York grad receives Star’s first-ever Teacher Award

A student is in trouble with the police. Teacher and York grad Maria Campodonico (BA Hons. ’96) tracks him down, finds a lawyer willing to work free of charge and then convinces the teen to turn himself in, wrote the Toronto Star Oct. 1.

For Campodonico, being a teacher goes well beyond her classroom walls, into the lives of her students as well as the Parkdale community that surrounds West Toronto Collegiate Institute.

The 40-year-old is a mentor, social worker, mother and friend to the 130 teens at the school, and was chosen as the winner of the Toronto Star’s first-ever Teacher Award after a nomination from a colleague who cited the countless ways she makes a difference.

Campodonico came to Canada from Ecuador when she was 13. She later graduated from York University and the University of Western Ontario, and is now president of the Board of Directors of the Spanish Speaking Education Network. Although she’s qualified to work as a vice-principal or principal, she prefers being in the classroom.

“It has been the story of my life,” she says in a recent interview in her social studies classroom at West Toronto. “When I was 5 or 6, I used to play with my friends and I had to be the teacher…. I always wanted to learn, to share, to teach.”

General education system is a boon to Jewish studies, says York prof

Professor Sara Horowitz, director of the Israel and Golda Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Studies at York University, tells The Jerusalem Report that the crisis in her field is paradoxically felt more strongly at the Israeli universities than their North American counterparts, wrote The Jerusalem Report Sept. 29.

Although in both countries economic uncertainties cause people to seek pragmatic fields of study that will help them get jobs, the system of general undergraduate education in North America allows students to take courses in Jewish studies, even if they are going to be doctors or engineers.

In contrast, Horowitz points out, in Israel, undergraduates specialize from the beginning of their degrees. “When people ask, ‘How many students do you have?’ It can mean different things,” she says. “It could mean how many major in Jewish studies but it also means how many take courses in Jewish studies. This means we have more people whom we can serve and reach. We don’t only reach people who want to devote their lives to Jewish studies. We reach people who want to do something else, but want to know more.”

While struggling with tough economic and demographic realities, Jewish scholarship continues to flourish in new forms and new venues, wrote the Report. “Israel is no longer the uncontested centre of Jewish studies in the world,” says Horowitz. “Israel is an important centreof Jewish studies today…but there is also a strong base of Jewish studies in North America, and some of the richness and vitality of the field comes from interaction” between the different communities of scholars. Israel does maintain a clear dominance in language-intensive specialties, such as medieval philosophy, she concedes.

Horowitz, a professor of comparative literature, researches and teaches about the Holocaust, a subject she says attracts students of all backgrounds and faiths. She says that, while the emotional power of the Holocaust draws them in, the students often go on to explore other areas of Jewish history and thought.

Court challenges to pandemic protocols are unlikely, says York prof

During the 2003 SARS crisis, which is as close to the H1N1 pandemic as Canada has experienced in recent years, there was not a single court challenge to the decision-making of public health officials, wrote Professor Lesley Jacobs, director of the York Centre for Public Policy & Law, in a letter to The Globe and Mail Oct. 1. Litigation as an avenue for challenging pandemic protocols requires an institutional support mechanism as well as a particular legal consciousness among those affected by these protocols. Neither of these is well established in Canada.

Some Canadians may well challenge the protocols for H1N1 but they’re unlikely to choose the courts as the venues for those challenges. If litigation involving H1N1 and public health policy does occur, it is likely to involve persons who bought vaccines privately and unsuccessfully sought repayment from their provincial health-insurance plan.

Should these litigations arise, they won’t involve court injunctions suspending the implementation of pandemic protocols and, hence, won’t raise the issues of urgency pressed by Professor Juliet Guichon and Professor Ian Mitchell.

York jazz ensemble is a Star Critics’ Choice selection

Time Warp, one of Canada’s best-known and longest-running jazz ensembles, performs at York University on Tuesday, Oct. 6, wrote the Toronto Star in its Critic’s Choice column Oct. 1. The current lineup of the group, which began in 1980, includes co-founders, drummer Barry Elmes, chair of York’s Department of Music, Faculty of Fine Arts, and his Faculty colleague bassist Al Henderson; as well as instructors trumpeter Kevin Turcotte and saxophonist Kelly Jefferson. The quartet will expand to orchestra size for this show of new arrangements of Time Warp favourites, beginning at 7:30pm in the Tribute Communities Recital Hall, Accolade East Building on York’s Keele campus.

Former York Lions football star remembers his alma mater

Ricky Foley replaced Cameron Wake as the BC Lions starter this season and remains close to his former teammate [now with the National Football League], wrote The Vancouver Sun Oct. 1. Foley, the Gibson’s Finest CFL Player of the Month for September, is doing a fair imitation of Wake these days. His nine sacks tie him with John Bowman of the Montreal Alouettes for the Canadian Football League lead.

College Fight Song: York University Lions. “Deep in the heart of the York U Jungle, you can hear the Lions rumble…Oo Oo, YU YU, Oo Oo, YU YU…”

Proudest Accomplishment: York’s male athlete of the year (2005-2006). Foley was offered a track and field scholarship to Baylor University while in high school. He put away his shot put, pole vault and discus for football as an undergrad at York, however, because “I didn’t see myself being able to make a living in track.”

Film student worked on documentary as her mother was dying

Three years in the desert have proven fruitful for a young Langley filmmaker, wrote BC’s Langley Times Sept. 29. But it was also a period marked with equal measures of success and sadness.

When Chelsea McMullan…set out to film her documentary Deadman, she likely never envisioned the project would turn into a labour of love for her mother, Heather, who was diagnosed with cancer during filming and passed away before the piece made its debut earlier this month at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The young filmmaker’s personal experience deeply impacted the film. And it, in turn, played a hand in her experience. “During the last seven months of editing the film, my mom was dying,” said McMullan. “Watching the footage of [main subject] Matt Sandvoss caring for his wife and (having) my mom in the next room, it’s hard not trying to find meaning in everything,” she said.

The film became even stronger, she said, under the circumstances. But the process was far from easy. “It took everything I had to finish this film, everything inside of me,” said McMullan who is currently on compassionate leave from York University, where she’s completing a master’s degree.

Bussin stirs up hot air with anonymous phone call

Councillor and council speaker [and York grad] Sandra Bussin (BA ’74) has come under fire for an on-air call she made anonymously to John Tory’s radio show on Newstalk 1010 CFRB last Friday, wrote The Toronto Sun Oct. 1.

Identifying herself only as “Sandra from Toronto,” Bussin accused Tory and his co-host, Tarek Fatah, of making “ridiculous” comments about outgoing Mayor David Miller…. After defending the mayor – saying he had the “guts” to take on long-standing issues in the negotiations, and even calling him “probably the most brilliant politician, municipally, across the country” – an anonymous Bussin went on the attack about Tory’s possible run for mayor next year.

Tory said yesterday he had “no idea” the irate caller was Bussin until later and he has accepted her apology.

Bussin has a lengthening list of gaffes in the last few years, wrote the Sun. Riding on her fine-arts credentials from York University, Bussin ordered Kingston Road office owner Darlene Richards-Loghrin to remove a mural from her building, insisting it was “not great art”, even though the mural had deterred graffiti artists from tagging the building.

Veteran was ‘dinosauric’ – and proud of it

Osgoode grad and Canadian war veteran Charles Sydney Frost (LLB ’49) was a dinosaur and proud of it. He told us so in his autobiography A Life Worthwhile, wrote The Globe and Mail Oct. 1 in an obituary.

Fair enough, one might grant, from a soldier who had part of his face shattered in the Second World War, then returned to the battlefield to fight some more, and became among the foremost non-historians to chronicle Canada’s efforts in the Italian and Dutch campaigns during that conflict.

Back home at war’s end, Col. Frost entered Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, graduating in 1949, and practising corporate law until 1984. His military service continued in the reservist Royal Regiment of Canada, which he commanded from 1959 to 1962, and served subsequently as honorary lieutenant- colonel and honorary colonel for 15 years. He was awarded honorary citizenship from the town of Ispica, and an honorary doctorate of laws from the Royal Military College in 1976.

On air

  • Allan Hutchinson, professor in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, spoke about the case of a blood donor who is suing Canadian Blood Services on CBC Radio’s “The Current” Sept. 30.
  • Paul Delaney, professor of physics & astronomy in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, spoke about the trip to the International Space Station by Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté on CTV News Sept. 20.
  • Alan Middleton, marketing professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University, took part in a panel discussion about society’s notion of cheap on TVO’s “The Agenda” Sept. 30.