York to the Power of 50: Building bridges in the York community

The Lakhani family, longtime supporters of York, hosted a special dinner at the Noor Cultural Centre to honour the outstanding decade of service to the University by President Emerita Lorna R. Marsden. The event also served as an opportunity to welcome York’s seventh president & vice-chancellor, Mamdouh Shoukri. Attending the event were close friends of York University and the Lakhani family.

The family’s previous generosity and involvement with the University has included funding the Noor Fellowship in Islamic Studies and, most recently, the Noor Chair in Islamic Studies. Karim Lakhani is a member of the board of directors of the York University Foundation.

Above: From left, Lorna R. Marsden, Karim Lakhani, Abdul Lakhani, Laila Lakhani, Mamdouh Shoukri, Samira Kanji and Paul Marcus with a framed early map of the world presented to the Lakhani family in recognition of their support of York University

In his remarks to guests at the Oct. 30 event, Shoukri said York was fortunate to have the Lakhanis as part of the larger York family. "At this time of transformation for the University, the Lakhani family is helping to build and shape a broader vision for York. They have built bridges between York University, the Noor Cultural Centre and Toronto’s Islamic community. They help ensure that York reflects the values and diversity of the new Canada."

Right: Guests at the dinner included Faculty of Arts Dean Bob Drummond (left) and Vicky Drummond, coordinator, Nellie Langford Rowell Library at Founders College and office administrator for the Canadian Woman Studies Journal

Shoukri noted that York students come from many cultures and speak many languages. "York has strong values rooted in a culture that reflects the new Canada: diversity, social justice, accessibility and fairness. These values were an important factor in my decision to come to York. In addition, they position York to play an important role in the cultural, social and economic development of our city, our country and our world. That is our ultimate goal at York: to train our students to be great citizens of the world."

Expressing her appreciation to the Lakhani family, Marsden thanked them for their understanding of the importance of education both for the individual and for society. By helping York University, the Lakhani family has helped the broader community and assisted in forging stronger bonds among the varied cultures that comprise Canada, said Marsden.

Left: Noorbanu Lakhani (left) and Hassanali Lakhani

Samira Kanji, a member of the Lakhani family and president of the Noor Cultural Centre, spoke of the need for academia to take its expertise out into the community. "York and Noor stand at two ends of a metaphorical corridor facilitating the movement of ideas and knowledge between the house of theory and the house of practice." She praised Shoukri for speaking to this point in his installation ceremony speech.

Kanji also bestowed praise on Marsden for her "support, friendship and solicitude at all times".

"I will take this opportunity also to acknowledge that with you [Marsden] as its president, York saw fit to forge a positive and constructive alliance in the awfully recriminatory post-9/11 period with an Islamic institution committed to acting out the irenic injunctions of its faith, in doing which, York demonstrated the ideals and highest virtues of academic society."

Paul Marcus, president and CEO of York University Foundation, together with Shoukri and Marsden, presented the Lakhanis with an early map of the globe, "reminding us of how far we have come in understanding the world".