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November 17, 2005

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Professors merit pay improves schools
Windsor Star, Nov. 10

Universities that pay instructors based on merit pull in more research dollars and have a higher level of student satisfaction, according to a report by the C.D. Howe Institute. Report author John Chant, a professor emeritus of economics at SFU, argues universities with a seniority-based salary system should move to a merit-based system in order to improve the quality of teaching as well as depth of research and student satisfaction. The current rankings of universities in Maclean's magazine appears to support Chant's argument. The top three schools have merit-based salary systems. “The people who are actively going out to get research grants aren't being recognized,” Chant said.

Food scene something to write about
Vancouver Sun, Nov. 10

It's not news that Vancouver's culinary DNA is in large part Asian, and that Asian traditions are embedded in an emerging West Coast cuisine. Japanese, Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian and Indonesian restaurants have educated our palates to say nothing of fish sauce, tamarind paste or kombu. But the ethnic influence isn't all of it. Our West Coast cuisine is also influenced by our geography. “What being on the coast has to offer is fresh seafood,” says Warren Gill, a professor of urban geography at Simon Fraser University and food enthusiast. “My sister-in-law has moved to Toronto and finds fresh seafood hard to come by. We take it for granted here and it's an inspiration to chefs. People specifically ask if fish is fresh in restaurants here.”

Finding clerical work a tough job
CBC News, Nov. 8

It could be a challenge for Royal Bank clerical workers on the Lower Mainland to find new jobs next year. The bank recently announced plans to close two Lower Mainland processing centres and move the work to Ontario, eliminating more than 350 processing jobs. According to Marjorie Griffen-Cohen, an SFU women's studies professor, finding comparable clerical work will be difficult. “Clerical work used to be the largest and most expanding occupation for women,” she says. “This is decreasing significantly.” Griffen-Cohen adds that some of the Royal Bank workers may lack the education to move up to higher level jobs and could be forced into service positions in stores and restaurants. She predicts more clerical positions will disappear in the future as companies outsource work to low-wage countries such as India.

Poverty feeds child obesity
Hamilton Spectator, Nov. 5

Fat kids are lazy, eat too much and play too many video games. Or do they? Perhaps obese children come from families who can't afford hockey equipment, dance classes or fees for an after-school activity. That is closer to the truth, according to a new study that found child obesity rates in lower-income neighbourhoods are higher than those in wealthier neighbourhoods. Lisa Oliver, a doctoral student at SFU took numbers from Statistics Canada and looked at whether socio-economics predicted obesity rates. They did. Oliver said in an interview that obesity is often seen as an individual problem rather than a societal one - like where a child lives. “There may be a solution to the obesity problem in the neighbourhoods,” the geography student said. “There could be a targeted solution to obesity, by focusing on low-income areas.”

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