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McGill Reporter
April 11, 2002 - Volume 34 Number 14
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Supreme Court superstar

Photo The Honourable Madam Justice Louise Arbour
PHOTO: Larry Munn, Supreme Court of Canada Collection

Even in accepting honours, Louise Arbour is a bit of a groundbreaker. As only the second winner of the McGill Centre for Research and Teaching on Women Person of the Year Award, the Supreme Court judge was supposed to have a McGill connection -- but her overwhelming accomplishments brushed that concern aside.

Arbour is a Canadian legal superstar of sorts -- as likely to be profiled in Chatelaine or Saturday Night as Law Now. She was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1999 after a three-year stint as Chief Prosecutor for the UN's International War Crimes Tribunal, where she issued the first indictment against a sitting head of state -- Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic.

"What she started at the war crimes tribunal was a very fragile thing. She stayed the course and gave it legitimacy and gave a voice to the victims of war," said Johanne Shumann, who sat on the committee that selected Arbour.

MCRTW director Shree Mulay said that the presentation dinner will also serve as a fundraiser for research into women's leadership in times of conflict, an area selected by Arbour.

"It's an area where women are seen as victimized…and where they are pushed out when negotiations take place," explained Mulay. "She would like to see more women take that [leadership] role on."

Louise Arbour will receive her award on April 17 at the St. James Club of Montreal, 1145 Union St. Reception begins at 4 pm. For tickets please contact 398-3911 or e-mail MCRTW@leacock.lan.mcgill.ca

A meeting of managing minds

Photo Vice-Principal (Information Systems and Technology) Tony Masi
PHOTO: Owen Egan

Spring is in the air, making us all a little antsy and eager for a change. But none are so restless as managers at McGill.

Two weeks ago, the Management Forum held a plenary session for Vice-Principal (Administration and Finance) Morty Yalovsky, Vice-Principal (Information Systems and Technology) Tony Masi and Robert Savoie, executive director of Human Resources, to talk of recent developments and address questions about overworked staff that were raised at last semester's Management Forum conference.

Yalovsky said that more money will be available for teaching assistants, student support services, academic staff renewal and to add resources at the faculty level to support Banner implementation.

Although laudable, the academic renewal, plus new programs like Canada Foundation for Innovation grants and Canada Research Chairs, often means more work for non-academic staff.

The infamous Banner still sticks in a whole lot of craws. Masi again apologized for the process, saying that in the past the approach was "instead of building an information superhighway, we just paved the cow paths, whatever meandering paths people took." He bets the McGill-tailored version, Minerva, will be more user-friendly and aid productivity. "In the future we'll provide adequate tools before we go live."

In an interview with the Reporter, Management Forum Steering Committee member Lydia Martone explains there's too much on managers' plates. "We're the meat of the sandwich. We have to appease the top bread and motivate the bottom slices. How do we maintain a strong level of administrative services without adequate resources?" Managers know there's no magical pot of money, Martone says, "but when we hear they're beefing up academic renewal, we know that non-academic renewal is also a must."

"More support is needed at the front lines, within the academic and administrative departments to ensure students are well serviced, the bills are paid, staff are paid on time, etc." she says. "Within our decentralized budget model, the senior administration and deans must share the responsibility in providing the right amount of support needed."

Martone believes Banner's "a monster to tame, but we will get over the turbulence." In time, it will be a better planning and reporting tool. Banner users at the University of Calgary reassured her, "'Give it three years' then it's smoother."

The steering committee, on behalf of staff and central administration, plan to continue the dialogue, sharing responsibility. The committee plans to get in on a vice-principals and deans working lunch to ask for their support in providing resources within the faculty, as well as central resources during this transitional period. They also want to receive acknowledgement that there's a real problem. Masi says administration will make sure "that Management Forum be continually informed in regards to training and other concerns."

To keep informed, go to www.mcgill.ca/mforum.

A real tweet

Photo PHOTO: Normand Blouin

Don't be fooled by the name -- "The Bird Course" that starts May 13 on Macdonald campus is anything but. Accepting avid avian enthusiasts now, the course is an intensive five-day series of labs, class work, lectures and of course, bird watching.

"We get people that are exhausted by Thursday or Friday, but happily exhausted," said Rodger Titman, who runs the course along with professor David Bird.

Since 1994 the pair of wildlife biologists have been teaching a variety of people -- from biology students to retirees -- about the many aspects of ornithology. Students are instructed in everything from taxonomy to anatomy to bird flight.

Most days the class will hit the road at seven in the morning to take field trips -- as far away as Cooper's Marsh in Ontario -- for birdwatching. Although the idea is not necessarily to spot rare birds, the field trips have yielded sightings of unusual specimens such as Great Egrets and Peregrine Falcons.

If you are interested in The Bird Course, registrations are accepted until April 15. Contact Rodger Titman at 398-7933 or rodger.titman@mcgill.ca. Spaces are limited, so register soon -- the early bird gets the worm!

Fly me to the moon

Photo

At first glance the math seems a little off. McGill's Institute for Air and Space Law will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of its founding next week, April 19-21, after 51 years. Why the delay? Bad timing, mainly. Originally scheduled for September 20 last year, the anniversary conference -- titled "Present and Future Challeges to Air and Space Law" -- was postponed due to the World Trade Centre attacks. Those attacks made the Institute for Air and Space Law (IASL) more relevant than ever.

Newly appointed IASL director and Tomlinson Chair Paul Dempsey will address some of these issues on April 20, with a keynote speech on post-9/11 aviation safety. Dempsey, who received his doctorate from the IASL, is a distinguished American authority on transportation law.

IASL acting director Armand de Mestral, who will become co-director of the Institute of European Studies this year, says that the world of aviation law is more complex than ever. Environmental, economic and security issues all play constantly evolving roles in the IASL's mandate.

"What is definitely new is that attacks on aircraft are now seen as attacks against governments, not the airlines," said de Mestral, citing the difference in public perception between the Pan Am explosion over Lockerbie, Scotland, and September's attacks.

De Mestral said that the anniversary conference, in addition to talking about aviation and space law, is intended to welcome back and celebrate some of the 800-plus former students of the institute. The conference itself will address many of the crucial aviation issues of today -- from security to regulatory issues, to the militarization of outer space.

Go to www.iasl.mcgill.ca/home.htm for more information. If interested in attending, please call Maria D'Amico 398-5095 or e-mail maria.damico@mcgill.ca

Art exposure

Photo

Already a residence, meeting place, study area and resource centre, the First Peoples' House will soon also become a temporary art gallery. On April 18 the McGill community is invited to the opening of a three-week exhibition of aboriginal art.

Ellen Gabriel, First Peoples' House coordinator, is effectively taking on the role of curator, although the show will be almost as much a surprise to her as it is to the public.

"There's no theme. I don't know specifically what they [the artists] will be bringing," she said.

The three artists featured work in a variety of forms, and represent different aboriginal groups. Julie Gaspé is a Mohawk painter, while Patricia Eshkibok is a Anishnabe who creates leatherwork crafts. Gilles Doré is an Innu/Montagnais painter and sculptor who carves his works with a chainsaw. The opening reception will also feature a performance by Kontirennatatie, a women's singing group.

Gabriel explained that part of the motivation for hosting the show was to display local aboriginal culture. She explained that Canadian aboriginal artists are often "pigeonholed" with the image of totem poles, which are features of West Coast aboriginal culture. For the most part, the artists to be featured do not create so-called "traditional art" but rather more modern creations. With 11 aboriginal nations within the geography of Quebec, even the artists featured form only an introductory sampling of the local aboriginal arts scene, but Gabriel hopes it will open some eyes.

She hopes that visitors "will be impressed by the quality of the artists, and maybe the artists will get some buyers and some support that way."

There will be a reception at First Peoples' House at 3505 Peel Street at 4 pm on April 18. Kontirennatatie will perform at 6 pm. Works by the artists will be on display for three weeks. Call First Peoples' House at 398-3217 for details.

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