SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - February 6, 2009

February 6, 2009

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A look at how SFU and its people made news:  Jan. 30-Feb. 6, 2009

The Vancouver Sun launched this week a series of full-page Daily Special features linked to Imagine BC, a public dialogue initiative from SFU Dialogue.

And it promoted the “leaders summit” that Imagine BC is hosting on Feb. 23.

The summit will explore “10 Big Ideas to Shape a Resilient Future” for BC and its people.  (Info: )

The related series of articles is running in The Vancouver Sun through Feb. 20.


  • Nick Dulvy, Canada Research Chair in marine biodiversity and conservation at SFU, was part of a study team that got international headlines this week. Their report said millions of struggling people in fishery-dependent nations of Africa, Asia and South America could face unprecedented hardship because of climate change.  The Malaysia-based WorldFish Center led the study by an international team of scientists. Reuters news agency and others circulated the news worldwide.
  • The Washington Post followed up on last week’s Science News story on how lead levels in the city’s water spiked in the early 2000s.  The Post quoted Bruce Lanphear of SFU Health Sciences on the potential damage to children after lead was freed in the D.C. system by a change in disinfection methods.

    Wrote the Post: “’We suspect that there are thousands, and possibly tens of thousands, of children who have experienced harm as a result of increased lead exposure’ in Washington, said Bruce P. Lanphear, a doctor and lead-poisoning expert at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia.”

    United Press International circulated the story around the world. A Seattle TV station pursued Lanphear for an interview.
  • Apple’s worldwide iTunes maintains and recommends a list of the 100 best podcasts around the world. The Globe and Mail’s Globe Round Table on public policy made the latest list. And a member of that round table is public policy prof Doug McArthur.  You can catch the Round Table’s latest podcast via

  • Two news agencies, Agence France Presse and the New Zealand Press Association news agency sent to media a story saying the discovery of more than 50 ancient rock engravings in Tonga may shed some light on the pre-Polynesian Lapita peoples who voyaged across the Pacific. The story noted: “Artist Shane Egan called in archaeologist Professor David Burley, from the Simon Fraser University in Canada, to investigate and document the site.”

    The story appeared online in media outlets in India, Pakistan, Thailand, Taiwan, Malaysia, France, the U.S. and Australia.
  • The U.S. Forest Service announced to media winners of Wings Across the Americas research honours.  Ian Forsman of the service’s lab at Corvallis OR won for work on understanding of the spotted owl and its ecology. The service recognized Carl Schwarz of SFU Statistics and Actuarial Science as one of Forsman’s working partners.
  • Sierra Leone’s Patriotic Vanguard reported its publisher and editor attended last weekend’s session in Ottawa of SFU’s Canada’s World project. Shauna Sylvester and Canada’s World wrapped up a national poll, face-to-face meetings with 4,000 Canadians and on-line dialogues with another 100,000. It all asked “ordinary” citizens what role they want Canada to play in the world.


  • GlobalTV’s wrap-up on the world economic summit in Switzerland reported fears of global trade war and quoted SFU Business prof Lindsay Meredith:
    “One of the big problems of trade wars is embodied in the threat behind the escalation of the trade war. You block my product; I block your product. You threaten to block another one; I threaten to block another one. That brinksmanship behaviour doesn't work in war, and it does not work in trade wars either.”
  • Marketing prof Meredith was also in a Globe and Mail story about “the bong show” from Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps.  (A British newspaper ran a photo of Phelps at the business end of a marijuana pipe.)

    Said Meredith: “Yes, half the country has smoked dope, but if you're going to be the poster boy for good, clean living, you can't get nailed like this. The big damage is the perception. He's the sort of person who is marketed in the mom-and-apple-pie category to the Disney crowd."
  • Barbie, the iconic doll, turned 50 this week. And Canwest News Service quoted Barbara Mitchell, sociologist-gerontologist, as saying Barbie's transition into the menopausal twilight years looks fairly bright—not least because of her back-saving breast reduction in 1997.

    “She would probably be relatively healthy and expected to live well into her 80s. But like many women this age, she faces a higher risk of developing health problems such as cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis, and would benefit from a good diet, exercising and stress-reduction.''

    As well: “Barbie being so tied to her physical appearance, I imagine she'd be investing in a few nips and tucks,'' said Mitchell, laughing.

    We saw the story in the Montreal Gazette, Ottawa Citizen, Brandon Sun, Saskatoon StarPhoenix and Nanaimo Daily News.
  • The C. D. Howe Institute told media about a new study saying a joint Canada-US approach to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is needed to minimize the negative impact on Canada's competitiveness. The authors include Nic Rivers of SFU Resource and Environmental Management and Chris Bataille, adjunct prof and director of M.K. Jaccard and Associates. They look at scenarios of how Canada's climate policy might coexist with the rest of the world.
  • CBC Radio News in Edmonton covered a conference at which Herb Barbolet, an associate of the centre for sustainable community development at SFU, said we should care about where our food is coming from. “We need more local in the equation. We've been so oriented in export and import that we've really ignored the basis of what our economy is, what the basis of our health and well-being is, what the basis of environment sustainability is, and that's local."


  • Public policy prof Doug MacArthur, formerly a longtime senior public servant in BC, was on CBC Radio castigating the BC government for its "stunning" abrogation of its own balanced budget legislation, and for failure to have a contingency kitty.
  • A column in Metro’s Vancouver edition reported: “It looks like a long-debated plan to dedicate two lanes of the Burrard Street Bridge to bike traffic is finally moving forward.” The piece added: “It’s an approach long-championed by Gordon Price, director of Simon Fraser University’s city program. And, unlike the current proposal, it is a solution that cyclists, motorists and bus riders can all get behind.”
  • Meanwhile, Price wrote in his monthly column in Business in Vancouver: “A lot of money is suddenly going to be spent on ‘shovel-ready’ infrastructure. . . . The real question is not whether projects are shovel-ready but whether they’re shovel-worthy.”
  • Public policy prof John Richards wrote a guest column in The Vancouver Sun about a new book by political commentator Gordon Gibson—a book about “how a modern state, in which citizens primarily enjoy rights and incur obligations as individuals, should address claims for collective rights.”
  • Kirk Hill, executive director of the Career Management Centre in SFU Business, was on the BCIT student radio station talking about the job market for students.
  • The North Shore News reported SFU's United Way campaign raised a record $162,133, up $152,576 in 2007. It credited campaign co-chairs Leigh McGregor and Susanne Vlcek. Both are North shore residents.
  • 24Hours covered a Feb. 4 rally at the Burnaby campus to demand restoration of $6 million that the BC government clawed back from its funding to SFU.  The story quoted, among others, Katherine Poyner-Del Vento, a sessional instructor in SFU English, who said she learned this week she’ll be out of a job come September; and Bob Hackett, president of the SFU Faculty Association.

    The Vancouver Sun’s education blog also had an item.
  • Burnaby Now did a story and photo on the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Festival at the Burnaby campus last week. “Over the years, the event has grown—even inspiring an award-winning CBC special—and now has spread to other places, including Seattle, which now has its own Gung Haggis Fat Choy festival. In 2005, organizers added the Gung Haggis Canadian Games to the event, with various competitive ‘sports’."


  • The Toronto Star, CBC News and Ottawa Sun reported that an SFU study estimates that high-school dropouts cost Canada's social assistance and criminal justice programs just over $1.3 billion annually. Associate prof Olena Hankivsky of SFU Public Policy found that Canada could save $963 million on social assistance if every dropout graduated. And dropouts account for $300 million in increased criminal justice spending.
  • SFU Registrar Kate Ross and Douglas College told media about a pilot program in which students will be able to earn a college and university degree concurrently. Students will be able to move easily between the institutions while pursuing a 60-credit Associate of Arts degree from Douglas and/or a 120-credit BA degree from SFU. Registrants need only fill out one online application to be co-admitted to both institutions. The Ming Pao newspaper promptly called.
  • The Vancouver Sun reported the Research Universities' Council of BC (SFU is a member) is asking the BC government for $20 million to bolster student scholarships. This because of significant drops in endowment funds due to the global economic downturn.

    The paper spoke with Jon Driver, SFU's vice-president academic, about SFU’s plans to compensate for budget woes by doing less recruiting, and slowing the growth of some programs. "Nothing drastic," he said.

    The Sun story also appeared in the Victoria Times Colonist.
  • The Vancouver Sun carried a full-page newsfeature on the “power struggle between teachers and the B.C. government” over the standardized school tests known as the Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA). It quoted two SFU profs:
    • Public policy prof John Richards said changes proposed by teachers would be a huge step backwards. Without the FSA, he said he would not have been able to conduct key research on the progress in schools of first nations students. 
    • Education prof Paul Shaker said he couldn't comment on whether the FSA is a valid test, but The Vancouver Sun must stop publishing the Fraser Institute's ranking of schools, which uses the FSA data.
  • Richards was also on CKNW talking about the value of FSA tests for researchers. A group of academics has written an open letter to the BC Teachers’ Federation and the BC education ministry. It calls for continuation of the tests, but with improvements.  Richards was one of the signatories.
  • Burnaby Now and the Epoch Times covered the visit of BC Education Minister Shirley Bond and Burquitlam MLA Harry Bloy to the Burnaby campus, to kick off work on a new elementary school in the UniverCity development. It will open in September 2010 with space for a potential 40 kindergarten and 275 elementary students.

    The BC government is contributing almost $8 million, the Burnaby School District $1,250,000; and the SFU Community Trust is contributing the building, the land and another $1,250,000.
  • Burnaby Now also carried a story on the new Arts Central premises on the Burnaby campus. “Arts and social science students at SFU now have a convenient one-stop hub to help them get organized and accomplish their goals. . . . Advisers provide information on everything from how and when to declare a major to graduation and post-graduation opportunities.”


  • SFU told media that Rob Gordon, director of SFU Criminology, was not only ready to talk to media about the spate of gangland slayings this week—but had lots to say:
    “ . . . criminal business organizations are getting bolder and the police are becoming increasingly disorganized and ineffective, despite their musings to the contrary—musings echoed by a provincial Solicitor General who doesn't seem to get it.”

    Gordon was promptly interviewed by the BC Almanac show on CBC Radio, by GlobalTV and then by CBC-TV and The Province,
  • Criminologist Ray Corrado was on GlobalTV talking about the patterns of development of young violent criminals. This as part of a story on a 13-year-old boy arrested for slashing a SkyTrain passenger who had refused him a cigarette. (The boy had 75 brushes with the law before this one.)

    And fellow-criminologist Neil Boyd was in The Vancouver Sun, saying the level of violence involved in this case was unusual.
  • The Province looked at “a series of mysterious disappearances of young men in B.C.” It reported: “Simon Fraser University research assistant Marla Patterson, who charted police missing persons data in B.C. over more than 50 years, found the number of cases recorded in a national police database spiked this decade. The 545 cases between 2000 and 2004, the latest data available, surpassed the numbers from each of the previous 10-year periods dating back to 1950.” Unsolved they remain.

    Canwest News Service sent the story to clients across the country. It quickly appeared in the Victoria Times Colonist and Edmonton Journal.
  • Agence France Presse sent to news clients around the world a story on the public inquiry into the Taser death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski. The inquiry is needed, said SFU’s Rob Gordon, because all "thinking and caring British Columbians are outraged. . . . There was excessive use of force, quite clearly."
  • In the Victoria Times Colonist, Gordon wondered why Saanich police had held off for months before releasing a composite sketch of a woman sought in the murder a year ago of realtor Lindsay Buziak. "If they have been sitting on this sketch . . . there is some doubt that has to be cast over the value of the image.” In the same story, colleague Corrado said the delay doesn't necessarily decrease the likelihood of a conviction. "We know with DNA and with other advances and perhaps even with the release of this composite you can have convictions decades after the crime."
  • The New Westminster NewsLeader—after a fourth member of New Westminster police in roughly a year was charged with a criminal offence—quoted Gordon as arguing that merging municipal police forces and RCMP into a single Metro Vancouver force would raise law enforcement standards.

    A letter to the editor, though, challenged him: “By his logic, the professors at Simon Fraser University (a group to which he belongs) will become more professional if it were to amalgamate with all the other universities in the Metro Vancouver area. Let's get on that straight away!”


  • A Vancouver Sun feature on its books page included this: “And, although reams have been written about Ted Hughes, former British poet laureate and long-ago husband of Sylvia Plath, I'm looking forward to Savage Gods, Silver Ghosts (Douglas & McIntyre, April). It's by Simon Fraser University criminologist Ehor Boyanowsky, who met Hughes at a poetry reading. They became friends and discovered they share a love of fishing.”
  • The Vancouver Courier reported historian Afua Cooper, Ruth Wynn Woodward Chair in Women's Studies at SFU, is curator of a photo exhibit at SFU's Harbour Centre Campus. The Teck Gallery will exhibit Black Communities in British Columbia 1858-2008, Feb. 18 to May 10.

    And the Abbotsford Times carried an item on a presentation Cooper will do there Feb. 17 on “a visual journey through B.C.'s black history.”

    Meanwhile, SFU Communication sent a release to media on how, in celebration of Black History Month, Sylvia Hamilton, acclaimed Nova Scotia documentary filmmaker, will give a series of lectures and screenings at SFU next week.


  • The Province went featured Clan basketball forward Greg Wallis: “Wallis has become the go-to man for a Clan team that will have to play giant-killers in a week's time when they open the Pacific Division playoffs against the heavily-favoured UBC Thunderbirds.”
  • 24Hours featured Justin Kripps , a former SFU sprinter who was recruited to bobsledding in 2006. “Next February he could win an Olympic medal as a brakeman for Canada's bobsleigh team.” The Province also had him in a story.


  • Several more newspapers carried a Canadian Press feature from last week on how “tech-savvy educators are transplanting the classroom into the digital realm, shifting eager students into cyber-classes and shedding teaching limitations of the past.” It mentioned SFU’s presence in Second Life.

  • The Maple Ridge News picked up last week’s story in the Surrey-North Delta Leader in which economist David Andolfatto said Ottawa’s plans to pour money into infrastructure face a challenge in Metro Vancouver: A number of major projects are starting to wind down.

 ALSO in the NEWS

  • The Vancouver Sun carried a hefty feature on Glen Clark, former BC premier and a star in the business empire of Jimmy Pattison. It mentioned that his daughter Layne Clark, 18, is a student at SFU, but didn’t note that Clark himself is an SFU grad. The story also ran in the Victoria Times Colonist.
  • The Globe and Mail featured Peter Robinson, CEO of the David Suzuki Foundation and chair and chancellor of Royal Roads University. The story noted he has a BA in geography from SFU.
  • The Indo-Canadian newspaper The Link featured two cousins who are policemen. One is Cst. Roger Gosal of the Abbotsford Police. The Link mentioned that he graduated from SFU in criminology.



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