SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - September 25, 2009

September 25, 2009

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A look at how Simon Fraser University and its people made news: Sept. 17-25, 2009

Comedian Rick Mercer’s visit to the Burnaby campus will be seen on the season premiere episode of the Rick Mercer Report on CBC-TV, Tuesday Sept. 29 at 8 pm on Channel 3.
It will repeat on Friday Oct. 2, same time, same channel. And be archived online at
Mercer was here to kick off the Spread the Net campaign, which provides bed nets for children in Africa. SFU has a target of $60,000. You can donate at


  • BBC News visited Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, noting it is described by some as "the worst slum in Canada”. Rob Gordon, director of SFU Criminology, gave the BBC his own description: “It's a sewer of human misery."
    The BBC continued: “Drug addiction is another big challenge. The city has a four-pronged strategy (but) Gordon says that the strategy ‘has never been given a chance to flourish.’ . . . He believes drug addiction should be treated as a matter of health, not crime. ‘They are wasting time, money, human beings, while thinking that criminal justice will work. It won't. It's a health issue, or no issue.’"
  • John O’Neil, dean of SFU Health Sciences, did a string of interviews on the subject of the federal health department sending body bags to some Manitoba First Nations who had asked for assistance in preparing for outbreaks of H1N1 flu. He spoke on, among others, Talk1410 and CKNW in Vancouver, and CBC Radio in Whitehorse.
  • CBC-TV, the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Sun papers, among others, gave advance promotion to CBC-TV’s feature on the Rick Mercer show that airs next Tuesday and Friday. Wrote the Globe: “Canada's sharpest comedic mind returns for a new season of cross-country adventures and cutting-edge satire. In the opener, Mercer . . . visits Simon Fraser University for frosh week, learns to play the bagpipes with the school's world-champion piper band and launches the ‘Spread the Net Student Challenge,’ a charity that raises funds to supply malaria nets to African children.”
  • The Globe and Mail looked at depression and mental-health issues among Canadian university students. As a case history it cited SFU student Taylor Kagel.
    “Today, in his final year, his depression and anxiety under control, he helps lead a student wellness group that uses hikes to encourage mental health. In his freshman year, he spent his first term hiding in his dorm room. ‘I was surrounded by 24,000 people at this university. And I would go through the day without talking to anybody. It was the worst time of my life. . . . It was very lonely time. But there is help out there.’”
  • The Detroit Free Press quoted Anthony Perl, director of urban studies and a transportation expert, in a story on Michigan’s hopes for $830 million in U.S. federal funding for its part of a Midwest high-speed rail plan. “Keeping prices as low as possible is important to increasing ridership, said Anthony Perl. . . . ‘If gas costs $5 a gallon, and interstates are falling apart because there's not enough money to maintain them, the train might start to look like a good alternative.’”
    Radio station WZZM in Grand Rapids MI picked up the story.
  • Marketing prof Lindsay Meredith spoke with The Canadian Press about the resumption of the Braidwood inquiry into the death of Robert Dziekanski, who was Tasered by RCMP at Vancouver International Airport in 2007. Meredith’s message to the RCMP: “Apologize and tell the public exactly what you have changed in corporate policy to make sure nobody else get Tasered to death.”
    Meredith also spoke with The Canadian Press about the marketing of coffee around the 2010 Olympics. Coca Cola has the beverage contract, which includes its Far Coast coffee, tea and cocoa brand.
  • SFU Business prof Peter Tingling wrote a guest column in the Financial Post section of National Post, saying what General Motors really needs “is not more hope, handouts and subsidies, but a plan that reflects what it is, what it represents and how it is going to compete.” He added: “GM must rebuild its reputation with after-sales service and warranties. Second, future markets are critical.”
  • The Toronto Star reported a 14-year-old girl had been charged with first-degree murder in the beating death of a homeless man in a Scarborough cemetery. Police sought an older accomplice. SFU criminologist Ray Corrado told the Star: "That combination—really young girl and older partner—can be lethal and they often pick very vulnerable victims." The Guelph (ON) Mercury picked up the story.
  • The Globe and Mail looked at how the internet can be used to address problems of the homeless, even if they have limited access to the web. Among projects mentioned was this: “At Simon Fraser University, research associate Andrew Park has created a virtual environment of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside that will help researchers study how urban design affects human behaviour.”


  • André Gerolymatos, chair of SFU Hellenic Studies, was on the Early Edition show on CBC Radio, talking about how his team is teaching Greek to some 1,000 students—in China.
    It began with the idea of using technology to reach beyond the Burnaby campus. Then came a partnership with two universities in China. “To our collective surprise it took off.” Even though “the first time we put Greek into a Chinese computer it froze.”
    Now, Gerolymatos suggested, the techniques could be used to teach and preserve first Nations languages that could otherwise die.
  • Lindsay Meredith of SFU Business was in The Vancouver Sun in a story about how imported bulk wine is being labelled and sold as BC wine. Said the marketing prof: “Do consumers have a right to be annoyed? You're damn right they do. And it's certainly doing no long-term good for the B.C. wineries because these other products are undercutting wines that are actually vinted in British Columbia fair and square.”
  • Business in Vancouver gave front-page coverage to a program in which SFU Business will help get native chiefs into corporate offices and CEOs onto aboriginal reserves. It’s a partnership of SFU’s Learning Strategies Group (LSG) and the Industry Council for Aboriginal Business. Rick Colbourne, executive director of LSG, said:
    “Senior leadership from corporations come from a very different place than potentially the senior leaders in First Nations, so there’s a real desire for each side to understand the other, to understand their context for doing business, to understand how they make these decisions and how they can work together and move forward in a more collaborative way and partner on business and economic opportunities.”
  • Halloween is weeks away, and CTV reported the BC pumpkin crop is a month ahead of its usual time. Deborah Harford of SFU’s Adaptation to Climate Change team was quoted: "Warmer winters, worsening droughts, heavier precipitation and more extreme heat—all of these things raise important questions, from how will pumpkins be affected to whether we will have snow for the Olympics next year.”
  • The Province wrote about how BC universities are dealing with escalation of the H1N1 flu virus. Among those quoted was Apollonia Cifarelli, SFU’s director of environmental health and safety: “Our biggest concern is making certain that people understand that they shouldn't be coming to campus if they're ill, because if they continue to come, then it will just spread rampantly."
  • Epoch Times was quick to run a story on how two SFU scientists are offering a free astronomy program aimed at school children. Chemist Sophie Lavieri and physicist Howard Trottier teach participants how to operate a telescope, and acquire one free. During a test run in March-June, it drew more than 1,100 children from more than 30 schools.
  • Two SFU students had letters in The Vancouver Sun reporting on their “random acts of kindness”, a campaign being supported by the newspaper. Sonia Ejtehadian found she had no cash—so she gave her packed lunch to a homeless man. Alecia Cooper reported she has volunteered to work at an orphanage in South Africa for two weeks.
  • The Province looked at the first year of operation of Vancouver’s Downtown Community Court. “As of July 31, 2009, Canada's first community court had seen 1,786 offenders and resolved 1,970 cases.” The paper noted: “The criminology department of Simon Fraser University is evaluating the effectiveness of the court. A preliminary report is expected next spring.”
  • The Surrey-North Delta Leader reported a $30-million public library will be built by Surrey, next to SFU’s Surrey campus. The paper also reported there are proposals for new casinos in Surrey. One would be near the Days Inn at 9850 King George Highway. That raised an issue for Coun. Tom Gill, who said he would be reluctant to approve a large casino close to the Surrey campus. The Peace Arch News carried the stories too.


  • Senior director David Murphy of SFU Athletics and SFU President Michael Stevenson announced at a news conference in the West Gym that SFU will join the NCAA in 2010-11, a year early. At the conference were cameras from GlobalTV and SportsNet, and reporters from The Canadian Press, The Vancouver Sun, The Province, News1130, CKNW, Burnaby Now, Burnaby NewsLeader, the Georgia Straight and The Peak. We then saw coverage from Alaska to Florida, and all across Canada.
    The Province ran a column on the NCAA move, saying it is “is filled with plenty of potential positives”—but there’s a negative for the Clan women's basketball team: “The Clan will enter what is now its final CIS season as the prohibitive favourites. But because of the four-year eligibility rule in the NCAA versus the five-year window in the CIS, the team will now graduate more than half its roster after this season.”
  • SFU football coach Dave Johnson gave himself a public D grade after the Clan dropped a 28-16 game to the University of Alberta Golden Bears: "I think I cost us this game. I ran them really hard in practice this week, and I think we came out tired and unfocused.”
    Scoring for the Clan were Gabe Ephard (10-yard touchdown run), Jason Cook (a conversion and a 40-yard field goal) and Jerod Zaleski (touchdown, not converted, on a one-yard pass from Caleb Clark). There’s a video recap online.
    The Clan take on the U of Calgary on Saturday Sept. 26. Both are 2-1 this season. No. 11 SFU is entering its toughest stretch of the season, with games against No. 4 Calgary, No. 3 Saskatchewan (Oct. 2 at home), and Regina (Oct. 9 in Regina).
  • Playing on an injured leg, goalkeeper Cassie Newbrook gutted out her fourth shutout of the season. Thus the Clan women’s soccer team tied the No. 1 ranked California Baptist University Lancers 0-0 (double overtime) in a game in Portland.
    Newbrook was named athlete of the week by SFU Athletics and by the NAIA Association of Independent Institutions.
    The women went on to beat Corban College 3-1 in Salem OR. Scoring for SFU were Lauren Lachlan, Catlin Carruthers and Sarah Boulton.
    But after six straight games on the road, the Clan hosted Western Washington on the Burnaby campus, and lost 1-0 in overtime. This despite a sterling performance from Newbrook. The loss dropped SFU to 5-3-1 for the season.
  • The Clan men’s soccer team won its fourth straight game, and moved to 8-2 for the season, with a 6-0 victory over the Capilano University Blues on SFU’s Field 4. Scorers for SFU were David Hill (twice), Alex Hanne, Josh Bennett, Colin Streckmann (penalty kick), and Dillon Ferridge.
    Earlier, the Clan defeated the Western Washington University Vikings 3-2. SFU goals came from Roman Doutkevitch, Hanne and John Hodnett. The team is back in action on Sept. 30, hosting Trinity Western at 7 pm.
  • Kicking off their 2009 season at the Sundodger Invitational, hosted by the University of Washington, the Clan men’s and women’s cross-country teams finished third and second overall in their open classes. For the men, Ryan Brockerville finished fourth overall for SFU in the 8k in a time of 24:54. On the women’s side, junior Angela Shaw posted the Clan’s best time in the 6k, finishing 12th overall in a time of 22:13. The Clan compete next on Saturday Sept. 26 at the Evergreen Open in Olympia WA.
  • Clan basketball star Laurelle Weigl was named to the Canadian senior women's national team for the FIBA Americas Championship. Weigl, the 2007 CIS Rookie of the Year and Tournament MVP, is a two-time CIS national champion with the Clan, and has represented Canada three other times on developmental teams.
  • Back to football: The Province featured Clan running back Brandon Halverson, recruited by coach Johnson in Phoenix AZ. Halverson is the son of the manager of the Blockbuster store Johnson patronized while living in Phoenix.
    “It was in the storage room,” recalled Johnson. “It happened right there next to the all of the Hershey bars and the Oh Henrys. I told him that I had gotten a job coaching a college team up in Canada, and he told me that his son was a player. . . . I think I am starting to get the reputation as a guy who is looking for players with a story, kind of with a unique past and their doors have maybe been closed.”
  • The Aldergrove Star reported that Aldergrove’s Kylie Ellis pitched TeamBC to a gold medal at the Canada Summer Games in PEI. “Kylie, who has been playing (softball) for 14 years for Langley, North Delta and White Rock, started playing for SFU last year as a freshman. She is returning to SFU's team this season while studying criminology.”


  • The Vancouver Sun reported on enrolment increases at BC universities. “The total number of registered students on all SFU campuses jumped to 28,275, an increase of seven per cent over last year's record enrolment.”
    Mehran Kiai, director of enrolment services, said in an interview: “Applications are coming in at a much higher rate. We've never had this size of an undergraduate cohort coming in. It [the recession] could be a factor, but we don't have any data to substantiate that."
  • The Sun also looked at enrolment in MBA programs, and quoted Ed Bukszar, associate dean of SFU’s Segal Graduate School of Business: “When the economy is bad, it's a good time to go back to an MBA program." He said Segal has about 350 students this year, including 35-40 PhD students, which represents an enrolment increase of about 25 per cent.
  • The Vancouver Sun reported that a tight job market is affecting students from the Masters of Digital Media Program, a joint venture of SFU, UBC, BCIT and Emily Carr University. Gerri Sinclair, executive director of the program, said: “Students who entered in 2007 graduated to a very different world than the one they had envisioned. The video game industry in Vancouver over the past year has seen a significant reduction in the workforce."
  • The Grand Forks (BC) Gazette noted that Grade 12 exams seem to be on the way out as requirements for graduation and entrance to university. It quoted SFU’s Jon Driver, v-p academic: “We want to be as attractive as possible to students in the province, and we felt that we might be less attractive if we were requiring students to write exams that now were only optional."
  • Burnaby Now reported SFU students are speaking out in video about cuts to post-secondary education. "When you watch a video . . . you're emotionally impacted in some way," said Alysia MacGrotty, for the Simon Fraser Student Society. MacGrotty’s interviews with students will be aired on the society's website and on YouTube—and will go to the advanced education minister and opposition critic.
  • The Vancouver Courier ran a column on the propensity of students to use and chat on electronic gadgets during classes. It quoted Anne Guthrie Warman, president of the Vancouver Secondary School Teachers Association: “Guthrie Warman shared a depressing story of teaching students at Simon Fraser University. These aspiring teachers—of all people—would whip open their laptops the moment they sat down in class and jump on to Facebook. What hope is there for our kids if these are the teachers of tomorrow?”
  • The Queen Charlotte Islands Observer in Haida Gwaii reported the Fernandez-Earle Scholarship Foundation is launching a new scholarship for a high school student from the Queen Charlotte Islands to attend SFU, starting in the fall of 2010. It’s a four-year scholarship valued at $15,000 annually.


  • The Vancouver Westender wrote about funding cuts to arts groups by the BC government. Among those quoted was SFU theatre student Florence Barrett, who said the cuts will be devastating to her hometown of Fernie BC, where she has worked as assistant curator at the town's museum. "The money we get from the gaming fund is our operational money. . . . Without this money, we're screwed.”
  • The North Shore News featured author Michael Turner and his new book, 8x10. And the paper added: “He's been named Simon Fraser University's writer-in-residence for the 2009-2010 academic year.”
  • Canwest News Service featured filmmaker Jacob Tierney. His The Trotsky premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. Tierney wrote the first script at age 20, then joined the Praxis screenwriting course at SFU. “It eventually became a situational comedy, where only the main character behaves like a raging socialist and everyone else thinks he's crazy.” We saw the story in National Post, among others.



  • SFU’s Vancouver campus told media how Lesotho Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, who got his MEd from SFU, will return to the university for a President’s Forum on Tuesday, Sept. 29. (Wosk Centre, 580 West Hastings, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Seating is limited. Call 778.782.7925 to reserve.) Mosisili will talk about the HIV/AIDS crisis in his southern African country. (An estimated 23.2 per cent of its two million people are infected, including almost 30 per cent of those between the ages of 15 and 49.)
  • SFU also told media about three new Canada Research Chairs at SFU who will each receive $500,000 to advance research in their fields. Four other chairs have been renewed for a total of $3.5 million in research funding. (The new chairs are physicist Erol Girt, and mathematicians Paul Tupper and Nilima Nigam.)
  • SFU also let media know about a study that finds BC’s colleges and universities lack sufficient funding, information and support to meet the BC government’s requirement that they become carbon-neutral by 2010. The report was written by Ashley Webster, SFU urban studies graduate student for the B.C. Working Group and Network on Sustainability Education (BCWG). That’s spearheaded by Janet Moore, assistant prof in SFU Dialogue. The report can be found at


  • Radio Rhim Jim and RJ1200AM, serving the Indo-Canadian community, will host two on-air guests with SFU connections next Monday, Sept. 28)\. They are physician Arun Garg of SFU’s India Advisory Council and SFU student Tushar Vyas, who went to India for an internship last year thanks to scholarship money raised at last year's Diwali gala dinner. They’ll be talking about SFU’s India initiatives, and this year’s Diwali gala dinner that takes place Oct. 7. The broadcast will run from 2-3pm on RJ1200AM and on Rim Jhim. It can also be heard online at


  • This weekly report now takes a vacation break, and will return on Friday Oct. 9



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