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SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - November 6, 2009

November 6, 2009

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A look at how Simon Fraser University and its people made news: Oct. 31-Nov. 6, 2009
SFU placed first among comprehensive universities in the annual Maclean's magazine rankings of Canadian universities, published this week. Media across Canada carried the story.
Since we shared first place with the University of Victoria last year, being alone in the top spot is SFU’s best showing since 2000.
In specific areas, SFU also placed first among comprehensives in medical/science grants, faculty awards, and library acquisitions.
More on the rankings at the bottom of this report.

NATIONAL & WORLD NEWS

  • The visit of Prince Charles to SFU tomorrow (Saturday Nov. 7) generated advance coverage around the world.
    It began with an SFU news release Oct. 30, saying in part: “Simon Fraser University will welcome HRH The Prince of Wales on his first visit to the university when the Prince participates in a seminar on ‘The Business Case for Sustainable Urbanism,’ Saturday, Nov. 7 at SFU's Morris J Wosk Centre for Dialogue in downtown Vancouver.”
    The prince’s SFU host, Anthony Perl, director of SFU Urban Studies, was in a column by Jon (“I'm an unabashed royals-booster”) Ferry in The Province. WroteFerry:
    “American-born Simon Fraser University Prof. Anthony Perl, who'll be welcoming Charles to an urban-design seminar in Vancouver tomorrow, says the current system of ‘constitutional monarchy’ helps keep our politicians honest: ‘I think they [the royals] provide us with a continuity and an arm's-length separation of the ceremonial and the symbolic from the day-to-day political, which I like.’"
  • A Toronto Star column looked at how Facebook’s online memorial groups have become “an accepted ritual of mourning.”  It quoted an SFU expert:
    “‘Death is inescapable and the Internet isn't far behind—it's everywhere," emails Richard Smith, a technologically inclined communications professor at Simon Fraser University. ‘It isn't surprising that it is part of our death rituals. When you think about how people recognize, commiserate, sympathize, and rail against death, you'll see that the Internet is more of an extender/amplifier than a transformative thing.’"
  • ScienceDaily.com began a story this way: “Longer toes and a unique ankle structure provide sprinters with the burst of acceleration that separates them from other runners, according to biomechanists. . . .Long toes provide sprinters the advantage of maintaining maximum contact with the ground just a little bit longer than other runners."
    Stephen Piazza of Penn State conducted the research with Sabrina S. M. Lee, now a post-doctoral fellow at SFU. Their findings appeared in the Journal of Experimental Biology.
  • NewScientist.com looked at the development of animated captchas, an advance on those scrambled images that prevent software robots from abusing some website features. “Greg Mori at Simon Fraser University  . . . sees (the) move towards animation as hugely promising. ‘Moving towards video-based captchas has a lot going for it,’ he says. ‘In fact, I am involved with a small start-up that is trying to do just that.’" (Mori is an assistant prof in SFU Computing Science.)
  • The Toronto Star examined Canada’s growing use of temporary foreign workers. Among other things, it noted: “In a recent study, Simon Fraser University economist Dominique Gross concluded the migrant program contributes to keeping higher unemployment rates in some parts of the country. Turning to migrants spares employers the higher wages and other incentives that would make it worthwhile for the unemployed to move for a job, Gross says.”
  • Canwest News Service sent across the country a feature on fitness regimens that don’t require a gym. It quoted Tony Leyland, kinesiologist and senior lecturer in biomedical physiology and kinesiology at SFU:
    “You can take a brisk 15-minute walk, do some pushups later and some gardening still later in the day. And varying your exercise regimen prevents boredom. . . . Walking isn't going to get you terribly aerobically fit, but brisk walks will prevent your level from deteriorating."
    And, he added: “Being out in nature alleviates stress and promotes better sleep.  . . . Varied terrain is excellent. You have to move your body vertically, and it challenges your balance and co-ordination."
  • Another Canwest News Service feature looked at the new generation of 2010 wall calendars. One manufacturer says buyers no longer actually use them to track dates. The story continued:
    Richard Smith, a professor in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C., doesn't expect the practical use of calendars to last. Nonetheless, Smith believes we'll continue to buy calendars for reasons that span nostalgia, charity (in the case of fundraising calendars), and identity signalling, with the industry's new emphasis on niche-offering a calendar for every character.”
    (Catchy headline on this story in the Ottawa Citizen: “Traditional calendars have backs against the wall.”)

PUBLIC POLICY PROFS

  • Public policy profs Nancy Olewiler and John Richards wrote a guest column in The Vancouver Sun defending BC’s Agricultural Land Reserve:
    “The ALR may raise urban land prices somewhat. That is a minor problem compared to the ALR's benefit in limiting urban sprawl. . . . There is much more: Most urbanites value the existence of rural farmland, open spaces, wetlands for wildlife, and so on as part of what makes B.C. a good place to live. . . . The public amenity benefits add up to millions of dollars.”
  • Public policy prof Kennedy Stewart wrote a mini-column and blog for The Vancouver Sun: “In his inaugural address, Mayor Gregor Robertson pledged ‘boldness’ on a whole raft of issues. . . . but coupled with his electoral system plebiscite flip-flop, Robertson looks as committed to bringing the public into city business as Sam Sullivan. So much for boldness.”
    Stewart was also in the Vancouver Courier, in a story that said only about 100 Vancouverites turned out for attend public meetings on the 2010 city budget. Stewart said the Vision Vancouver councillors set that up by announcing hearings on a Friday afternoon, and starting them the next Monday.
    "You can hardly call this going to the public.” And, he added, it is “just exactly the same” as under the previous NPA council.
  • Another public policy prof, Jon Kesselman, was in a Province story challenging a Canadian Federation of Independent Business study of municipal spending. “It's just an arbitrary notion that any one major category of spending should stay at a fixed portion of people's total budgets. . . . As people become more prosperous, or their tastes change, they may want more of what they consume provided by government. They may want better community centres and services.”
    Public policy colleague Doug McArthur, meanwhile, was in The Province, challenging a Federation conclusion that municipal wages are out of line and are driving costs. The problem isn’t wages, he said, but increased services and big infrastructure projects. “If municipalities are growing services, you are going to see the overall wage and salary benefits growing. It's a service sector.”

PRISONS and POT

  • A John Geddes column in Maclean’s questioned the federal government’s plans for mandatory minimum penalties (MMPs) for a raft of offences from gun crime to big-time fraud. He quoted, among others, SFU’s Neil Boyd.
    “Simon Fraser University criminologist Neil Boyd says mandatory minimums might be justified, but only if they were more narrowly targeted. Rather than the government's proposed two-year minimum for anyone convicted of growing 500 or more marijuana plants, he suggests ‘smart and focused’ tougher sentencing only for those who use guns, set spring-traps or endanger children in running a grow op. Boyd slams the broad application of MMPs by the Tories as ‘not tough on crime, but stupid on crime.’"
  • An editorial in the Toronto Sun group of newspapers sniped at the condemnation by UK government politicians of a proposal by their top drug advisor, that drugs be classified according to the degree of harm they produce, and that marijuana be moved into a more dangerous drug category.
    In Canada, "Our laws have nothing to do with health considerations or pharmacology," said Benedikt Fischer, a drug policy expert in SFU Health Sciences. "It reflects politics from 100 years ago."
    Meanwhile, Fischer has been invited to appear Nov. 19 before the federal Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, which is looking at proposed changes to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
    Farther afield, Fischer was quoted in Estadão Today, a major Brazilian paper, as saying: "There is no other country that has such an extreme situation as Brazil with children using crack."  He was there for meetings with Brazil’s coordinator of mental health.
  • Canwest News Service and The Vancouver Sun called Rob Gordon, director of SFU Criminology, for a story on the death of Canada’s long-gun registry. “Rob Gordon, director of Simon Fraser University's school of criminology, said people in rural areas opposed the bill and many rural residents failed to register their firearms.”

The ENVIRONMENT

  • A column in three BC dailies cited a Toronto Dominion Bank report that concluded greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced significantly without too much economic damage.  Columnist Paul Willcocks added: “The economic model comes from Mark Jaccard and Associates. Jaccard is a Simon Fraser University professor and deservedly influential analyst, with no political agenda. It is interesting to note the assumptions include significant change, including a 100-per-cent shift to electric heating for new construction in B.C.”
    The column ran in the Kelowna Courier, Cranbrook Daily Townsman and Alaska Highway News.
  • The Vancouver Sun covered a green-energy conference at SFU’s Vancouver campus, and reported that “British Columbia is decades behind other North American jurisdictions when it comes to confronting the impacts that hydroelectric development may have on the environment.” The paper continued:
    “Simon Fraser University energy economist Mark Jaccard told the conference that neighbouring U.S. jurisdictions have for decades studied hydro development on an ecosystem scale. Jaccard, one of hundreds of academics who shared a Nobel Peace Prize for research on climate change, said he was surprised to learn that B.C. doesn't take the same approach.”
    Meanwhile, the Calgary Herald ran an editorial from National Post on the economic impact of reducing greenhouse gases. “According to economic modelling by Simon Fraser University economist Mark Jaccard, the costs of reducing emissions by 20% between now and (2020) are pretty simple to summarize: We just have to bash the hell out of Alberta. . . . And we are glad Mr. Harper refuses to go down this road.”

DOWNTOWN EASTSIDE

  • The Province looked at the new bookA Thousand Dreams: Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and the Fight for its Future, written by SFU criminologist Neil Boyd, Senator Larry Campbell (former RCMP officer, chief coroner and Vancouver mayor) and Vancouver Sun reporter Lori Culbert.
    The Province ran a photo of Boyd, and quoted him: “The people there really do care about each other. It's not a scary place. It's not a dangerous place. It might be a depressing place at times, but it's not a forbidding place. It's not like some parts of American cities where you couldn't walk safely."
    The Vancouver Sun has been carrying excerpts from the book, too.
  • Earlier, The Province reported that more than 30 agencies (plus nine community kitchens, three gardens and two food-box depots) offer free or cheap food or meals in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. “But while bread lines appear abundant, a researcher with Simon Fraser University's Centre for Sustainable Community Development cautions free food doesn't always mean accessible food.
    “‘It's an odd situation in the Downtown Eastside, because you have so many food providers, but at the same time there's still a lot of food insecurity. There may be lineups and if people are HIV-positive or have a chronic disease, that could be a big barrier,’ says Christiana Miewald, researcher with the Good Eats! food mapping project.”
  • In a related story in The Province was Diane Brown, author of The One Pot Cookbook: Dinner for One!, designed for people who have only hotplates to cook on in the Downtown Eastside. “Last year, Brown got involved with Simon Fraser University's Good Eats! program for people with HIV/AIDS, running workshops on healthy hot-plate cooking. Out of that, she decided to create a cookbook for single people in the area's subsidized housing buildings.”
    And The Province also featured a vegetable garden for the residents of the Downtown Eastside. “The Hastings Folk Garden on Hastings Street near Columbia has grown into a gathering space for green thumbs.” The paper added: “Simon Fraser University students built a compost bin and some other students are working on a new shed.”

OTHER BC NEWS

  • Gordon Price, director of the SFU City Program, was on GlobalTV and in the Surrey-North Delta Leader, speaking about the sudden resignation of Tom Prendergast as CEO of TransLink.
    "As of this moment, our future is going to be auto-dependent. The truckers have won. All the sustainable region initiatives, all the transit-oriented communities—all the stuff we talk about—we have to be honest about it: At best, it's on hold. At worst, it has no future."
    He said he has no hope the province will now seriously come to the transit-financing table. "Prendergast is the best judge of this. He looked at the situation, saw this wasn't going anywhere and said 'What am I doing here?'"
    Price was also in the Vancouver Westender, saying he hopes the apparent success of the Burrard Bridge bicycle lane can eventually lead to a new "post-motordom" era. "As we move into the post-motordom era, the car will be accommodated as one of the five modes of transportation that we use—in addition to feet, bikes, taxis, [and] transit—but it won't be the dominant one.”
  • Earlier, the Planning Institute of BC told media that  “well-known Vancouverite Gordon Price” will be admitted as honourary member of the institute tomorrow (Saturday Nov. 7), World Planning Day.
  • Peter Chow-White, assistant prof in SFU Communication, handled a string of media calls as he said extensive coverage of the H1N1 vaccine program “has seeped into our daily lives to the point where the public has trouble distinguishing between what warrants justifiable panic and concern about protection.”
  • Marketing prof Lindsay Meredith was on GlobalTV. While Bell and Telus now are following Rogers in offering iPhones, Meredith said he hopes the CRTC will allow competitors from the U.S. to offer iPhone plans and packages, to force the Big Three to drop prices.
  • Ramsay Malange, a student in the Undergraduate Semester in Dialogue program, wrote a guest piece in The Vancouver Sun saying traditional economic indicators are poor tools for measuring the value of arts and culture.  The Canadian Index of Well-Being, to be released in 2010, would do a better job.
    “There will be no meaningful change in the way that arts and culture are supported in Canada until we change the way that policy-makers understand its value. Our measurement of success needs to take culture into account.”
    Meanwhile, PAMR and the Irving K. Barber British Columbia Scholarship Society announced to media that Malange has won a $20,000 Premier’s One World Scholarship for study abroad. The SFU Psychology student plans to go for a year to Australia’s Monash University Centre for Bioethics.
  • The Province reported that the Tsawwassen First Nation (TFN) is developing a massive port-related industrial park on some 135 hectares of new treaty land. The newspaper said the board of directors of the TFN Economic Development Corporation includes Pat Hibbitts, SFU’s vice-president finance.
  • The New Westminster Record reported that members of New Westminster’s Olympic Torch Relay Celebration Committee include “Fiona Burrows from Simon Fraser University”. Burrows is assistant director, community relations, in SFU’s office of Public Affairs and Media Relations (PAMR)
  • The Surrey-North Delta Leader reported Surrey’s city's transportation committee is recommending changing the name of West Whalley Ring Road to University Drive, “in keeping with the presence of Simon Fraser University.”
  • The Tri-City News reported that SFU student Alicia Coleman is “putting the temporary brakes on her academic career” to begin a yearlong missionary internship in Africa. “With an organization called Thrive Africa, she will work with children and families in a region of South Africa that has been ravaged by poverty and AIDS.”
  • Sean Robertson, doctoral student in SFU Geography, wrote an article in Xtra West, saying Vancouver’s gay community has witnessed at least 10 gaybashings in the past 12 months. “The most frustrating aspect of the battle to prevent hate is the apparent unwillingness of BC’s Crown counsel to prosecute gaybashings as hate crimes. . . . The Crown’s reluctance to consider anything but the most blatant evidence of hate motivation has undermined public trust in its use of the hate crime designation.”

EDUCATION

  • The Institute of Public Administration of Canada and financial services company Deloitte told media that SFU has won their 2009 gold award for public-sector leadership in education—for its pioneering moves to become firmly rooted in the community below Burnaby Mountain. The award recognizes “outstanding leadership by taking bold steps to improve Canada, through advancements in public policy and management.”
  • Political scientist Patrick Smith wrote a guest column in the Burnaby NewsLeader proposing that student debt may be one factor crippling Canada’s economic recovery.  “The average debt of B.C. students with four-year degrees is more than $27,000. Many carry student loans greater than some mortgages—up to $100,000. The questions here are simple: Who among these people is likely to trade in his clunker for a new car? Who is going to make an offer on a condo or house? Who is going to be part of any consumer-led recovery? And who has simply disappeared from the ‘real economy’ because they cannot survive after graduation without an alternative identity?”
  • The Province’s On The Move page reported: “William G. Lindsay will be joining Simon Fraser University in January 2010 as the new director of the office for First Nations. He is currently co-coordinator for aboriginal student services at the First Nations House of Learning at the University of B.C.”
  • The Georgia Straight featured Gerri Sinclair, executive director of the Masters of Digital Media Program and CEO of the Centre for Digital Media at Great Northern Way Campus, a joint venture of SFU, UBC, BCIT and Emily Carr University. “I think in five years we will have at least doubled our enrolment, for sure—maybe even more. We’re hoping to be able to offer an executive Masters of Digital Media Program for people who are still in the workforce. . . . We also expect to be delivering many more professional courses to the digital-media community, both locally and globally.
  • The Comox Valley Record reported a local winner of a 2008-09 Governor General's Academic Medal: “Laramie Ferguson . . . is in her first year studying sciences with a major in biology at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby and is also taking psychology.”  The Comox Valley Echo also featured her.
  • The South Delta Leader told readers that Kwantlen Polytechnic University elected Ariana Arguello as professional and support staff representative on the Kwantlen board of governors. “Arguello has an economics degree and a Master of Business Administration from Simon Fraser University.”
  • The Toronto Star featured scientists who are seeking to know 'the brain basis’ of teaching. They include John Geake, who has “battled fiercely for a decade to introduce education academics to neuroeducation.” The Star noted Geake was at SFU in 1995.
  • The New Westminster Record covered a public meeting on the fate of the Massey Theatre. Students from New Westminster Secondary School student and others told the board of education that students of New Westminster need the theatre. “Remy Siu, who graduated from the high school last year and now attends Simon Fraser University, said the theatre has unified students.”
  • Ghanaian news websites announced the appointment of Mahamudu Bawumia as a senior member at St. Antony’s College in the University of Oxford. He’s a former deputy governor of the Bank of Ghana and an unsuccessful candidate for Ghana’s vice-presidency in 2008, and has a PhD from SFU.

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

  • The Vancouver Sun reported on the opening event of the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival in January (choreographer Jérôme Bel's The Show Must Go On) and declared:
    “All eyes will be on the venue itself, as the Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre is christened in the new Woodward's complex. Part of SFU's School for Contemporary Arts, The Wong, with almost infinite flexibility and equipment in place to handle any kind of show, is the perfect forum for Bel's brand of entertainment—dance and DJ blurring the line between spectator and spectacle.”
  • Geof Glass, PhD student in SFU Communication, wrote a guest blog for Georgia Straight that concluded: “The tragedy of these (BC government) cuts to culture, to sports, to libraries is that they strike precisely where we have the most need of it: the communities and places where a little bit can go a long way. Because what we value most in art is not the thing itself, but how it creates spaces for us to live in.”
  • The Toronto Star featured writer Annabel Lyon and her debut fiction novel, The Golden Mean.  Her story of Greek philosopher Aristotle and his mentorship of a young Alexander the Great is in the running for the $50,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize, the $25,000 Governor General's Award for Fiction, and the $25,000 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize.
    “She studied philosophy at Simon Fraser, where she indulged a passion for ancient Greek philosophy that later became the inspiration for The Golden Mean. ‘Aristotle was my guy,’ she recalls. ‘Even after I left the philosophy studies behind, I still liked to go back and read his books. Eventually, I started thinking about how to turn that interest into a novel.’"

ATHLETICS

  • SFU Athletics fed stories and statistics to media as:
    • The Clan women’s basketball team last weekend knocked off University of Victoria 61-49 and, thanks to a second-half comeback, defeated Western Washington University 65-62. The team will play this weekend against Trinity Western (tonight, Nov. 6, 7pm) and UBC (Saturday, Nov. 7, 7pm) in the West Gym on the Burnaby campus.
    • The Clan men’s basketball team defeated the University of Victoria Vikes 78-75.
    • The men’s soccer team beat Western Washington 2-0, then wrapped up their regular season by defeating the Concordia University Cavaliers 3-0, for a season record of 15-3. The Clan goes next week to Arizona for the 2009 Association of Independent Institutions Championship as the top seed.
    • The Clan women's soccer team tied 1-1 with the University of the Fraser Valley. Next stop: the 2009 Association of Independent Institutions conference championship next week.
    • The SFU men’s and women’s cross-country teams prepared to compete this weekend in the A.I.I Championships in San Diego.
    • The Clan volleyball team lost two matches to University of Calgary, 3-0 and 3-0.
    • The men’s and women’s wrestling teams got ready to compete in the Hargobind International tournament in Surrey. The finals are tonight (Friday Nov. 6).
    • And our men's and women's swimming teams trained for the Clan Cup International this weekend on the Burnaby campus.
  • SFU Athletics also spread the word on how the Clan men's soccer team includes student-athletes from all over the globe—and posted a video on those international connections:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3iaYTOuvmQ

  • The Surrey-North Delta Leader reported the induction into the International Softball Federation Hall of Fame of Canada Cup founder Glen Todd. “Todd, who was also inducted into the Softball BC Hall of Fame as a builder in 2004, has been involved in softball in Surrey since 1978 . . . and also helped establish the White Rock Renegades softball program, as well as the one at Simon Fraser University.”

SFU RELEASES

  • The SFU Alumni Association elected the winners of its 2009 Outstanding Alumni Awards. The recipients: Lyn Hancock, author, photojournalist environmentalist, educator and filmmaker; Marianne Sadar, a senior scientist and prostate cancer research leader at the B.C. Cancer Agency; Carol Huynh, Olympic gold medallist in women’s wrestling; and Robert Turner, director of neurophysics at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Germany.
  • SFU told media how the SFU-based Human Security Report Project has  launched its first issue of the Pakistan Conflict Monitor. Modelled on its highly successful Afghanistan Conflict Monitor (http://www.afghanconflictmonitor.org/), the Pakistan Conflict Monitor is accessible free of charge at http://www.pakistanconflictmonitor.org/

MACLEAN’S RANKINGS 2009

Maclean’s magazine introduced its 2009 rankings of comprehensive universities with this: 
“In the Comprehensive category, Simon Fraser finished first for the second year in a row. Once again, an outstanding showing in winning student and faculty awards, as well as research grants, contributed to a top-notch score. In addition, SFU scored highly on library spending, particularly in spending on acquisitions.”

Jon Driver, V-P academic, did interviews with City-TV and Canwest News Service. The latter wrote:
“Jon Driver was pleased Thursday when he heard Simon Fraser University had ranked first in the comprehensive category of the annual Maclean's magazine university rankings, but he still took the news with a grain of salt.
"’I think one has to be very careful about any ranking system. Universities are complex places with many, many different strengths,’ said Driver, vice-president (academic) at the Burnaby, B.C. institution. ‘Rankings systems provide one view of what we're doing.’"
The Vancouver Sun’s story used a photo of assistant prof Payman Jula of SFU Business leading an MBA class. Stuart Colcleugh of PAMR sent out a news release.

The 2009 comprehensive standings (with last year’s Maclean’s rank in parentheses and an asterisk indicating a tie):
1.  Simon Fraser (1*)
2.  Victoria (1*)
3.  Waterloo (3)
4.  Guelph (4)
5.  Memorial (5*)
6.  New Brunswick (5*)
7.  Carleton (7)
8.  Windsor (8)
*9. Regina (9*)
*9. York (9*)
11. Concordia

That’s SFU’s best showing since 2000. SFU was tied for #1 in 2008, was #2 in 2007, #4 in 2006, #3 in 2005 (tied with Guelph); #4 in 2004 and 2003; #2 in 2002 and 2001, #1 in 2000, and #2 in 1999 (tied with Waterloo).

In the Maclean’s “National Reputational Rankings” for 2009:

  • Best overall: SFU placed 12th out of 48 Canadian universities, compared with 13th in 2008.
  • Most innovative:  SFU placed 12th in Canada, up from 13th in 2008.
  • Leaders of Tomorrow: SFU ranked 12th, up from 14th in 2008.
  • Highest quality: SFU was 15th, compared with 17th in 2008.

SFU led the comprehensive universities in research grants with an average grant size of $120,100, and a total of 187.5 grants per 1000 faculty members. SFU was #1 in 2008 as well.
In major faculty awards, SFU was #1 among the comprehensive schools, at the rate of 6.6 awards per 1000 professors. 
In library acquisitions, SFU led the way with 52.9% of the library budget devoted to updating the university’s collection, including electronic access. SFU was also first in 2008, but at 50.2%.

Much more detail on all the universities at:
http://oncampus.macleans.ca/education/rankings/

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