Winters College celebrates its 40th anniversary tomorrow

In March 1967, York University’s Winters College officially opened on the Keele campus. The event was celebrated at a ceremony officiated by Robert H. Winters, a member of the York University Board of Governors and federal minister of trade and commerce at the time. There was a coffee reception, a buffet luncheon and a piano concert followed by a tea at 4pm in the Winters Junior Common Room to cap the day. Tomorrow, many grads will return for a much more elaborate celebration of 40 years of Winters.

Right: Winters College (with the image of Robert Winters) in 1967

York alumna Caroline Malm (née Back, BA ’68) majored in sociology and English and was part of Winters College during that pivotal first year. “Being a member of the first class and residents’ cohort at the Keele campus was special. We had the advantage of small tutorial groups and received an excellent education. For example, I was fortunate to be in Ed Broadbent’s political science tutorial. Our professors were characters. I particularly recall Professor Michael Collie, Professor Donald Summerhayes and Professor John Conway. These professors and others allowed us to think outside the box, an attribute, which has stood me in good stead over the years,” said Malm.

During the first weeks in residence, plumbing facilities were not quite ready for the new students, said Malm. “I remember going by car to Glendon campus for showers – five of us returning to Keele, wearing towel turbans and receiving many second glances from other drivers.”

Malm also remembers meeting Robert Winters when he came for the opening ceremonies. “He toured the residences which necessitated much tidying up as I recall,” chuckled Malm. “We also had a visit from John Diefenbaker who won us over with keen wit and self-deprecating good humour. He had been invited to speak to a group of us one evening.”

During that first year, the Winters students had many guests, including a group of visiting Russian academics. “We took them for a tour of Yorkdale Mall which was very new in those days,” said Malm. “One of them commented that the merchandise was very nice – for those with money to buy it.”

Malm said her years studying at York University during the late 1960s and early 1970s were “truly marvellous”. She recalls meeting Centennial Fellows from Quebec who spent several months in residence at York; American draft dodgers who were welcomed to the campus; and engineering students from the University of Toronto who occasionally invaded York and played pranks.

She described Winters as a luxurious residence and said she felt very fortunate to live there. “My suite mate and I smuggled in a rabbit and a cat, both of whom had spoiled existences with many caregivers and lots of treats. The residence was unique also in that it was coed and that was a new concept at the time,” said Malm.

“When I graduated, I received an award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Life of Winters College’," added Maim. "I believe it was really the other way around and Winters College contributed to my life in an enduring way.”

Forty years, 11 masters and more than 10,000 graduates later, Winters is celebrating 40 years of academic, artistic and community excellence at a gala celebration on Saturday, Dec. 1, from noon to 7pm at the college.

The theme of the day is “Winters: Then and Now”, which will be reflected in the diversity of student, faculty and alumni performances taking place throughout Winters College on Saturday, including the following:

  • York music professor and renowned jazz vocalist Rita di Ghent will open the day with a performance in the Winters Senior Common Room (Winters 021);
  • Cool Man Cool, a funk rock fusion band made up of York music students, will perform in the Absinthe Pub in Winters College at 12:30pm;
  • The York Music Student’s Association (YUMSA) will play east coast music in the Winters Dining Hall at 1:30pm;
  • Acoustic comedy duo We Apologize in Advance, will perform in the Winters Dining Hall at 2pm;
  • York graduate Randell Neudorf (BFA `99), a singer-songwriter, performs in the Winters Senior Common Room  (Winters 021) at 2pm;
  • The York Dance Ensemble (YDE) performs an original piece in the Eleanor Winters Art Gallery (Winters 129) titled "Reinventing John". The work takes John Travolta’s popular solo in the film Saturday Night Fever, and using contemporary choreographic techniques, reinvents his choreography for contemporary audiences;

Right: The York Dance Ensemble 

  • Theatre student Collin Fallowfield will follow YDE in the Eleanor Winters Art Gallery at 1:30pm with a theatrical monologue;
  • Jazz vocalist and York graduate, Felicity Williams (BFA `06), performs in the Winters Senior Common Room  (Winters 021) at 4pm;
  • York student and singer-pianist Victoria Pazzano performs in the Winters Senior Common Room at 4:30pm;
  • York music student and classical pianist Regina Lam performs in the Winters Senior Common Room at 5pm;
  • York graduate David Berger (BFA `03, BEd `03) will lead a drumming circle in the Eleanor Winters Art Gallery at 4:30pm;
  • Alumna Ruth Dorotheo (BFA `01) with a partner will perform a salsa and tango dance at 4:30pm in the Winters Dining Hall;
  • All day film screenings in Winters 117 including award winners and honourable mentions from the past three years of the Cinesiege Film Festival;
  • Professor Dorothy de Val and her daughter Susanna will perform Cape Breton fiddle music in the Absinthe Pub in Winters College at 2pm;
  • There will be a silent auction of donated works of art by Fine Arts faculty members Vera Frenkel, Karen Kulyk and Tim Whiten. The auction will take place in Winters Residence, first floor common room, from noon to 4pm.

Left: The a Cappella group Wibi

  • Renowned and award-winning a cappella groups Wibi and Cadence will close out the day with performances in the Winters Dining Hall at 6pm.

For a full schedule, visit the Winters College Web site at