Benefactors receive thanks from York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering

The following article was submitted by Allison Berg, communications officer with the York University Foundation.

Donors to the Faculty of Science & Engineering (FSE) received a warm thank you at a recent event in the Computer Science & Engineering Building. Organized and hosted by the Faculty and the York University Foundation, the event celebrated the many faculty, staff, alumni and friends who give generously to FSE. Student recipients of financial assistance also attended and spoke about the impact of private support on their lives.

 award group
Above: From left, Nicole Arsenault, manager, transportation & student services; Robin Sen, executive officer, security services; Peter Carr, student recipient; Lynda Arnold, wife of the late Tom Arnold; Donna Hubbert, manager, parking administration; Ralph Bond, president, Canadian Parking Association.

The evening began with greetings and words of appreciation from Dean Gillian Wu. “We are extremely pleased to have this opportunity to show our heartfelt appreciation to our donors,” she said. “There are students, staff and administrators here today who are eager to thank you for being such loyal supporters and great friends.”

Ralph Bond, president of the Canadian Parking Association, presented an award established in honour of the late Tom Arnold, former executive director of Security, Parking and Transportation Services at York and a past president of the association. “Tom, who passed away in a tragic automobile accident this year, loved to debate ideas, teach our organization new things and try to expand our horizons by focusing on how parking relates to other industries,” said Bond. “It is our hope that in future years, students who receive this award will share Tom’s attributes of optimism, enthusiasm and curiosity, as this year’s recipient, Peter Carr, so evidently does.”

“At first I didn’t think my research had any benefit to the parking industry,” said Carr, a first-year master’s candidate studying in the VISOR Laboratory within York’s Centre for Vision Research. Carr’s award-winning article on advancements in computer technology that can eventually benefit the parking industry, will be published in the association’s quarterly magazine in early 2005. “When donors offer these opportunities, it helps students open their eyes to different applications of their research and how these applications can ultimately impact our daily lives,” Carr said.

York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering offers a flexible range of programs allowing students to take advantage of the diversity and breadth of courses available, while still focusing on one area in depth. The Faculty provides students with the fundamentals of science so that they can choose the direction they would like their education to take.

“When I was a student, the generosity of benefactors made such an impression on me that I vowed to return the gift,” said Michael De Robertis, associate dean, who is also one of the Faculty’s generous benefactors. “It is our goal to support and nourish our students so that they will become successful alumni who make a difference. The continued support of our donors is helping make that possible.”

Gerald and Joyce Aspinall, both chemistry professors emeritus at York, established an endowment fund to help students buy books and course material. “We have always thought it was worthwhile to support students in their academic endeavours and help them move on to worthwhile careers,” said Joyce Aspinall. “It is nice to come to these events and see some old friends and find out what students are up to these days.” This year the Aspinalls added an additional $6,000 to their initial fund endowment. Thanks to the Ontario Student Opportunity Trust Fund (OSOTF), a provincial government program that matches gifts in support of endowed student financial aid, the fund ,which is now at $22,000, will generate twice the amount for student support each year.

Private support to the Faculty helps attract and retain exceptional students. It enhances the quality of teaching programs through improved laboratory equipment and allows professors and researchers to explore new realms of research.

David Horovitz, a grateful recipient of student financial assistance, came to the event to show his gratitude to the Faculty’s donors. “The student support that I have received has drastically enhanced my university experience,” said Horovitz, a third-year biology student who hopes to attend medical school. “Because of this support, school is my full-time job and I have been able to save the money I have earned in the past for my future academic endeavours.”

“Over the past two years, we are pleased to report that the number of donors to York has increased by 24 per cent,” said Paul Marcus, president and CEO of the York University Foundation. “This generous and encouraging increase in support from the York community is helping us provide better resources for student support, teaching and research as well as the infrastructure in which to house it.” Since the Foundation’s establishment, the number of donors who designated gifts to the FSE alone has more than tripled.

Michael Organ, an expert in combinatorial chemistry who is both a faculty member and principal of Total Synthesis Inc., also attended the reception. In the combinatorial chemistry facility at York, Organ provides students and post-doctoral fellows with the opportunity to acquire hands-on, practical experience in creating compounds with potential medicinal benefits. “My company, directs its support to York in the form of grants-in-aid of research towards the area of medicinal chemistry,” he said. “These funds are matched by government funding with the hopes of discovering potential therapeutic candidates for drug discovery.” In the last fiscal year, through his company, Organ made gifts of over $111,000 to the FSE.

“Motivating students and innovative research is what the Faculty of Science & Engineering is all about,” explained Wu in her closing remarks for the evening. The reception provided a wonderful opportunity for grateful students in the FSE to exhibit their appreciation to the generous donors who have helped enhance their experiences at York.