U50: York is looking for ideas on ways to celebrate its anniversary

In 2009, York University will celebrate its 50th anniversary. During its first 50 years, York has grown into one of Canada’s largest research and teaching universities, while maintaining its core commitment to accessibility, diversity, social justice and interdisciplinary education.

For Osgoode Hall Law School Professor Emeritus John McCamus (left), York’s 50th anniversary represents an unprecedented opportunity to celebrate a "remarkable 50 years of achievement". With that in mind, McCamus has assumed a role as the volunteer chair of the University’s U50 Campus Committee. The committee is responsible for reviewing proposals for Faculty- and department-based events to be deemed U50 events, which will be promoted as part of the University’s official anniversary celebrations.

"York has gone from an idea to the third-largest university in Canada," says McCamus. "It is really quite amazing. This very large institution was built brick-by-brick by York’s faculty, staff and students. The 50th anniversary offers a wonderful opportunity to tell York’s story to the world and to celebrate the quality of the University’s faculty, students and alumni."

While York’s history and mandate are unique, McCamus says the University’s diverse and multicultural family are also key strengths. "Many of York’s alumni are the first graduates of first families – those who have come to Canada from other countries to find a new future. The U50 celebrations will give the University an opportunity to celebrate its community and its past, and look to the next 50 years and beyond," he says.

Even though 2009 is still more than a year off, plans are already underway for a number of pan-University events. The York University Foundation has launched the York to the Power of 50 campaign – the University’s 50th-anniversary fundraising and awareness campaign, with a vision to make York a leading international centre for interdisciplinary research and teaching. Glendon history Professor Emeritus and University historian Michiel Horn is completing a book on York’s history. Film Professor Laurence Green is working with OMNI Television to produce a public service announcement on York’s 50th anniversary.

"The U50 celebrations may include a community festival with York opening its doors to the wider community it serves," says McCamus. "With that in mind, the committee is seeking proposals from the York community for events, special conferences and projects that fit into the anniversary celebrations. York’s 50th is an open book ready for words. Events could take the form of reunions, alumni gatherings, conferences, a special symposium or forum, film retrospectives, book launches and performances, to name but a few."

Criteria were developed by the U50 Planning Committees to serve as guidelines for developing the 50th anniversary calendar of events. Seed money is available from the University to assist with the events. Event planning advice is also available from York’s new office of University Events and Community Relations.

Criteria for U50 events include:

  • events and activities that are pan-University or prestigious;
  • events and activities that include people from outside of York – to assist York to be better known;
  • balance among events and activities that involve students, faculty, alumni and staff;
  • events and activities that have strategic value;
  • balance among events and activities, products and advertising.

Members of the U50 Campus Committee are:

  • Professor Anders Sandberg, Faculty of Environmental Studies
  • Ashley Hall, student representative
  • Carol Irving, York International
  • Catherine Davidson, librarian, York University Libraries
  • Christian Buhagiar, Office of VP Research & Innovation
  • Cindy Bettcher, U50 project director
  • Dianna Phongsy, student representative
  • Elizabeth Monier-Williams, Office of VP Research & Innovation
  • Professor Gail Vanstone, Senate of York University
  • Professor Gervon Fearon, Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies
  • Kelly Fritsch, graduate student representative 
  • Professor James McKellar, Schulich School of Business
  • Professor Emeritus John McCamus, Osgoode Hall Law School & Chair, U50 Campus Committee
  • Professor John Lennox, Faculty of Graduate Studies
  • Lindsay Reid, Alumni & Advancement Services
  • Marie-Thérèse Chaput, Glendon
  • Mary Scheepers, Faculty of Arts
  • Nora Gubins, Faculty of Health
  • Pina D’Agostino, Osgoode Hall Law School
  • Robert Prince, Faculty of Science & Engineering
  • Robert Fothergill, Faculty of Fine Arts
  • Samantha Jones, York University Foundation
  • Sheila Forshaw, Sport & Recreation
  • Professor Stanley Tweyman, Council of Masters
  • Professor Warren Crichlow, Faculty of Education

To download a PDF of the U50 Proposal Template and for instructions on how to submit a proposal to the committee, click here.