Arthur Siegel honoured at York memorial service

At a memorial service at York University for Professor Emeritus Arthur Siegel, who passed away last month, the moving eulogies presented by colleagues and friends all focused on his caring nature, fun-loving personality, critical intellect and important accomplishments, wrote the Jewish Tribune May 17.

A leading scholar in the field of politics and media communications policy in Canada, Siegel taught at York for 34 years. He was instrumental in shaping the University’s Communication Studies Program, which has grown to become a full-fledged department in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies.

At the event, which took place at the Scott Religious Centre, David Skinner, chair of the Department of Communications Studies, announced the creation of the Arthur Siegel Memorial Award. It will be given to a double major (social science/communications) student entering third year who demonstrates financial need, “to ensure that his generosity of spirit would be carried on.”

Professor Richard Wellen, chair of the Department of Social Science, said that Siegel exemplified the spirit of York University by being a broad-minded, socially engaged and critical scholar.

York President Emeritus H. Ian Macdonald shared some of his fondest memories of Siegel and spoke of their common interests, including academic ventures in Israel. He also acknowledged Siegel’s excellence as a journalist for Radio Canada before becoming a professor.

“Arthur, my good friend, was deeply interested in other people,” Professor Emeritus Henryk Flakierski told the crowd, citing Siegel’s active involvement in several charitable institutions. “We had different backgrounds…. I’m inclined to the left; Arthur, to the right…but that did not prevent us from discussing issues in an amicable manner.”

Siegel’s “door was open to everyone,” Professor Emerita Sally Zerker said. “Students loved him, and why not? He brought wisdom and laughter to his classes.”

When colours fall in love

Over the past 15 years, Vancouverite and York grad Elizabeth McIntosh (BFA Spec. Hons. ’94) has built a reputation as one of the best abstract painters in Canada, wrote the National Post May 19. Her canvases immerse viewers in kaleidoscopic worlds, each one more unexpected than the last. Now, with a new show opening in Toronto, McIntosh talks to Leah Sandals about quilts, colour and almost quitting painting entirely.

Q: I read that when you first studied art, you felt guilty about painting – so much so that you only did it outside of school. Why?

A: I was at York University in the late 1980s, and there was a heavy feminist agenda there that I was pretty interested in. Because the history of painting is male-dominated, there was a lot of encouragement to take up new media or some other genre where women could “forge their own territory.” Painting was considered regressive, something that couldn’t be proactive in a political way. But I loved painting from the get-go, and now I think that anything you do, any decision you make, is political. Painting constantly has battles with naysayers anyway, even today.

Growth shouldn’t drive economy

Peter Victor, an ecological economist who teaches at York University’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, rejects the idea that economic growth is essential to progress, wrote BC’s Grand Forks Gazette May 19. To prove his point he created a computer model that duplicated the modern Canadian economy. He then adjusted it so that three crucial elements – consumption, productivity, and population – gradually stopped growing after 2010. He shortened the workweek to four days, imposed higher taxes on the rich, provided more public services for the poor and imposed a carbon tax to provide government revenue. His model showed that within a couple decades things had changed.

The outcomes of Victor’s model were lower unemployment, a rise in standards of living and lower greenhouse gas emissions. The economy reached a steady state after a couple decades.

On air

  • Michael Skinner (MA ’07), a researcher at the York Centre for International & Security Studies, spoke about the war in Afghanistan, on CTS-TV’s “The Michael Coren Show” May 18.