Honouring York’s most generous benefactors

On June 22, at York’s third annual Honour Court Dedication and Reception, fourth-year student Chad Craig asked York’s most generous benefactors to imagine for a moment, that they were in his shoes. “Pretend that you have spent three years engaging in an amazingly vibrant student life,” he said. “Suddenly, it occurs to you that this life has been supported behind the scenes by people you have probably never met, whose faces you would not recognize and whose names you may never have heard. Now, think about what you might say to these people if you only had the chance.”

He continued, “I hope that what you are imagining right now, gives you some idea of how grateful I am, and what I really want to convey to all of you here today, when I simply say ‘thank you’.”

If the warm applause and standing ovation he received were any indication, those in attendance were truly touched by his message. His success as a student leader, award recipient and participant in academic conferences all over the globe illustrated to the donors just how vital their support truly is.

Right: From left, Paul Marcus, president and CEO, York University Foundation; Lorna R. Marsden, president and vice-chancellor, York University; Chad Craig, student speaker; Marshall Cohen, Chair, York University Board of Governors; and John Hunkin, CEO of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce shared in a celebratory toast to mark the occasion.

Organized by the York University Foundation and held in York’s Honour Court & Information Centre, the event honours supporters who have contributed $100,000 or more to the University. Funded entirely by private donations, with a leadership gift from philanthropist Seymour Schulich, the award-winning structure sits at the main entrance of York’s Keele campus. Granite stones symbolizing varying levels of support are displayed on the pavilion wall as a means of recognizing donors and inspiring others to give. Currently, a cumulative total of over $145 million in philanthropic support of York University since its inception in 1959 is represented in the Honour Court.

“This past year was our most successful year of fundraising ever, with $19.2 million raised in support of the University’s greatest priorities,” announced Marshall Cohen, Chair of York’s Board of Governors. “This amounts to a 79 per cent increase in overall funds raised in the last three years.”

Left: Paul Tsaparis, represented Hewlett-Packard (Canada) Co.

Cohen also commented on York’s growing donor base, which has increased by 59 per cent in that same time period.

Donors recognized at the event included individuals and corporations from the external community as well as York alumni, faculty members and staff.

John Hunkin, CEO of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) and York alumnus (MBA ’69), addressed the need for and importance of individual giving. Hunkin and his wife, Susan Crocker, are personal supporters of York’s Schulich School of Business. Hunkin noted that corporate and community leaders need to play a primary role in teaching young Canadians about the importance of personally giving back. As well as being a donor, Hunkin also served on York’s Board of Governors from 1994 to 2004 and is now an honorary governor. He is also a member of the York University Foundation Board of Directors.

“We need to educate individuals about how great it can feel to give,” he said. “It is a wonderful feeling to come up here, see your name on the Honour Court and know that you have been part of York’s amazing growth.”

Right: Nigel Schuster and Carol Weinbaum represented the Jack Weinbaum Family Foundation and introduced their son to the York community.

Lorna R. Marsden, York’s president and vice-chancellor, congratulated and thanked the Honour Court donors for extending their support to the University. “As York’s enrolment numbers climb and the demands for new programs, initiatives and facilities rise, philanthropic support is becoming increasingly important,” said Marsden. “Thank you for helping York continue to redefine the possible.”

Donors inducted into the Honour Court in 2005 were:

  • Barbara & Peter Currie
  • Dalton Pharma Services
  • Dow Chemical Canada Inc.
  • Hewlett-Packard (Canada) Co.
  • Kathleen P. Taylor
  • Milton & Ethel Harris
  • Optech Incorporated
  • Telus
  • Vernon Oliver Stong
  • Yorke Towne Supplies Limited

Donors whose generosity moved them to a new level of Honour Court recognition in 2005 were:

  • Harris Steel Group Inc.
  • Susan Crocker & John Hunkin
  • HSBC Bank Canada
  • Newmont Mining Corporation
  • Noor Cultural Centre
  • Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers
  • RBC Capital Markets
  • Scotiabank Group
  • Sun Life Financial
  • The KPMG Foundation
  • The McLean Foundation
  • Tribute Communities

Paul Marcus, president and CEO of the York University Foundation wrapped up the event with a toast to all Honour Court donors. Referencing a quote from famous comedian and entertainer, Bob Hope, Marcus said, “If you haven’t got any charity in your heart, you’ve got the worst kind of heart trouble.” He continued, “All of you have great hearts, and we really appreciate everything that you are doing for York.”

This article was submitted to YFile by Allison Berg, communications officer, York University Foundation.