York defends culture of opportunity

York University President Lorna R. Marsden says it is important to preserve the “culture of opportunity” for students attending university, reports The Globe and Mail Jan. 15 in a story about how an elite alliance of Canada’s top 10 research universities is raising fears of a two-tier education system. “The great strength of the country’s education system is it has been a huge source of social mobility.”

Better refrigerator salesman

“He was a better refrigerator salesman than he was a mayor. I don’t think he was a great mayor, but I have a fondness for his authenticity,” said Edmund Fowler, a professor of local governance at York University’s Glendon College, reports the National Post Jan. 15 in a story after Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman announced he would retire. “He was always out there talking pretty much like everyone else talks, pretty folksy, even though he had the backing of some pretty slick people.”

Weighing up the 2003 intake

Sheila Embleton, York University vice-president academic, says many universities may be more conservative in how many early offers they send out to students who have not picked them among their top three, reports the Toronto Star Jan. 15 in a story about double-cohort applications. “It’s scary trying to predict whether someone who lists your institution as their sixth choice this year is really interested or not. Normally we know the conversion rates for all this. If you send out so many offers to students who put you as their first choice, you have a pretty good idea how many will accept,” said Embleton. “But this time, we truly don’t know.” In a similar article in the National Post Jan. 15, Embleton said applications to York are “up considerably, but the environmental program is up astronomically”. She cited a 1,300 per cent bump in the specialized program. She told the Post that it likely reflects a widespread anxiety among applicants who, fearing a space crunch with the coming enrolment surge, appear to be applying to multiple schools and programs.

Pioneering agency wins award

Susan Pigott and St. Christopher House are this year’s winners of the Kroeger College Award for Policy Leadership presented by Carleton University, reports Canada News-Wire Jan. 14. Pigott sits on the advisory board of the Non-profit Management and Leadership Program at York’s Schulich School of Business. She runs St. Christopher House, a non-profit United Way agency that helps disadvantaged people in the multicultural neighbourhoods of southwest Toronto.

Stepfathers can be positive role model

A tale in the Vancouver Courier Jan. 15 of one stepfather’s painful adjustment to suddenly becoming a father of a teenager quotes a study by Anne-Marie Ambert, a sociology professor in York’s Faculty of Arts: “Many boys are advantaged by the addition of an authoritative adult male role model in the family. Studies of young adults whose custodial parent’s remarriage had endured have found that they were strongly attached to their reconstructed family and benefited emotionally from it.”

Too many planes in the air

“There’s too much capacity in the system right now,” said Fred Lazar, economics professor at York’s Schulich School of Business and long-time airline industry observer, in a Toronto Star story on Jetsgo adding a seventh aircraft to its fleet. “If you have excess capacity now, can the market absorb more aircraft? With difficulty.”

On air

David Shugarman, director of York’s Centre for Practical Ethics and political science professor, Faculty of Arts, was interviewed Jan. 13 by the following media outlets about BC Premier Gordon Campbell’s impaired driving charges last week while on vacation in Hawaii and whether his apology will be enough: “Calgary Eye Opener” (CBR-AM), Calgary; “Early Edition” (CBU-AM), Vancouver; “Daybreak” (CBTK-FM), Kelowna; “Morning Edition” (CBK-AM), Saskatchewan; “Ontario Morning” (CBCK-FM), Kingston; “Yukon Morning” (CFWH-AM), Whitehorse; “Edmonton AM” (CBX-AM); and “Info Morning” (CBH-FM), Halifax.

Indhu Rajagopal, social science professor in York’s Faculty of Arts and author of Hidden Academics: Contract Faculty in Canadian Universities, was interviewed on “Metro Morning” (CBL-FM) in Toronto about how the percentage of full-time tenured faculty is dropping at our universities as part timers fill the void when older professors retire.