MBA students rank high in competitions

MBA students from York’s Schulich School of Business…

  • …came third among 15 Canadian universities gathered in Windsor last weekend for the 2006 MBA Games, reported the Windsor Star Jan. 9. Besides competing in the traditional business competitions – debates, marketing and case studies – they took part in athletics such as frisbee and soccer. But the most unusual, and just as difficult, event was the “mystery challenge” – building the tallest towers and other structures out of Lego.
  • …rank second in the Financial Post‘s MBA portfolio management competition now at the halfway point in the six-month contest, reported the National Post Jan. 9. The competition began in October, when nine MBA schools across Canada accepted a challenge: each team was given $1 million in pretend money to invest on behalf of a hypothetical investor the Post calls Mr. Oldmoney. The team that generates the best risk-adjusted return by the end of March wins. The York team has generated $1,069,502, or 6.95 per cent return, second only to University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Business.

Canada’s great contemporary poet laid to rest

Irving Layton – one of Canada’s greatest and most prolific contemporary poets – was celebrated at his Montreal funeral for his flamboyant creativity, bold verses and unflinching promotion of Canadian letters – and of himself, reported CanWest News Service Jan. 9 in a story published in Montreal Gazette and The Vancouver Sun. Toronto poet Peter van Toon recalled spending a week at Layton’s home in Toronto when Layton taught creative writing at York University. “As I was leaving he said to me: ‘Peter, you’re the most gentlemanly poet I have ever met. You borrow money, you pay it back. You didn’t try and sleep with my wife and you didn’t try to use my influence to get published.’ I knew right away I had failed the poetry test.”

In other coverage:

  • Samantha Bernstein, Layton’s 24-year-old daughter, read a poem she wrote three years ago, reported the Toronto Star. Titled “Layton, Irving,” it described how she came to know her father through an encyclopedia entry. “There you were, between laxative and Lazarus,” she read, eliciting laughter. Bernstein is studying creative writing at York.
  • In The Globe and Mail Jan. 9, Jack Chambers of the University of Toronto remembered an obscenity trial in the early 1970s at which Layton was examined as a star witness. “Layton took the stand with bravura, and put on a vintage display. He quickly grew bored with answering the lawyers’ questions and launched into an oracular and visionary declaration on the literary merits of the pulp fiction seized from the shelves of the store. Some of the novels, he said, should be in the university library, and he intended to make sure they were. ‘The four-letter word has come into its own,’ he said. ‘In 1945, the reviewers fell on me for exploiting sex, but the public has caught up with me and Joyce and Faulkner.’”

Playin’ the naming game

Toronto is in the midst of an incredible building boom in health care, the arts and the university sector. These huge infrastructure projects offer once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for benefactors to leave their mark on the city and the country, reported the National Post Jan. 7. “There are more and more wealthy people in this country all the time,” says gold-mining mogul Seymour Schulich, one of the country’s biggest philanthropists. “If they want to leave a legacy, they’d better get out and get themselves a faculty while they’re still available because pretty soon they won’t be.” Off the top of his head, Schulich can’t even remember how many institutions bear his name. He’s got everything from a cardiac unit to libraries. But the four university schools he endows are his babies. (They are: the Schulich School of Business at York, the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary, the Schulich School of Medicine at the University of Western Ontario and, most recently, the Schulich School of Music at McGill University.) He says that early in his career, it struck him that most businessmen are completely forgotten a few years after their death. He sees his charitable works as a way to ensure his name will live on. “Why education?” he muses. “What I’m trying to do is find things that are likely to last a couple of hundred years.” But, like most donors, he is also motivated by the desire to repay a debt. “I’ve done OK in Ontario,” he says, “and I never would have got where I am without my MBA.”

Poverty a risk factor for crime

There is a strong relationship between health promotion and crime prevention, says Dennis Raphael without hesitation, reported the Toronto Star Jan. 8. He’s a professor of health policy and management at York who has studied poverty and health for decades. He says the risk factors for disease are virtually identical to the risk factors for the incidence of crime; those factors include poverty, inadequate housing, abuse, and school failure. “The depth of poverty has increased over the last 10 years, United Way reports have shown,” he says. “Poverty combined with income inequality, combined with racism. People can barely get by, though their parents are working. Throw in intolerance, they pick up gansta rap, you literally force them into adopting an alternative identity, because they are living under severe material deprivation.”

Income-trust decision was poor policy making

It was five days before the government fell. Late on Nov. 23, at about 5:20pm, Finance Minister Ralph Goodale’s lieutenant appeared on national television, telling the country that the government was going to slap a new tax on income trusts, a decision that would affect the investments of millions of Canadians, reported the Toronto Star Jan. 7. Less than an hour later, Goodale corrected his parliamentary secretary at a news conference in Ottawa: the government had in fact decided not to tax income trusts and would instead lower taxes on corporate dividends. “Making policy on the fly doesn’t work,” said Allan Hutchinson, assistant dean at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School. “It leads to an ultimate decision that’s a joke.” Developing fiscal policy process should include consultations, proposals, discussions in cabinet and how the proposed policy fits in with existing policies, he said.

Reluctant hero of Rwandan massacre spreads message of peace

Paul Rusesabagina, the inspiration behind the film Hotel Rwanda, says he is merely “an ordinary man”, and that is the message he intends to broadcast as he makes his way across Canada on a four-date speaking tour that began in Vancouver Sunday and includes York University Tuesday, reported the National Post Jan. 9. “I believe I lived for one reason only, and that is to be a messenger. I lived to tell people about what happened,” said the former hotel manager who found himself in the unexpected role of saviour, mentor and morale booster to many hundreds of Rwandans who turned to the Hotel Milles Collines in Kigali to escape massacre in 1994.

Factor in longevity risk when planning for retirement

“It is often stated that spending money in retirement is akin to creating your own pseudo bear market, since each year the withdrawal process reduces portfolio growth by the spending rate,” notes Moshe Milevsky, a finance professor at York’s Schulich School of Business, in a recent paper on retirement income, reported The Gazette in Montreal Jan. 9. Milevsky said a newly retired 65-year-old woman has a 94-per-cent chance of surviving to age 70, a 56-per-cent chance of surviving to age 85, and a 16-per-cent chance of making it to 95. “Their retirement horizon is random and they obviously face the longevity risk of outliving their nest egg if they live longer than anticipated,” he said. “It is hard to overstate the importance of incorporating longevity risk when preparing a retirement plan.”

Knights of Labour changed the lives of Canadian workers

Noted labour historian and author Craig Heron, a professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, will highlight Hamilton’s remarkable labour history, starting with the Knights of Labour, at a heritage dinner in February, reported the Hamilton Spectator Jan. 9. The Knights of Labour would all but disappear by the 1890s, but they precipitated significant change. They organized unskilled workers as well as blacks and women for the first time. They pressured the provincial government to introduce its first, rudimentary workers compensation and workplace safety legislation. The “sense of the nobility and the respectability of workers who could march on their own through the city streets was something very new. It was something like that era’s equivalent of women’s liberation or the civil rights or gay rights movements.”

A digital-age writer explores typewriting

In The Iron Whim, Darren Wershler-Henry argues that the typewriter defines not only how we write, but also what we write, who does the writing and how we look upon writing itself, suggested a Calgary Herald review Jan. 7. Despite the fact that typewriters have become an antiquated form of communication, replaced by personal computers, they are still icons of the writing life, part of the romantic sepia-toned image of the struggling author ensconced at his desk, surrounded by gray smoke, discarded drafts and frustration. The typewriter, however, is just as clearly associated with typing pools, secretarial positions and even speed-typing competitions. Writing The Iron Whim, which is based on his doctoral dissertation at York University, enabled Wershler-Henry to understand how nostalgia “looks back on the way that we no longer write and says that it was the correct way.”

Why I like to pay my taxes

“I like paying taxes,” wrote Neil Brooks, a professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, in an op-ed piece published Jan. 8 in the Toronto Star and Dec. 23 in the Winnipeg Free Press. “Taxes allow us to pursue our aspirations collectively and thus greatly enrich the quality of life for the average Canadian family. Taxes have brought us high-quality public schools that remain our democratic treasure, low tuition at world-class universities, freedom from fear of crippling health bills, excellent medical services, public parks and libraries, and liveable cities.”

York one of few schools to recognize ASL

American Sign Language is starting to receive recognition at the postsecondary level here in Canada, but it hasn’t translated to high schools yet, reported The Toronto Sun Jan. 9. York, University of British Columbia and University of Alberta, as well as George Brown College, recognize ASL as a foreign language.

On air

  • Daniel Drache, a political science professor at York, discussed the RCMP investigation into misappropriation of $5 million in funds by the Liberal Party, ” on “680 News” on CFTR-AM in Toronto Jan. 6. The interview was also aired in Saint John on CHNI-FM “News” and in Halifax on CJNI-FM.
  • York professors Fran Beer and Susan Swan discussed one of the biggest stories in international book publishing this year – the launch of The Myths series – on CBC Radio’s national “The World This Weekend” Jan. 8. More than 30 publishing houses collaborated on a series where top writers, including Margaret Atwood, were invited to re-tell any myth in any way they chose.
  • Biologist Imogen Coe, Chair of York’s Department of Biology, discussed why fewer women are pursuing careers in the sciences and what can be done to encourage young women to study the sciences, on TVO’s “More To Life” Jan. 6.
  • Alan Middleton, a marketing professor in York’s Schulich School of Business, joined a panel discussion on the latest ads put out by the political parties, on TVO’s “Studio 2” Jan. 6.