Tom Arnold remembered for dedication, ‘magnetic personality’

Flags flutter at half staff at York University as many grieve the loss of a man who was known for his dedication to the environment, reported the Newmarket/Aurora Era-Banner May 18. Thomas Arnold, 51, who was the executive director of Security, Parking and Transportation Services for York University, was killed in a car accident while on his way to his cottage. The Aurora resident died suddenly at the Peterborough Civic Hospital Friday. “It is a sad, sad time,” said his friend and colleague, Janet Lo, executive director of the Smart Commute Association of Black Creek. Arnold was chairperson of the association, which is dedicated to reducing pollution and traffic congestion by encouraging better alternatives. “He made the vision a reality,” Lo said. “A lot of people talked about it in the ’90s, but he got people together with his magnetic personality and made things happen.” Arnold helped introduce car pools and was a team leader in GO Transit and York Region Transit. “His goal was to reduce the terrible smog and traffic buildup, which hurts the quality of life…to his credit he has reduced the amount of vehicles on the road in the Toronto peak areas by 4,000 a day by implementing car pools, improved transit and cycling.”

Arnold’s daughter Lauren, 11, was also in the car but the family dog is said to have saved her by blocking the impact of the crash. Arnold’s mother, Vera, also died in the accident. He was heavily involved as a volunteer with Aurora Scouts and had a passion for boating and the Blue Jays, said the Era-Banner. Recently, he returned from a family trip to Disney World. He was the husband of Linda, father of Eric, 16, and predeceased by his father, William. The funeral was held on May 18. Donations to a trust fund for the family can be made through the Thompson Funeral Home, Aurora, 905-727-5421.

Schulich makes Financial Times grade

Four Canadian business schools rank among the top 45 worldwide in the Financial Times’ open-enrolment category, which grades programs open to students from all companies – as opposed to those custom-designed for a single employer, reported the Globe and Mail and National Post May 17. Queen’s scored 12th overall in open enrolment; University of Western Ontario’s Richard Ivey School of Business placed No. 22; Schulich School of Business at York University, No. 37, just ahead of last year’s rank of No. 40; and the Rotman School of Management at University of Toronto, 42nd.

Issue ‘was always the disruption of classes’

Three weeks after a York University student was expelled for using a megaphone at unauthorized protest rallies, the University will allow a “megaphone choir” to perform in the same spot on campus to protest the megaphone expulsion, reported the Toronto Star May 18. With the school year over, there are no longer classes for a bullhorn to disrupt, explained Nancy White, York’s director of media relations, about the ad hoc group that has booked space May 20 at 4pm to perform a “Megaphone Motet” in support of student Daniel Freeman-Maloy, 21. York has expelled the third-year student for three years for using a megaphone at rallies held in part of Vari Hall where protests are prohibited during the school year because they could disrupt nearby classes. “The issue was always the disruption of classes, which won’t happen now because classes are over,” White said. “Also, this group has booked the space through the proper channels, something Daniel Freeman-Maloy did not do.”

Greek agora inspired vision for Flats plan

In 1989, James McKellar was invited to Ottawa from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to create a transformative plan for LeBreton Flats, reported the Ottawa Citizen May 18. Gazing up at Parliament Hill, he saw echoes of the Acropolis, the political and religious centre of ancient Athens. On the Flats below, he envisioned a modern-day agora, which in Greek means “a place of gathering.” “I thought it important to bring LeBreton back into the city,” said McKellar, 62, “not just let it languish.” McKellar, a Canadian, was working in the US at the time. In the 15 years that have passed, a parade of public servants and consultants have laboured over and refined McKellar’s plan – titled An Agora for the Capital. It has provided the narrative for the metamorphosis of the 65-hectare downtown site into a vibrant, mixed-use community.

McKellar, who is now director of the property development program at the Schulich School of Business at York, was a Calgary architect and urban planner who had become director of the real estate program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A member of the NCC advisory committee on design, McKellar had once been described as “an exponent of realpolitik and the pragmatic” in a field filled with the impractical and the visionary. He conceived the plan in about 70 hours, pocketed an honorarium of $10,000 and quietly left the scene. It was chosen from among five concepts. The centrepiece of McKellar’s plan was a triangular park, inspired by a “remarkable, enormous pie-shaped” park in Krakow, Poland, that “connects the old, medieval city to the outskirts.”

Bringing dream-like element to AGYU

California-based artist Jeremy Blake has spent the past several years perfecting his art, which he calls time-based painting.Using various forms of media, including film, computers, digital altering and scanning, Blake has created numerous short films. “Nobody else is doing what I’m doing,” Blake told Metroland’s The Weekender during the exhibit’s opening May 12. The Winchester Trilogy is a stream of hallucinatory projections that focuses on the Winchester mansion in San Jose, California. It is on exhibit at the Art Gallery of York University until June 27.

Greg Sorbara is anti-establishment establishment

The Toronto Star’s Ian Urquhart profiled Ontario’s Finance Minister Greg Sorbara May 15, three days before he delivered the McGuinty Liberal government’s first budget. While living on a farm north of Toronto, Sorbara completed a BA at York’s Glendon College and then enrolled at Osgoode Hall at age 32 to pursue a law degree. [He graduated with an LLB in 1981.] In his younger days, Greg Sorbara led a more counter-culture lifestyle than he does today, said Urquhart.

Scoring a choice job on way to stellar career

Like many boys growing up in Toronto, Darryl Martins dreamed of one day playing hockey for a living. At 24, he’s accomplished just that – but you won’t find him toiling in the NHL or on any of its farm teams, reported Metroland newspapers May 15 in a column called Odd Job Squad. Chances are you could see him between the pipes at any number of adult hockey league games across the Greater Toronto Area. Martins is a professional goalie for hire. After he finished high school, playing Junior A hockey, Martins had offers to study and play hockey and universities in the United States. But the scholarships he was offered were never enough and he didn’t want to finish school buried in debt. So he opted to stay in Canada, played for the York Yeomen and has almost completed a BSc in chemistry at York.

Big plans to revitalize tennis in Canada

Tennis Canada didn’t hire Michael Downey, 46, so much for his ability to drive tennis balls as for his penchant for driving revenues, reported the Toronto Sun May 15. He faces a daunting task. There’s incredible competition for the fan dollar in Toronto. “People need to know there’s a new house in town,” Downey told the Sun. He intends to use the $38-million Rexall Centre at York University as the focal point in a crusade to revitalize the sport. “Not only is it going to be great for the fans, but the venues will also be more appealing for the players … the facility, the comfort, the sightlines, the suites, the amenities,” Downey said. “It’s going to attract the top talent.”

Bouncing to Olympic heights

For Karen Cockburn, the bronze medal spoke volumes. It spoke to the people who raised eyebrows at the York University student before she went to Sydney, skeptical that trampoline was really an Olympic sport, reported the Toronto Sun May 15. And it meant the athlete from North York was an Olympic medallist, a rare treat for the underachieving Canadian team at the 2000 Games, said the Sun. “People made a lot of jokes about it or thought that we trained in our backyards on those round trampolines,” Cockburn said this week. “I tried to explain to them that we train on professional trampolines and that we go 18-20 feet in the air and do multiple twists and triple summersaults.” By virtue of her win at the world championships this past October in Germany, the 23-year-old will head to Athens as a solid gold-medal favourite. Like many Olympians, the York arts undergraduate has put her life on hold. Cockburn felt juggling classes was too much of a diversion and has taken the past year off from school. “It’s too hard when you have to go away for three weeks to get extensions [on exams or papers],” she said.

Just for students: The `loan arrangers’

Two young entrepreneurs – including a York law grad – think they’ve found a solution to the ever-rising price tag of a university education: private loans for students underwritten by their schools, reported the National Post May 15. The University of British Columbia is so interested in the idea that it has allocated $50,000 to study whether it’s feasible to guarantee student loans provided by FirstStudentLoan, a private company created last year by graduates of Queen’s University and York’s Osgoode Hall Law School. Co-founder Elian Terner, 32, who graduated with an LLB from Osgoode in 1997, says the company wants to assist the “significant number” of students who are not able to access bank loans or government loans to finance their schooling. “Tuition fees have increased quite significantly,” Terner said. “It’s time someone looked at an innovative way of financing student aid.” The company, the first in Canada focused exclusively on lending to university students ineligible for government loans, says it will lend up to $12,000 to undergrads, $15,000 to grad students and $25,000 to students enrolled in professional programs such as medicine and law.

Grad’s third novel focuses on surviving slavery

“My writing reflects my hybrid reality,” says Toronto writer and York grad Nalo Hopkinson, and that’s apparent, reported the Ottawa Citizen May 16. A bubbly Afro-Caribbean woman with a corona of braids and a soft accent, Hopkinson radiates humour and a sharp perceptiveness about the cultural stew in which she lives. Hopkinson plunged into the stew in 1977 at 16, when her family moved to Toronto from the Caribbean. She grew up among writers (her father, Slade Hopkinson, was a poet, playwright and actor), and she studied language and literature at York University, graduating with a BA in 1982. She burst on the scene in 1997, winning a first-novel prize for Brown Girl in the Ring, set in the Jamaican community of a dystopic future Toronto. Many awards followed. In The Salt Roads, Hopkinson’s third novel, Haitian spirituality ties together three groups of black women in three historical settings. Not many writers have been willing to imagine themselves inside the brutal lives of black slave women. “What’s hard to do is not sort of sink into victimhood,” Hopkinson said. “I had to concentrate on what they could do – the ways they got around how awful their lives were. The nice thing about people is that we survive. We survive pretty much anything. We can find joy and support and love, and we can laugh at the strangest things.”

On air

  • Jonathon Edmondston, director of the Classical Studies Program in York’s Faculty of Arts, was interviewed regarding his perception of the new Brad Pitt movie Troy and how it compares to the actual story, in a piece aired on CBC Radio local programs in Victoria, Saskatchewan and Quebec May 17.