York team places second in 2010 rover challenge

Regardless of financial resources, the time commitment for getting to the fourth annual University Rover Challenge (URC) is significant – York University team member Jordan Bailey says their team’s captain took a reduced course load during the spring semester in order to lead the design and construction of the rover, wrote PopularScience.com June 7 in a story about the competition that York won in 2009.

“He was putting in eight-hour days regularly on the rover project – some days he would sleep in a lawn chair in the room where the rover was being built,” Bailey said. York’s team placed second in this year’s event and was the winner of the 2009 URC. “When you get here and see the rover actually working, it’s worth all the effort – even if you don’t take first place,” said Bailey.

The dry desert heat took a toll on several teams’ rovers. Both York University and Iowa State University had problems with drivers overheating, which cost them both time and points in competitions.

Bailey says the idea of the URC competition is to look at problems that real rovers will face on Mars and figure out new solutions. “The hardware we use on these rovers is not space-rated – everything is basically stuff you can buy off the shelf,” he said. “But the solutions are the same, whether you use earth-based or space-based hardware. So if we figure out an innovative solution to a problem NASA is looking at, they can potentially use that – but with million-dollar space hardware instead of $1,000 equipment.”

Final results of the 2010 University Rover Challenge:

  1. Oregon State University (315 points)
  2. York University (209 points)
  3. Magma Team, Poland (203 points)

A new way to empower shareholders – for the long term

The trend toward increasing shareholder empowerment or “democracy”, fuelled by the growth of institutional ownership, has been dramatically accelerated by the recent financial crisis , wrote Richard Leblanc, professor in York’s School of Administrative Studies in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, and Edward Waitzer, Jarislowsky Dimma Mooney Chair in Corporate Governance in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School and the Schulich School of Business, in the National Post June 8. Ironically, it is arguable that a direct causal relationship between the crisis and the short-term focus of many fund managers led to excessive risk-taking.

At minimum, this suggests that we step back and reflect. If we are going to continue to shift power to shareholders, how do we ensure that they also assume responsibility for generating long-term value – not just for other shareholders (and corporate stakeholders), but also for their beneficiaries, the savers and pensioners to whom they should be accountable? If this is the right objective, how best to select corporate directors and ensure their accountability?

What if a corporation amended its charter documents to extend director nomination privileges to “shareholder-trustees” (individually or collectively) who (a) have owned more than a specified percentage of stock for a period of time and (b) are prepared to subject themselves to duties of care and loyalty (to act in the long-term interests of the corporation) to the extent they exercise that power or otherwise seek to influence corporate decision-making in circumstances where their interests may be conflicted? The incumbent board (or shareholders as a whole) might be charged with “certifying” such “shareholder-trustees” and satisfying themselves that their nominees would be able to contribute to the governance needs of the firm.

Such a nomination process might go a long way to achieving effective director independence…. It may also serve to heighten the focus on board competencies and effectiveness. In order to satisfy their new duties, “shareholder-trustees” would want to be able to demonstrate due diligence, both in the selection of directors and in ensuring rigorous performance metrics and reviews for them.

York celebrates success of largest-ever fundraising campaign

York University is celebrating the successful completion of York to the Power of 50, the largest fundraising initiative in the University’s history. The campaign raised $207 million, exceeding its $200 million goal, wrote ExchangeMagazine.com June 7.

A wrap event will be held for students, donors and other campaign supporters on June 3 at York’s Glendon campus to mark the occasion, featuring performances by Latin/jazz artist Amanda Martinez (IMBA ’99) and Ron Westray, York’s Oscar Peterson Chair in Jazz Performance.

“I would like to thank all of our generous donors who supported the York to the Power of 50 campaign,” said York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri. “This highly successful fundraising effort will continue to support our presence as a leading Canadian university for interdisciplinary research and teaching.”

“The generosity of our donors, the wise counsel of our co-chairs and volunteer leadership, and the York community have ensured an outstanding future for York,” said York University Foundation President & CEO Paul Marcus. “We are deeply appreciative of, and humbled by, their overwhelming support.”

Argo coach has plans for former York Lion Durie

Andre Durie was one of the few bright spots for the Argonauts last season, wrote the Toronto Star June 8. While the team was a woeful 3-15, the Mississauga native dressed for every game for the first time in his career and picked up 1,033 yards on kick returns, the fourth-highest total in Argos history.

Now, as the 28-year-old former York student readies for his fourth Canadian Football League season, new head coach Jim Barker is expecting Durie “to have a huge role” as a starter in the team’s rebuilt offence. “He’s a very, very talented player who’s earned the right to be on the field,” Barker told reporters Monday after the Argos wrapped up their second day of training camp in Mississauga.

The coach said he expects Durie to be “doing a lot of the things” that Mike (Pinball) Clemons did in the late 1990s when Barker was in Toronto first as offensive coordinator and then head coach.

  • Coach Jim Barker on Monday morning was singing the praises of Mississauga native Andre Durie, less than 24 hours after saying he was counting on receiver Mike Bradwell, a Toronto native, to have a positive impact, wrote the Toronto Sun June 8.

A year ago, Durie dressed in all 18 Argos games as backup running back/slotback. In Barker’s world, Durie would be a starter in 2010.

Chances are good Durie, 28, would have been entering camp established as a CFL starter. But until last season, he had been hampered by injuries, going back to 2005, when he played in two games for York University before suffering a knee injury that cost him the entire 2006 season. A hand injury kept him out of half the Argos’ games two years ago.

On air

  • Bridget Stutchbury, Distinguished Research Professor in Biology in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, spoke about her latest book, The Bird Detective: Investigating the Secret Life of Birds, on Citytv’s “Breakfast Television” June 7.