SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - August 22, 2008

August 25, 2008

A look at how SFU and its people made news: Aug. 16-22, 2008                           

Her surname is pronounced “win”, and that’s just what wrestler and SFU alumna Carol Huynh did in the Olympics. Her gold medal won headlines for SFU, too.

Some current SFU people also put the university into the media this week during the Beijing games: wrestling coach Mike Jones, long-jumper Ruky Abdulai, and softball star Melanie Matthews.

Also in the news: The SFU Pipe Band won its fifth world championship in Scotland.

More on these stories below.


  • Carol Huynh’s gold medal in Olympic wrestling put the name of SFU—her alma mater—into media round the world. In the 48-kilogram class, Huynh defeated a Japanese opponent she had wrestled before and never beaten. And it all got much media coverage.

    As the Globe and Mail put it: “It was the most splendid of moments: the gold medalist standing atop the podium and crying to the strains of O Canada while her parents, two Vietnam refugees wearing Go Carol T-shirts, watched from the stands, the proudest of Canadians.”

    Huynh herself was more down to earth: “I have to go pee in a cup first. Then I'll think about celebrating."

    Huynh is SFU’s second gold medallist in wrestling. Daniel Igali, who is in Beijing as mentor of two young Nigerian wrestlers, won gold in the 2000 Olympics.

    24Hours thus reported: “Simon Fraser University wrestling coach Mike Jones has the Midas touch. He helped guide Daniel Igali to freestyle wrestling gold at Sydney 2000. Another protégé, Hazelton, B.C.'s Carol Huynh, became the first Canadian gold medalist of the Beijing Games on Saturday. She trained for eight years under Jones.”

    GlobalTV interviewed Jones about Huynh’s victory, her SFU connection, and the national wrestling training centre at SFU Burnaby.

    SFU Athletics communicator Scott McLean had given media in advance Huynh’s background info: She was recruited to SFU on a wrestling scholarship in 1998 and studied psychology. She continued to train at SFU until 2007 before moving to Calgary. She had previously won three medals at the world championships.
  • CTV quoted Mike Jones in a feature on Olympic hopeful Travis Cross, a wrestler who is in Beijing thanks to donations from the people of Port Alberni. Cross began wrestling at SFU but the commute became too much. So the community stepped in and hired him a trainer. “Port Alberni has a great developmental program and they have great people supporting the sport, particularly wrestling,'' said Jones.

    CBC-TV told the story in detail, with several mentions of the SFU connection.
  • 24 Hours and other medianoted that SFU's Olympian long jumper, Ruky Abdulai, celebrated her 23rd birthday this month as a new member of Canada’s Olympic team. Being on that team “really means a lot to me, it was a goal that I had a long time ago, since I was nine years old. I can't wait to represent my new, adopted country."

    Abdulai faulted on her first jump in Beijing, but recovered with a leap of 6.41 metres. She thus missed the qualifying standard for the finals of 6.75, and finished 26th overall.
  • Meanwhile, Canada's women's softball team finished fourth. They got off to a good start, then lost four straight, but squeaked into the semi-finals. They were then eliminated 5-3 by the Australians. In eight games, SFU left-fielder Melanie Matthews had five hits (including a two-run homer), three RBI and scored four runs. Clan alumna Erin Cumpstone registered three hits and two RBI, while alum Erin McLean had a single RBI.
  • The Edmonton Journal and The Province featured Canadian tri-athlete Carolyn Murray, and mentioned that she has a kinesiology degree from SFU. She ran track at SFU, and “stumbled onto the triathlon at the urging of a track teammate.” She won her first World Cup title in South Africa in May. She finished 29th in the Olympic event this week.
  • CanWest News Service carried a feature in which CBC wrestling commentator Chris Wilson suggested the success of Canada’s women wrestlers means this: "The women will get all the money now. The thing they've got to understand is that the men carried the women for years. They robbed from Peter to pay Paul. Hopefully they take that into account." The story noted Wilson is an SFU wrestling grad.


  • “Canadians have won another gold medal.” That was how The Canadian Press spread the news around the world on the weekend that the SFU Pipe Band won its fifth world championship in Scotland.

    Playing on Glasgow Green, the SFU band defeated a longtime rival, the Field Marshal Montgomery band from Northern Ireland. Montgomery had won the title in 2006 and 2007.

    "The two best ensemble performances we have played in the 16 years I have been with the band," said Reid Maxwell, lead drummer. "It was awesome!"

    A speedy call from the band’s Rob MacNeil in Scotland Saturday night enabled SFU’s office of Public Affairs and Media Relations to send out a news release. That was quickly picked up by local and national media, and by The Canadian Press. MacNeil also provided the arrival time of returning band members at Vancouver International Airport. The Canadian Press and CKNW were there to greet the world champions.

    SFU also sent 22 individualized releases to the hometown news media of band members in Canada, Scotland, Ireland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Illinois, California and Washington State.

    That led to, for starters, a feature in Coquitlam Now on band members Duncan, Dani and daughter Erin Millar.  Said piper Erin: "We got second and third place so many times. We've had a lot of years when we've been extremely, extremely close. This year, we just put more time and effort in. We practised a bit more seriously through the winter. . . The band was a little bit more determined this year. Everybody put their maximum effort in."

    Also working on features were the Chilliwack Times, Langley Advance—and the Banbridge Leader in Ireland. They asked for band photos.


  • Nine drownings in a week in BC made for headlines. Sadly, two of the victims were SFU students. They drowned in the same lake (Lightning Lake, Manning Park) in separate and unrelated incidents 24 hours apart.

    Media learned of the deaths from RCMP on Monday. The Province ran a front-page story; The Vancouver Sun, CKNW, GlobalTV and CKWX News 1130 all ran shorter stories. The Canadian Press distributed the news across Canada.

    The Province, Channel-M TV and CITY-tv followed that up with stories identifying the first victim as Huichun Yu, 29, a Chinese exchange student working on his doctorate in chemistry. They reported friends of Yu at SFU were raising funds to fly Yu's parents to B.C. from China.

    The second student (who had registered for the fall but had not yet attended SFU) was not publicly identified.
  • GlobalTV came up to the Burnaby campus to report on, and film, an electric vehicle being put through test paces by engineer Don Bergler of SFU Facilities Management. Bergler was interviewed. The mini-truck was on loan for a week for testing by Facilities Management and Campus Security.
  • The Vancouver Sun and 24Hours quickly picked up a news release on how Nic Rivers, a star researcher in SFU’s School of Resource and Environmental Management, has won a $150,000 Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation scholarship for his work in assessing the effectiveness of alternative strategies to counter climate change. Rivers was a co-author (with REM prof Mark Jaccard and Globe and Mail columnist Jeffrey Simpson) of the 2007 book Hot Air: Meeting Canada’s Challenge on Climate Change.
  • Rob Gordon, director of criminology, was in a Victoria News story on a police “sting” that nailed seven associates of the Red Scorpions gang.  Gordon said that’s good news—but “the loss of several individuals associated with the Red Scorpions merely creates a vacuum into which other groups will move very quickly.”
  • Black Press newspapers reported that the Mayors Council on Regional Transportation named Gordon Price, SFU City Program director, to help it choose three new directors to serve on the TransLink board. Price is a former Vancouver councillor—and a vocal critic of the new TransLink structure that yanked most control of the regional transportation authority away from elected local politicians and put it in the hands of provincial appointees who meet behind closed doors. The story ran in the Surrey-North Delta Leader, Burnaby Newsleader, Richmond Review and Peace Arch News. The Province also had a story.
  • Price was also in a Vancouver Courier storyon the future of urban design in Vancouver. “The urban experiment in downtown Vancouver is being applied all over. The use of the automobile is now dropping in the downtown region. The kids are taking SkyTrain. In fact, the city is full of young people with bright ideas for the future of the city. All we need to do is listen to them."

    And Price’s monthly column in Business in Vancouver told of his cycling trip following the Erie Canal in New York State. “In the narrow Mohawk Valley, it’s still possible to see a barge pulled by two horses carrying 200 tons at four miles an hour, burning calories from hay, with the oil-guzzling truck traffic speeding by on the interstate.”
  • The Province reported that “Canada sent its top math brains to Africa on the weekend to share the country's knowledge about controlling the spread of disease.” It’s a project of SFU-based MITACS (Mathematics of Information Technology and Complex Systems). “The Canadian team will conduct a two-week course for 25 Canadian and African graduate students in Botswana. The students are coming from all over sub-Sahara Africa.” Arvind Gupta, computer-science prof and scientific director of MITACS, was quoted.
  • The Vancouver Sun reported that Vision Vancouver is trying to fashion a deal with the Coalition of Progressive Electors to avoid splitting the centre-left vote in Vancouver’s civic election in November. SFU political scientist Kennedy Stewart said the likelihood of an NPA victory in the November civic election would rise considerably if Vision and COPE each field full slates.

    Stewart was also in a Vancouver Westender story on the election’s nomination races. He likened the nomination process to catering a dinner party: "Voters may pick the courses, but party members select the menu."

    (Meanwhile, the Vancouver Courier reported that Vaune Adams Kolber will seek a council nomination with Vision Vancouver. She's former director of non-profit and voluntary programs at SFU.)
  • The North Shore News wrote a feature on abuse of the elderly—more often than not by someone they trust. SFU gerontologist Gloria Gutman said the growing numbers of frail seniors, particularly those 80 and over, is a complication. "It means that there are more people who are dependent on others who may or may not have people with the right skills or temperament to deal with them.”


  • The Edmonton Journal wrote a story on the ethics of moonlighting. The expert it quoted at length was SFU’s Mark Wexler, professor of business ethics. "Say, I'm a chef. You hire me. I work 40 hours for you. I have your secret recipe for some kind of salad dressing. Someone else hires me part-time and I make the salad dressing. There's a problem—or a potential problem.”
  • Criminologist Neil Boyd was in an Ottawa Citizen story on illegal street-racing. The paper said BC has tougher laws on street-racing, but "I don't think those laws are going to have much impact,” said Boyd. “There's really no logic that says they're going to be deterred by a more substantial fine or the confiscation of their car for a relatively short period of time, which is what those so-called tough laws dictate."
  • The Winnipeg Free Press featured Bruce Alexander, addictions expert and prof emeritus of psychology, and his book The Globalization of Addiction: A Study in Poverty of the Spirit. "(Addiction) is searching for something that can give your life meaning or stimulation that matters. . . . It's something that will turn life colour rather than black and white."

    Closer to home, an addictions column in the Richmond Review cited Alexander’s research. “He describes individuals as being disconnected from culture and community, and sees addiction as a way to find connection and meaning which have been lost.”
  • Marketing prof John Peloza had a letter to the editor in National Post: “I've watched the criticism of China ramp up considerably in the past week (but) what are average Canadians doing to help  the situation? We go shopping and buy lots of products manufactured in China.  . . . Time and time again we learn that our morals are only as strong as our pocketbooks will allow.”
  • The Mobile (AL) Press-Register said SFU research “debunks one of the Democratic Party's favorite talking points about the global consequences of the war in Iraq.” It explained: “A survey released in May by a Canadian university proves that the statistics paint a distorted picture of terrorism outside the borders of Iraq.” That survey is the Human Security Report  from Andrew Mack of SFU's Human Security Report project. Several U.S. media picked up the piece.

    And the Sydney Morning Herald had an editorial: “Australia’s Defence Minister, Joel Fitzgibbon, told the National Press Club a few weeks ago that we now face ‘an increasingly uncertain security environment’. Really? The Human Security Project at Simon Fraser University in Canada finds the world becoming, on one important measure, a safer place.”


  • SFU Athletics filled in sports media on the Clan football team as it heads into the 2008 season. The Clan is looking for its first victory after a 25-game losing streak that dates back to the final game of the 2004 season. (FYI: The University of Toronto football team has lost a record 49 straight games since 2001.)

    The Clan opens its regular season Saturday Aug. 23 against UBC (7 p.m., Swangard Stadium).

    The Province did a full story, quoting head coach David Johnson: “We have upgraded our offensive line and we hope to have the ability to run the ball and control the clock. But we needed a starting tailback. That was priority No. 1 going into the season. And we sure hope Marek is the guy." That’s Marek Seta, who rushed for 41 touchdowns over his final two seasons of high school. Coquitlam Now also ran a story.
  • Athletics also let media know the details of the season-openers for the Clan women’s and men’s soccer teams. Rookie Sarah Boulton scored the first hat trick of her university career, leading the Clan women to a 3-0 victory over the UVic Vikes on SFU's Terry Fox Field.  The men scored their first goal of the year a little over three minutes into their match, but then gave up four first-half goals and lost 5-1 to the Trinity Western University Spartans.
  • The Delta Optimist featured Nathan Clare, who is heading to his third Canadian National Field Lacrosse Championships. The Optimist added: “The Vancouver College product heads into his second season with the Simon Fraser University lacrosse team in September.”


  • Ontario’s Waterloo Region Record reported that “a film opening in Waterloo this week has captivated audiences around the world”. It’s Amal, set in New Delhi, and its producer is David Miller, who minored in film studies at SFU. “A true portrait of India's beauty and chaos,” said the Record.

    Publishers Weekly visited SFU’s summer publishing program, and spent some time with 25 students. “The days started early (8:30 a.m.) and ran late; SFU packs in a lot of information. The faculty-many are graduates of the program themselves-put in almost as much time and effort as the students.” Suzanne Norman, coordinator of SFU's summer publishing workshops, was quoted.


  • BC’s Ministry of Advanced Education announced to media winners of the new Premier's One World scholarships to support post-secondary studies abroad. One of the five winners was from SFU: Robyn Ashwell, who has been studying political science and French.  She plans to attend Université Robert Shuman in Strasbourg, France.


  • SFU told media that for the second time in three years, a film produced by an SFU film student will be on the silver screen Sept. 4-13 at the Toronto International Film Festival—the world’s second largest after Cannes. Tony Massil’s Forty Men for the Yukon was completed as part of his graduation requirements. Massil was quickly contacted by CKNW and the On the Coast show on CBC Radio.

  • SFU’s office of Publlic Affairs and Media Relations also spread the word about Orientation Week as SFU’s largest-ever first-year class arrives on campus for fall orientation starting Aug. 26. (As of Aug. 18, close to 5,200 students had registered for first year, well ahead of the university’s target of 4,889 and up from last year’s intake of 5,169 first-year students.) Liesl Jurock, student life coordinator, was quoted.

ALSO in the NEWS

  • The Globe and Mail reported that Arthur Erickson—designer of “the internationally admired Simon Fraser University” has run afoul of the Architectural Institute of BC. It has told him he cannot practise as an “architect”.

    “This is a very dear and honoured member of the profession whom we want to celebrate,” said AIBC. “He's not entitled to provide architectural services without being registered. And he's not. We can't make an exception for Arthur because he's Arthur."

    Replied Erickson: “"It's outrageous. I don't know what they're doing. It doesn't make sense. I'm not calling myself something I'm not."  He hasn’t been an AIBC member since 2005, when he resigned after refusing to comply with the institute's new requirement that all architects do 18 hours a year of continuing-education courses.
  • Global National announced the appointment of five veteran Canadian correspondents to its new international bureaus, including Jas Johal in New Delhi. Johal is an award-winning TV journalist who also sits on SFU’s India advisory council.
  • The Surrey-North Delta Leader featured Leslie Tannen, executive director for the Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association. The Leader noted she obtained her MBA from SFU in 1999.
  • The Peace Arch News ran a feature on how the City of Surrey Archives is digitizing thousands of old black and white negative photographs. One of those working on the project is collections assistant Tyr Fothergill, a recent SFU archaeology masters grad.
  • The Terrace Standard reported Terrace has hired Tara Irwin as the city’s sustainability co-ordinator. She has a masters in urban studies from SFU, the paper noted.
  • The Vancouver Sun and the Globe and Mail reported that Sabrina Sandhu, 23 was shot in her family’s Surrey home Aug. 19, and was in serious condition in hospital. Her father is charged with the second-degree murder of his wife Manjit, and attempted murder of Sabrina. The paper said Sabrina “worked part-time at Revenue Canada while studying at Simon Fraser University.” She was last a student in spring 2007.
  • The Richmond News reported on a civic dinner held to honour community volunteers. Among those quoted was Justin Lieu, childcare coordinator and, the paper noted, an SFU grad. “We couldn't run our programs as well without the volunteers.”


Search SFU News Online