Why not York? Argo boss asks

Howard Sokolowski doesn’t understand the opposition to York University as a possible new home for the Argonauts, reported the Toronto Star Jan. 16. “It’s not some remote, desolate place,” said the real estate developer, who along with David Cynamon purchased the Canadian Football League club last fall. “It’s not a frozen wasteland. I can almost guarantee you that if it’s minus 10 degrees at Bay and Bloor it’ll be minus 10 degrees at Keele and Steeles.”

There is growing sentiment that the Argos should embrace a plan, now being discussed by the University of Toronto and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE), to play at a resurrected Varsity Stadium, said the Star. Other possible locations include York and Exhibition Place, but e-mailers to the Star, sports radio callers and local columnists have all largely favoured a downtown site.

Sokolowksi and Cynamon haven’t leaped at the U of T/MLSE plan because they have yet to sit down with MLSE chairman Larry Tanenbaum to discuss the project in detail. “This is a very important decision for the Argonauts and the city of Toronto,” Sokolowski said. “We can’t have a public debate as to where the Argos should build their stadium. Such a debate is healthy, but ultimately David and I, along with [Argo president and CEO] Keith Pelley, will map out what would be the best interest of the Argonauts. That may very well be Varsity. Or it may be Exhibition Place or York University.”

Despite his praise for York, Sokolowski stressed he’s not opposed to the Varsity site, the Star continued. “David and I would be comfortable with either of those locations. Each of them brings advantages and disadvantages.” However, it’s apparent he’s baffled by the anti-York sentiment. He points out there are millions of people living within a 15-minute drive of York and that it is within a five-minute drive of Highways 400, 401 and 407. “I’m convinced that a tremendously fan-friendly stadium, with access to the players, great sightlines, Field Turf [synthetic grass] as a playing surface and being outdoors in an intimate environment, we can draw 25,000 people at Varsity and the same at York and, for that matter, Exhibition Place,” he said.

The Toronto Sun said Jan. 16 that Cynamon wanted to make it clear to the sports community that what MLSE is doing is not dictating what he and Sokolowski are planning. “We’re not kind of waiting around like ‘is our date going to come and pick us up?’ or ‘am I even going to get a date?’ It’s just not relevant,” Cynamon said. “We’re deciding what we’re going to do regardless of that whole process. This was never contemplated when we first came into the league. This is just another viable option that we have to decide, and not necessarily the best one. There are still a lot of open issues with U of T. We don’t even know what the final deal is.”

Where to build a new stadium for the Toronto Argonauts was the topic of sports news and host Andy Barrie’s interview with two Argo players on CBC Radio’s “Metro Morning” Jan. 15. And the same day CFTO-TV’s “World Beat News” reported that the University of Toronto wants to combine with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment to develop Varsity Stadium into an arena for the Argos.

Schulich’s Horváth named dean of the year

The Globe & Mail reported Jan. 16 that Dezsö J. Horváth, the long-serving dean of York’s Schulich School of Business, has been named 2004 dean of the year by the Academy of International Business, the leading association of international business scholars with 3,000 members in 65 countries. He is the first Canadian to receive the award, which recognizes “outstanding leadership” in the internationalization of business teaching, research and outreach (see Headline News).

York professors can spot fraud without cybertools

A McGill University student has won the right to refuse to put his assignments through a popular computerized plagiarism-detector, reported the Toronto Star Jan. 16. The software, designed to thwart the boom in cheating Web sites, scans a student’s work for stolen passages by comparing it with a databank of research papers on the Internet. Turnitin is used by 28 of Canada’s 90 universities, including York University, although its use is often voluntary. At York and the University of Toronto, students cannot be forced to use the program, said the Star. Sheila Embleton, York’s vice-president academic, said a good professor can spot fraud without cyber-tools. “If you keep your usual wits around you, you can usually recognize from other clues when something’s not ringing true,” said Embleton, adding only about 80 to 100 of York’s 1,200 profs subscribe to Turnitin. Besides, she said, Turnitin won’t catch original essays bought from an “essay mill” that have never appeared online.

Tennis Canada president steps down

Bob Moffatt, who shepherded Tennis Canada through construction of new tennis stadiums in Montreal and Toronto, will leave the federation at the end of March, reported The Globe and Mail Jan. 15. During Moffatt’s tenure, a $25-million tennis stadium at Jarry Park in Montreal was opened in 1996, and the Rexall Centre, which is expected to cost between $35-million and $40-million, will open in the summer at York University. Canadian Press and the Toronto Sun Jan. 16 identified the new facility at York as Moffatt’s biggest legacy. The Toronto Star, in a related story Jan. 16, reported that Tennis Canada officials believe revenues generated by the new Rexall Centre should help to develop better Canadian international tennis players.

York prof captures wind in her photographs

Katherine Knight, a visual arts professor in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, has seen the wind, wrote an Ottawa Citizen reviewer Jan. 16. It’s in her exhibition of black and white photographs titled “Wind and Water” that just opened at the Ottawa Art Gallery. Formerly of Ottawa, Knight now teaches art at York University. Her honours include, in 2000, the Canada Council’s Duke and Duchess of York Prize, one of the country’s top photograph awards.

In “Wind and Water,” guest curator Cheryl Sourkes has assembled examples of Knight’s work from the past 25 years, dating back to student days at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. The dozens of photographs are to be found in 12 different bodies of work, most of which involve Knight’s own interventions in the natural world, said the Citizen. They include photos of calm lakes, rivers and seashores and giant man-made bubbles drifting across Lake Scattergood near a family cottage in the Outaouais, and landscapes along the St. Lawrence River photographed from a moving steamship.

Shakespeare, by God

Did the renowned Bard have a quill in the writing of the richly lyrical King James Bible? mused Frank Zingrone, professor emeritus of the humanities at York University, in the Toronto Star Jan. 16. In 1611, the Authorized Version Of The Bible was published, the work of several years and the product of 47 scholars split into groups who reported to a general committee under the aegis of King James I of England. To this day, nobody knows who the translators, who started their work in 1604, were, wrote Zingrone in an opinion piece. The academic world generally accepts the vague characterization of the group as biblical scholars mainly from Oxford and Cambridge Universities. The problem with this supposition is that the quality of prose produced by university scholars at this time was stilted, stodgy, verbose and generally reader-unfriendly in the extreme. The new Bible read, on the contrary, with succinct styles and a poetic sweetness rarely encountered anywhere in those fairly early days of print.

The Book of Job is a masterpiece of literary skill, and so is Ecclesiastes, and many other sections of a book like The Song of Solomon and The Book of Daniel, Sir Isaac Newton’s lifelong obsession, are of excellent literary quality. Where did the art come from? The answer may be partly that one of the Divines was none other than William Shakespeare, who in 1611 was at the height of his powers and reputation, suggested Zingrone.

Student crusades for Iran earthquake victims

Shadie Broumandi, Miss Iran Canada, stopped by Avondale Alternative High School Jan. 13 to address the students and urge them to continue their efforts to raise money for earthquake relief in Bam, Iran, reported the North York Mirror Jan. 14. Broumandi, who attended Avondale Alternative High School in her OAC year after moving to Canada from Iran, is a Red Cross ambassador and York University undergraduate science student. “The school has always been very friendly, so I wanted to come in and talk to the students here about what they can do to help,” she said. Already, the school board has contacted her about doing similar presentations at other schools. “I’ll do as many of these as I can,” she said. “We want to raise as much money as we can to help rebuild the city, and getting students involved is a great way to do that.”