VIP student prospects learn about the interdisciplinary university

crowd in theatre

Above: Prospective students, along with York faculty and staff, take in a screening of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy at the Paramount Toronto theatre on Monday

A stellar group of about 250 people, primarily composed of top prospective York students from the GTA, came together at the Paramount Toronto theatre Monday for a special event marking the launch of this year’s “theatre domination” advertising campaign to support the University’s latest spring recruitment effort. The high-school students, donors, members of the board of governors, faculty,staff and alumni all came for a special screening of the film The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and to learn more about York, the interdisciplinary university.

Arisa CoxThe select group of some of the brightest young minds in Toronto were given the red carpet treatment from the moment they entered the theatre. Arisa Cox, a reporter from Toronto 1 TV’s “A-List”, made it a night to remember as she interviewed the young guests for this very-VIP event.

Right: Camera operator Matt Reid and Toronto 1 television reporter Arisa Cox get ready to interview VIP student guests on the red carpet

Cox, who also doubled as emcee for the evening, told students, “We invited you here because we want you to go to York, because it’s a great university. It’s bold, it’s innovative, it’s pioneering and there are so many cool things going on.”

The campaign, created by Toronto’s doug Agency, was designed to bring York’s message directly to students. ”This event targets prospective students in an entirely new and creative way,” said Richard Fisher, York’s chief communications officer. ”We’re taking our message directly to them by reaching out to them in the real world, and at the same time building the foundation for a lifelong attachment to York.”

Lorna R. Marsden, York president and vice-chancellor, greeted the students and explained the purpose of the event. “We’re launching this campaign to make people aware of the great things that are happening at York,” Marsden said, “and, of course, we want prospective students to give us feedback and, we hope, to come to York as well.” In her remarks, Marsden also emphasized the York difference, saying, “we are a different kind of university. We’re boundary pushing, cutting edge and we want all of you to be part of this. It’s based on a foundation of interdisciplinary thinking, bringing together people from every discipline who look at issues from all angles and let them mix and fold fields of study more easily than at more traditional universities. This approach, we think, creates future leaders.”

Before the screening of the movie, students were treated to presentations by three of York’s cutting-edge faculty members with messages about how the interdisciplinary approach enhances their pioneering research and fosters collaboration with other faculty members that cuts across academic disciplines.

Quine, Fisher, Marsden

Left: From left, Brendan Quine, Caitlin Fisher and Lorna R. Marsden at the screening of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Brendan Quine, professor in York’s Department of Physics & Astronomy in the Faculty of Science & Engineering, broke with what he called his tradition of bringing space hardware to presentations and introduced students to “Henrietta” a potted tomato plant, grown from seeds that had flown on two space shuttle missions. Quine, who is working on a project for an unmanned flight to Mars, noted Canada was the third nation in space and he told the audience, “you don’t have to be a space engineer to be involved in a space mission.” Emphasizing the advantages of studying every angle, Quine said space missions are put together by a wide variety of people with different skill sets and disciplines. “If you want to get involved in space, we’re certainly the place,” he said.

Caitlin Fisher, professor in the Department of Film & Video, Faculty of Fine Arts, whose research into augmented reality (see story in the April 4 issue of YFile) with a colleague at the Georgia Institute of Technology has earned her a Canada Research Chair in Digital Cultural, said her work on story-telling theory and practice in a digital world was at the pioneering stage. “This is one of the really exciting moments when many, many things are possible,” she said, “It’s an area where the rules have not yet been written and we can all be a part of making the future and a new artistic genre.”

Stephen FlustyIn an animated performance, geography Professor Steven Flusty (left), whose work in York’s Faculty of Arts involves a broad mix of approaches to modern geographic studies, appeared on stage toting a towel for the occasion (like the film’s hero Arthur Dent). Flusty, whose groundbreaking work is challenging the way we think about globalization (see story in the March 28 issue of YFile), said we live in an age of hitchhikers where things were always “tearing places apart and moving us from place to place. That’s geography and it happens all the time,” he said. A true aficionado of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy who proudly admitted he can quote dialogue from the book “chapter and verse”, Flusty ended his presentation by reminding the audience that the film’s creator, author Douglas Edwards, knew a lot about geography and used it in his work.

The evening was specifically designed as an opportunity for York faculty and staff to be able to speak directly to some of the top prospective students in the GTA, the University’s main catchment area.

Rob tiffin talks to students

Left: Rob Tiffin talks with prospective York students at the VIP reception

“York is known for being an innovator when it comes to recruitment,” said Rob Tiffin, York vice-president students. “These are students with averages in the 90s, who have their pick of any university. Our objective is to show them the York U difference.”

The campaign, which is currently running in 33 cinemas across the GTA is the first of its kind in Canada. The audience previewed this creative new branding, including 30-second animated ad spots highlighting York’s interdisciplinary focus. The Paramount, along with four other Famous Players theatres – Colussus, Empress Walk, Yorkdale and Richmond Hill – will showcase York branding over a period of five weeks, with in-lobby banners, back-lit posters, and “floor cling” ads, extolling the University’s interdisciplinary approach and encouraging prospective students to redefine themselves by choosing York U.

 vip reception

Above: Guests mix and mingle at the VIP reception at the Paramount Toronto theatre before the screening

The evening began with a reception in the theatre’s Vivid Lounge where students could mingle with faculty members and current students to talk about studying at York and meet other members of the York community including donors, alumni and members of the University’s board of governors.

happy students

Left: Student guests are all smiles at the VIP reception

For more information on York’s theatre domination campaign, see the story in the April 18 issue of YFile. For more information on Brendan Quine’s research, see story in the March 29 issue of YFile.