McGuinty visits Glendon to highlight quality

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty visited York University’s Glendon campus yesterday to learn how increased funding has significantly improved the quality of education for York students.

The visit by McGuinty and Chris Bentley, minister of training, colleges and universities, followed on last spring’s provincial budget and subsequent establishment of the Quality Improvement Fund, consisting of an Advancing Quality Fund and Supporting Excellence Fund for Ontario universities and colleges, as well as a Change Fund for system-wide improvements.

Left: Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty addresses the students gathered at Glendon

McGuinty told students gathered at the event that he and his nine siblings all enjoyed the benefits of a quality, publicly-funded Ontario university education. “This story should be totally unremarkable – it should be part of the Ontario and Canadian experience,” he said.

Part of the visit included an overview of the Ontario government’s Reaching Higher plan, which is set to invest $6.2 billion more into the province’s postsecondary system over the next five years.

“Today we are announcing the next step in our plan, which is all about improving quality and accountability,” said McGuinty. “The Quality Improvement Fund will provide $211 million to colleges and universities – $124 million to universities and $87 million to colleges. This funding will help students get more from their postsecondary education. Here at York, just under $10 million will be invested.”

Lorna R. Marsden, York’s president and vice-chancellor, thanked McGuinty for the focus his government has placed on education. “We’re pleased that the premier has chosen York to highlight quality improvements in postsecondary education. York is committed to academic excellence and innovative approaches that will help our students meet today’s challenges,” said Marsden. “Provincial government support has enabled us to hire more full-time faculty, to build on our interdisciplinary programs and to improve access for those with special needs.”

Bentley said the announcement confirms the Ontario government’s commitment to education. “President Marsden has been a pillar of advice for governments and is an ardent advocate of the possibilities of education,” he said. “The uses to which she is putting this money show clearly she has captured the spirit of the fund.”

The funds have enabled York to hire over 70 additional full-time professors, expand the number of student spaces available in popular programs and improve services for all students.

The Advancing Quality Fund has led directly to the appointment of 50 new full-time faculty across the University. The Supporting Excellence Fund has allowed York to hire 14 additional new full-time faculty in the health-related fields of nursing, psychology, and kinesiology and health sciences. The fund has also been used to hire eight new full-time faculty members in the interdisciplinary fields of international development studies, Chinese cultural studies, criminology, and race and ethnic studies.

The appointments will enhance York’s research capacity and expand graduate enrolment. Currently York has the second-largest graduate student population in Ontario, enrolled in 25 doctoral and 43 masters-level programs.

To improve accessibility, a new student financial profile service has been established to give students complete information on all available sources of financial assistance. York has also significantly improved student and parent orientation programs this year to boost retention rates and enhance the learning experience for students.

To serve students with special needs, the University has expanded the staffing and scheduling technology available for alternate testing and examinations. York’s reputation as the Ontario leader in providing special needs services has resulted in a 74 per cent increase over three years in the number of students registered with York’s disability services. Last year there were more than 5,600 requests for alternate and special exams.