Where jazz and business harmonize

York alumnus Rudi Quammie Williams (BA ’96, MBA ‘98), 48, always knew he’d be an artist. But as the jazz percussionist enmeshed himself in Toronto’s arts scene, performing, acting and filming, he found that the arts organizations also wanted his strategic advice, wrote the Toronto Star Feb. 17. So, in 1996 – nearly 14 years after he started a fine arts degree in York’s Faculty of Arts  – Williams returned to York to complete his degree and find a program that could combine his passion for art with his business sense. For Williams, York’s Schulich School of Business MBA program, with a specialization in arts and media administration, was just the ticket. The MBA specialty, one of the few found around the globe, was created in 1969 – a period of growth for the arts.

MBA students are needed now to deal with new challenges to the arts and to media industries, such as how to respond to the advent of the Internet, says Kathleen Welsby, the program’s co-ordinator. "Part of what the MBA teaches is how to cope with change and how to look at the big picture, how to build a business plan and execute it, " she says. “You might know everything about how to hang the gallery, how to curate the gallery…but the bottom line is you still need to know how to build the business under it to make it work."

Schulich, in partnership with Women in Film and Television-Toronto, Humber College and the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, is hoping to encourage more women to get involved. As part of a plan announced earlier this month Schulich and Women in Film and Television-Toronto will develop business courses for senior-level managers in the industry in Canada. The courses should be available by winter 2008 to both women and men.

Taking care of health business

Students in the MBA program at the Schulich School of Business at York University are connecting with multinational corporations to learn more about health-care management, reported the Toronto Star Feb. 17.

Whether they become employers or suppliers, it is important for students to understand how the health-care system works in Canada, says Brenda Zimmerman, director of the MBA health-industry management program at Schulich. "If you’re in any kind of industry, it’s highly surprising if at some point you’re not interacting with a health-care company," she says. "Ten per cent of our global economic prospects is in health."

A shift in the mainstream

Whether the issue is poverty, the environment or human rights, long-time social activists sense there is a shift taking place in the mainstream of Canadian politics, with more people listening to what they are saying – and agreeing, wrote the Toronto Star Feb. 19. Brenda Zimmerman, a professor at York’s Schulich School of Business and an author, says that once social change starts to happen, things can really take off in a hurry. "It’s like a cascading affect," says Zimmerman, who teaches health management.

Co-author of Getting to Maybe: How The World Is Changed, Zimmerman studies the complex web of people and events that combine to bring about change. After decades of work, she’s discovered that ordinary people alter their societies with relatively simple actions made in the right place and at the right time. "If the stars are aligned, they can actually change things." Now, says Zimmerman, fears about global warming have unleashed a strong commitment by voters, businesses and government to tackle the issue of global warming. "Suddenly, even the Conservative are green," she says.

York prof is challenged on survey comments

Fully 12 per cent of Muslim Canadians in an Environics/CBC poll said an alleged terrorist plot – that included kidnapping and beheading the prime minister and blowing up Parliament and the CBC – was justified, wrote editor Licia Corbella in The Calgary Sun Feb. 18. Predictably, the CBC managed to find a talking head – in this case York University sociology professor Haideh Moghissi – who dismissed this disturbing revelation. "It’s really negligible that 12 percent feel that the attacks would be justified," said Moghissi. "I don’t think it even warrants attention."

Clearly, other news agencies and those who put the poll results on the CBC Web site agree with Moghissi, wrote Corbella. But just how "negligible" is 12 per cent of 700,000 people? Well, if Moghissi knew arithmetic like she knows denial, she’d know, if this poll is accurate, that 84,000 Canadian Muslims think it’s justifiable to behead our democratically elected prime minister and blow up the very symbol and centre of our democracy!

Kyoto bill isn’t ‘toothless’, says Monahan

Environment Minister John Baird started the week in Parliament by saying a private member’s bill on the Kyoto Accord, passed last week, was "toothless", hinting the government wouldn’t comply, noted host Kathleen Petty on the CBC Radio program "The House" Feb. 17. Constitutional experts saw it differently. Here’s Patrick Monahan, dean of Osgoode Hall Law School: "I don’t think it’s toothless, because it seems to me it obliges the government to meet the Kyoto targets for emissions levels. It explicitly says that it binds the government, and the government is obliged to follow laws enacted by parliament. In our system of government, we expect the government to abide by the law. We have a long tradition of governments abiding by the law, and… and governments do not have to be taken to court to abide by laws, so that’s, to me, not an acceptable way for any government of Canada or any government in this country to operate."

YFS president justifies anti-publicity stunt

Some student journalists expressed fears that an anti-publicity stunt at an announcement by Chris Bentley, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities on Feb. 5 could lead to restricted access to government officials for the students they represent, reported The Globe and Mail Feb. 19. Corrie Sakaluk, president of the York Federation of Students – who attended the event claiming to be a reporter for the York student newspaper Excalibur – believes the action was justified. "I don’t think anything I did was wrong," she said. "It was my responsibility to represent my members in the way I was elected to do." Sakaluk said the meeting was advertised as a "closed media event," leaving her with what she saw as little choice.  

Mandatory sentencing has little deterrent impact, says Young

Mandatory sentencing is not good policy and has never worked, said Alan Young, professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School and an advocate for legalization of marijuana, wrote the Scarborough Mirror Feb. 16. "It has not much deterrent impact but it definitely will fill prisons," Young said. "People generally don’t take the severity of punishment into account in planning their illegal activities."

A capital welcome for new Canadians

York student Izza Ahmed of Richmond Hill was puzzled when she got a call from Immigration earlier this month, because she was positive she’d answered all the questions on her recent citizenship exam correctly, wrote the Toronto Star Feb. 17. What the 26-year-old Pakistani immigrant heard next made her think it was a prank: The federal government was offering to pick up the tab for her family’s travel and a night’s stay at the Lord Elgin Hotel in Ottawa so she could become a citizen at a special ceremony celebrating the 60th anniversary of Canadian citizenship. "I was just shocked. I couldn’t believe it," said the delighted Ahmed. She was among 46 new Canadians from 13 nationalities selected to receive their citizenship at yesterday’s event – the only Toronto- area resident so honoured. "Even my husband and my in-laws were jealous of me, teasing me, asking me why I got that kind of special treatment," she said. 

Ontario schools plagued by dearth of students

The dearth of new students in Ontario schools that is shaking up all but a few suburban Toronto-area school boards is "written indelibly in the demographics," says David Foot, a University of Toronto demographer and author of the best-selling Boom, Bust and Echo books, wrote CanWest News Service Feb. 19. He argues post-secondary institutions in Ontario will suffer a similar fate beginning around 2015, a view disputed by others such as outgoing York President & Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden, who believes the trend will be offset at least in major urban universities by higher participation rates.

York geographer blogs about ‘murder city’ Toronto

Amy Lavender Harris, geography professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, has a fascinating post on Readingtoronto.com on the surprising library of Toronto murder mysteries, wrote the National Post Feb. 19. ”Who’d have thought Toronto the Good could produce such a hearse-load of dark fiction? Since turning to Toronto literature full-time a little over a year ago, I’ve come across more Toronto-based murders, mysteries and thrillers every week,” she writes: ”A demon that tears the throats out of hapless transit riders at Eglinton West subway station; a severed hand in the Don Valley, once attached to a member of the Law Society; Royal Ontario Museum mummies with the urge for a snack (not to mention your soul); mobsters who put the con in your King West condominium; psychic schizophrenics; a shambling, flesh-shedding thing emerging from the wading pool in the neighbourhood park.”

The story also noted that the book Bleeding Daylight (Thornhill: Oubliette Press 2004) by York alumnus Brian Gibson (BA ’98), is set largely at York’s Keele campus.

Middleton says Dove ad campaign took guts

Alan Middleton, marketing professor at York’s Schulich School of Business, says people – particularly aging boomers – are fed up with skinny models who look nothing like the rest of us, wreote the Hamilton Spectator Feb. 17. Middleton says he’s proud of Dove’s new pro-age campaign – marketing a series of face, body and hair products to the aging and affluent population of boomer women – because the company "had the guts to do something about the realities of how people look and aging."

The figure skating odyssey of Tugba Karademir

She’s Turkey’s first world-class figure skater, a rising star, and she goes to York University, wrote  Thestrand.ca Feb. 15. Tugba Karademir, the trailblazing Turkish figure skater who also happens to call Canada home, is currently working towards the long-term goal of success at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. She trains constantly (when I spoke to her on the phone she was returning from the gym), wrote reporter Ryan Hardy, and also coaches younger skaters at her Mariposa club. She is also a part-time student at York University, studying biotechnology. Clearly she has talent and brains, but can she shock the world in 2010?