York gets $70 million for life sciences buidling

The provincial and federal governments announced $70 million in stimulus funding yesterday for a new life sciences building at York University, wrote the National Post May 25.

“Not only do we get the building but we get the 50 researchers, and we get the 800 jobs, and we get the 1,500 new grad students and undergraduate students,” said York West Liberal MPP Mario Sergio.

  • York University landed $70 million for a new life sciences centre, where President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri said it will build much-needed “wet labs” for biology, chemistry, biochemistry and kinesiology, wrote the Toronto Star May 26.
  • Both York University and the University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus will get $70 million for projects, split evenly between the federal and provincial governments, wrote The Toronto Sun May 26. York will get a new life sciences centre and U of T Scarborough an instructional lab project.

You don’t need credentials to bash Israel

This week, Canada’s largest annual academic conference – the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences (informally known as “the Learneds”) – meets in Ottawa. Like other academic conferences, this one is intended as a forum for scholars – experts in particular fields – to present the fruits of their research in progress and receive feedback from colleagues, wrote Martin Lockshin, professor of Jewish history and Hebrew in York’s Faculty of Arts, in the National Post May 26.

Lay people who glance at the list of sessions are often surprised to see what qualifies as legitimate academic inquiry. This year’s schedule, for example, includes a session entitled “Palestine Solidarity on Campus: The question of boycott”.

As a scholar of Jewish history, I know that the scapegoating of Jews has a long and sordid history. In the 21st century it generally takes the form of scapegoating the Jewish state. But there is one aspect of the “Palestine Solidarity on Campus” panel that ought to shock even seasoned veterans of Canadian academia: the utter lack of qualifications of the panellists to speak on the subject at an academic conference.

Crossing paths: Runner on road more than a year

While Mel Thompson was travelling east between Kamloops and Salmon Arm, BC Monday on his journey to raise awareness about mental health overall, he passed York grad Wayne Cho going in the other direction, wrote The Daily News (Kamloops, BC) May 26.

Cho (BBA Spec. Hons. ’98, BA Spec. Hons. ’08) was headed west for his cross-Canada run to raise awareness about anxiety and depression. The two had similar causes, similar means of raising awareness. But where Thompson just started his journey earlier this month, Cho has been on the road, running, for more than a year. The two tried to meet up on Sunday but missed each other.

Cho, 35, expects to end his run on June 11 in Victoria, BC. He’s a psychology graduate from York University diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder who discovered running helped reduce some of those worries. He is slated to speak at the Canadian Mental Health Association drop-in centre this morning in Kamloops.

GM sends closure notices to dealers

CTV Newsnet host Tom Clark interviewed Professor Bernie Wolf, of the Schulich School of Business at York University, about the financial crisis at General Motors on May 20. Here is a selection of his comments.

Clark: Was there any other option for General Motors other than to do what they have done in terms of their dealerships, right now?

Wolf: Unfortunately, there was really no other option. It was necessary. You know, it’s a bit like culling the herd so that you end up with stronger dealers, a stronger dealer network…. This is not simply a made-in-the-US problem. This is a North American problem…. We’re in a situation where GM’s market share has declined enormously, so therefore you have to produce fewer cars. [If] you have to produce fewer cars, you have to have fewer places to sell them. Otherwise you’re not going to have efficient dealers that provide the variety that you need, the service base that you need, the kinds of hours that you need, et cetera.

I mean, the technology has changed the way things are done, so I think [it] was needed…. First of all, their market share has declined over the years, and for all sorts of reasons. And then secondly, you’ve had this huge fall, basically a fall off the cliff, in demand for motor vehicles in North America from 16 million to about 10 million. So together, you know, you don’t need all these dealers. It’s sad for the ones that are, in fact, going to be culled, but it’s necessary.

I think we always should look at how can we do things differently?… We are already selling cars over the Internet, you know. So, I think you’re going to see more of this kind of thing happening, and the need for the dealership, in fact, isn’t as great, and the strong relationship of the customer to the dealer isn’t as strong as it used to be either. You know, you know, you can go, I, for example, bought my car from one dealer but I get it serviced from another. It just happened to be that the first dealer gave me a better buy and the second dealer happens to have a good service operation, and it’s closer to the University where I teach.

York graduate student (and mom) rides motocross

Motocross, or dirtbike riding, is a sport that reaches all ages wrote York graduate student Mandy Hadenko, in a letter to myKawartha.com May 25 about the growing shortage of areas available for riders. I know many people over the age of 50 that still head out on their “dirtbike” to enjoy the outdoors, get some welcomed exercise, and to simply have fun with friends.

I have been involved with a national motocross event for 15 years, the TransCan, and I can tell you first-hand that motocross does generate business and provide fundraising opportunities for non-profit organizations, not to mention summer jobs, family vacations, life skills, and good ol’ fashioned good times.

I am a motocross rider, but I am also finishing my PhD at York University, I am a mom and, quite frankly, I like the odd rut in my trails.

Cree opera tours Ontario

For Kingston native Julia Lefebvre (BFA Spec. Hons. ’07), touring as a dancer in a Cree opera in northern Ontario was an eye-opening experience, wrote the Kingston Whig-Standard May 26. “When you go up north, you get a sense of the isolation and the true disconnect from everyday life,” she said. “It was such a profound experience to have a chance to decompress. It made me think about my priorities.”

The Frontenac Secondary School graduate is a dancer in Pimoteewin –The Journey, an opera written by renowned Cree playwright Tomson Highway set to the music of Montreal composer Melissa Hui. It’s the first opera with the libretto written in Cree, though it’s narrated in English.

The opera debuted in February 2008 in Toronto. Earlier this month, the show toured for 10 days through northern Ontario communities such as Timmins, Moose Factory, Moosonee, Kapuskasing and Iroquois Falls.

The opera’s director, Cree choreographer Michael Greyeyes, got Lefebvre involved in the production. She studied under Greyeyes at York University’s Acting Conservatory, from which she graduated in 2007. In her Kingston days, she also studied at Theatre Complete and the Kingston School of Dance.

On air

  • Most of Toronto’s broadcast media reported on the search for missing York student Shane Fair May 25, including CBC-TV, CP24-TV, Citytv, CTV, Global TV, CBC Radio’s “Ontario Morning” and “Metro Morning”, CKXC-FM (Kingston), CFRB-AM, CHUM-FM and EZ Rock News.