CCAE honours York with two fundraising awards

The York University Foundation and members of the York community were honoured recently with two 2005 "Prix d’Excellence" awards from the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education (CCAE).

York’s Honour Court Dedication and Reception (see Sept. 14, 2004 issue of YFile) received a silver award in the category of Best Donor or Volunteer Recognition Program and the Take Your Seat Campaign on behalf of the Faculty of Fine Arts (see Nov. 29, 2004 issue of YFile) received a bronze award in the category of Best Fundraising Case Statement and Campaign Materials. The awards were presented at the CCAE’s annual meeting in Banff on May 30.

"It is encouraging to receive this important recognition from CCAE, an organization that sets the standard of excellence in educational advancement in Canada," says Paul Marcus, president and CEO of the York University Foundation. "These awards are further external confirmation that York is succeeding with its innovative approach to raising funds and building leadership."

Honour Court Dedication and Reception: Launched in 2000, this imaginatively designed pavilion and welcome centre serves as a means for York University to thank and recognize its leadership donors who have given more than $133 million to the University since 1959. It stands as a model to other universities of innovative donor recognition and as a testament to potential donors of the impact of giving.

Lakhani family at Honour Court

Right: Donors to the University, such as the Lakhani family pictured here, are honoured in the special court at the main entrance to the Keele campus

The Honour Court and Information Centre is located on York Boulevard, just inside the University’s main entrance. Designed by Stephen Teeple and Associates, its construction was made possible by a gift from philanthropist Seymour Schulich. The building is a tribute to the University’s benefactors and a meeting place for visitors. Its award-winning design enhances the University’s existing architecture and serves as an addition to York’s front door, Vari Hall and the Harry W. Arthurs Common. The pavilion wall contains five types of granite blocks marking the cumulative gifts of donors since York’s founding in 1959. Judges commented on the Honour Court’s highly innovative and creative approach to donor recognition and its artistic presentation and concept.

Phillip Silver

Right: Phillip Silver, dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts, signs a girder at the Accolade project site

Take Your Seat Campaign: In November 2004, the Faculty of Fine Arts launched the Take Your Seat program to raise funds for the University’s new $107.5-million, 330,000 square-foot Accolade project. For a $500 donation, faculty, staff, students and retirees were invited to dedicate a seat in the new recital hall or theatre, creating a personal legacy while helping to foster tomorrow’s creative talent. While the majority of space in the two new Accolade buildings will be used by students from across the University, the campaign marked the first time York solicited funds university-wide for specific facilities associated with one Faculty. By opening the program to everyone, the campaign recognized that people in all academic and administrative areas of the University enjoy and support the arts and that all members of the community benefit from the dynamic cultural life on campus that will be enhanced by Accolade’s public performance facilities.

With assistance from the account direction unit of the Marketing & Communications Division, a compelling case statement and supporting campaign literature aimed at an internal audience was put together. The campaign hit its mark: to date, 110 seats have been "taken" by 73 donors. The judges said the campaign’s case statement materials were "clever and clear".

theatre seats

Right: Take Your Seat Campaign materials used famous names in theatre to make a playful point

Playing off York’s theme line "Redefine the Possible" and the new opportunities for creative innovation heralded by the Accolade project, the slogan for the Take Your Seat Campaign affirmed "When it comes to the arts, anything is possible". Illustrating the daring thinking, boundless possibilities and extraordinary achievements that characterize not only the University, but also the arts, the campaign visuals "seated" leading names from the world of arts and entertainment – real and fictitious – side by side in unlikely and amusing combinations. The campaign flyer pictured two empty, adjacent theatre seats bearing the names of Montague and Capulet.

"Marketing & Communications came up with this truly inspired concept, and we had a lot of fun with it," said Fine Arts Dean Phillip Silver. "By pairing the warring families from Romeo and Juliet, we’re not only showing how the arts can generate unexpected and exciting results, but also how they resonate with diverse audiences, and across great divides. Fittingly, the choice of Romeo and Juliet – which exists as a stage play, an opera, a musical, as literature to be read, as a dance production, in film, and in many different visual arts media – reflects the scope of York Fine Arts’ programs, and speaks to the interdisciplinarity and multiplicity of viewpoints and approaches that are hallmarks of the York brand."

Other arresting Take Your Seat combos, using household names in the performing arts and spanning stylistic, generational and socio-cultural lines, were Ginger Rogers and Rudolf Nureyev, B.B. King and J.S. Bach; and Maria Callas and Elvis Presley.

The "Prix d’Excellence" is the prestigious annual awards program of the CCAE, which recognizes outstanding achievement in alumni affairs, public affairs, development, student recruitment and overall institutional advancement.