President's Blog

Mamdouh's Month

In Canada’s 150th year, Ontario looks to the future

COU image

So far, 2017 has been a year with many milestones. Two of these milestones in particular have shaped conversations around York’s future: Canada’s 150th birthday, and the announcement of York’s next President and Vice-Chancellor. Anniversaries and announcements of this scale are just as much a cause for celebrating the past as they are a sign that it is time to begin planning for what lies ahead.

In September of last year, anticipating that the nation and its universities are heading for a significant period of change, the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) initiated a province-wide conversation to discover how universities in Ontario can play a role in ensuring a brighter future for everyone. This conversation is called the #futuring campaign.

Graphic promoting COU Futuring initiative

Both the aim and the approach of this campaign are aligned with two of my own deeply held beliefs. First, that the fundamental role of universities is to drive change and better society, and second, that the best way for universities to ensure they are focusing on issues that matter is by creating opportunities for dialogue about what people really need from institutions of higher learning.

To ensure that York University is represented in this process, members of our community will be attending several upcoming round tables organized by COU around key themes that will shape Ontario’s future. These round tables include:

  • The Future of Innovation in the New Economy on March 21. Robert Haché, our Vice-President Research & Innovation will attend.
  • Youth Employment and the Future on April 18, which will be hosted by John Stackhouse, Senior Vice-President, Office of the CEO at RBC. Will Gage, Associate Vice-President, Teaching and Learning, will attend.
  • The Aging Population and the Future on May 2, which will be hosted by Elizabeth Buller, President, St. Joseph’s Hospital. Our Faculty of Health Dean Paul McDonald has been invited to attend.
  • Diversity and Inclusion in the Future on May 8, which will be hosted by Ratna Omidvar, Senator. Michael Charles, Executive Director of York’s Centre for Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion, will participate.

When more details on these initiatives are released I will share them on my social media channels, so you can follow my Twitter and Instagram accounts to learn more.

The important considerations raised in this campaign will be vital not only for our nation and province, but also for the future of our universities. I often say that York is at an inflection point, and it is true. This year will bring a number of key developments, including an exciting new era under the leadership of President-Designate Rhonda Lenton and the connection of our Keele campus to both downtown Toronto and North York with the opening of two new subway stations. York also recently celebrated the announcement of federal and provincial funding for three important infrastructure projects.

Collage with photos of researchers and government officials.
MP Judy Sgro (top right) and provincial Minister Steven Del Duca (second from top right) visit faculty and student researchers following the February 17 funding announcement.

The funding, which includes $40.8M from the federal government’s Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund and $6.6M from the provincial government, will go towards much needed renovations to modernize Science and Health labs in five buildings, the creation of new biology labs at Glendon Campus, constructing a new building for the Schulich School of Business, and modernizing our central utilities building, increasing energy efficiency in 85 buildings on Keele Campus.

Investments such as these are evidence of what can be achieved when we share our vision, priorities and needs. I encourage all York students and the broader university community to share their thoughts, ambitions and concerns for Ontario’s future with COU on social media, and by filling out the #futuring survey.

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