Historica Foundation appoints Avie Bennett as Chair

York Chancellor Avie Bennett has been named Chair of the Historica Foundation of Canada, said a story in The Guardian (Charlottetown) Dec. 10. Bennett, one of Canada’s leading businessmen and philanthropists, said, “I have been involved in a number of artistic and educational endeavours, but I am perhaps most proud of The Canadian Encyclopedia Online. It is a powerful tool for connecting Canadians to our amazing past and future.” Bennett, also chairman of McClelland & Stewart Ltd., donated The Canadian Encyclopedia to the foundation with the understanding that Historica would make the resource available free online in both French and English. The Historica Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding of Canadian history and its importance in shaping the country’s future.

Innovation grants help York researchers break new ground

Toronto’s Metro reported Dec. 10 that York University received more than $3.9 million from the Canada Innovation Strategy’s Indirect Costs Program on Tuesday, when York West MP Judy Sgro presented a cheque to York President and Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden and Associate VP Research Suzanne MacDonald. “These funds are essential to support our strategic research plan, to make York the most innovative University in Canada,” MacDonald said. “This money allows us to move forward and support our researchers as they break new ground.”

UN encouraging hatred, says Bayefsky

“Last week, the United Nations once again proved itself incapable of rising to the moral challenges embraced in its founding charter: ‘tolerance’, ‘the dignity and worth of the human person’ and ‘equal rights’.” So began an opinion piece by York’s Anne Bayefsky, professor of political science in the Faculty of Arts, in The Ottawa Citizen Dec. 10. Bayefsky, who is also adjunct professor at Columbia University Law School and a member of the governing board of UN Watch, said a draft resolution on anti-Semitism – which would have been a first in the UN’s history – was withdrawn in the face of Arab and Muslim opposition. “Daily incidents of anti-Semitic violence around the globe are reported in the media. Yet, while leaders of the free world condemn synagogue bombings in Turkey, firebombings of Jewish schools in France and the hate speech of Malaysia’s former prime minister, the UN moves in the opposite direction, encouraging the proliferation of this centuries-old hatred. In marked contrast, other forms of intolerance continue to consume the UN’s attention and resources….

“The United Nations is an organization founded on the ashes of the Jewish people, and whose core human-rights principles were drafted from the lessons of the Holocaust. The inability of the organization to address seriously one of the very evils it was intended to prevent is a scandal of global proportions.”

Come dance with a York alumna

Chanteuse Rosemarie Todaschuk (BFA ’85) has just made her foray into jazz with a CD entitled Come Dance With Me, reported the Winnipeg Free Press Dec. 10. “I’m so at ease with jazz. It’s almost meditative for me,” said Todaschuk, who teachers music at R.F. Morrison School and theatre/arts at H.C. Avery Middle School in Winnipeg. Her students are enraptured by her celebrity status. “They look up at the poster advertising my CD release and you can just see it on their faces. It’s like, ‘Wow! Is that really you?’” Come Dance With Me is the singer’s fourth CD. She recorded the previous three, consisting of traditional and Ukrainian compositions, with her sister, Charlene Todaschuk (BA ’87). They billed themselves as the Todaschuk sisters.

You won’t hear ‘fire sale’ before Christmas, analysts predict

With Christmas fast approaching, some analysts are saying there won’t be the usual “fire sales” that customers have come to expect in recent years. In a Dec. 10 article from CanWest News Service, The Guardian (Charlottetown) quoted York’s Alan Middleton, Schulich School of Business marketing professor, saying economic fundamentals, such as how confident people feel about their jobs and the reasonably good performance of Canada’s economy, do count. But so do the “psychological factors” that are harder to quantify – such as how cool this year’s fads and merchandise are perceived to be. “How Christmasy we feel” plays an important role in consumer buying generally, added Middleton, so whether it snows, and when, matters. 

Tracking those cheaters

A story in the Dec. 10, National Post focused on plagiarized essays handed in at universities. Now, some professors at Ryerson University require students to submit assignments to turnitin.com, an American online company, to be scanned for copied work. The service is becoming incredibly popular, said the Post. York University is among several Canadian universities to sign a contract with turnitin.com. The company scans its database for instances of plagiarism, then produces an “originality report” for professors, along with a copy of the assignment. Turnitin.com also stores the papers in perpetuity, so that the work can be compared to all other essays uploaded in the future. The database is growing by 15,000 papers a day, said the Post.

Master soccer coach for York

Paul James, former Canadian under-20 team coach, will head York’s soccer program, said a story carried by Canadian Press Dec. 9. In his role as “master coach”, James will coordinate men’s and women’s interuniversity soccer programs at the University. He is a member of the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame and has been serving as a TV soccer analyst while studying for an MBA at the University of Liverpool in England.