SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - October 19, 2007

October 19, 2007

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A look at how SFU and its people fared in the news media: Oct. 12-19, 2007                         


  • The Canadian Press reported that a study by SFU prof John Richards finds tightening eligibility requirements for welfare has led to higher employment and lower poverty rates. The study was done for the C. D. Howe Institute.

The public policy prof concluded that the “tough love'' policy approach taken by the federal government and many provinces has pushed more people into the labour force.
The story appeared in a dozen papers across Canada, on radio and TV, and as far south as the Arizona Daily Star. Vancouver Sun business columnist Don Cayo wrote a column on the study in the Oct. 19 Sun, and promised another for Oct. 20.

  • National Post looked at the federal government's renewed interest in harmonizing retail sales taxes across Canada. Jonathan Kesselman, SFU public policy prof, said the five affected provinces (BC is one) would lose $7.5-billion in tax revenues every year so trying to persuade them to sign up in exchange for a $5-billion sweetener could be a tough sell. "On the other hand, many finance departments and cabinets understand it would give their province a competitive advantage. There is a good argument for them to do this."

  • SFU, already named as one of Canada's Top 100 employers, was also declared this week to be one of the Top 40 Employers in BC.
    The Top 100 story appeared in the Victoria Times-Colonist, Edmonton Journal, Calgary Herald, Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, Ottawa Citizen and Kitchener-Waterloo Record. The Top 40 in BC selection appeared in the Victoria Times-Colonist and Surrey Now.
    Both sets of rankings are products of Mediacorp Canada Inc., publisher of Canada Employment Weekly and others. The Top 100 first appeared in Maclean’s last week.

  • The Ottawa Citizen reported that Canadian universities are in debt to the tune of more than $3 billion. The Dominion Bond Rating Service listed SFU with borrowing of $8,332 per student—or $168 million in total debt. By way of CanWest News Service, the story also appeared in The Vancouver Sun, Edmonton Journal, Calgary Herald and Windsor Star.

  • National Post carried a Joseph Brean feature on the award to SFU psychologist Bruce Alexander of the 2007 Nora and Ted Sterling Prize for Controversy.
    "The drug-addiction researcher who thinks drug addiction is a myth, similar to medieval demon possession, joins a remarkable pantheon of academic poop-disturbers at Simon Fraser University, which awards the $5,000 prize. . . . It has been won by biologists and economists, criminologists and psychologists, grad students and professors emeritus, feather-rufflers all, united by disagreement."
    Meanwhile, The Province, in an editorial, said: "Simon Fraser University Prof. Bruce Alexander is not the first scientist to catch flak because of controversial conclusions. Galileo, for example, caused a stir with his kooky notion that Earth orbited the Sun. But, where Galileo was put under house arrest, Alexander has merely had to suffer a fusillade of fulminating letters to the editor. This is progress."
    And the Chilliwack Progress, in an editorial column, quoted Alexander as saying "a lot of people in the Downtown Eastside don't have a life, so they join the addiction subculture. It's not a great world but it's better than no world at all." Declared the editorial: "No truer words could be spoken." Alexander was also interviewed by CBC and CKNW.

  • The Canadian Press reported that the national homicide rate dropped 10 per cent in 2006. SFU criminologist Neil Boyd was quoted. (He said that, statistically, the drop could merely be a random fluctuation.) The story appeared in 14 papers across Canada, including The Province.

  • The Ottawa Citizen reported on the Montreal-based Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP) and its aim to give government a blueprint of how it can best direct its energy and resources to improve the world. Among the members: Richard Lipsey, renowned professor emeritus of economics at SFU.

  • The Winnipeg Free Press reviewed Hot Air: Meeting Canada's Climate Change Challenge, the new book by SFU prof Mark Jaccard, SFU grad student/researcher Nic Rivers, and Globe and Mail columnist Jeffrey Simpson. "It is a forceful, even urgent, critique about climate change and the controversy involved. . . . Bound to ruffle feathers, it is an assertive presentation, often cocky and sarcastic."
    At the same time, Burnaby Now featured Jaccard, and promoted his Oct. 17 book-signing and lecture at the Vancouver campus, Harbour Centre.
  • In a story on Vancouver’s library strike, the Globe and Mail reported that at the Belzberg library at SFU’s Vancouver campus “about 20,000 people poured through the doors in September, a 50-per-cent increase from the usual number.” Head librarian Karen Marotz was quoted.

  • CTV Newsnet's show The Verdict did an item on bullying, and reported increases in bullying and violence by girls. And the Globe and Mail, in an editorial, said: "Girl violence needs to be taken seriously. There is more than just anecdotal evidence that something is happening with girls." Both interviewed SFU criminologist Ray Corrado: "The viciousness of the violence (among girls) has changed."
    Corrado also spoke at a public forum in Port Moody Wednesday on the impact of drugs and related crime in the area. Coquitlam Now covered the event.

  • The Globe and Mail talked to University Relations V-P Warren Gill (in his role as a geographer/transportation expert) about VANOC's thoughts on discouraging car use during the 2010 Winter Olympics. Gill said TransLink's ability to handle a surge in demand will be a key issue. "As long as this is not draconian, it is an interesting thing to encourage."

  • In a guest column in The Vancouver Sun, Marvin Shaffer said that if the BC government wants to reduce electricity requirements, it should not build new transmission lines into remote regions for the primary purpose of attracting new electricity-hungry mines. Shaffer is an adjunct professor in the graduate program in public policy.

  • The Kingston Whig-Standard reported that a man accused of murdering a cab driver there had been allowed to remain on parole—despite the recommendation of his parole officer two years ago that it should be revoked. SFU criminologist Stephen Hart was quoted.

  • Last week's national story about second-year SFU student “B.B.”—and the amount of personal information she has posted on the web—got some more play, this time in the Regina Leader-Post. And CTV pursued Richard Smith of the school of communication for an interview re: the risk of identity theft when using social networking applications such as MySpace and FaceBook.


  • Inside Higher Ed looked at "men and women of academe who blur the lines between professional and personal identities by reproducing their image through Web sites, blogs and profiles on social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace." Among those mentioned: "Some professors, like Veselin Jungic of Canada’s Simon Fraser University, have gone even further, producing original films for posting on YouTube to aid student learning. Jungic has created cartoons starring an avatar called “Math Girl” for assisting students in first-year calculus."

  • Thailand's Asian Tribune carried a column protesting that while the government of Myanmar/Burma beats, shoots and arrests monks and innocent bystanders, "the world is united in words but not in action." The writer: Kanbawza Win, former secretary of foreign affairs for Burma, and an adjunct professor of SFU's School of International Studies.

  • China's Shanghai Daily reported on how SFU will be among a dozen Canadian universities interviewing postgraduate applicants there next month.

  • IBM and TRIUMF, Canada's national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics, announced the ATLAS Tier-1 Data Analysis Center is ready after a significant hardware upgrade. Researchers from 10 Canadian universities and TRIUMF are part of the ATLAS experiment in Geneva. It will study proton-proton collisions at the highest energy ever achieved in the laboratory. SFU physics prof Michel Vetterli was quoted in the announcement.


  • The Vancouver Sun made much of a Vancouver police department plan to order a $270,000 armoured vehicle. SFU criminologist David MacAlister told the paper: “No doubt devices like this are handy (but) I don't think it does a whole lot in terms of fostering good police relations when the public starts to see the police, in essence, [as] an armoured force."

  • The Vancouver Sun covered a news conference as Pfizer Canada announced gifts of $1.25 million to help SFU establish the first Canadian research chair in cardiovascular prevention, and $3 million to the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS. 24Hours alsocarried a story on it, and The Province a brief.

  • In a feature on the 10,000 Iranians who live on the North Shore, Vancouver Sun writer Douglas Todd (a former Shadbolt Fellow at SFU), cited a book by anthropology prof Parin Dossa, Politics and Poetics of Migration: Narratives of Iranian Women from the Diaspora.

  • Vancouver Sun columnist Malcolm Parry gave some ink to people who entered bids to have their names appear in novels by the likes of Margaret Atwood and city scribe John Gray. This at a fund-raiser for The Walrus magazine. The event was assisted by the Writing and Publishing Program at SFU, and took place at SFU's Segal Graduate School of Business.

  • The Vancouver Sun and the Abbotsford News reported on the case of a student from China who tried to get into Canada with forged documents that included a fake letter of acceptance from SFU. For the next two months he’ll be in jail. Registrar Kate Ross was quoted in the Sun story.

  • The Province and the Burnaby News Leader picked up the story about a study that found patients in danger of heart disease and stroke reduced their risk by receiving health "report cards" and telephone counselling. A co-author of the study is Andrew Wister, chair of gerontology at SFU.

  • Asian Pacific Post reported on an SFU project to develop a mobile, electronic museum guide that will bring museums to life—digitally. Ron Wakkary and Marek Hatala of SFU’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology at Surrey will work with the Surrey Museum, researchers at Carleton University, and with Vancouver-based electronics firm Ubiquity Interactive.

  • Surrey Now reported that the Surrey school district and SFU hosted 33 elementary and secondary school principals from Beijing this week, to study BC’s public education system.

  • Burnaby Now finally picked up an SFU news release about the university awarding an honorary degree on Oct. 4 to one of the world's leading skeptics, Ray Hyman.


  • The Vancouver Sun and Montreal Gazette were first to report that SFU English prof David Chariandy is in the running for a $25,000 Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction. This for his debut novel, Soucouyant. Chariandy had also been in the race for the Giller Prize, but, while he was on the "long short list" for that, he did not make it into the final five.
    Meanwhile, The Province promoted this week's 20th International Writers and Readers Festival in Vancouver, and mentioned that Chariandy was among the featured authors.

  • The Burnaby News Leader reported that a documentary about Burnaby’s Freemen will be shown on the Knowledge Network Saturday, Nov. 10 at 11 p.m. It’s the story of five Second World War veterans from Burnaby who went on to do distinguished public service in the city. The documentary was made by SFU's Learning and Instructional Design Centre with collaboration from the City of Burnaby and support from Veterans Affairs Canada and the Burnaby school district.
    Meanwhile, Burnaby Now reported the film won the top spot in two categories at the 55th Columbus International Film and Video Festival, also known as the Chris Awards.


  • The Province featured figure skater Jeremy Ten, the 2007 Canadian junior champion who has graduated to the senior level for national competitions. The 18-year-old has also started his first semester of studies at SFU. The headline: "Not yet perfect Ten, but moving up".

  • The Vancouver Sun reported that Clan football coach Dave Johnson and his staff are of a mind to tinker extensively with their lineup. The Clan (0-6 and riding a 23-game losing streak) face the U of Calgary Dinos Oct. 20 in Calgary, then close out their season the following weekend at home against the Manitoba Bisons.

  • The Province featured the Vancouver Whitecaps’ soccer residency program, in which 17 teens, all but one from Canada, train at SFU’s Burnaby campus, attend classes at Burnaby Central in the afternoon, and play in the evening. The first group of players heads to Germany on Saturday to take on youth teams.


  • Hydro International reported that Marport Canada Inc. of St John's NL has signed a technology licensing agreement with SFU for an acoustic imaging system invented by John Bird and Paul Kraeutner at SFU's Underwater Research Laboratory. It’s a new method for 3-D acoustic imaging and mapping of the seafloor.

  • The Toronto Sun newspapers looked at how the insurance industry is helping tackle climate change. The story noted that insurance company Zurich Canada announced last month it would work with SFU (the Adaptation to Climate Change Team) to examine ways to adapt to extreme weather events. The story ran in the Suns in Toronto, Ottawa, Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg, and in the London (ON) Free Press.

  • The Financial Post section of National Post launched its third annual MBA Portfolio Management Competition in which first-year MBA students invest $1 million in “pretend money” and seek to building a winning investment portfolio. SFU entered a team of eight students from the Segal Graduate School of Business.


  • SFU let media know about a $1-million donation to SFU’s Surrey campus. It’s from Dale Regehr, President and CEO of WestStone Properties. The donation goes to scholarships and awards as the first donation to SFU Surrey’s $2-million Close to Home fundraising campaign. SFU officially unveiled Thursday the Dale B. Regehr Grand Hall, which serves as the main entrance and community hub for the campus.

  • SFU also sent out word on the first annual South Asia Festival beginning Oct. 26 at the Surrey campus. It’s a week-long event sponsored by SFU, the City of Surrey, the Surrey Board of Trade and radio station RedFM.
    Visit for full details.

  • RedFM will interview President Michael Stevenson and Herb Dhaliwal, former federal cabinet minister and a member of SFU’s India Advisory Council re: the South Asia Festival on FM 93.1, Monday, Oct. 22, 9 a.m.

  • We also spread the news about the Association of Internet Researchers conference under way at the Vancouver Campus. Communications prof Richard Smith hosted nerds from around the world at Harbour Centre.

  • And we told media about a report saying Canada needs a national design strategy to be competitive in the 21st century. That’s from researchers at the Canadian Design Research Network, an SFU-based centre, in a report released by the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada.

SFU’s news releases can be found online at:


  • The Vancouver Sun recorded the award to UniverCity as the best entry in the category of "innovations in creating a livable and sustainable region". This from the local chapter of the Urban Development Institute. Verdant, a new home project at UniverCity, was the recipient of two awards—for "innovations . . . in more affordable housing" and "innovations in more sustainable development". Business in Vancouver also gave the awards a mention.
    Said Gordon Harris of the SFU Community Trust: "With the kind of exposure we receive from awards such as this, more and more people will consider UniverCity's spectacular views, and innovative sustainability features when they are looking for a quality home in a great community."

  • GlobalTV’s documentary series Global Currents won a Gemini as Best Documentary Series. This is the show in which anchor Kevin Newman filmed his introductions in SFU’s Morris J Wosk Centre for Dialogue.

  • The Province, Burnaby Now, Coquitlam Now and other media reported the end this week of the strike at the Childcare Centre on the Burnaby campus.

  • The Vancouver Sun book pages covered last weekend's annual general meeting of the Jane Austen Society of North America. Among speakers was retired SFU English professor June Sturrock.


The Globe and Mail published its annual “University Report Card” this week.
It surveyed 43,200 students at 53 universities, but the methodology was not explained in the newspaper in any useful detail, so a generous pinch of salt is recommended when reading the results for SFU.
Here’s how Globe readers were told we scored:
Most satisfied students: B; Quality of Education: B+; Quality of Technology: B; Academic Reputation: B; Quality of Teaching: B; Student-Faculty Interaction: C+; Campus atmosphere: C+; Libraries: B+; Class size: B-; Buildings and facilities: C; Ease of course registration: C+; Course variety/availability: C+; Student Services: B-; Campus pubs/bars: C-; Extracurricular activities: B-; Career preparation: C+; Recreation and athletics: B+; Food services: D; Student residences: C-

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