam Mohammed bin Saud University. My talk centered on the need for open dialogue among and within all cultures, for the benefit of all members of society. Specifically, I spoke to the role of universities in promoting this dialogue, and how fundamental research represents a truly universal language. It was a productive discussion that included many universities from across North America, Europe, and the Middle East.

Earlier this month, I spoke at the University of Waterloo’s Institute for Quantum Computing as the Federal Government confirmed their support for IQC in the form of $15 million in funding over 3 years. This renewed the Government of Canada’s previous investment in IQC of $50 million in 2009. This is an excellent reflection of IQC’s position as a world-leader in quantum information science, and as the Quantum Valley.

As we continue on into the new year and new term, I wish you the happiest of new years, and to all students: good luck on your upcoming midterms!

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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