York and Seneca to open TEL Building today

York University announced it will officially open Ontario’s newest, most technologically advanced education building today, Jan. 20, reported The Globe and Mail Jan. 16. The $88-million, 345,000 square-foot Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) Building, a joint project by York University and Seneca College of Applied Arts, was built with funding from the province of Ontario, York, Seneca and the private sector. The $49.6-million awarded to the project represents the largest single grant awarded from the provincial government’s infrastructure renewal initiative. The building can accommodate up to 4,000 students in its 31 classrooms, 40 computer laboratories and three resource centres.

York registrar joins McMaster

The new registrar at McMaster University, Louis Ariano, has been registrar at York University for three years, reported Hamilton’s The Spectator Jan. 17. Prior to that, he was assistant dean, student services at Osgoode Hall Law School and registrar at Brock University.

York is a major home for GTA sports

Toronto Sun sports writer Steve Simmons suggested Jan. 18 that the people who say that York University is a terrible location for a football stadium aren’t paying attention. Simmons wrote: “Anybody involved in minor hockey in the city winds up at York University all the time. It’s a major home for Greater Toronto Hockey League hockey.”

In more news about the stadium for the Toronto Argonauts, The Globe and Mail Jan. 17 reported that Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment would end up owning 50 per cent of the football team if the company goes ahead with a stadium project at the University of Toronto. Howard Sokolowski said he and Argos co-owner David Cynamon are reviewing other sites for a proposed stadium and are keen on York University. The two have proposed building a 25,000-seat stadium on the York campus that would cost between $40-million and $60-million. The stadium would be partially covered and the playing field would be suitable to host major soccer events.

It is expected that York University would lease the land to the Argonauts, but it is not clear who would pay for construction. When asked, Sokolowski said: “That would be a discussion between the University and ourselves. York University, I think, would welcome the opportunity of hosting a stadium on their campus and being part of the overall situation.”

Melnyk explored York for Majors home

If Eugene Melnyk can’t convince Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. to sell him Maple Leaf Gardens this season, the St. Michael’s Majors owner will build a new arena in an alternative location for his Ontario Hockey League team, reported The Toronto Sun Jan. 19. “I believe [renovating Maple Leaf Gardens] would be one of the greatest things we could do for minor hockey in Toronto,” said Melnyk, who previously has explored York University, the St. Michael’s School grounds and University of Toronto as possible Majors homes.

Entertainers can boost employee performance

Companies are trying to add pizzazz to product launches, corporate appreciation events and training sessions by hiring entertainers who use magic tricks, comedy routines and even golf tips to deliver the message, reported the National Post Jan. 19. To some, this is show business. To others, it is an emerging field for serious study. “We now recognize such activities as a form of marketing,” says Ashwin Joshi, marketing professor at York University’s Schulich School of Business. “Before, marketing was focused mainly on customers outside the corporation. Now, there is a greater awareness of the need to conduct internal marketing to employees within the firm.” Joshi said there are systems for measuring the impact of entertainment on corporations. “When such events boost scores on job satisfaction and organizational commitment surveys, it indicates a positive effect on employee performance, especially sales reps and the margins they earn.”

Boosting visible minorities in theatre

Visible minorities aren’t seeing themselves on Toronto stages, but theatres and schools such as York University are working to change that, reported the Toronto Star Jan. 18. It’s not just a question of black and white, wrote theatre critic Richard Ouzounian. Toronto is also home to Asian, Indian and Hispanic artists. Philip Silver, dean of fine arts at York University, said York’s first-year theatre program currently has an eight per cent enrolment from visible minorities and although “some years have been higher, it’s a representative figure, although it’s not one that I’m happy with.” Silver working to increase the ethnic diversity of teachers and students, because “the students have to see their future in the faculty.”

Justice minister acted in the past as lawyer for Maher Arar

Maher Arar lost one of his most powerful champions yesterday when Justice Minister Irwin Cotler said he will have nothing more to do with the case because he did legal work for the Syrian-Canadian before being promoted to the federal cabinet, reported The Ottawa Citizen Jan. 17. Cotler’s withdrawal comes a week after political ethicist David Shugarman, director of the Centre for Practical Ethics at Toronto’s York University, said the justice minister is tainted because he acted as a lawyer for Arar.

Never been a better time to rent

Dollar for dollar, you spend less money renting, Moshe Milevsky, finance professor at York’s Schulich School of Business, told the National Post in a Jan. 17 story comparing buying a condo and renting an apartment. “When you look at the mathematics of it, especially these days, it has become more appealing to rent,” said Milevsky. “As vacancy rates rise, landlords are willing to offer more incentives. A year or two from now” – as still more condos come on the market – “it’s going to become even more appealing to rent.” Milevsky conceded the sentimental pull of home ownership – he himself bought a house under pressure from his family, said the Post. But as a personal finance decision, he’s all for renting. “The low interest rates have given people the impression that the cost of buying a house is lower,” he said. Rather than consider the total mortgage debt they’re taking on – amounts that have surged with rising house prices – homeowners just look at their monthly carrying costs and feel they are getting a bargain. “It’s an optical illusion,” said Milevsky.

Rioux helps spearhead international rights project

A movement to establish a worldwide monitoring system to track discrimination toward people with disabilities is co-directed by Marcia Rioux, head of York University’s School of Health Policy and Management and director of the university’s new post-graduate program in critical disabilities, reported the Toronto Star Jan. 17. With funding from the Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency (SIDA), the group has completed a preliminary report, which concludes that the rights of people with disabilities are neither adequately monitored nor enforced. This week, Rioux says the group got SIDA funding to proceed to the next stage, which will involve partnerships with local disability groups to field-test ways of supporting and monitoring rights issues.

New agricultural minister educated at York

Bob Speller, Ontario’s new agricultural minister, was student council president while he earned an honours BA in 1979 and an MA in political science in 1983 at York University, reported the Toronto Star Jan. 17.

Theatre grad performs Chaplinesque dance

A Calgary company is performing “Nuit Blanche” by Toronto’s Corpus dance company, whose artistic directors are York theatre grad David Danzon and Quebec dancer Sylvie Bouchard, reported the The Calgary Herald Jan. 17. Since 1996, Corpus (a Latin word for “body”) has explored a humorous approach to movement that has been praised as “Chaplinesque,” said the Herald. Born in Paris, Danzon had moved to Toronto at age 15, where he graduated from the theatre program at York University in 1992. Taking some intensive workshops with clown John Turner of Mump and Smoot and other notable performers, Danzon is gaining a reputation as a performer.

Student exhibits ‘Brickworks’

Only 23 and still a visual arts student at York University, Gareth Lichty, already has his fair share of shows under his belt, including a solo exhibition in Wakefield, England, and group shows in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Leeds, England, wrote Toronto Star critic Peter Goddard Jan. 17 about Lichty’s show “Brickworks” at the Red Head Gallery.

On air

  • Brendan Quine, space scientist with York’s Faculty of Pure & Applied Science, discussed Canada’s interest in space and why Mars remains such a tantalizing objective in light of US President George Bush’s announcement of a bold new space plan for NASA, on CBC Radio’s A New Day” in Whitehorse Jan. 15. He also discussed NASA’s Spirit Rover landing on Mars and the positive impact it has on the future of space exploration and how it can benefit humanity, on “Money Day” on Toronto’s CityPulse24 TV Jan. 16.
  • Fred Lazar, air industry expert and economics professor at York’s Schulich School of Business, discussed court approval of Hong Kong businessman Victor Li’s purchase of a major stake in Air Canada, CEO Robert Milton being offered $20 million to stay and increasing competition from Westjet, on CBC TV’s “Saturday Report” Jan. 17. Lazar also talked about media mogul Conrad Black’s tough weekend (Hollinger International fired him as chairman and launched a suit against him), on CBC Newsworld’s “Sunday Report” and CBC TV’s “CBC News and Current Affairs” Jan. 18.
  • Hockey for the Homeless, a fundraising event held at York University, featured many ex-Toronto Maple Leafs, reported City-tv’s “Citypulse” in Toronto Jan. 17, in a story about sheltering the homeless during the cold snap.