Shoukri talks about a medical school at York

York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri was invited onto a special edition of CBC Radio’s "Metro Morning" Sept. 4 to talk on the theme Big City, Big Ideas. Below are some of his remarks made to host Andy Barrie, who asked him about a medical school at York.

Shoukri: Andy, please allow me, before I get into the big dream of a medical school at York, to give you a bit of the basis for that dream. York University has a University Academic Plan, which among other things builds on the current strength in humanities, social sciences, business and law…but it calls also for expanding and building on that strength to include sciences, applied sciences – which includes engineering – and a medical school. It also builds on the York heritage of interdisciplinary education and research, a heritage of commitment to social justice and accessibility and the heritage of commitment to linking what we do to benefit society and be close to societal needs. From that a model for a medical school will naturally emerge.

Barrie: In the opening years of your medical school … what if you dedicated it entirely to appraising and certifying foreign-trained physicians whose only role at York would be to complete their education in whatever way Canadian standards require them and then, over time, build it into a full four-year medical school?

Shoukri: Great idea, Andy, and I assure you that this is part of the issues that will be discussed as we build the medical school.

Barrie: Where’s the money going to come from?

Shoukri: As you alluded earlier, I am one of those people who strongly believe that you should not be deterred in the way you think about the future by financial resources. I think money will come but good ideas will survive.

When getting the axe isn’t so bad

As the shock of being fired wears off, there are those who start to glimpse "the silver lining" – especially if they were in high-stress, long-hours management roles before the axe fell, according to a study by two York professors, wrote The Globe and Mail Sept. 1. After years of going full tilt, the first thing many appreciate is that they finally "have time to think," says Jelena Zikic, professor in York’s Atkinson School of Administrative Studies and co-author of a study published in McMaster University’s Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences.

Zikic, who teaches human resources at York, and fellow researcher Julia Richardson, her Atkinson colleague, were not disputing that job loss "can indeed be a highly negative experience." But in the course of their research, which included extensive interviews with 30 managers and executives who had lost their jobs late in their careers, they found that "many of the interviewees perceived the down time as a rare and welcome opportunity."

Zikic says that many who participated in her study had already reached important milestones in their careers, "and this was an important moment to contemplate the next step – something they might not otherwise have done" had they still been caught up in the rat race. "It is especially salient that interviewees believed that job loss had enabled them to escape one life and embark upon another."

Passport, or carte blanche to raise hell?

"Any Canadian citizen can do whatever he or she wants," said Jean Gabriel Castel, professor emeritus of international law at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, in a story about travellers and activism in the Toronto Star Sept. 1. "The question is whether it’s illegal to do that in the country where you are."

Whether you’ll be deported, jailed or worse, he says, depends on what the locals are doing, wrote the Star. The fact that these Canadians are intervening on behalf of locals who can’t do it themselves might be their saving grace. "If you’re in Tiananmen Square and you’re watching people protest against something and you just barge in, it would be less of an offence from the point of the view of the Chinese, than if you organized the whole thing yourself," he says laughing. You can’t organize a protest in a foreign country, he says.

But that’s flexible, too. "In our country, for instance, if tomorrow the Chinese came here and organized a protest over the way the Chinese were treated a century ago when they were building the railways, it wouldn’t matter, because we allow that kind of stuff." Canada’s relationship with the country in question also plays a role, one that he says allowed the Free Tibet protesters off the hook, scot-free. "I think they were pretty lucky just to be, you know, kicked out of the country."

Incoming lieutenant governor visits with York student

Former Citytv broadcaster David Onley, who will be installed as Ontario lieutenant governor on Sept. 6, has visited Tamara Gordon, a 21-year-old York University student who broke her back skiing, wrote the Toronto Star Sept. 3 in a story talking about Onley’s commitment to people with disabilities. "She could have just retreated," Onley says. Instead, the two-time winner of a Harry Jerome Scholarship for African-Canadian students has been making a real difference in her community. Among other things, she has organized neighbourhood kids into a volunteer group helping people in need.

Finding ‘ethical’ toys requires some digging

For the first few years of his daughter’s life, John-Justin McMurtry kept a pretty good lid on the kinds of toys she played with, wrote the Guelph Mercury and Toronto Star Sept. 1. "I go primarily for educational toys," says McMurtry, a lecturer in social economy in York’s Faculty of Arts. He knew, however, he was only staving off the inevitable. All it takes, he says, is a little peer pressure at school and one birthday party like the one his eight-year-old daughter had a couple of years ago. "She got five Barbies," he says.

They were the first such dolls she’d ever received, and she loved them. Despite the lessons he wants to teach his daughter, McMurtry just couldn’t break her heart. "You can’t take it away once they’ve got it," he says, resigned.

Welcome to the world of ethical toys, where the best intentions are waylaid not only by mass marketing but a retail economy geared toward mass producers of the cheapest quality products. Over the years, McMurtry has bought dolls from Guatemala and Peru, handmade wooden cars and wooden board games. With his daughter exposed more and more to the consumer market and all the toys her school friends have, McMurtry now hopes he can at least stem the tide of consumerism and keep the shopping as ethical as possible. "Fair trade is not just questioning our individual purchases but our consuming habits," he says. “That’s something I want her to learn."

Barely controlled chaos

Kim Kozzi and her partner of nearly 30 years, Dai Skuse are practising witches, and have been for decades, wrote The Globe and Mail columnist Sarah Milroy Sept. 1. A central part of their life, witchcraft is also a central part of their art, a gold mine of iconography and metaphor that has fuelled their exhibitions across Canada and beyond, from San Francisco to Seoul, and Sao Paolo to Tokyo.

We met this week in the midst of their current work in progress, a sprawling installation at the Art Gallery of York University which they have been labouring over throughout the summer months. The results will be unveiled to the public on the night of Sept. 26 (a full moon). They are now more than half way finished, elaborating in three dimensions the themes that have animated their work for the past 25 years: witchcraft, working the land, tattooing, pirates, the animal world, sex, and teenage rebellion. Like the art world, the underground world of witches is, as Skuse puts it, "an insurrectionary community," in which authority is questioned and individuals are encouraged to do their own thing. "There is no Pope of witches," he says. "We call it the world’s greatest disorganized religion."

The exhibition, too, will exude an air of barely controlled chaos, including a funky ad hoc hair salon called The House of Bangs, a tattoo parlour (both will be operational on opening night), and the restaging of several of their past installations, like Gusset Nation, featuring a giant web of faux denim thongs and another constituted of stretchy black brassieres.

905 ranks low, says new report

Mississauga, Peel and other 905 municipalities lag far behind Toronto in providing high density housing, efficient public transit and intensified land uses, says a report issued Aug. 27, wrote the Mississauga News Aug. 31. The Pembina Institute, a Vancouver-based interest group that promotes environmental and energy sustainability, examined 27 Ontario municipalities in a report titled "The Ontario Community Sustainability Report 2007". It identified Toronto as clearly the most sustainable community in Ontario. If they are to thrive in future, "more aggressive interventions by the province to curb sprawl and automobile dependence are needed," says Mark Winfield, a professor in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, and project director of the study.

eBay d’oh for charities

eBay Canada launches a series of auctions Sept. 2 to support 13 Canadian charities, with items that include a table reading with the writers of "The Simpsons" in Hollywood, wrote The Winnipeg Sun Sept. 1. The York University Foundation arranged "The Simpsons" table reading via alumnus (and Simpsons writer & producer) Joel Cohen (MBA ’92).

Windsor’s Lancers overwhelm the York Lions

Windsor opened the OUA football season with a 59-0 shutout win over the York Lions, wrote the Windsor Star Sept. 4. York went through three quarterbacks in the game, but could only muster 130 yards in net offence as the Lancers blanked a team for the first time since beating McMaster 37-0 in the third week of 1996. "(The Lions) have a lot of trick plays and it’s exciting for the (defensive secondary) because you’re going to see the ball a lot," Lancers defensive back Marc Leduc said.

Is it time to lock in?

Research by Moshe Milevsky, professor of finance in York’s Schulich School of Business, shows that, over the past 50 years, variable mortgages have been cheaper than conventional mortgages in 88 per cent of cases, wrote the Financial Post Business Magazine Sept. 1. Of course, not everyone wants to take that chance, however good the odds.

Economies of good and evil at Centennial Square

Toronto artist and former York student Mitch Robertson‘s exhibition, 5,6,7: Economies of Good and Evil is the next show to hit Oakville Galleries at Centennial Square, from Sept. 8-Nov. 4, wrote The Oakville Beaver Aug. 31. The exhibition investigates the church and capitalism, as the artist ponders Christianity’s "corporate makeover" in a series of multiples, rubbings, paintings, photographs and more. Robertson’s interest is in the faith-based appeal of industries surrounding celebrity, tourism and myth. The artist finds links between advertising and iconography, and questions the contemporary meaning of good and evil.

Community builder

In 1991, York alumnus Dave Keenan (MBA ’81) travelled to Eastern Europe as part of a Greater Toronto Home Builders’ Association delegation seeking to establish trade relations with a part of the world that was just emerging from decades of socialist rule, wrotethe Fraser Valley’s Business Examiner Sept. 2. For Keenan, Pacific region vice-president for Genstar Development Company, witnessing how people lived in Hungary and the former Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia was a poignant, eye-opening experience.

“I saw hundreds and hundreds of people cramped into 400 sq. ft. apartments in 12-storey buildings with no elevator,” says Keenan, who recalls being followed by KGB agents everywhere they went in Prague. “I was with Hungarians who had fled to Canada (decades earlier) and were going back for the first time, and they saw the destruction of community and family values after the country was taken over by socialists.”

The trip not only made Keenan appreciate what he had back in Canada, it also served to reinforce the values that have shaped his approach over a 30-year career. “Fundamentally, my goal in life is to create communities that people of all income levels and age groups can live together in,” he says.

Osgoode alumnus racks up air miles in search of gold

As a kid, Peter Marrone (LLB ´84) was crazy about airplanes, wrote The Globe and Mail Sept. 4. He was particularly fond of a takeoff, just at the point when the thrust kicked in, bodies lurched back, and the tarmac slowly receded in the distance.

Today? Not so much. In the past year alone, the peripatetic chief executive officer of Toronto-based Yamana Gold Inc. has accumulated almost a quarter million air miles, many of them along the triangular route he regularly traces between Toronto, London and South America.

Marrone is no stranger to challenges. He grew up 30 minutes outside of Naples on the southeastern coast of Italy, the eldest of four children. When he was six, his father decided the family should emigrate to Canada and join several relatives of Marrone’s mother.

A graduate of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, Marrone knew from the beginning he didn’t want to be a litigator. In fact, he only tried one case in court: As a young lawyer he represented an elderly woman who had been charged with stealing a cup of soup and a few fridge magnets (he won).

On air

  • James Morton, adjunct professor in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, spoke about the issue of compensation in the Stephen Truscott case, on CFRB radio Sept. 1.
  • Shin Imai, professor in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, took part in a phone-in segment about Native land claims, on BNN-TV Sept. 3.
  • A donation by 407 ETR to the York University Foundation to help establish a new award for graduate students was reported on Toronto-based CP24  and on Barrie’s CKVR-TV Sept. 3.