Convocation is a day of milestones at York

Nine years after muscular dystrophy put Grade 9 student Kaley Roosen in a wheelchair, the science whiz and Broadway buff has earned a bachelor of science degree, a fistful of kudos – and the distinction of being York University’s 200,000th graduate, wrote the Toronto Star June 15.

For her, yesterday’s moment of recognition during convocation ceremonies seemed to fit. "I visited four different schools when I was choosing a university, but this school really showed me they wanted me. They even had a disabled student in a scooter give me a private tour," said Roosen, 22, who will continue this fall at York as a master’s student in clinical psychology.

As well as graduating with full honours – summa cum laude – Roosen won acclaim for running York’s Peer Support Centre, a referral hub for undergrads often stressed out about their marks. She started as a volunteer tutor in her first year and ended up running the place four years later. Roosen also has served as a student member of the University Senate and speaks publicly about disabilities and the role technology can play to overcome physical barriers.

Howson hired as Columbus Blue Jackets general manager

The Columbus Blue Jackets, the only NHL team never in the playoffs, hired York graduate Scott Howson (BA ’87, LLB ’90) as their general manager, wrote the Canadian Press, June 14. The former assistant GM for Edmonton will take over for Doug MacLean, who was fired in April after the Jackets struggled through another lacklustre season at 33-42-7. “I’m excited for this opportunity and I can’t wait to get started,” Howson said in a phone interview Thursday.

Lawrence Heights revitalization at least a decade away

Ward 15 (Eglinton-Lawrence) Councillor Howard Moscoe has included York University in his list of stakeholders in the city’s plans to revitalize the public housing complex in Lawrence Heights, which will likely take between 10 and 15 years to complete, wrote the North York Mirror June 14. "Well, why would you include York University way up there?,” Moscoe asked rhetorically, “Because York University has a need for student housing and there’s room and there’s a place in the new Lawrence Heights for some kind of student housing and it’s on the same subway line.”

House prices hit record highs

Moshe Milevsky, a finance professor at York’s Schulich School of Business and executive director of the Individual Finance and Insurance Decisions Centre in Toronto, divides homebuyers into four groups in a paper, entitled “Mortgage Financing: Should you still float?”, wrote the Canadian Press June 14.

  • First-time home purchasers, particularly buyers with small downpayments, are the most likely customer for the long-term fixed rate mortgage. “These folks should not be taking any chances with a fluctuating interest rate,” Milevsky wrote, noting if the value of the house falls they could be left with “negative equity.”
  • For the “risk-averse worry wart,” Milevsky recommends splitting your mortgage in two halves, with one set at a variable rate and the other locked in.
  • The “seasoned veteran,” with more equity built up in the home and two incomes, is in a better position to take a risk with a variable rate mortgage, Milevsky says.

  • The “financially savvy arbitrageur” can shop around for the best rate with this strategy: Get a pre-approved fixed rate mortgage, guaranteed for up to four months. Then get a floating mortgage with the option to pre-pay the whole thing off without penalty. Follow the Bank of Canada and the bond market. If rates increase, move the mortgage to the bank which you gave the pre-approved rate. “Otherwise, do nothing and start the process over in a few months,” Milevsky wrote. “Understandably, the bank manager might get a bit weary of your constant requests for pre-approval.”

Eye-tracking device developed for billboards, screens

High-tech billboards and plasma screens are becoming more than just eye-catching – they’re developing "eyes" of their own that can detect when people are looking and when they turn away, wrote the Canadian Press June 15. Some analysts, including the Consumers’ Association of Canada, an Ottawa-based watchdog that raised privacy concerns, say the technology “reeks of big brotherism."

Ashwin Joshi, marketing professor at York’s Schulich School of Business, says Canadian privacy regulations offer sufficient protections. He notes the device is just one in a series of increasingly high-tech ways that Canadian businesses are keeping track of customers. Joshi says such devices provide instant feedback to companies wanting to improve service. "One of the things banks want to do is they want to minimize waiting time – they don’t want people waiting because it ticks them off," explains Joshi, director of the MBA program at Schulich. "So you now have concrete data on who waited and for how long."

Washago volleyballer in world tour event

Washago, Ont.’s Chris Simek has teamed up with York University volleyball star Paul Podstawka to qualify for the main draw of a Federation Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) world tour event, wrote the Orillia Packet and Times June 15. Podstawka, 22, and Simek, 24, played their opening-round match June 14. Podstawka, a native of Ancaster, Ont., and Simek teamed up last year to win the under-24 national championship. They entered FIVB qualification tournaments in Italy and Croatia before earning their ticket in Portugal.

Hope for market still alive

Meghan Holmes hopes to see success where others have failed in the past – bringing a farmers’ market to downtown Chatham for the summer, beginning June 30, wrote the Chatham Daily News June 15. Holmes, a Thamesville native and student at York University, says there’s interest from local farmers in running the farmers’ market. It’s true. It would be an excellent venue for the farmers to sell local product to local citizens. But the wildcard in this equation is the citizen factor. Past markets have risen, only to fall due to lack of support from our residents.