AGYU’s Monk ‘has pulled off the impossible’

We thought it couldn’t be done. North York is now a hip place to be. Go ahead. Choke on your lattes and clafouti croissant all you like, but curator/director Philip Monk – for two years, now, the head of the Art Gallery of York University – has pulled off the impossible, wrote Globe and Mail art critic Sarah Milroy in her Jan. 27 column. This week, he unveiled the gallery’s new digs in the Zeidler-designed Accolade East Building at York, right across from the Schulich School of Business. It’s a space that he claims will be like no other space in the city; two big rooms, one slightly larger than the other, wired state-of-the-art to take on the most experimental program that the art world can dish up.

Fact: Art lovers in Toronto have been schlepping to York for years, long a bastion of insightful international programming under the leadership of Loretta Yarlow, who left to run the Pratt Institute’s art gallery in New York. But the space was beyond grungy, and far too often brilliant shows got lost in the shuffle. “The new shell is going to give the program the credibility it deserves,” Monk says. But it is not just the new space that will put the AGYU on the cutting edge. He plans to collaborate with artists on every aspect of operations, from program development to fundraising and even marketing.

Universities woo top students early

Handing out early offers and scholarships is not the only way university officials try to entice exceptional students to their schools, reported The Globe and Mail Jan. 27. York University is making house calls. David Huckvale, associate director of recruitment, said that along with mailing offers to A students, a small subset of that group with 95 per cent averages and higher will be paid home visits by recruiters, who will hand-deliver the offers. Senior officials – even the president has taken part – have visited homes over the past couple of years with York knapsacks and other goodies to discuss offers of admission and cash scholarships. The meetings have lasted more than an hour. And in some cases, the recruiter has even stayed over for dinner with the family. “Some will say, ‘No thanks, just send me the offer in the mail.’ But the ones that we actually go visit, we’ve actually had very good success at having them become York students,” he said. “And these are students that will have offers to any school they’ve applied to.”

Martin a genuine but cautious reformer

How will Paul Martin be remembered? asked James Laxer, a political science professor in the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, in a Toronto Star opinion piece Jan. 27. Unlike most politicians, Martin is a good listener, with a voracious appetite for new ideas and perspectives on the world. An energetic and youthful man for his years, he will find useful outlets for his passions. As time passes, Canadians may realize that he grew while in office and gained a wider and deeper understanding of this complex country and its people. He may even be regarded with some affection, especially as people rethink the unfairness of the shabby treatment he received at the hands of political opponents and the media.

Vroom of his own

Dennis da Silva appreciates rarity and fine performance, which helps to explain his fascination with Chrysler’s muscle cars of the 1960s. He’s currently restoring a ’68 Dodge Dart GTS and he’s in the market for a ’69 Charger, the brute coupe of Dukes of Hazzard fame. The 37-year-old’s predilections also explain why he’s happily managing flow-through-share limited partnerships for Middlefield Group, a Toronto-based fund manager, said a Globe and Mail feature Jan. 27 about the York 1989 BBA and 1993 MBA grad.

Mentor lends a helping hand

It was one of those rare moments when everything felt right. “I think you’ve made the right decision,” the executive told me during our first meeting, after I had asked her opinion about the value of an MBA, wrote Richard Bloom, a master of business administration student at York’s Schulich School of Business, in his Globe and Mail column Jan. 27. “I often wish I had more formal business education.” I felt a sense of comfort sitting in her office. I could see myself working in a similar position one day and, as our conversation progressed, I felt more and more confident in my decision to quit my full-time job at The Globe and Mail to get an MBA. I owe the meeting to one of the most valuable campus services available to business students: the mentorship program.

On air

  • Bob Hanke, who teaches in York’s Graduate Program in Communications & Culture, discussed the impact of election polls on voting, on CBC Radio’s “Radio Noon” Jan. 26.
  • Seth Feldman, director of York’s Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies, discussed media coverage of the election and its impact on the election outcome, on CBC Radio’s “Here and Now” in Toronto and other regional programs in Windsor, Montreal, Halifax and Yellowknife.
  • Arun Mukherjee, a professor of postcolonial and South Asian literatures in York’s English Department, was interviewed about Dalit hero Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar in a documentary about the so-called untouchables, the lowest caste in India, on CBC Radio’s “Ideas” Jan. 25.
  • York will establish the University’s first Chair in Islamic studies, reported “OMNI News: South Asian Edition” in Toronto Jan. 26.