Off to the races: September in review

What a start!

Waterloo’s 2013-2014 academic year is up and running with incredible momentum.

You received an email from me on Wednesday outlining our approach to implementing the Strategic Plan. This will continue to be a major point of focus for the institution over the next few months, as we pivot from concept to action. Implementing a plan this ambitious, at an institution this large, requires immense teamwork. I know this team is up for the challenge.

In fact, Waterloo’s reputation as a constant leader in higher education is precisely what drew Twitter and Square founder Jack Dorsey to campus this month, for an address he delivered at Hagey Hall about the importance of curiosity and creativity to innovation and entrepreneurship.

When he took the stage, he immediately looked at our students in the audience, saying “I’d like to hire all of you…”

And he wasn’t just being nice. When he was on campus to give his talk, he announced that Square, Dorsey’s mobile-payments company, is going to open a new office right here in Waterloo, so that they can better capitalize on all the talented students and graduates this institution produces, and benefit from the continuing growth of one of Canada’s highest-regarded centres of innovation.

“We’ve seen this in a lot of other college towns around America. This one (Waterloo) is quite special.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

We were also incredibly fortunate to have Professor Margaret MacMillan on campus, for our 2013 Hagey Lecture. Professor MacMillan, one of the world’s leading historians of the British Empire, delivered a lecture entitled “Choice or Accident: The Outbreak of World War One.” In light of all the tragic conflicts currently unfolding around the world, her wisdom should be well-heeded by all.

In addition to @Jack and Professor MacMillan, we had other visitors to campus this month, who brought equally high praise for Waterloo with them.

In partnership with Communitech, we hosted Tony Clement, a top federal government minister, at the David Johnston Research + Technology Park. Minister Clement came to Waterloo to get this region’s feedback on the federal government’s Open Data initiative, a key plank of the Government of Canada’s commitment to accountability.

The minister was very impressed with the work being done at this institution, in partnership with the broader community. He was particularly impressed by the size of our positive economic impact, by our dynamic combination of deep, fundamental research with high-impact innovation, and by this university’s leading contribution to developing Waterloo’s world-renowned innovation ecosystem.

That contribution will be front and centre next month, as we officially unveil Waterloo’s new economic impact study to the broader community. I’m hosting a community breakfast event where we’ll tell the story of Waterloo’s regional economic leadership, backed up by hard data and major entrepreneurial successes. I am extremely proud to help tell the story of just how powerfully and positively our students, faculty, and staff are supporting Waterloo Region’s economy and communities.

And that impact is geared not just to economic impact, but social change as well. In September we hosted the United Way Kitchener Waterloo’s campaign kick-off, in which it announced its fundraising goal of $5.1 million dollars, a campaign chaired by our vice-president of university relations, Tim Jackson. Our own University of Waterloo campaign officially kicks off on October 1, and I extend heartfelt thanks to the many student, faculty, and staff volunteers driving the initiative, and the many more of you who plan to give of your resources, time, or energy to support United Way’s important goals. Let’s show the community how much we care, and have some fun doing so!

For more updates about the kind of month it’s been at Waterloo – including our strong showing in the annual rankings, the addition of major research powerhouses to our professoriate, and the major awards earned by some of Waterloo’s outstanding researchers – visit Waterloo’s News webpage.

Thank you for a great month – of studying, researching, teaching, learning, working, and steady progress on our core priority, the Strategic Plan. Please stop me to say hi if you see me, and follow the Office of President on Twitter, @uWaterlooPres.

Best wishes,

FH

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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