Rae report calls for investment of $1.3 billion in higher education

University and college officials already have a pretty good idea where they would spend the $1.3 billion earmarked by former premier Bob Rae for investment in higher learning, reported the Toronto Star Feb. 8 following the release the day before of Rae’s report on the future of postsecondary education in Ontario. Faculty and support staff, technology, more classrooms and science labs top the wish lists of university presidents, who say Ontario students’ post-secondary experience will continue to fall behind that of public universities in the US without the money Rae is recommending.

Among other things, Rae recommends $540 million in new capital spending for repairs and new facilities. Some of that would be welcome at York University, said Sheila Embleton, vice-president academic. While she also named faculty as the school’s top priority – it would take 100 professors to return student-faculty ratios to late ’90s levels – the university also needs more space.

  • In a Global TV report Feb. 7 on financial troubles facing university students, “Global National” interviewed York second-year sociology student Shamini Selvaratnam. She spends two days a week at the York University Women’s Centre, another two at a second part-time job while pursuing her studies. “It’s a 60 hour a work week,” Selvaratnam siad. “I don’t have a choice because I do have to work.” Ontario has some of the highest tuition fees in the country, reported Global, and it has the lowest amount of governmental support. Selvaratnam’s debt so far is $12,000. She used to have a dream of going to law school. Now she’s considering putting those dreams on hold, reported Global.
  • “VR Land News” aired comments by York second-year chemistry student Stephen Monica about Rae’s report in an item Feb. 7 on the Barrie television station.

Women facing ‘the last locker room’

When Karen Barry (BA ’88) decided in 1991 to make a career selling commercial real estate, she says it was almost like entering a hostile foreign land, reported The Globe and Mail Feb. 8. “The men around me made it clear they thought I should just go home,” she said. “Commercial real estate was a man’s world.” Barry persevered. She bought a year’s worth of nylons, brown bagged her lunch, worked three nights a week as a waitress to supplement an almost non-existent income and attended night school at York University twice a week for five years to gain her Accredited Appraiser Canadian Institute, a designation that allows the holder to appraise a wide range of properties. Today Barry is associate vice-president of investment at Royal LePage Commercial Inc. in Calgary and one of the company’s top producers. But while almost every other facet of commercial real estate now embraces women, the commission-based sector of the brokerage industry remains a hold-out, she said. “It is the last locker room. In my own field, which is investment sales, there are only five women involved right across Canada,” she said. “It is the last bastion of male domination.”

Jazz sextet performs at science centre

York University Jazz Ensemble, with drummer Jeff Graville of Georgetown, Ont., kicks off the student segment of JAZZ.FM91’s 2004-2005 Sound of Toronto Jazz Concert Series Feb. 7 at the Ontario Science Centre, reported the Georgetown Independent Feb. 4. York University’s dynamic sextet also features doctoral music student Mike Cado (guitar), music undergraduates Michael Davidson (vibraphone), James McEleney (bass) and Jason Murray (trumpet) and master’s music student Patricia Wheeler (saxophone). “People who come to this concert are in for a wonderful night of live jazz,” said sextet director, Barry Elmes, a music professor in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts and a jazz drummer. “And it’s a great opportunity to see the next generation of jazz masters in the making.”

Graville of Georgetown is pursuing an MA in composition at York. His performance credits range from the Canadian Walk of Fame Awards to a three-year stint in a band with his then classmate, crooner and York 2002 music alumnus Matt Dusk. “There was always music playing in our house and I grew up listening to a lot of New Orleans jazz,” Graville said. “I’ve always admired musicians like Gene Krupa and Quincy Jones, who not only play great music, but have managed to reach a lot of people.” The multi-talented Graville also plays piano, trombone and double bass.