Supporting a full learning experience

On Oct. 28, York University’s Office of the Vice-President Students hosted the Red and White Thank You Night celebration. Organized by the York University Foundation, the event provided an opportunity for students and members of York’s administration to thank York donors who fund pan-University bursaries, awards and student leadership opportunities. Carrie Brodi, communications officer for the York University Foundation, sent this article to YFile.

For Michelle Majcen (BA Hons. ‘03), making the most out of her university experience meant  getting involved in extracurricular activities, sports and clubs. She says those activities provided her with opportunities to learn that were as important as the opportunities she enjoyed in the classroom.

“I purposely took five years to complete my undergrad degree,” said Majcen, a graduate of Kinesiology and Health Sciences and the recipient of the May & George Flint Scholarship in the Faculty of Arts. She was one of 50 guests who attended the “Red and White Thank You Night” celebration.


Above: Guests at York’s “Red and White Thank You Night” celebration

“I wanted to be involved on campus, in varsity sports and different clubs and organizations, otherwise my university experience would not have been as meaningful,” said Majcen. “It was through those experiences I was able to learn most of my skills and figure out what it was I wanted to do.”

Donors at the “Red & White Thank You Night” collectively represented over $700,000 in charitable giving to the York University Foundation in support of York students. “I cannot tell you how grateful we are for your tremendous support,” said Bonnie Neuman, vice-president students. “We really could not do what we do without your help.”

Neuman highlighted the many developments in student services in the past few years including the success of the student alumni association  – York is U, the new facilities for the Office of Persons with Disabilities, the opening of the new Student Services Centre building, and a 16,000-square-foot expansion of the Tait McKenzie Centre among other achievements.

“Most of our students are in that wonderful transition from teenager to adult and all of campus life is a learning experience for them,” said Neuman. “We’re constantly working to make York a value-added experience for all of our students and you – as our donors, supporters and friends – are a critical component of that process.”

Donors representing individual, corporate and foundation giving, spoke definitively about their reasons for wanting to support York and its students.

Left: From left, Eveleen Dollery and Joseph Bobyk, a donor to the Ron Cope Resource Centre and bursary, make friends with the York Lions mascots

Gino Bellisario, a York graduate of the Schulich School of Business (’89), recently established a bursary in memory of his wife, Susan, who worked at York’s Counselling & Development Centre for 14 years.

“Susan really enjoyed her time at York,” said Bellisario. “She loved the people and she loved dealing with the students. Between myself graduating from the business school and Susan’s work experience, setting up this bursary felt like the right thing to do. I know she would be very proud.”

Dorothy Price of the Canadian Foundation for Physically Disabled Persons, a longtime benefactor of the University, spoke of York’s leadership and initiative in the area of services for students with disabilities.

“As a young University, York is making itself a more friendly place for people with disabilities. I think that is just amazing,” said Price.

Right: York Professor Frances Flint gets a Lion’s share of attention at the celebration

York faculty member and donor Frances Flint said her father George initially established the May Flint Scholarship in 1982 in memory of his wife and Frances’ mother, May. At his death, Frances and her brother decided to continue funding the scholarship in memory of both of their parents.

“My mother and father didn’t go to university but they always valued a university education,” she said. “They wanted nothing more than to help a student get through his or her academic studies and become a contributing member of society.”

“You truly are generous supporters,” said Lorna R. Marsden, president and vice-chancellor of York University. “As you have heard, and as every student who has been supported will testify, what you do for York makes an enormous difference.”

Student Bart Zemanek, the starting quarterback for the York Lions, and the recipient of financial support as a result of his academic standing and extracurricular leadership, spoke at the event wearing his football uniform as his teammates awaited his arrival on the practice field in preparation for a playoff game with the University of Western Ontario.

“I don’t get to work much during the school year because I put so much effort into my athletics and academics. Your support is monumental,” he said. “If you keep supporting us, we’ll keep winning.”