Talking allowed: Congress opens with a reception in Scott Library

It arrived with a fanfare and dash of flair that was distinctly York. On Friday, May 26, a who’s who of Canadian academia gathered with local, provincial and federal politicians, York faculty, staff, students and administration to celebrate the opening of the 75th Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. The opening celebration took place in the airy Mezzanine Foyer of the Scott Library on York’s Keele campus. Congress Academic Convenor and York Professor of English, John Lennox, acting as master of ceremonies for the event, marveled at the majesty of the Scott Library. Delivering his opening remarks In French and English, Lennox cited the library as the perfect venue to host an opening celebration for the largest gathering of researchers and academics in Canada.


Above: From left, Donald Fisher, president of the Canadian Federation for the
Humanities and Social Sciences; John Lennox, Congress academic convenor;
Lorna R. Marsden, York president & vice-chancellor; Mario Sergio, MPP York
West; Judy Sgro, MP York West; and Mike Feldman, deputy mayor, City of Toronto

“I cannot recall at this institution, and my memory is very now long, a single event at this institution where so many members of the community have so willingly, openhandedly and generously given of their time to show our respect for and pride in this premier place of learning,” said Lennox. “I am especially happy that this reception is taking place in the library which has always been, for me, the heart of the University.”

Left: John Lennox highlights some of the archival treasures to MP Judy Sgro at the Congress opening celebration

Following Lennox’s address, Donald Fisher, president of the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, presented greetings to the University and Congress delegates. “I am especially delighted to welcome you here at York University,” said Fisher. “As you know the Learneds, and now what is known as Congress, are celebrating 75 years of academic history. I cannot emphasize to you how unique this is because Congress is uniquely Canadian. The founders in 1931 decided they should meet together in one place at one time,” said Fisher. “Congress is about idealism to share the best in knowledge and academic tradition.

Left: Delegate Edward Cohen shows off his Congress regalia

“York University started as a separate and independent university in 1965. From the beginning, this University really broke the mold for universities in Canada. It was the first institution to place the social sciences and humanities at the centre of its activities with an enormous amount of emphasis on these disciplines,” said Fisher. “This has become one of the largest universities in Canada and it still emphasizes the humanities and social sciences…. It has an interdisciplinary approach.”

Fisher acknowledge York’s “fine team of people” and thanked the York community for what he predicted would be “a fabulous eight-day celebration of intellectual life in Canada.”

York President and Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden thanked Fisher for his comments and expressed the University’s welcome to the 8,000 delegates to Congress and the York alumni who were returning to the University for Congress. She contrasted the first Congress to take place at York in 1969 when York had 7,500 full- time students, to the present event which takes place in a University that educates 55,000 full- and part-time students. Marsden celebrated this year’s Congress theme The City: A Festival of Knowledge, which she said is exactly appropriate for York University because of its place as an urban university in the city of Toronto.

Special guests included Judy Sgro, MP for York West, Mario Sergio, MPP for York West and City of Toronto Deputy Mayor Mike Feldman, all of whom brought official greetings to Congress delegates.