York unveils new breed of business school

The Toronto Star and Metro featured a photo Oct. 25 of York University’s new $102 million Schulich School of Business following the building’s official opening Oct. 24. The 335,000-square-foot facility includes wireless Internet cafes and three-tiered lecture halls with plasma screens. A recent Financial Times of London article cited the complex as one in a new breed of 21st-century schools that are changing the way business is taught, reported the Star.

Building houses won’t affect moraine, says prof

Can Premier Dalton McGuinty keep his promise to stop construction of 6,600 houses on the Oak Ridges Moraine, the band of rolling gravel hills north of Toronto? asked the Toronto Star Oct. 25. But building the 6,600 houses “would do nothing to affect the integrity of the moraine,” said James McKellar, a professor with York’s Schulich School of Business Real Property Development Program and deputy chair of the Oak Ridges Moraine Foundation, a non-profit group that supports protection activities and creation of a continuous trail system. For a “tiny part” of the moraine, “the province could possibly open itself up to legal action,” McKellar said. “It would be silly to put this one in the courts…. I’d hate to see a situation where the courts ruled the province had to pay the developers. We’d have used the money differently, to protect many areas where that money could be better spent.” The province announced in November, 2001 that it would preserve most of the moraine.

Campus site for subdivision

Builder Tribute Communities has reached an agreement with York University to purchase 14 hectares of land along the southeastern border of the school’s main campus on Steeles Avenue West, reported the Toronto Star Oct. 25. The freehold project, which is west of Keele Street on the north side of Murray Ross Parkway, will have a mix of 497 townhouses and detached and semi-detached houses, built in a community with the look and feel of mature city neighbourhoods. Sales will begin early next month and construction will begin next summer at the project, called The Village At York University, one of the largest low-rise subdivisions now underway within the city of Toronto, reported the Star. The project also includes an arrangement between York and Tribute that gives residents access to many university recreation and cultural facilities.

Gary Brewer, vice-president of finance and administration for York University, said “it’s fair to say we got what we feel is fair-market value for the land.” Brewer said York intends to use the money for academic purposes – specifically to expand the university’s endowment program. He added the sale wasn’t driven by any particular financial need. “It’s really taking the land asset and turning it into an endowment asset that will benefit the university for decades to come.” Brewer said that, beginning in the late 1980s, York began identifying surplus lands at the perimeter of its 200-hectare main campus. York decided to sell some of that land for the dual purpose of generating revenue and to integrate the university better with the surrounding community.

Bud Purves, president of York University Development Corporation, said the sale includes a stipulation that the new community must physically connect to the university. “We told Tribute the streets must flow into the university, the development must not look like a barrier. It can’t be a gated community. There’s got to be an urban feel to it, it has got to enhance the school,” Purves said.

Higher fees could send Pearson into death spiral, says Lazar

Air industry observers such as Fred Lazar, a professor at York’s Schulich School of Business, expect air traffic to improve, but they also think it might be too late, reported The Globe & Mail Oct. 25. Lazar was reacting to an optimistic Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) annual report, to a federal pledge to perhaps reduce the rents Ottawa charges airports across the country, and to Pearson International Airport’s announcement of increases in landing and terminal fees. “Traffic is going to pick up, but they’re pricing themselves out of the market,” Lazar said of Pearson. All it would take is one major client – such as a cargo operator or domestic airline – to scale back its usage of Pearson, and the GTAA could be thrown into a financial crisis. “You’re in sort of a death spiral,” he said. “The less traffic you have, the more you have to increase rates to satisfy your bondholders. The more you do that, the more you put at risk the business you have. So, you have a difficult situation.” 

Unions can play role in reducing “precarious” jobs

The Hamilton Spectator highlighted the findings of a new study about precarious employment, led by social scientist Leah Vosko, professor with York’s School of Social Sciences, in a feature Oct. 27. Recently published by Statistics Canada, the paper found that more young people and women are depending on part-time jobs. “What we’ve found is that the experience of insecurity among women and young people is real and the norm of standard employment is eroding,” said Vosko, Canada Research Chair in Feminist Political Economy. “That’s troubling because most of our benefit programs are modelled on the standard work experience, so more people are falling through the cracks of the social safety net now.” She and fellow researchers argue for a number of public policy changes to support people trapped in a world of uncertain and insecure income, reported the Spectator. Those ideas would include changes in programs such as unemployment insurance to reduce the total number of hours worked in order to qualify and making pensions portable between jobs. A firm national commitment to lower unemployment rates would also help.

On sex, drugs, killers and, worst of all, lawyers

York law Prof. Alan Young’s new book Sex, Drugs and the Illegality of Paradise “isn’t the kind of book you expect from a law professor,” wrote Neil Boyd, a criminal law expert, in The Vancouver Sun Oct. 25. Young renounces what he terms “the formal trappings of academic discourse” and writes directly – occasionally in the “language of the gutter” – about sex, drugs, serial killers and why so many people view lawyers as amoral pigs at the trough, said Boyd. “Don’t be put off, even if you’re a lawyer,” wrote Boyd. “This book is worth reading. Young’s views on sex and drugs aren’t entirely novel, but what is new is his recounting of his involvement in controversial cases: the story of how he has come to the conclusion that the state and the police shouldn’t be making criminals out of prostitutes, pornographers, drug dealers or drug distributors.”

Motherhood issues

The Toronto Star featured an item Oct. 25 about a three-day conference at York, “Mothering, Religion and Spirituality,” that began Oct. 24. Presented by the York University-based Association for Research and Mothering, the conference brought more than 100 experts from Canada, the United States, Britain, Australia, Nepal, Greece and Israel together to explore mothers’ religious experience and impact of mothering on religion. Topics explored the religious dimension of childbirth, mothers as religious leaders, and the strong matriarchal aspects of indigenous North American spirituality. In of the talks, entitled “What about mothers-in-law?”, Ruby Newman, instructor with York’s School of Women’s Studies, examined the close and loving relationship between the Bible’s Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi, and the community of women who cared for Ruth’s son.

On air

  • Paul Burstein, director of the Criminal Law Intensive Program at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, commented on federal proposals to crack down on people who are driving while high on drugs, on CBC Radio’s “The Current,” Oct. 24.
  • Bernie Wolf, economics professor at York’s Schulich School of Business, discussed the rise in hidden fees and surcharges for services like airline tickets, on “Afternoon W/Dave Taylor” (CHQR-AM), Calgary, Oct. 24.
  • Norman Gledhill, professor with York’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science and founding Chair of Canada’s doping control program at the Canadian Centre For Ethics in Sport, discussed the controversy over the new steroid, THG, involving a number of high-profile athletes in the US and a new zero tolerance plan announced by the United States Track & Field Association, on CBC Newsworld’s “Saturday Report” Oct. 25.