Seymour Schulich donates $22.5 million to ‘the MIT of Israel’

After giving away more than $150 million over the past decade, multimillionaire investor Seymour Schulich still had a couple of to-do items on his philanthropic checklist: He wanted to advance the science of chemistry and to achieve something in Israel, reported The Globe and Mail Sept. 19. Now, Schulich is accomplishing both goals in one action, by giving $22.5 million to the highly regarded Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, which is naming its chemistry faculty after the Toronto-based resources magnate. “I’m a flunked-out chemist, which makes the story even better,” said Schulich, 66.

As a result of his donations, the Schulich name graces the music school at McGill, the engineering school at University of Calgary, the medical school at University of Western Ontario, and the business school at York University. York’s business school leads the recipient list with $27 million given over the years, with the other three Canadian institutions close behind, said the Globe. He has also donated to University of Nevada, in a state that has contributed greatly to his wealth through gold-mine investments. But the Technion donation is his largest outside Canada.

Friendly reminder to stop drivers from idling

York graduate John Brown (BES ‘06) and York student Harpreet Singh are Brampton’s new Idling Control Ambassadors and they will be patrolling the city’s idling “hotspots”– GO stations and city recreation centres– talking to drivers about idling and asking them to make a commitment to turn off their engines when they are not moving, reported the Brampton Guardian Sept. 17. “I won’t get too technical,” said Brown, who just graduated from York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies. “I’ll remind them how much gas they’re wasting and how much money it is costing them.” Singh, who is in his last year in York’s Environmental Studies program, said he believes it will be a challenge to educate drivers in a short period of time. “They’re not going to know too much about what we’re doing,” he said. “At the sites where there is more idling, people are going to be in a rush.”

Ready on the field

Football has always been a passion for Tim Burke, father of York Lions player Timothy Burke, reported the Niagara Falls Review Sept. 19. Tim was a star quarterback in his day. His wife Juliann has learned to love the sport. “I just enjoy watching them, and my adrenaline gets going. Football is now quite a focal point in our family,” said Juliann, whose 22-year-old son Timothy is first-year receiver and quarterback at York University in Toronto.

Maddix balances both sides of brain

If Henry David Thoreau was right and most of us lead lives of quiet desperation, it could be because the creative life and the need to make a living too often seem mutually exclusive, wrote Newmarket/Aurora Era-Banner Sept. 19 . Not for former York student Melanie Maddix. The Richmond Hill resident is determined not to exclude anything. A computer programmer by day, she spends many of her remaining hours indulging a love of music and writing. For a while now, she has played the trumpet with two quite different bands. After high school, she studied creative writing at York University for three years before switching into computer programming. But she continued writing on the side and taking creative writing and poetry workshops.

York student is one of Canada’s top ballroom dancers

Kingston Whig-Standard features editor Sarah MacWhirter and assistant editor Michael Onesi entered the Kingston Cup ballroom dance competition so they could interview the competitors, including York psychology student Anna Borschch. “In ballroom dancing, [the crowd] is encouraged to cheer and scream the number of the couple. When you watch a ballet, you have to wait until the end, you have to be very quiet. A ballroom dance competition is like a [European] soccer tournament,” says Borschch, 19. She and her partner, Anton Lebedev, 26, are the top Canadian competitors slated to dance at the competition.

  • The Kingston Cup has become one of the most coveted prizes in the world of ballroom dancing, reported the Sudbury Star, Sept. 16. It is one of the few competitions in Canada sanctioned by the IDSF (International Dance Sport Federation) and thus attracts the best dancers in the world. This year the competition also determines the North American champions. Two of the world’s best ballroom dancers don’t have far to travel for the competition. Anton Lebedev, 26, and his 19-year-old partner Anna Borshch have been practising all summer in a Thornhill dance studio for this competition. They won the Canadian ballroom dance championship last April at a Toronto competition after having finished second the two previous years. Winning in their category at Kingston will earn the couple valuable points in the world ranking of ballroom dancers.

Film professor fits festival screenings into her schedule

Alwynne Gwilt, professor of film history, criticism and theory at York University was featured in a profile of people attending the Toronto International Film Festival in the Toronto Star Sept. 16. The Star asked:
Are you taking any time off work?: I’m working it into my teaching schedule. I’m not actually taking time off.
Years attended: A long time. I live in Toronto and I’ve been coming since 1978 or ’79, off and on. Well, pretty much always.
What brings you back?: The opportunity to see all these films. Some will come out in various forms after this but it’s still nice to go to a film festival and see them for the first time on the big screen. Especially films you’re looking forward to seeing.
How many movies are you seeing?: I’ve seen about a dozen so far and maybe three or four more.
What’s the movie you’ve enjoyed most?: I enjoyed Climates by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, a Turkish filmmaker. It was nicely made with an interesting storyline. And it was beautiful, both visually and in terms of what he’s doing.
What movie are you looking forward to?: Belle Toujours. I like the director’s work and it sounds very interesting.

Company helps women get into theatre

For more than 20 years now, I’ve taught theatre students at different levels from here to Singapore, in institutions such as York University in Toronto, the National Theatre School in Montreal, and now St. Mary’s College here in Calgary, wrote columnist Eugene Stickland in the Calgary Herald Sept. 16. Strickland was writing about a local theatre company with a mandate to create more opportunities for female artists. All of the classes I have stood in front of and dazzled with my erudition and knowledge have had one thing in common: the ratio of females to males has always been at least five to one, if not greater. In some cases, I have taught classes comprised entirely of women.

York’s Ute Lehrer part of Condo BOOM

Condo BOOM, a multidisciplinary show that runs from Sept. 21 to 31 at the Theatre Centre (1087 Queen St. W.), addresses gentrification of areas like Toronto’s Parkdale community, wrote the National Post Sept. 16. The event promises to be a hodgepodge of fun stuff: arty installations, discussions, walking tours and a visual component (you know, the usual Queen West “what the heck does that mean?” kind of exhibit). Still, it helps that Condo BOOM has corralled an impressive lineup. You’ll find Professor Ute Lehrer of York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, the folks from the Center for Urban Pedagogy in New York, local artists Luis Jacob and Amos Latteier, who will present elements of Pigeon Condo (, an outdoor installation consisting of luxury condos for pigeons, and much more.

Saskatchewan football star coached at York

A “where are they now feature” in The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) Sept. 16 featured former York football coach Dave Pickett. He was the All-Canadian football star, the paper said. He had class, character and was awarded the Hec Crighton Trophy as the most outstanding Canadian university player. Although he made training camp appearances with Edmonton, Saskatchewan and Calgary, Pickett was never signed by a CFL team. “I think I probably could have played,” says Pickett. “It was really hard to get there at the time.” His playing days over, Pickett turned to coaching. He joined the staff of the York University Yeomen in Toronto as an assistant from 1977-1980 and was head coach at York the following three seasons. He later was an assistant coach with the Huskies before returning to Toronto.

Former Lion Bat flies to Holland

It’s September and another hockey adventure has begun for Orillia’s Daryl Bat, reported Orillia Today Sept. 15. The 26-year-old former Couchiching Terriers Jr. A Hockey Club forward jumped on a plane recently, bound for Holland. Earlier this summer, Bat signed a one-year professional contract to play with the Tilburg Trappers of the Dutch Super League. Traveling and playing hockey across the globe is now old hat to Bat, who previously played in Australia and then two years in Sweden. Prior to that he played university hockey in Minnesota and later suited up with the York University Lions (2002-2004) while attending school.

Blue Rodeo star’s love songs go well with wine

When my fellow moms heard I’d be interviewing Jim Cuddy over dinner in a nice restaurant, there were more than a few squeals of excitement, wrote Lynn Saxberg in a story about the Blue Rode singer for CanWest News Service Sept. 19. “Oh my God, you’re having dinner with Jim Cuddy?” This is a big deal for Canadian women in their 30s and 40s. Cuddy is well aware of their devotion, as most of his fans are women aged 25 and up. Way up, in a lot of cases. Hard to believe, but the youthful-looking Cuddy is 50, his hair flecked with gray. He’s been married 22 years and has three children, aged 14 to 19. The oldest is studying music at York University and plays on his dad’s new record.

On air

  • James Sheptycki, criminologist in York’s Division of Social Science, Faculty of Arts, spoke about the government’s gun registry program on CBC Radio stations across the country Sept. 18.