York’s Innocence Project casts further doubt on prisoner’s guilt

In 1971, Romeo Phillion, 64, confessed to the 1967 murder of Ottawa firefighter Leopold Roy but recanted within hours. Convicted in 1972, Phillion has consistently sabotaged his chances of parole by insisting on his innocence, and has languished in jail for 31 years, reported The Globe and Mail May 15. With the prosecution case beginning to crumble, a brief by York University’s Innocence Project and the Toronto-based Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted says it was built on suppressed evidence, changing testimony and a transparently false confession by Phillion. Innocence Project director Dianne Martin, a professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, told Canadian Press that work done by the project over the past six years has been a “balance to the black pit of injustice” that has been Phillion’s life in jail. Martin also spoke to CBC Radio News about the case, and it was featured on CBC TV’s “The National” on May 14.

York spin-off Optech wins export award

Optech Incorporated, a spin-off company from research work at York University, has won a 2003 Ontario Global Traders Provincial Award, reported Canada News-Wire May 14. The award recognizes Ontario’s most successful small and medium-sized exporting companies, business leaders and students. Toronto-based Optech pioneered the development of laser radar (lidar) systems for a variety of commercial applications. Its airborne lidar systems are used for topographic mapping of the earth’s surface from altitudes of up to three kilometres. Optech now leads the world with its Airborne Laser Terrain Mapping Systems (ALTMS), holding about 80 per cent of the global market.

Hey, relax – sometimes it pays to procrastinate

Procrastination could add value to the balance sheet of your life, said Moshe Milevsky, finance professor at York University’s Schulich School of Business, in a Toronto Star story May 15. Milevsky gave examples of decisions that carry a huge impact on the rest of the life lived: locking into a career at age 17; marrying the wrong person; purchasing a home too soon; and taking early retirement. He urges us to be more calculating about our life choices. Two strategies he proposed to a group of MBA graduates are to include the value of our human capital on the asset side of our personal balance sheet, and to put a value on keeping our options open. “If you actually think about it for a moment,” he said, “the present value of all the wages you are going to receive over a lifetime is much, much larger [when you are young] than your physical assets [such as possessions and investments].”

Cutoff marks not expected to move much higher

Rodney Webb, associate vice-president, academic, at York University, does not expect cutoff marks to move much higher at the university this year, reported The Globe and Mail May 15. He was quoted in a story about Ontario universities raising the bar for students hoping for an early-admittance offer. Webb acknowledged that some programs, such as engineering and science, are more competitive than others. “We’re certainly not going to accept students that are any less qualified than last year,” Webb said.

Construction on tennis centre to begin soon

Residents of a downtrodden and overlooked North York neighbourhood may soon benefit from a new state-of-the-art Tennis Canada facility at York University, reported The North York Mirror May 14. The centre will be home to the 2004 Tennis Masters Canada. “It would bring hundreds of jobs and stability to a community that has often been neglected by the city,” said Ward 8 Councillor Peter Li Preti (York West). He said he was concerned that negotiations over road access would slow down construction. But Bob Moffatt, Tennis Canada president and CEO, said, “Although there are still some matters that are outstanding, we expect these to be resolved shortly so we can begin construction on our site at York University very soon.”