Reflections on a fine, full fall term: October in review

Friday, October 31, 2014
by Feridun Hamdullahpur

It’s hard to believe that the 2014-2015 fall term is already at the half way mark!

So far, it has been a very full semester, and every effort has been more than worth it.

Evidence of the University of Waterloo’s growing momentum is mounting, with some excellent rankings results over the past two weeks, including from Research Infosource and Macleans. Going forward, I’ll look for an opportunity to spend some more time discussing rankings in my month-end column so we can take a fuller picture of Waterloo’s rankings performance both nationally and internationally. Suffice it to say, I join our entire university community in being extremely pleased with these two major Canadian ranking results.

Many of you will know that yesterday we held our first annual President’s Town Hall – a revisioning and reformatting of our traditional University of Waterloo townhalls. It was great seeing so many members of our campus community and to engage in a great conversation. Thanks to the hundreds of you who came out in-person and via webcast.

I previewed another ‘first’ for the University of Waterloo at yesterday’s Town Hall, as well: our inaugural State of the University report.

This report, currently being finalized and printed, is an excellent encapsulation of some of Waterloo’s accomplishments and progress over the last year. As I mentioned yesterday, the full release of the State of the University report will be accomplished in November and early December. When the enriched digital version is made available online, I will send a note to all students, faculty, and staff so you can visit the site and see the report for yourself.

It comes at an opportune time: this new report is exactly the kind of thing I need when my administration colleagues and I travel oversees on university business.

This past month we visited both the U.K. and France, for engagements with the Russell Group of prestigious British universities, and so that I could participate in my first meeting with the Strategy Committee of the Sorbonne. Soon, I’ll be wheels-up for a significant swing through east Asia, where my colleagues and I will engage with many current and future research partners. Also, I am looking forward to attending some excellent events we’ve got planned with our alumni chapters in Hong Kong and Korea and with our friends and partners in Singapore.

There were important celebrations happening on campus this month that were very important as well.

Last weekend we congratulated all of our new alumni at Convocation —  a very proud moment for me, as well as for our out-going Chancellor, Mr. Prem Watsa, and for our entire community.

As we say “see you soon” to so many remarkable Waterloo grads, we wish them the best of luck on their future endeavors, and can only hope that their accomplishments outside of these walls will mirror the incredible achievements that they experienced within them.

It was also my pleasure this month to celebrate another important segment of our University of Waterloo family – our generous financial supporters and volunteer leaders. On Tuesday the 28th I welcomed close to 300 of our supporters to the University of Waterloo’s annual President’s Reception, to thank each attendee for their vision, generosity, and partnership. I know you share in my gratitude for their ongoing support for our university.

Finally, let me touch on the terrible events that transpired in Ottawa on October 22.

As I said in my open memo to the University of Waterloo community, Waterloo maintains a vast network of co-operative education students, co-op employers, partners and stakeholders in the National Capital Region. Our first action was to reach out to all co-op students to secure their safety, and I thank our co-op advisors serving students in the Ottawa area for their diligence and extra efforts over the last two weeks.

It is in moments like this when our every-day work acquires a deeper meaning.

Whether advancing research for the benefit of all, teaching next-generation leaders in the lab or classroom, or acquiring the knowledge and skills in the pursuit of career success – this month, we recall the significance and value of these activities, and remain grateful for the opportunity to pursue them in a great and free country like Canada.

Yours sincerely and with best wishes,


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.