York University Foundation head honoured by peers’ recognition

Paul Marcus, president & CEO, York University Foundation was given the 2006 Community Counselling Service Award for Outstanding Fundraising Professional last month, reported Canadian Jewish News Dec. 7. Marcus, who was recognized by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) – the world’s largest fundraising organization – is only the second Canadian to win the award. He was also named the 2006 Outstanding Fundraising Professional by the AFP’s Greater Toronto chapter.

“It is a great honour, particularly at this point in my career. To be recognized by your peers is really so meaningful. It is very special to win an award for something you love to do,” said Marcus, 44, who founded the York University Foundation almost five years ago. In the past four years, York’s fundraising revenue has doubled and the number of donors has increased by more than 60 per cent. In the span of about two years, York has received 13 new gifts of $1 million or more.

In anticipation of York’s 50th anniversary in 2009, the foundation recently launched the largest fundraising campaign in the school’s history, called “York to the Power of 50”. “I think the most important thing is…our $200-million campaign,” Marcus said. “We are already more than halfway to our goal,” he said, adding that about $110 million has been raised so far.

He said the money will be used to help students who need financial aid, as well as to attract and retain the best faculty, to keep research a priority at the school, and to ensure that York has the best infrastructure. He said the success he has had at York can be attributed to a maturing alumni base that wants to give back to the University, and to his experience working with organizations that have a “strong culture of philanthropy”.

A rare kind of developer

Former York student Julie Di Lorenzo is a developer who has come of age, wrote The Globe and Mail Dec. 7. Di Lorenzo is the financial deal maker behind Diamante Development Corp., the person who signs the cheques at the bank and who is probably the only woman in Canada with her kind of development clout. She has a reputation for being a shrewd negotiator, having only lost money once on an ill-advised project in California, but is also concerned, as a new board member at St. Michael’s Hospital, about the 40 homeless women who gave birth last year.

She’s a spokesperson for the development industry, having served last year as president of the Greater Toronto Home Builders’ Association, and she’s a tough critic who speaks often and publicly about the ad-hoc way in which the city of Toronto is being planned. Di Lorenzo, 43, started in the construction business, building concrete covers for on-ramps, though her studies in medieval history and philosophy at York University might have pointed to other, more meditative tasks.

Power station would charge economy

A proposed hydroelectric generating station on the Otonabee River would bring economic, social and environmental benefits to the region, a project spokesman said in the Peterborough Examiner Dec. 7. Green power, created by tumbling water-turning generators, is a high-value product, Rob Macdonald told The Examiner at a public meeting yesterday. “That creates wealth for the community,” he said.

Macdonald, a professor in York University’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, is an environmental adviser for Shaman Power Corp., a Toronto-based renewable energy company. A hydroelectric generating station would help reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming, Macdonald said. “On a per capita basis, (Canadians) are probably the largest emitters of carbon dioxide in the world,” he said. “The plant should make a small, but not insignificant contribution, to regional air quality.”

Forging a new path

Melissa Arruda has chosen to go to university, something teenagers of Portuguese descent still do less than almost any other immigrant community, despite nearly 20 years of campaigns to change that pattern, wrote the Toronto Star Dec. 7. Arruda is part of a group trying, again, to find a path that leads more Portuguese-Canadians to higher learning. About 12 per cent of Toronto’s Portuguese community now earn a university degree – a far cry from only 1 per cent in 1971 but about one-third as many as in the population at large, according to a study this year by Michael Ornstein, director of York’s Institute for Social Research.

Arbour displays amazing ignorance

In the perspective of Louise Arbour, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and a former professor in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, all countries are equal when it comes to human rights violations, but some countries are more equal than others, wrote Winnipeg lawyer Harold Buchwald in the Winnipeg Free Press Dec. 7. This is certainly the case regarding her myopic vision of Israel and its efforts to defend itself and its citizens against terrorism and attack by entities that wish to destroy it.

She is quoted as saying, “Guilt, coax, convince, remind, persuade – there are a whole range of advocacy tools.” One wonders on what planet the commissioner has been living these past half-dozen years since the beginning of the second intifada, wrote Buchwald. Is it possible to believe she thinks the conflict is being waged under the Marquis of Queensberry rules, or even the Geneva Conventions? Can she really be that naïve?

Arbour’s performance is particularly disappointing because she came to her high office with such impressive credentials, said Buchwald. She is a former law professor at Osgoode Hall Law School at York University in Toronto, Ontario Appeal Court judge, war crimes special prosecutor for the International Criminal Court at The Hague, and a justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.

Moscoe out, Giambrone in, at the TTC

On Tuesday, Mayor David Miller picked Councillor Howard Moscoe to head the licensing and standards committee, which means he will not return as TTC Chair, nor will he sit as one of the eight other commissioners, wrote the Toronto Star Dec. 7. Moscoe served as Chair the first time in 1998 and won back the job in 2003. The move ends Moscoe’s most recent and tumultuous tenure atop the TTC. During his last term as Chair, ridership increased beyond expectation, and the agency committed to expanding the bus fleet, made some of its fleet environmentally friendly and limited the impact of a fare hike on the price of Metropasses. The subway is set to expand, too, to York University, pending federal funding.

  • Moments after the nine-member Toronto Transit Commission elected him to the post of Chair yesterday, and Councillor Joe Mihevc to the vice-chair post, Councillor Adam Giambrone, 29, the youngest TTC head in recent memory, assumed control of one of the city’s weightiest files, wrote the Toronto Star Dec. 7. The group will get down to business when they meet next Wednesday. He said his priority will be helping to usher in the mayor’s transit platform, which includes pushing for funding from Ottawa for its share of the $2-billion subway extension to York University and beyond, new bus rapid transit routes and streetcars, and a computerized trip-planning system.

On air

  • Saeed Rahnema, director of the School of Public Policy & Administration in York’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, spoke about the situtation in Iraq and results of a recent study group evaluation, on several CBC Radio morning shows across the country Dec. 6.

  • Paul Delaney, astronomy professor in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, spoke about the announcement by NASA of evidence of water on Mars, on CTV national news Dec. 6.