Rain fails to dampen spirits at Honour Court reception

Though the grounds of the Lorna R. Marsden Honour Court & Welcome Centre were thoroughly dampened by heavy rains on June 19, spirits remained decidedly high as faculty, staff and students gathered to thank York’s most generous donors. The fifth annual Honour Court Dedication and Reception went off without a hitch after event organizers moved the celebration indoors to the Student Lounge in the Accolade East Building.

Hosted by the York University Foundation, the annual event celebrates individuals, corporations and foundations with contributions of $100,000 or more in support of the University. The Honour Court showcases granite stones on its pavilion walls that represent cumulative giving of $180 million since the University’s inception in 1959. The award-winning structure, which officially opened August 2000, was made possible by a leadership gift from philanthropist Seymour Schulich.

"This past fiscal year was our most successful year of fundraising ever, with close to $29 million pledged in support of the University’s greatest priorities," said Marshall Cohen, Chair of York’s Board of Governors. "We are pleased to share with you that we have already advanced more than halfway toward our $200-million York to the Power of 50 campaign goal, with $125 million pledged to date, due in large part to your involvement and support."

Above: From left, Mamdouh Shoukri, Lorna Marsden, Sean Hillier, Marshall Cohen and Paul Marcus raise their glasses in a toast

During the reception, then York President & Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden described the importance of thanking these supporters for their outstanding leadership in helping the University redefine the possible. Over the past five years, the number of York donors has increased by more than 70 per cent.

"You, our most generous donors, have made incredible opportunities for our students, faculty and all those in the York community," said Marsden. "As York’s donor base grows, so does the University’s strength and ability to continue providing a first-class learning experience and research environment."

The evening gathering also marked another special occasion: the passing of the torch from Marsden, under whose presidency the York to the Power of 50 campaign was launched, to Mamdouh Shoukri, who will take York through the 50th anniversary and set the stage for the next 50 years.

Right: Marshall Cohen (left) and Honey Sherman, York University Foundation director

Cohen, a founding director with the York University Foundation, announced to guests that in honour of Marsden’s tremendous contribution to York University over the past decade, the Honour Court has been dedicated in her name as the Lorna R. Marsden Honour Court & Welcome Centre.

Sean Hillier, a recipient of the Avie Bennett Visionary Leadership Scholarship and a speaker at the event, will enter his second year of political science at York this fall. He spoke about his leadership project, developed with assistance from York’s Centre for Student Community & Leadership Development, that will see him pilot a group of 25 students on a two-week trip to Nicaragua, where they will build a medical clinic for a local village.

"This scholarship has also been life-changing for me. Without it, university would have been an experience I would not have had the privilege of enjoying," said Hillier. "There are hundreds of other students here at York who have been in need of financial aid in order to receive a postsecondary education, and, because of donors like you, they have been given this chance through various forms of scholarships, awards and bursaries."

Masayuki Suzuki, director of the Japan Foundation and 2007 Honour Court inductee, said his organization is very appreciative of the recognition they have received from the University.

Right: From left, Noriko Saito of the Japan Foundation, York Prof. Norio Ota, Masayuki Suzuki of the Japan Foundation, and his wife Noriko Suzuki

The Japan Foundation offers programs that further international mutual understanding through the introduction of Japanese culture overseas and the promotion of cultural exchange between Japan and other countries.

"We would like to express our gratitude to York University for its long-standing commitment to the promotion of Japanese culture," said Suzuki. "In my opinion, York University is one of the centres of Japanese-language education and Japanese studies in Canada, so I hope that we can continue to develop this relationship between York and the Japan Foundation in the future."

As the reception drew to a close, Paul Marcus, president and CEO of the York University Foundation, proposed a toast to thank all of the donors, faculty, staff and students in attendance that evening. He presented a small sapling, a young tree that will be planted on campus, as a special tribute to York’s Honour Court donors.

"This tree will be here for future generations and will have a lasting impact," said Marcus. "And that is very much what all of you have done as donors to the University. We thank you for investing in York’s students and therefore investing in the future."

Inductees to the Honour Court in 2007 are:

AIM Trimark Investments
Hédi Bouraoui
Rudolph Bratty
David and Lynn Bruce
Canada Law Book
Chair’s Cup Golf Tournament Committee
Yu-Hang Chan
Bill and Louise Dimma

Right: From left, Carole and Howard Tanenbaum  

Sorel Etrog
Sheldon and Judith Godfrey
Harry and Sara Gorman and Family and Freddie and Neil Shore
Nona Macdonald Heaslip and the late William Heaslip
The Japan Foundation
Gary and Brenda Mooney
Nathan and Lily Silver Family Foundation
Tamara Stone
Howard and Carole Tanenbaum and Family
John Warkentin

Those members whose continued generosity has moved them to a new level of Honour Court recognition in 2007 are:

Mark and Gail Appel
Jack L. Cockwell
Judith and Marshall Cohen
Leslie and Anna Dan and Family
Davies Ward Phillips and Vineberg LLP
Eli Lilly Canada Inc.
A tribute to the late Mariano Antonio Elia
W. Lawrence Heisey
Beland Honderich
HSBC Bank Canada
Kenaidan Group Ltd.
Timothy and Frances Price
A tribute to the late Vernon Oliver Stong
Suncor Energy Foundation
Rick Waugh
Janet and Mark Webber

Right: From left, Mark Lievonen (BBA ’79, MBA ’87), member of York’s Board of Governors; William Dimma (MBA ’69, LLD [Hon.] ’98); honorary member of York’s Board of Governors; Lisa Gleva, York University Foundation principal gift officer; and, Guy Burry (BA ’82), member of York’s Board of Governors

For more information about the Honour Court or to view the 2007 Report to Donors distributed at the event, visit the York University Foundation Web site.

By Earleen Dover, communications officer, York University Foundation