York feels the pinch of recession

At York University, where all departments have been told to chop 3.5 per cent from their budgets for each of the next three years, Patrick Monahan, dean of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, has postponed a search for two new professors; one a leading scholar in human rights, and another to fill a retirement, wrote the Toronto Star May 14 in a story about the recession’s impact on Ontario universities.

“It’s not something we like to do, but if you have to make 3.5 per cent in cuts over the next three years, it’s very challenging,” said Monahan, noting he may have to chop the number of courses offered to upper-year students.

The recession also has prompted York to [put forward plans to] scrap small niche “majors” such as Russian studies (which drew only two new students this year) and cancel one of two Canadian studies programs .

On a less lofty plane, York has cut office cleaning from every day to twice a week, is urging staff to curb BlackBerry use and may consider getting rid of professors’ clunky old land lines that get used so little in the era of e-mail. “We’re not just cinching our belts; we have to actually stop some activities and rework others if we hope to save 10 to 11 per cent over the next three years,” said Sheila Embleton, vice-president academic & provost, noting York may also let some classes and tutorials grow next year.

York is still hiring in its flagship programs of space science & engineering (which designed equipment for the Phoenix mission to Mars), biophysics, refugee and migration studies, the Schulich School of Business, the Faculty of Education’s cutting-edge urban diversity program and the booming field of health studies. “Overall we have to rein in hiring, especially in programs where enrolment is down after the strike,” said Embleton. “There will not be as many tenured jobs this year.”

Law student gets house arrest for role in abduction

A York law student who participated in a brazen daylight kidnapping was sentenced to 15 months house arrest yesterday after admitting to a bizarre plot to rescue a woman whose family feared she was being brainwashed by a religious cult, wrote the Hamilton Spectator May 14.

Alan Honner of Toronto was handed a conditional sentence by Superior Court Justice Robert Reilly after pleading guilty on April 24 to kidnapping and forcible confinement.

The Osgoode Hall Law School student was granted permission by the judge to leave his house for one day next month in order to write his bar admission exams. Honner still faces an uphill battle, however, to convince The Law Society of Upper Canada that someone with his newly acquired but serious criminal record should be admitted to the bar.

At the centre of the high-profile kidnapping case is a charismatic church leader known as Pastor Peter Rigo, who founded the evangelical Dominion Christian Centre of Canada on Park Street North in Hamilton. The kidnapping case grabbed national attention in 2006 when it was featured on “W-FIVE”, an investigative news program on CTV.

York football coaches to hold camp at Sault high school

Coaches from the York University Lions men’s football team will take a dip in the Sault Ste. Marie talent pool this week, wrote The Sault Star May 14.

Head coach Mike McLean, offensive coordinator Beau Mirau and six other staffers from the Toronto squad will be running their Red and White Pre-season Training Camp at Sir James Dunn Collegiate & Vocational Training School from today until Sunday. Players from the Sault regularly crack Canadian Interuniversity Sport rosters but events such as the York camp are rare in the Lock City.

Sprawl a slam dunk for developers

For developers, construction on the urban fringe is based on an intoxicating formula that rivals the best Chianti, wrote Steve Parish, mayor of Ajax, in an opinion piece about the challenges of checking urban sprawl in the Toronto Star May 14. And, as is so often the case, local planning approvals that make these dreams possible are decidedly influenced by the very same developers. In a series of studies, Professor Robert MacDermid, of York University’s Faculty of Arts, points out that corporate financial contributions from the development industry dominate election financing in the rapidly growing 905 region.

Muskoka Heritage Trust names new president

The Muskoka Heritage Trust has announced a new president. Allyn Abbott (LLM ’01), a retired lawyer who moved to Muskoka in 2007, will step into the position and brings a wealth of experience with her, wrote The Muskokan May 13.

The trust was established by the Muskoka Heritage Foundation to help protect natural land and heritage artifacts. It holds more than 1,000 acres in nature reserve properties and approximately 80 acres in conservation easement agreements. Abbott has been involved with the trust for about four years.

Abbott holds a master of laws degree from York’s Osgoode Hall Law School. Before she obtained her law degree, she worked for Environment Canada. Until her retirement, she worked for Rogers Partners LLP, a litigation firm in downtown Toronto where she was a partner.

On air

  • Ian Greene, political science professor in York’s Atkinson School of Public Policy & Adminstration, spoke about the controversies surrounding Liberal MP Ruby Dhalla and former prime minister Brian Muroney, on CBC Radio’s “Ontario Today” May 13.
  • Robert Latham, director of the York Centre for International & Security Studies, spoke about bioterrorism and the case of a research scientist who tried to smuggle stolen biological material across the border, on CBC Radio stations across Canada May 13. Robert Albritton, professor emeritus of political science in York’s Faculty of Arts, also spoke about the case on CBC Radio (Calgary) May 13.
  • Isabella Bakker, political science professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, spoke about her reactions to winning a Trudeau Fellowship on CBC Radio Toronto’s “Here & Now” May 13.
  • Bernie Wolf, economics professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University, spoke about the closing of the General Motors truck production line in Oshawa, on SUN TV’s Windsor and London stations May 13.