A $400,000 hole in one

This year’s Tribute Communities – York University Chair’s Cup Golf Tournament was a resounding success as a fundraiser for graduate student scholarships. Carrie Brodi, communications officer with the York University Foundation, sent the following account to YFile.


Above, left to right: Paul Marcus, Howard Sokolowski, John Lennox, Guy Burry, Avie Bennett and Lorna R. Marsden

Playing golf to benefit students has become a York University tradition, and this year, participants and sponsors made the fourth annual Tribute Communities-York University Chair’s Cup Golf Tournament the most successful yet. On June 7 at Wooden Sticks golf course in Uxbridge, a total of $400,000 (after government matching) was raised from donors to benefit the Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) program. The funds raised will be used to assist future graduate students – many of whom are mature students, married and have families – to focus on their studies and complete their degrees.

In addition to being a great “friend-raiser”, the tournament has become an outstanding fundraiser. Donations have doubled and the number of sponsors has increased from 10 in 2002 to 40 in 2004.

Jayne Kalmar, a PhD candidate in the Department of Biology and a Tribute Communities Homes OGS recipient, is grateful for the support she received as it allowed her to spend more time in the lab and less time having to earn money.  “These scholarships helped defray the costs of seven years of graduate studies and allowed me to focus on my research,” she said.

Now in her final year of doctoral work, Kalmar, who has a daughter and another child on the way, hopes to conduct research in neuro-degenerative disease or spinal adaptations to injury, use and disuse.

From left to right: John Lennox, Michael Valente, Guy Burry and Jayne Kalmar

“Graduate students are attracted to York because of our innovative interdisciplinary programs,” said  President and Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden in an address to tournament participants. “Students are encouraged to explore more than one discipline and look for new solutions to real-world challenges. Thank you for helping us to continue this tradition of innovation and excellence in graduate education.”

In order to take advantage of the provincial two-to-one government match, York must raise $5,000 in private funds for every $15,000 award. Events such as the golf tournament go a long way toward funding the provincially adjudicated scholarships which are awarded to exceptional York graduate students each year. This year the funds raised by the tournament will go toward 26 OGS scholarships.

Marshall Cohen, chair of the York University Board of Governors, initiated the tournament four years ago. It has since become York’s most successful fundraising event, largely due to growing support from the community and the efforts of many volunteers including those of tournament Chair Guy Burry. Burry, an alumnus of York (BA ’82) and a member of  the York University Board of Governors, emceed this year’s event. In recognition of his role in the tournament, Paul Marcus, president and CEO of the York University Foundation, presented Burry with a York Lion teddy bear, a gift that Marcus said aptly described Burry’s courageous efforts on behalf of  York.

“We also owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Tribute Communities Homes for making a three-year commitment as title sponsor of the tournament,” Marcus said.

Howard Sokolowski, and Lucy Stocco of Tribute Communities Homes attended the tournament as did Tim Price, Chair of the York University Foundation board of directors, and Avie Bennett, chancellor emeritus of York University.

John Lennox, dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies, thanked participants and sponsors before introducing Kalmar and her fellow student Michael Valente. Lennox cited their accomplishments as evidence of York’s excellence in interdisciplinary education.

“Students like Jayne and Michael are single-minded about what they want to do and they have the drive to excel,” he said. “Their work is at the heart of current research and their energy is infectious. We are very lucky to have them at York.”

Unlike many other graduate students, Valente, a second year PhD candidate and Downtown Fine Cars OGS recipient (2003), has been able to steer clear of part-time work while studying business sustainability and social responsibility at the Schulich School of Business, thanks to the support he received from the OGS. Valente is currently developing a study that explores how to improve the quality of care at the Hospital for Sick Children.

“Winning this award allowed me to focus on my academic work and to avoid the many distractions that arise from having to earn money,” Valente said. “The most important element of my career is completing my PhD in a timely manner and the OGS has helped to make that possible.”

Many students, Valente and Kalmar said, think the government funds the entire cost of each OGS. “I’ve learned that there’s such a huge operation going on behind the scenes to raise these funds,” Valente said. “I have great admiration and appreciation for the OGS donors I met at the tournament. As students we have the skills but we need these donors. Their support plays a key part in our ability to focus intensively on our work and to succeed.”