SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - March 20, 2008

March 21, 2008

A look at how SFU and its people were covered in the news media: March 14-20, 2008             

Big news story of the week was The Vancouver Sun’s front-page coverage of cutbacks in BC government funding of universities, and the impact on SFU among them.
On a more positive note, there were two special features about SFU in the Surrey-North Delta Leader this week: “SFU Surrey is fast becoming the school-of-choice across the region and around the world.” There’s more on both stories below.

  • The Vancouver Sun told Page One readers: “The BC government has delivered a nasty surprise to the province's universities: Their funding for the coming year will be millions of dollars short of what they were told to expect. . . . The shortfall—nearly $16 million provincewide—arises from a decision to shift money away from universities and into programs at B.C.'s colleges and trade schools.”
    Don MacLachlan, SFU director of public affairs and media relations, was quoted. If SFU has to make budget cuts, he said, “the aim . . . will be to have the least impact possible on education." The story also ran in the Victoria Times-Colonist, and broadcast media picked it up.
    Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer called the cuts “some reward for those institutions having added thousands of university-level student spaces since the Liberals began their revitalization drive.” And he concluded: “(The) premier has many, many priorities. . . . The advanced education sector was once foremost among them. Lately, it seems, the premier has moved on to other enthusiasms.”
  • The Vancouver Sun carried a story on the Confederation of University Faculty Associations (BC) selecting SFU prof Mark Jaccard as winner of a Distinguished Academics Award. Jaccard is CUFA’s 2008 Academic of the Year “for his tireless work in persuading governments of the need to enact effective policies to deal with climate change.” (UVic's Elaine Gallagher, winner of an Outstanding Alumni Award from the SFU Alumni Association, receives CUFA’s 2008 Career Achievement Award.)

  • The Globe and Mail reported SFU is implementing "a bold new plan for aboriginal education in the hope of recruiting a larger native student population and better fostering their academic and professional success."
    It listed such things as the First Nations workshops that were held at the Burnaby campus this week, and noted SFU will create an Office of First Nations and hire more native faculty members. President Michael Stevenson and Academic vice-president John Waterhouse were quoted.
  • Coquitlam Now did a story on how SFU student teachers provided free daycare—and learning—this week at Seaview Elementary School, Coquitlam.

  • The New Westminster News Leader carried a feature on independent schools (New Westminster has 12 public schools and two independents). Among those quoted was education prof Dan Laitsch: "In general, private schools tend to have smaller classes. But in general, public schools may have more curricular choices. . .  The myth that private schools significantly outperform public school students is exactly that."


  • The Canadian Press, the national news service, covered last weekend's Muslims of Tomorrow conference at the Surrey campus. Conference organizer Sana Siddiqui, president of the SFU Muslim Students Association said: "It's about education and empowerment. . . . When you're looking to use a religion of peace and mercy to justify terrorism, it's unacceptable. Some Muslims unfortunately are misguided and they do commit criminal acts but that can't reflect the whole community.''
    The story quoting Siddiqui was quickly picked up by print and broadcast media across Canada. The Province also covered the event, and its story also went across the country, via CanWest News Service. The Vancouver Sun thenposted that story on its website.
  • SFU also spread the word to media about how students from India who are accepted into undergraduate programs at SFU can apply for a $10,000 Outstanding SFU India Entrance Scholarship.
    ChannelM-TV, the multicultural station, was first to chase the story, quickly followed by others. Lana Bezglasna, international recruitment coordinator at SFU, met with the local correspondents from the two major newspapers in India, the Hindustan Times and The Times of India. CBC Radio also did a story.
  • The Globe and Mail carried a story on how  SFU’s W.A.C. Bennett Library has launched what is believed to be the first institutional archive of punk-music material in Canada. "It's been fun building this collection," said Eric Swanick, head of special collections and "just an old rock 'n' roller."

  • Maclean's noted some kidnapping cases that made headlines in BC, and, for its own headline, wrote: "B.C. is home to some of the world's dumbest, and drowsiest, kidnappers." Criminologist Neil Boyd was quoted as saying that in some countries kidnapping is seen as a "legitimate form of crime in much the same way that marijuana grow-ops are seen … on the west coast." He said immigration from cultures where it's more accepted may explain why an all-but unheard of crime is gaining some modicum of popularity.

  • The Knowledge Network began running a story on tiny, wearable health-monitoring sensors developed by Boza Kaminska, engineering prof and Canada Research Chair in wireless sensor networks. Shot last fall, the film can be seen online by clicking on the “Tiny Technology” link at:
  • Public policy prof Jon Kesselman co-wrote a guest column in National Post on the federal budget announcement of tax-free savings accounts (TSFAs) for Canadians. Kesselman and co-writer Finn Poschmann of the C.D. Howe Institute published a 2001 study upon which the TFSAs plan was modelled.

  • Metro News in Toronto interviewed business prof David Thomas about his new web-based tool for assessing an individual’s cultural competence. It could help assess whether someone would be effective on an overseas assignment or a good member of a multicultural work team. The programming for the tool, incidentally, was done by SFU’s Learning and Instructional Development Centre.

  • SFU’s vice-president of university relations, Warren Gill, in his alter ego as geographer and transportation expert, was interviewed on CKWX News 1130 on the potential impact on neighbourhoods of putting tolls on bridges and roads.

  • The Edmonton Journal covered testimony, at a murder trial there, by SFU forensic entomologist Gail Anderson.  She testified that maggots taken from Rachel Quinney's body show she died no later than June 4, 2004, at least a week before her body was discovered.


  • The Province carried a big spread on the residential and commercial developments at UBC and SFU. UBC got the lion's share of the ink because, The Province noted: "It's ironic that the development at SFU, known for its activism in the 1960s, has prompted little opposition, while UBC's plans have sparked a student movement unlike any seen in these parts since the 1970s . . . .”

  • Political scientist Kennedy Stewart wrote a guest column in The Vancouver Sun onnew BC legislation that “closes at least two loopholes that have long troubled those concerned with municipal election finance in British Columbia.”

  • Stewart was also quoted in the Sun on a poll taken by Vancouver mayoral candidate Peter Ladner. Stewart concluded the numbers look good for incumbent mayor Sam Sullivan. "I don't think Sam is as weak as everyone thinks he is. And if these are the best numbers that Ladner can pull out of his polls, Sam must be feeling okay."
    Meanwhile, political scientist Paddy Smith told CTV News: "I think people underestimate him (Sullivan). He's a good political fighter. It's his job and people are going to have to take it away from him.”
  • Stewart was also in The Vancouver Sun suggesting people not over-analyze the results of the four federal byelections this week.  "People tend to read too much into these results. I don't think it would say much about the strength of the national parties, unless the Conservatives won all four seats."

  • And political scientist Cara Camcastle was in 24Hours talking about the strong showing of the Green Party in the Vancouver Quadra byelection. "I was amazed. They're attracting members from the left and the right. I think the Greens are commonly misunderstood as being from the left."

  • The Vancouver Sun carried a hefty feature on Tartan Day on April 6—a “day” that really hasn’t caught on in BC yet. Among those quoted: Ron Sutherland and Harry McGrath of SFU’s Centre for Scottish Studies, and Reid Maxwell, lead drummer of the SFU Pipe Band.

  • The Surrey-North Delta Leader carried two special features about the Surrey campus. One story began: “SFU Surrey is fast becoming the school-of-choice across the region and around the world.” The other: “SFU has been the biggest catalyst for positive change in downtown Surrey to date.”

  • The Vancouver Sun ran a front-page story in which experts asked why the BC government, which is campaigning against obesity, still exempts candy and soft drinks from sales tax.  Among those quoted was SFU's Diane Finegood, scientific director for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes.
    Meanwhile, two more Ontario dailies picked up a Canadian Press story on a U.S. study that found regular counselling sessions can be better than other strategies in helping people lose weight. Finegood was quoted in that, too. 
  • Burnaby Now carried a story on SFU's new emergency-alerts system. Project manager Steve Ray of PAMR was quoted. So was physics student Karol Krizka, who welcomed the new multi-channel SFU Alerts service.

  • The Kamloops Daily News reported that criminology student Shaela Rae Wlodarczyk feels like a winner, even if she didn’t get the crown at last weekend's Miss World Canada competition in Toronto. She competed against 45 other young women from across Canada.

  • The Chilliwack Progress carried an editorial saying the homeless need a "safe and stable environment". It saw the Metro Vancouver homeless count as step. "As Simon Fraser University researcher Michelle Patterson points out, these kinds of surveys often don't count the ‘unseen homeless’ . . .  Nonetheless, the count will provide an important barometer of the problem and assist in the crafting of workable solutions."  The Chilliwack Times did its own story, and also quoted Patterson.

  • The Golden (BC) Star, in an article on independent “run of river” hydroelectric projects cited environmental issues around them. It cited the recent book Liquid Gold: Energy Privatization in British Columbia, by associate prof John Calvert.


SFU news releases this week generated a number of the stories above; and other releases went out on:

  • The new book co-authored by political scientist Anthony Perl, director of SFU's Urban Studies program. Co-authored with Toronto-based policy consultant Richard Gilbert, Transport Revolutions: Moving People and Freight Without Oil provides a sobering look at the environmental and economic problems associated with our transportation system's dependence on oil.

  • SFU’s second annual Psych in the City, a free public lecture series coming to the Surrey campus on Wednesday evenings in April. A dozen faculty members from SFU’s psychology department will explain research, unravel myths and share findings. Details:

  • SFU’s dramatic reduction of the time it takes to confirm early admission to high school students applying for the fall 2008 semester.

  • Western Economic Diversification Canada providing $325,000 towards a new antenna pattern measurement facility to be located in SFU’s school of engineering science. It will enable SFU to train students in new areas for wireless applications, such as communications, sensing, security and medical imaging.

SFU’s news releases can be found online at:
Its newsletter, SFU News, is also online, at

ALSO in the NEWS

  • The Fraser Institute issued a news release on a new report saying Canada and the U.S. must press on with negotiations under the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) and not let the agreement collapse under the weight of ill-founded conspiracy theories. The author: SFU’s Alexander Moens, political scientist and a senior fellow with the Fraser Institute.

  • CanWest News Service sent to its newspapers and TV stations a story on a team of U.S. researchers who have proposed a new "working model" for when and how humans came to the New World. “Their research adds credence to a controversial theory that ancient seafarers, travelling by boat along the ice-fringed British Columbia coast, kick-started the peopling of the Americas about 15,000 years ago. . . . In 2003, Simon Fraser University scientists reported the discovery of 16,000-year-old mountain goat bones in a cave near Port Eliza on Vancouver Island—clear evidence of a shoreline ecosystem that could have sustained large mammals, including humans.”

  • Asian Pacific Post carried a feature on Jennifer Gardy, “the wicked-smart microbiologist on CBC-TV’s hip new weekly science show, Project X, (who) graduated from SFU in 2006 with a PhD in molecular biology and biochemistry and a Governor General’s Gold Medal as the university’s top doctoral student.”

  • The federal government announced to media the appointment of Kevin Page as Canada's first Parliamentary Budget Officer. His job is to "provide independent analysis to Canadians on the state of the nation's finances." Page has been a federal civil servant for more than 25 years and has an honours BA in economics from SFU.

  • The Surrey North Delta Leader featured Anita Huberman, executive director of Surrey Board of Trade. She first worked for the Surrey Chamber of Commerce (as it was known then) as a summer student in 1993, while attending SFU and earning a BA in communications and European history.

  • The Province featured local movie production company Anagram Pictures. Its partners are Andrew Currie, Trent Carlson, Blake Corbet and Mary Anne Waterhouse. Said the newspaper: "The nucleus of the group met as film students more than a decade ago at Simon Fraser University."
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