SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - August 14, 2009

August 14, 2009

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A look at how Simon Fraser University and its people made news: Aug. 7-14, 2009

News is what’s really new—such as the announcement of a big world award for an SFU-designed website that portrays the Fraser Valley as it was centuries ago.
News is also an old story that is rediscovered by the media—such as SFU’s grade of FD, showing that a student was failed for academic dishonesty. That got some coverage in May and again in July.  Suddenly, it got more play this week.
More on these below.

  • The Vancouver Sun was quick to run a story on how an SFU-designed website emerged ahead of 20,000 other e-projects from around the globe to win the World Summit Award, the UN-based contest for e-content and creativity.
    The site is A Journey into Time Immemorial (, which portrays the Fraser Valley as it was hundreds of years ago.
    It was created by SFU’s Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology and new-media specialists from the SFU Learning and Instructional Development Centre (LIDC), in concert with the Xa:ytem Centre in Mission BC. 
    By way of Canwest News Service, we saw the Sun story in the Victoria Times Colonist, Nanaimo Daily News and Kamloops Daily News. And the story made its way into a batch of blogs and social-media channels.
  • The Epoch Times ran stories on two SFU profs talking about the HST: Jon Kesselman, economist and public policy prof, who argues that the tax is good economics, and marketing prof Lindsay Meredith on the public outcry against the tax and/or the manner of its introduction.
  • Criminologist Neil Boyd wrote a guest item in The Vancouver Sun, noting there had been little media attention to federal Bill C-15. It would “require that everyone convicted of growing a single marijuana plant or more must spend a minimum of six months in jail.”
    And that would mean “close to a 50-per-cent increase in the provincial jail population, just to house those who cultivate cannabis.” At a cost to BC of $114 million, a year “and that's not even counting the capital costs required for the construction of the additional prison cells that will be needed.”
    Concluded Boyd: “Marijuana use by consenting adults is a public health issue, not a moral problem. In a more sane world, the financially reckless proposals of (Prime Minister Stephen) Harper and the Conservatives would be regarded as considerably more silly than the antics of Cheech and Chong.”
  • The Vancouver Sun wrote that a new poll found 40% of BC residents support replacing the RCMP with a provincial police force (and 41% oppose such a change). Boyd said a regional police force in British Columbia "has become a public issue in the way it hasn't in other parts of the country. I think there's more public confidence in Vancouver police than there is in the RCMP.” The Victoria Times Colonist also ran the story.
  • The Surrey-North Delta Leader noted airplane-towed banners that burn up fossil fuels are still being used by a few provincial government agencies, despite directives to be carbon-neutral by 2010.  “Dr. Mark Jaccard, the SFU professor who helped craft B.C.'s plan to reduce greenhouse gases, isn't impressed.  ‘This sounds really dumb if we are trying to reduce GHG emissions in government and throughout the economy,’ he said.”
  • Doctoral studentSean McCann in SFU Biology spoke on the BC Almanac show on CBC Radio, as an expert on wasps.  While we figure we’re seeing more than usual, McCann quipped: “In my research I haven’t been finding enough!”  He noted that spring 2009 offered good conditions for nest survival, that we have five kinds of yellowjacket in the Lower Mainland, and that hanging up a simulated nest to deter wasps is "not a good theory".
  • The Province noted that people have until Monday Aug. 17 to apply for one of the three vacancies on the TransLink board of directors. The paper added: “Simon Fraser University's City Program director Gordon Price chairs the screening panel and is a former Vancouver city councillor. Price said board members must balance the bottom line with ‘social consequences’ of decisions, including land use, transit, roads and even climate change.”
  • The Province reported BC corrections officers want the province to fast-track two new jails, to ease prison overcrowding. In the story, the corrections and sheriffs services unit of the B.C. Government Employees Union cited a 2008 SFU study that found 70 per cent of corrections officers don't feel safe on the job.


  • The Canadian Press quoted Neil Boyd in a national story on the proposal by the Commission for Public Complaints against the RCMP that the Mounties shouldn't investigate their own officers in the most serious cases and should instead hand them to outside agencies. Wrote CP:
    “Neil Boyd, a criminologist at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C., agreed that an independent, civilian-run body would help ensure public confidence in the justice system, but he said it could be a mistake to exclude police officers entirely.
    “‘It's probably a sound idea to have police on the board, as long as there isn't a majority of police making the decisions. Police can sometimes bring knowledge to bear that could be helpful,'’ said Boyd. ‘I think police officers can leave behind their biases, but that's really not the issue. The point isn't that it's impossible for police officers to be unbiased. The point is there's an apprehension of bias and it brings diminished public confidence.'"
  • Biologist John Reynolds, Tom Buell BC Leadership Chair in Salmon Conservation, was interviewed by CBC Newsworld on the yet-unexplained collapse of the Fraser River sockeye run. (The most recent estimate is for a run of only 600,000 fish, compared with an initial prediction of 8.7 million. This would make it the worst return on record.)
  • The Financial Post section of National Post looked at customer loyalty programs, and in particular the SCENE cards program introduced by Cineplex and Scotiabank in 2007.  Among others, the paper quoted SFU’s Leyland Pitt. “‘The really successful loyalty or frequency programs are the ones where the reward is attainable,’ says Leyland Pitt, professor of commerce at Simon Fraser University. ‘You don't say, if you spend $50-million you can get a free trip to Hawaii.’”
  • The Globe and Mail reported on Vancouver’s plans for "mortgage helpers in the sky"—rentable mini-apartments inside townhouses and high-rise apartments. It all began at UniverCity when Michael Geller was first president and CEO of the SFU Community Trust.
    “Michael Geller, who came up with the idea of creating lock-off suites when he was overseeing the development of SFU land for housing, says he got the idea from students who were complaining about the university's housing plans. ‘They were complaining that they didn't like it because they'd never be able to live there. Then I realized we could create the equivalent of basement suites, but in apartments and townhouses.’”
  • Closer to home, Geller (wearing his hat as an adjunct prof in the SFU Centre for Sustainable Community Development) was on CBC Radio talking about the impact on the community of the 2010 Winter Olympics: “Positive, but less than the impact Expo86 had on our community and province. . . . I think it (Expo) put us on the world map.”


  • President Michael Stevenson was one of seven presidents of small and medium-sized universities who spoke to Maclean’s about a recent story featuring the leaders of Canada’s Big Five universities.
    The five said they want to focus on doing more world-class research as well as graduate education, while other schools, they suggest, could concentrate on teaching undergrad students. The seven presidents said they don’t think that the Big Five—or any five universities—should become more research-intense at the expense of other schools. Stevenson was also one of the seven who said Canada could be doing better on the international scene. “It is absolutely true that Canada has been slipping as one of the major systems of international education in the world,” Stevenson said.
    (The full story:
  • The Surrey-North Delta Leader turned into a story an SFU news release on $10 million in government funding for upgrading the Podium 2 space at the Surrey campus. Surrey executive director Joanne Curry and Mario Pinto, v-p research, were quoted. T-Net BC, a news portal for BC’s technology community, also ran a story.
    Later, Liberal MLA Dave Hayer (Surrey Tynehead) was on the Indo-Canadian radio station, RedFM, talking about the project. "By expanding SFU's local campus, we are contributing to significant job creation as well as additional education opportunities. This will only add to the success of our residents and our community."
  • SFU’s new mark of FD, showing that a student was failed for academic dishonesty, won a modest round of media play when announced in May. Then a Vancouver Sun column in July sparked heavier coverage, including the national As it Happens show on CBC Radio, CFAX Radio in Victoria, CKWX News1130 and 1040AM in Vancouver, the Victoria Times Colonist, Nanaimo Daily News and
    This week, it suddenly got some more and bigger play this week. CTV Edmonton was first to pursue it. Then CTV-BC carried a story on its website, saying:
    “Dr. Rob Gordon, director of criminology at SFU and acting chair of the senate committee on academic integrity, says the new grading is intended to curtail cheating using the internet. ‘What used to be a lot of cheating in libraries has changed quite significantly,’ he told ‘We now have to be concerned about cheating during exams with high-tech devices and the inappropriate use of internet sources and downloading, including online companies offering services to students that promote academic dishonesty.’"
    The Globe and Mail then picked up the story, and quoted Gordon as saying: "There have been some cases already in the summer term, where people have consulted me about the use of the FD grade (in) particularly egregious cases or cases involving repeat offenders."
    The Globe continued: “Asked to recall the worst case of academic dishonesty he has seen from his 30-year teaching career, Mr. Gordon cited a student's thesis that was plagiarized nearly in its entirety from six sources. The copy-cat references were discovered after the student had graduated, but the university was able to rescind the degree. That possibility is spelled out in SFU's updated code of conduct.”
    The story also ran on Ottawa radio station CFRA 580.
    Then GlobalTV got in on the act, running a story (with video of Gordon) on GlobalBC and Global National.
    And then The Province did a story, also quoting Gordon. And then that was sent to Canwest media by Canwest News Service, and quickly appeared in the Victoria Times Colonist, Calgary Herald and Edmonton Journal.
  • Peter Dickinson, associate prof in SFU English, wrote an open letter in the Georgia Straight to BC culture minister Kevin Krueger, decrying “the cumulative 40% cuts to the BC Arts Council . . . in the most recent budget tabled by your government.” Among other things, he said such cuts imperil the funding of school outreach programs by arts organizations. “To put this in the starkest possible terms, this means that an entire generation of BC’s youth will potentially never be exposed to the unique pleasures and importance of live performance in this province.”


  • carried a feature on BC initiatives in green technology and climate/environmental science. It quoted Nancy Olewiler, director of SFU Public Policy and a member of the program committee at the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) in Victoria. (SFU is one of the four university partners in PICS.)
    “She expects teams from each university to participate in interdisciplinary projects such as developing solutions to water shortage, tracking climate-induced emerging health issues and exploring how timber can meet bioenergy needs.”
  • The Edmonton Journal featured the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre on Vancouver Island, and noted it is a partnership of SFU and four other western universities. Said one U of Alberta grad student: “Here, we have access to a lot of different undisturbed habitats. Sheltered coastlines, exposed coastlines, a huge amount of tree diversity, and it's all within a quick and easy boat ride."
  • The Toronto Star reported on Rutgers research that found “a strong belief in the stereotypical measures of masculinity” makes men 50 per cent less likely to get recommended preventive health care services. Olena Hankivsky, associate prof in SFU Public Policy, was quoted: "This kind of research helps us better understand where prevention and intervention dollars can best be effective.”
  • The Vancouver Courier wrote about a research initiative studying dementia, the Meaningful Activity in Dementia (MAID) project. The research team is co-led by Habib Chaudhury, associate prof in SFU Gerontology and associate editor of the Journal of Housing for the Elderly.
  • The Canadian Press distributed across Canadaa feature on a dig in Turkey by U of Toronto archaeologist Timothy Harrison and a team that includes students from SFU. They have uncovered 100,000 artifacts dating back to the Iron Age at an ancient temple near the Syrian border. We saw the story in the Globe and Mail, and as far afield as New Brunswick’s Moncton Times and Transcript.
  • South Asia Mail Online mentioned SFU’s role in future networking conferences on the extent of cardiovascular problems among Indo-Canadians and a rising epidemic of cardiovascular disease in India.  “Simon Fraser University’s (SFU) Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) has a keen interest in developing population-based research in Surrey through SFU’s Surrey campus. The implications for cardiovascular diseases are far beyond clinical aspects alone. It involves social, economical, clinical and research aspects.”


  • The Calgary Herald, picking up an SFU tip, told readers how Calgary brothers Andrew and Stewart Smith (and another Calgarian, Gordon Conn), will play with the SFU Pipe Band at the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow Saturday, Aug. 15.
    The band also came in for mentions in advance stories in several Scottish and Irish newspapers. Scotland’s Bo’nesss Journal, for example, noted: “The defending world champion pipe band from Canada's Simon Fraser University will feature two Bo'ness piping brothers, Callum (20) and James Beaumont (25).” That story also ran in the Linlithgow Journal & Gazette and Queensferry Today.
  • GlobalTV’s London bureau plans to cover the SFU Pipe Band in the championship finals on Glasgow Green tomorrow, Saturday Aug. 15. And Global plans to run an advance item tonight, Friday Aug. 14, at 5:30 p.m. Pacific.
    BBC Scotland plans to livestream video coverage Saturday via:
    The Grade 1 band event begins at 4:30 a.m. PST on Saturday. We can’t predict, though, exactly when the SFU band will be playing.


  • Sports media around the world reported that Victoria Anthony won gold for the U.S. at the junior world wrestling championships in Turkey. In the women’s freestyle competition, she defeated Chaiki Fujikawa of Japan in the finals. Anthony will join the Clan wrestling crew this fall. SFU Athletics sent out a news release to introduce her.
  • The Langley Advance ran a story about the BC women's sprint kayaking team, training on the Fraser River for the Canada Summer Games Aug. 15-29 in Prince Edward Island. Members include Kristin Bauder, a national star—and SFU student—who won gold, silver and bronze in the 2005 games.
  • The Alberni Valley Times featured local wrestler Michael Cappus, also competing at the Canada Summer Games. “When he returns, he'll begin attending Simon Fraser University on a wrestling scholarship.”
  • Okanagan Saturday featured local soccer star Joel Malouf. “These are great times for Malouf. Not only will he cap off a successful summer today and Sunday in helping the Pacific Coast Soccer League champion Okanagan Challenge at the J.F. Kennedy Cup in Vancouver, he also is vying for a starting spot on the SFU men's soccer team in the early days of the Clan's fall camp.”


  • The Regina Leader-Post picked up from The Vancouver Sun of two weeks ago a feature on the work of SFU archaeologists Dana Lepofsky and John Welch and their students in the Tla’Amin country on the Sunshine Coast.
  • The Richmond (VA) Times Dispatch ran an Associated Press newsfeature from three weeks ago on efforts to combat drug smuggling across the Canada-U.S. border. Criminologist Rob Gordon was quoted as saying production of export marijuana and its economic spinoffs have made it BC’s third largest industry behind tourism and logging. "It's a major component of our gross provincial product."

ALSO in the NEWS

  • The Canadian Medical Association told media it will present its 2009 F.N.G. Starr Award to Dr. Donald Rix of Vancouver, businessman, philanthropist and community volunteer. Among other things, the news released noted: “He has  . . . been a strong supporter of Simon Fraser University, serving as chair of the council of the Segal Centre for Graduate Management Studies and as a director of the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue.” The award is the CMA’s highest honour for inspirational achievement, contribution and service.
  • The federal government announced the appointment of chartered accountant Elio Luongo as a lay member of the Competition Tribunal. He graduated from SFU with a BBA, majoring in economics and accounting. Ottawa also named some new citizenship judges, including Anne-Marie Kains of Vancouver. The government news release noted she has a diploma in organizational behaviour from SFU.


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