Shoukri ready to shape the University for the 21st century

It has only been three months since Mamdouh Shoukri assumed the top job at York University, but he’s ready to shape the University as a model for the 21st century, wrote the North York Mirror Oct. 18.

The Egyptian-born engineer, who took over as York’s seventh president and vice-chancellor from Lorna R. Marsden in July, was officially installed Oct. 17. Shoukri was previously the vice-president of research and international affairs at McMaster University in Hamilton and is a member of the Ontario Research and Innovation Council. He also worked in various capacities with the research division of Ontario Hydro before becoming a faculty member at McMaster and, later, dean of engineering.

"It has been great," Shoukri told the Mirror, of his short time so far at York, Canada’s third largest university. "I feel I’ve been received with open arms by the students, staff and community. It is a big responsibility and I appreciate and understand the magnitude," he said. "However, I have been around leadership roles in universities and frankly I am not intimidated. I am here to work and to build York as a model for the 21st century."

Shoukri plans to build on York’s continuing strength in humanities, social sciences, business and law, and put increased emphasis on science and applied science, wrote the Mirror. Future plans also include the eventual establishment of a medical school.

Marsden appointed to mayor’s panel

Toronto Mayor David Miller has appointed a blue-ribbon panel that includes former York president & vice-chancellor Lorna R. Marsden to give him advice on how to improve the city’s financial operations and maybe help him win a crucial vote at city council next week, reported News Oct. 18. Thursday’s announcement comes just a few days before city councillors will wrestle, once again, with the mayor’s much-debated plan to raise the necessary funds to keep the city afloat.

  • Lorna Marsden, who combined an academic career with politics and administration, recently retired after a decade at the helm of York University where she was president and vice-chancellor, wrote The Globe and Mail Oct. 19. Previously, she had been president and vice-chancellor of Wilfrid Laurier University, a member of the Canadian Senate, and a sociology professor at the University of Toronto.

At York, she became closely involved with city building issues, campaigning to get the Downsview subway line extended to York’s Keele campus and being appointed by the provincial Liberals as a member of the board of directors of GO Transit.

The Globe noted that the appointment of the independent panel of six high-profile Torontonians from business, academia and labour, along with an emerging compromise on the mayor’s tax plan, pushed one swing councillor into the "yes" column.

  • Lorna Marsden, a former senator, recently stepped down from a decade-long run as president of York University, wrote the National Post Oct. 19. She is now a member of the board of SNC-Lavalin and a trustee of the Gardiner Museum. She also serves on the senior advisory panel to the Auditor-General.
  • Mayor David Miller has succeeded in selecting a well-balanced collection of prominent Torontonians who share a passion for the city, wrote the Toronto Star Oct. 19 in its editorial about the panel.
  •  Reports of Marsden’s appointment were also broadcast on CBC Radio’s “Here and Now”, CP24-TV, CTV News, City-TV, Omni TV and online at Oct. 18.

Harper government gears its law-making to tragic headlines, says Young

Alan Young, a law professor at Toronto’s Osgoode Hall Law School, says the Conservatives have yet to address how much more pressure their crime-fighting strategy will throw on a stressed prison system, wrote The Canadian Press Oct. 19, in a story about reaction to the anti-crime bill introduced in the House of Commons. The Stephen Harper administration gears its law-making to tragic headlines "more than any other government I’ve ever seen," he said in an interview. "It seems to me that this government would be serving the public interest in a more meaningful way to slow down, stop reacting to crisis and come up with an approach to social problems that is more nuanced, better resourced and doesn’t simply rely on carrying a big stick."

Fed learned from Black Monday, says Schulich professor

If you are wondering why strategists, economists and journalists are making such a fuss about the 20th anniversary of the 1987 stock market crash, dubbed "Black Monday," the answer comes down to one word: nervousness, wrote columnist David Berman in the National Post Oct. 19. But it’s unlikely to happen again, he said.

"There are a lot of people who believe it was really a function of mistakes made by the Fed in the summer of ’87," said Mark Kamstra, a finance professor at the Schulich School of Business at York University. He is referring to the fact that the US Federal Reserve raised rates to head off inflation prior to the crash and did not lower rates until after the damage had been done. "And I think they have learned from that."