December 2, 2023

Think about the future: initiative will imagine Waterloo at 100

Students on the University of Waterloo campus.

A message from the Office of the President.

When the University of Waterloo was established in 1957, its founders envisioned a university capable of tackling some of the world’s most daunting challenges. That vision remains at the heart of what drives the institution. The newly launched Waterloo at 100 initiative seeks to build upon that vision through a discussion that will shape the institution’s next thirty-five years and beyond.

“Our unique history has established a rich innovation ecosystem that is bolstered by decades of experiential education and entrepreneurial spirits,” says Vivek Goel, president and vice-chancellor. “Through Waterloo at 100, we look forward to hearing from faculty, staff, students, and the community at large about their vision for the institution.”

Using the current Strategic Plan as a foundation, Waterloo at 100 will explore five key Futures (societal, technological, sustainable, health, and economic) combined with discussion of our differentiators to shape a unique institutional vision for the future.

“Hearing from diverse voices and perspectives is vital to the process of developing Waterloo at 100,” says Goel. “No idea is too small or too big.”

According to President Goel, the post-pandemic transition provides an opportunity to think about how to foster the best possible experiences for students and staff, and conduct outstanding and impactful scholarship and research.  

The campus community is encouraged to participate in the process through consultations or online. Learn more about the process, and the key Futures at Over the next year, Waterloo at 100 will hold a series of consultations and conversations. A draft paper will be shared for further input in the Fall.

As with Waterloo’s founding, being unconventional, taking risks and innovating can propel the University to achieve its greatest aspirations. 

Staff Board Foundations workshop receives Staff Excellence Funding

People sitting around a table with laptops and tablets.

By Kathy Becker. 

The University of Waterloo is an amazing workplace that employs skilled members of the Waterloo community. But many of us have never served on a non-profit board, and don’t know where to start. UW Staff Board Foundations is a workshop for staff to build the skills and confidence needed to volunteer as a non-profit board director. And because it’s funded by the UW Staff Excellence Fund, it’s being offered at no cost to UWaterloo staff. Participants will build the knowledge and skills to take on leadership roles and provide needed support for community organizations. Check out these personal and professional benefits that come with serving as a non-profit board director.

Workshop description

For many, volunteering to be on the board of directors for a charity or non-profit organization can be intimidating. UW Staff Board Fundamentals is a one-hour virtual workshop focused on the key concepts and responsibilities of board leadership with a goal to answer questions and make board roles more accessible. Participants learn about the legal responsibilities of board directors and the legislation that provides the framework for good governance in Ontario, including the Ontario Not-for-profit Corporations Act and relevant employment legislation. It describes the fiduciary, strategic, and generative leadership components of board work. The workshop concludes with a discussion on what to look for in a board position and how to find a role in Waterloo Region. Five (5) offerings of the workshop are scheduled between May and December, 2022. To ensure time for questions and interaction, each offering is limited to twenty (20) participants. Each offering will be hosted on MS Teams.

About the facilitator

UW Staff Board Foundations was developed by Jane Hennig, Executive Director of Volunteer Waterloo Region, who will also serve as the workshop facilitator. Jane has over 40 years’ experience on various local, provincial, and national boards of directors. She conducts training on Board Fundamentals and does some consulting with boards of directors as time permits. She currently provides sector leadership through her roles as Co-convenor for Wellbeing Waterloo Region; past chair of the boards at Volunteer Canada and St Luke’s Evangelical Lutheran Church; a leadership participant with the Ontario Volunteer Centre Network; in addition to community leadership work directly stemming from her Executive Director position. Jane continuously works to demonstrate the value of community engagement locally and beyond. Jane holds degrees from both the University of Calgary and Wilfrid Laurier University.

Registration now open

Waterloo staff can register now for any one (1) of the offerings listed below through Portal; direct links to each session’s registration area are provided below.

If you have questions or comments about this workshop, reach out to Kathy Becker. And if you have another idea for a staff development opportunity, consider submitting your own proposal to the UW Staff Excellence Fund.

Waterloo Optometry students win international scholarship competition

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Pictured from left to right: Waterloo’s Juan Giraldo, Alicja Biniek from the Illinois College of Optometry, and Waterloo’s Aliya Shafi. (Photo: Business Wire)

Two University of Waterloo School of Optometry and Vision Science students were in the top three of an international competition run by National Vision, Inc., the United States’ second-largest optical retailer.

The 2021-2022 scholarship program winners include:

  • First Place ($7,500): Juan Giraldo, University of Waterloo, The School of Optometry and Vision Science, Class of 2022
  • Runner-Up ($2,500): Alicja Biniek, Illinois College of Optometry, Class of 2022
  • Runner-Up ($2,500): Aliya Shafi, University of Waterloo, The School of Optometry and Vision Science, Class of 2022

Applicants were asked to share their perspectives on the importance of affordable primary eye care in an evolving health care environment.

Giraldo was the first-ever repeat winner for the program, which is open to third- and fourth-year optometry students. “His thoughtful and smart perspectives were creatively expressed both years via song, placing his entries above the rest,” says the announcement from National Vision. “This year’s prompt gave students the option to submit video or written essays addressing how they would be part of the solution to a problem millions of Americans face — not being able to afford an eye exam. All three winners offered unique, informed takes on their plans for making a difference as practicing optometrists. They also shed light on the critical value of comprehensive eye exams, particularly as the cost of healthcare services are ever-increasing.”

A panel of judges consisting of licensed optometrists evaluated each submission, ultimately selecting the first-place winner and two runners-up.

This was the seventh annual National Vision scholarship competition. Check out the National Vision press release for more information.

Q and A with the experts: treatment options for mild COVID-19

Boxes of pills on the wall behind a pharmacy counter.

Are COVID-19 drugs recommended for everyone?

There are four treatment options available for mild cases of COVID-19. What are they, and how do they work?

Kelly Grindrod, a pharmacist and University of Waterloo professor, answers common questions about these medications.

What is “mild” COVID-19?

Mild COVID-19 means that you have tested positive for COVID-19 and have symptoms, but you are not sick enough to need extra oxygen. Symptoms of mild COVID-19 can include a cough, sore throat, headache, runny or stuffy nose, nausea, diarrhea, muscle aches, fever, low energy, and/or a change in taste or smell. Mild COVID-19 can quickly become more severe.

Are COVID-19 drugs recommended for me?

If you are at higher risk of hospitalization from COVID-19, treatment may be recommended for you. People at the highest risk include those who are not vaccinated or who are immunocompromised. Others at high risk include those who have received only one or two vaccine doses, are older, and/or have multiple chronic medical conditions. Treatments are not recommended for everyone with mild COVID-19. We do not know yet if people who have a lower risk of hospitalization from COVID-19 will benefit from these drugs. Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider who can help advise whether you would benefit from this medication.

What drugs can be used to treat mild COVID-19?

There are four drugs that may be recommended for you in the case of mild COVID-19. Health Canada has approved two prescription drugs that can be used for mild COVID-19.

  • Nirmatrelvir/Ritonavir (Paxlovid™) – an antiviral drug taken by mouth. It stops the COVID-19 virus from making copies of itself.  
  • Remdesivir (VekluryⓇ) – an antiviral drug given intravenously. It stops the COVID-19 virus from making copies of itself.

There are two other drugs that have been available for years, but that may also be used for COVID-19.

  • Budesonide (PulmicortⓇ) – a common inhaled anti-inflammatory drug, often used to treat asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
  • Fluvoxamine (LuvoxⓇ) – an antidepressant drug with anti-inflammatory effects taken by mouth.

Why are COVID-19 treatments recommended more strongly for people who have not been vaccinated yet?

People who have not been vaccinated yet are at higher risk of needing to be treated in hospital than most people who are up to date with COVID-19 vaccines. We do not know if these drugs will benefit most people who have had all recommended vaccines. Right now, the risks of side effects and drug interactions are greater than the known benefits of treatments for most people whose vaccines are up to date.

Do I need to have a positive COVID-19 test to get treatment?

Yes. A test is needed to confirm that you have COVID-19. A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test is preferred. Rapid antigen tests (RAT) may also be used (in-person, or in some cases, at home). 

I have tested positive, but I don’t have symptoms. Would I benefit from treatment? 

No. Mild COVID-19 is treated to prevent it from becoming severe. If you do not have any symptoms, it is unlikely you will develop severe COVID-19. However, if you develop symptoms after becoming positive, you should be assessed for treatment.

Where can I get these treatments? How much do they cost?

Drugs like Paxlovid and Remdesivir are available for free. In Ontario, you can get Paxlovid through a COVID-19 testing centre. You may also be able to get a prescription from your primary care provider that can be sent to your pharmacy and delivered to your home. Remdesivir is given in an infusion centre or a hospital clinic. 

Fluvoxamine and Budesonide can be prescribed by a primary care provider and filled at your pharmacy. However, there may be a fee for Fluvoxamine and Budesonide, depending on your prescription drug coverage.

How well do these drugs work?

These drugs have been shown to be helpful for people at higher risk of needing to be treated in hospitals.

Paxlovid was studied in unvaccinated people who had other health conditions. In the study, people were given Paxlovid within five days of their first COVID-19 symptoms. 

Paxlovid lowered the risk of needing to be treated in hospital or dying by 88 per cent. 

Remdesivir was studied in people who had mild COVID-19 and at least one risk factor for needing to be treated in hospital. When given within seven days of first COVID-19 symptoms, Remdesivir lowered the risk of needing to be treated in hospital or dying by 87 per cent.

Fluvoxamine lowered the risk of needing to be treated in hospital by 32 per cent when given to people at higher risk of severe COVID-19.

The Budesonide inhaler did not lower the risk of needing hospital care, but it did help people’s symptoms improve more quickly. It may be prescribed alone or with Paxlovid, Remdesivir, or Fluvoxamine.

Is it safe to take these drugs with my other prescriptions?

It is important to review all drugs you use with your prescriber and pharmacist, even natural health products. Paxlovid and Fluvoxamine can interact with many drugs, so you may need to change your regular medications for a short period. Remdesivir and Budesonide have fewer drug interactions. 

For answers to other common questions about COVID-19 treatment, see this FAQ resource created by Grindrod and the Focused COVID Communication team.

Wednesday’s notes

Employers hosting Virtual Employer Information Sessions (VEIS) this week and for the upcoming week include Geotab, Milliman, SPS Commerce, Capital One, Splunk, Snapcommerce, Bloomberg, FDM Group, Datadog, Sibros, Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd, Desjardins General Insurance Group, Genesys, Thomson Reuters, Fortitude Re, Argus Group, Micron Technology Inc, Cover, and Wind River. Make sure to register through through WaterlooWorks and check the calendar for any updates.


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