Brain drain flows both ways

This week, fears about a Canadian brain drain resurfaced in light of the announcement that U of T’s law dean, Ron Daniels, had been named vice-president and provost of the University of Pennsylvania, only a few months after U of T president Robert Birgeneau became chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley, reported the Toronto Star April 27. But for now, fears of losing top talent to the US are exaggerated, say university leaders like Patrick Monahan, dean of York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School. “I don’t think in the academic ranks I see a huge amount of movement. At this kind of level, you’re looking at senior academic administrators. There’s a very limited supply in North America of people who have the combination of skills needed to perform in these roles effectively,” Monahan said, referring to the academic reputation and management & leadership skills required.

On a list of about 100 new faculty hires at York in the past year, Vice-President Academic Sheila Embleton easily rhymes off more than 20 who arrived from south of the border. “There are the ones who are kind of young and just starting out and they’re thinking, ‘I want to land in Canada.’ Before, they might have been dazzled by a bigger offer,” she said. “We’re also seeing people toward the other end, in their 50s. When the music stops they’re saying, ‘Where do I want to be?'” said Embleton, who adds that federal government research programs are giving universities the money to attract certain types of talent north.

In 2002, Canada pledged $900 million to support 2,000 new research chairs in Canadian universities. A $1.4-million Chair at York University is going to Asian studies expert Joshua Fogel, formerly of the University of California, Santa Barbara. His Canadian-born wife will also come as a visiting professor.  “If this had been two years ago, the Canadian salaries would not have been commensurate,” he said, adding that more than anything, Toronto offers a safe, affordable, metropolitan lifestyle in which to raise their two children. “We felt that Toronto has all the good things of New York without the guns,” he added.

New U of T president ‘first rate,’ says Marsden

David Naylor begins his five-year term as the University of Toronto’s 15th president on Oct. 1, reported the National Post. York University President and Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden called it a “first rate appointment,” one which heralded a “very good era for U of T. I’ve always enjoyed him,” said Marsden. “He’s very witty and he’s got a great sense of humour. You just feel you can work with him, and you can trust him and he will be straightforward.”

Discount travel agency cheaper than Web site

With passengers choosing to book flights through British Airways’ Web site instead of its call centre, the air carrier has announced it will close its Canadian call centre in December, reported the Toronto Star April 27. But online reservation systems have to offer customers greater discounts before other reservation systems disappear, said Alan Middleton, management professor at York’s Schulich School of Business. “At the Flight Centre (discount travel agency), I can walk away with the same flight 25 to 35 per cent cheaper than online,” he said.

Argos to call stadium play

Toronto Argonauts co-owner David Cynamon says the club expects to reveal later this week whether it plans to go forward with plans for a stadium at York University or stay at the Rogers Centre, reported The Ottawa Citizen, Regina’s Leader-Post and The Winnipeg Sun April 27. The Argonauts had planned to help fund a 25,000-seat outdoor stadium on the York University grounds. The facility would also serve as the main venue when Canada plays host to the 2007 FIFA world under-20 soccer championship. But the Toronto Star reported Friday that the Rogers Centre has offered the Canadian Football League team a rent-free deal. The Vancouver Province reported there is speculation they may instead try to sell the club.

Argo pivot creates QB challenge at York

Argonauts quarterback Damon Allen has gathered 12 of his fellow CFL quarterbacks for a day of skills competition May 14 at York University Stadium, which he hopes will be an annual event, reported the Toronto Star and The Toronto Sun April 27. Proceeds will go to the Kids Help Phone charity, which provides a year-round, round-the-clock telephone and Web counselling service for children and youth.

More from football sidelines

The Toronto Argonauts made few friends in the past week, began The Globe and Mail’s Stephen Brunt in his April 27 column. Their partners in a stadium project that they are now on the verge of abandoning, York University and the Canadian Soccer Association, were absolutely blindsided by the news. They are furious, facing the seemingly impossible task of covering a huge cash shortfall. And fans who bought into the promise David Cynamon and Howard Sokolowski made the day they bought the club – that an intimate, outdoor, football-friendly park was the foundation of their plans for the future – might well feel as if they’ve been sold a bill of goods.

Cam Cole, sports writer for the National Post, lamented the future of the Grey Cup in his April 27 column. The Argos, he said, are starting to look like prisoners of an Air Canada Centre-Maple Leaf Square-SkyDome entertainment complex they dare not leave, though it won’t even be a finished product for four more years – slaves to an unworkable football stadium, only because it is the less costly of two options, wrote Cole.

On air

  • Colleen Hanycz, assistant dean at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, discussed the appointment of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as pope, on CTS-TV’s “Michael Coren Live” April 26.