SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - February 1, 2008

February 1, 2008

A look at how SFU and its people were covered in the news media: Jan. 26-Feb.1, 2008                    

Clan athlete Ruky Abdulai became a Canadian citizen on January 31—and made it onto the front page of The Vancouver Sun, with a big photo. More on this below.

More, too, on the big media interest in the Feb. 6 SFU forum on the pros and cons of a Metro Vancouver police service.

The event, hosted by SFU’s School of Criminology and the BC ministry of public safety and solicitor-general, has been generating media stories and comment. And Criminology has been flooded with calls from media who want to attend.


  • The career pages in The Province carried a story on job prospects for students. Quoted—and with a big photo—was Kirk Hill, executive director of the Career Management Centre at SFU's graduate school for business. Career openings are so prolific that "I tell them to go home and thank their parents for their good timing."

    Hill was also interviewed by BCIT’s Evolution Radio. (He and his group steered the Business Career Expo at the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre Feb. 1, a joint presentation of SFU Business and UBC Sauder. They attracted more than 100 recruiting firms and expected 900+ business students to attend.)
  • Premier Gordon Campbell announced a $90-million endowment and $4.5 million in startup money for a new institute for climate studies that will have its HQ at UVic. He told media that BC's four "research-intensive" universities—SFU, UBC, UVic, and UNBC—will participate in the institute. At least 80 faculty members from the universities will be involved.

    The story ran in media across BC, and SFU posted its own news release, which included links to a number of environmental programs at SFU.
  • Vancouver Sun columnist Barbara Yaffe featured a new project known as Canada's World, aimed at bringing people into a national conversation on international policy. The three-year enterprise is being run by universities across the country with funding from an assortment of charitable foundations. “Simon Fraser University's Centre for Dialogue is the lead organization.”

  • The Surrey-North Delta Leader reported Olympic-themed licence plates are growing in popularity with BC motorists, particularly in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. SFU marketing prof Lindsay Meredith told the newspaper: "By slapping them on your car you're announcing to the world you're a strong supporter of your country's Olympic team—it's right up there with God and apple pie." The story also ran in the Richmond Review, Burnaby Newsleader, Tri-City News, Maple Ridge News, and the Chilliwack Progress.

  • The Province reported the gift in January by philanthropist Djavad Mowafaghian of $4 million to SFU, for a lab for infectious-disease research and research in children's health policy. This from another news release by SFU.

  • The Province told readers that supporters of refugee claimant Laibar Singh are mounting a campaign to ensure Sikh temples continue to offer the same sanctuary a church provides. Denise Nadeau of SFU's interfaith summer institute, said: "It is unconscionable that the government continues to insist on the deportation of a paralyzed man from sanctuary, simply to look strong."

    Meanwhile, reported that a group of journalists, academics, and media-watch groups have filed a CRTC complaint saying broadcast news coverage of the Laibar Singh story was not accurate, full, fair, and comprehensive. Complainants include Fiona Jeffries, an instructor in the School of Communication.
  • The Vancouver Sun noted the appointment of long-time business prof Daniel Shapiro as dean of the Faculty of Business Administration.

  • And the Kamloops Daily News featured Shaela Rae Wlodarczyk, SFU softball player and criminology student who is also the reigning Miss B.C. World—and on March 9 will be in the race for the title of 2008 Miss World Canada. Wlodarczyk's other goal is to become a lawyer, specializing in international law and diplomacy.


  • The Tri-City News was first to run a story about the coming SFU forum on the pros and cons of a Metro Vancouver police service. The event, hosted by SFU’s School of Criminology and the BC ministry of public safety and solicitor-general, is set for Feb. 6, 8:45 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., at SFU’s Wosk Centre for Dialogue.

    The story also appeared in the Burnaby Newsleader, Abbotsford News, Maple Ridge News and Chilliwack Progress. Surrey Now also mentioned the forum, in an editorial on policing.
    And in a column in the North Shore News, former criminal court judge Wallace Gilby Craig noted that the forum, “organized by Professor Robert Gordon, director of the school of criminology at Simon Fraser University . . . has attracted a blue-ribbon mix of speakers and panellists.”

    Big media interest is shaping up in covering the forum. The Criminology staff have been flooded with media calls.

    The Victoria Times Colonist reported Victoria's police department is facing allegations of wrongdoing in 13 active court cases dating back as far as 2002. But Robert Gordon told the paper this is to be expected in our litigious society. "I think an active police officer would likely experience some kind of civil action against him or her at some point in his or her career."
  • The Globe and Mail, in a story on the fatal stabbing of 15-year-old Deward Ponte in Vancouver, quoted SFU criminologist Neil Boyd. To suggestions the Lower Mainland is becoming more violent, Boyd said: "When you look at the numbers, you do not see a lot of change, upwards or downwards, over the past five to seven years. You hear about two or three of these [homicides] and when that occurs in rapid succession, we tend to think we're losing control, that things are much worse than they are. But things are not really changing dramatically."

  • Fellow criminologist Ray Corrado was in a Province story about a teen who was doused with gasoline and set on fire in an unprovoked attack in Burnaby. The attack came a day after Ponte was murdered. "What Canadians find chilling and upsetting is the violence seems to come from nowhere and escalates so rapidly," said Corrado.

  • And a Province story on the success rates in murder investigations also quoted Neil Boyd. The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team said its rate of success dropped to 62 per cent in 2006 from a high of 80 per cent in 2003. But Boyd said the data should not be construed as a failure on IHIT's part. "These aren't traditional cases like a crime of passion. . . . A greater percentage of homicides are being done by organized crime. It's much more difficult to get evidence because people are in the business."


  • The Canadian Press sent across the country a story saying a woman's bra size at age 20 may predict her risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life. The story was about a study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal that said women who wore B, C and D cups developed the disease at higher rates than women who wore A cups.

    SFU's Diane Finegood, scientific director of the Canadian Institute of Health Research's Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes, said no causal link between breast size and diabetes risk is established, and factors such as a woman's family history of diabetes and her BMI (Body Mass Index) are probably more important to her diabetes risk than size of her bra.

    "In my opinion this is the sort of study that doesn't give the individual reader of the newspaper a whole lot of helpful information. It's interesting from an academic point of view. But from a practical care point of view I don't think it says a lot.''

    The story appeared in 15 papers across the country, and was picked up by broadcast media.
  • Earlier, the Daily Gleaner in Fredericton NB and the Sault Star in Ontario became the latest papers to pick up a Canadian Press story on how some people tend to gain more weight in the winter because they eat more starchy foods and more comfort foods. Finegood was among those quoted.

  • Ian McCarthy, Canada Research Chair in the management of technology at SFU, and director of the Centre for Research in Biotechnology Management was interviewed on the Spark program on CBC Radio on the subject of ‘mass customization’ by way of computer-aided manufacturing systems.

    CBC has the show on MP3 and Ian’s paper that relates to it is here. The program repeats Saturday Feb. 2 at 1 p.m. on CBC Radio One.
  • The Montreal Gazette featured a group of Canadians in Expedition Delta at the Mars Desert Research Station in the barren lands of southern Utah. Among them: Kerry Cupit, who is completing his undergraduate degree in earth sciences at SFU.

  • The Globe and Mail carried a feature on robot pets (such as Paro, the Japanese robot harp seal, and NeCoRo, the Japanese robot cat). Andrew Sixsmith of SFU's Gerontology Research Centre was quoted: "If you are tricking someone into thinking it's a real animal, maybe there's a moral issue around that." And he added: "You've got robot pets, why not have real pets?"

  • In a story on colleges and universities building on-campus housing, the New York Times noted: "Two colleges in British Columbia, the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University, have built extensive retail and housing developments on campus."

  • An article in the magazine Foreign Policy, written by Graham Fuller, adjunct professor at SFU and former vice-chair of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA, continued to generate media stories this week. Fuller contended that a terrorist attack on the U.S. like that of 9/11 would likely have occurred even if the Muslim religion had never existed. “A world without Islam would still see most of the enduring bloody rivalries whose wars and tribulations dominate the geopolitical landscape.”

    We saw the latest stories in the Winston-Salem (NC) Journal, the Tuscaloosa (AL) News, the Woodland (CA) Daily Democrat, and online at
  • The Canadian Press featured a furore about a book that alleges three employees of the now defunct Canadian Centre for Arms Control and Disarmament were recruited in 1990 to spy for the KGB.

    The story quoted SFU political scientist Douglas Ross, who was a member of the centre's founding board: "The whole business of being at the centre was that you talked to everybody. And you'd tell them what you think. And if you get information from the U.S. government, from Russian sources, from British sources that's useful . . . in terms of trying to move the Canadian government in more progressive directions on arms control, and away from nuclear arms build-up, you'll pass it along. Does that make you an agent of the Russians?'"

    The book (Comrade J, by American journalist Pete Earley) also alleges a former Conservative MP from Calgary was a paid informant for the Russian intelligence service in the 1990s. Penguin has suspended shipments of the book to Canada.

    Our monitoring service spotted the story in 27 media outlets across Canada.
  • In a guest column in the Financial Post section of National Post, economics prof emeritus Herbert Grubel pushed his argument for a Canadian dollar pegged to the U.S. greenback.
  • And the snow that closed the Burnaby and Surrey campuses Jan. 29 and the Burnaby campus Jan. 30 was reported in broadcast and online media across Canada.


  • The Province kicked off its annual writing contest in which the public is invited to submit each week a new chapter for a continuing novel that appears in the newspaper and on its website. The writers of the second- and third-place chapters will each win a course of their choice in the Writing and Publishing Program at SFU.


  • The Vancouver Sun's Education Life section featured SFU's dual-degree program in computer science, in partnership with China's Zhejiang University.

    Director Zi-Nian Li was quoted: "So far, we are the only Canadian university and perhaps in all of North America, that offers this curriculum. The program is designed to immerse students in the Chinese culture and language, it's a huge opportunity for them to experience global market worlds."
  • That Education Life section also carried a story headlined: "SFU's Liberal Studies offers community of learning for adults". That's the Graduate Liberal Studies Program at the Vancouver campus. "Now almost twenty years old, this part-time graduate program for adults is well known in the Lower Mainland for its focus on creating a community of learning that combines academic rigour with a celebration of diversity and breadth."

  • The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada announced in a news release the appointment of SFU’s Suzana Kovacic to the council. She’s a research associate in the Department of Physics at SFU.

  • The Nelson Daily News gave a hefty editorial plug to SFU's BGS degree, offered in partnership with Selkirk College. “Prestigious, career-changing SFU degree now possible at Selkirk,” said the News. “Earning a Bachelor of General Studies (BGS) degree right here in the Kootenays has never been more accessible, uplifting and transformative, both personally and professionally." The story also ran in the Grand Forks Boundary Bulletin.

  • In a guest column in National Post, public policy prof John Richards declared:There is no straightforward answer to the problems of Aboriginal education. Even if we honestly measure student progress and make credible commitments to better outcomes by promoting choice and innovation, we will still fail to meet the Kelowna objective of closing the high school completion gap by 2015. But with commitment, measurement, responsiveness and some money, we can make the gap a lot smaller.”

    The column also appeared on CanWest’s Full Comment blogsite.


  • The Vancouver Sun made it a front-page story with photo: SFU athlete Ruky Abdulai, born in Ghana, now is officially a Canadian citizen and thus could compete for Canada at the 2008 Olympic Summer Games in Beijing. As SFU’s Athletics department told media: Her personal best of 6.70m in the long jump, set in 2007, would have broken the Canadian record of 6.66m, had Abdulai been Canadian at the time. Coquitlam Now also carried a story.

  • SFU Athletics also told media how Clan track and field athletes were recognized at the 2008 BC Athletics Awards banquet. Kristen Kolstad was named senior women's cross-country runner of the year. Jessica Smith received the junior women's cross-country award and the junior women's track and field athlete of the Year award. Mitch Culley won the junior men's cross-country runner of the year award. And Ruky Abdulai was nominated for the outstanding senior women's track and field athlete of the year.

  • The Surrey-North Delta Leader carried a feature on Michelle Burnham of the SFU Rowing Club—and of Rowing Canada's under-23 national team. She often rises at 4 a.m. weekdays for workouts, or spends weekends in Victoria for training sessions at Shawnigan Lake. "We can't say we're a varsity sport, but we train like a varsity team, we compete like a varsity team."

  • And the Prince George Citizen had a feature on Cassie Keeping, a track and field athlete (and criminology student) at SFU. "I train with a lot of the guys here too, and they push me a bit more." The Citizen also noted: "Keeping's training partner, high jump/long jump specialist Ruky Abdulai of Coquitlam, has a good shot at making the Canadian Olympic team."


  • In another news releases, SFU told media how students and faculty from the School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT) are helping to design a high-tech, solar-powered house that will be displayed in Washington DC as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2009 Solar Decathlon. It’s a co-operative project of SFU, the University of Waterloo, and Ryerson. In Ontario, the Toronto Star and the Kitchener, Cambridge and Waterloo Record did stories on it.

SFU’s news releases can be found online at:


  • The BC Cancer Foundation announced in a news release the appointment of David MacLean, physician and founding dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at SFU, as president and CEO of the foundation, effective May 1. McLean has worked extensively with the World Health Organization and been a member of the boards of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of BC and the Yukon, and the Fraser Health Authority.

  • The Province carried a story on 11 new constables who were sworn in this week by the Vancouver police department. Among them is Const. Denis Belkin, “Moscow-born and German-bred”, who has a political-science degree from SFU.

  • The Campbell River Mirror carried a feature on local financier Darren Latoski, one of Business in Vancouver’s latest ‘Top 40 Under 40.’ Latoski got an MBA from SFU, the paper noted.
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