Ontario government funds expansion of York’s Glendon campus

York University’s Glendon campus will be expanded into a Centre of Excellence for French-Language and Bilingual Postsecondary Education, through funds announced yesterday by the Ontario government.

The Government of Ontario is investing $20 million in the new centre at Glendon, which will provide better access to French-language higher education for francophone learners in southern Ontario and strengthen the delivery of collaborative French-language university and college programs. In addition to expanding the Glendon campus, the investment will also allow the Sudbury-based Collège Boréal to work with York University to expand its enrolment through new collaborative programs and pathways between the two institutions.

Left: John Milloy, minister of training, colleges & universities, announces the investment of $20 million in a new centre based at York’s Glendon campus

The first phase of the project will enlarge existing facilities at Glendon – Canada’s only bilingual liberal arts Faculty – to sustain the rapid growth of its undergraduate and graduate French-language and bilingual programs. Since 2001, enrolment at Glendon has risen from 1,700 to 2,500 students in 2007.

At yesterday’s news conference, held at Glendon, three Ontario ministers were present to make the announcement. They included John Milloy, minister of training, colleges & universities; Kathleen Wynne, minister of education and MPP for Don Valley West (the riding where the Glendon campus is located); and Francophone Affairs Minister Madeleine Meilleur.

“Ontario’s more than 20,000 francophone learners enrolled in postsecondary programs, plus those considering studies in French, will have a wider range of programs to choose from, thanks to this new centre at York University,” said Milloy. “Our investment will provide more opportunities for French-speaking learners to strive for and achieve excellence.

"Glendon is an outstanding institution and a vibrant part of York University, another fabulous institution," said Milloy. "Sometimes education is about bricks and mortar. In order for students and faculty to work properly, they need an up-to-date learning environment."

Of the funds announced, $12.6 million will go to addressing the need to refurbish and modernize existing facilities at Glendon. This will enable the Faculty to broaden its range of programs, with initiatives that include a new Bachelor of Education program for future French teachers and a new bilingual international Bachelor of Arts program.

Switching effortlessly between French and English, Milloy explained that the investment would further York’s and Glendon’s leadership role in offering bilingual liberal arts education. "Anyone who looks around at the world today and sees the forces of globalization can see that the only way Ontario can compete is by investing in postsecondary education," said Milloy.

"This announcement is great news for York and great news for French-language and bilingual postsecondary education in Ontario," said Mamdouh Shoukri, president & vice-chancellor of York University. "Building this centre of excellence will help us educate Canada’s future leaders. As our world becomes more globalized, language skills are an increasingly important tool for university graduates, and York is committed to helping our students develop that advantage."

Funding for the new centre is part of a $1.4-billion strategic infrastructure investment outlined in the Ontario government’s fall economic statement. The investment is aimed at improving Ontario’s competitiveness and stimulating job creation and economic growth.

Right: Glendon Principal Kenneth McRoberts offers his thanks to the Ontario government while students look on

At the graduate level, Glendon plans to introduce PhD programs in études francophones and in translation & transcultural studies, a master’s degree in culture et société, and a bilingual master’s degree in public & international affairs. The latter program will become the centrepiece of the Glendon School of Public Affairs, Canada’s first fully bilingual graduate school of public affairs.

Collège Boréal already offers two college programs at the Glendon campus. With this investment, York University will not only be able to provide additional space for its own expansion, but also for Collège Boréal’s enrolment to rise to 150 students.

"The collaboration between York University and Collège Boréal opens up new training possibilities not only for francophones, but also for a large number of anglophone or bilingual students who have an interest in acquiring new skills in their second language or in broadening their horizons by learning French," said Meilleur.

"On behalf of York University, I would like to thank the Province of Ontario and specifically ministers Milloy, Wynne and Meilleur, who are here today, for their vision and leadership," said Sheila Embleton, York VP academic. "This investment will make it possible for York to build this centre of excellence in bilingual education at Glendon and to contribute to the province’s bilingual objectives. Southern Ontario has Canada’s largest concentration of French-immersion students, currently at about 120,000. These students must have an opportunity to pursue their education in a bilingual environment."

A delighted Kenneth McRoberts, principal of Glendon, thanked the government for its investment. Speaking in French, McRoberts invited Milloy back to Glendon. "I urge you to return regularly to visit, as we now have 20-million additional reasons to thank you and we think of you as a friend," said McRoberts.

Glendon has a special responsibility to the province of Ontario and to the bilingual education of Canadian youth and the new centre is essential to fulfilling this mandate, said McRoberts.

"This is a good news day for students of this province," said Wynne. "The future of Ontario lies in the hands of its students. We define ourselves in Canada and Ontario as people who have our chairs turned out to the rest of the world. We see ourselves as multicultural and multilingual. Ontario needs to continue along the road that Glendon is on."

The announcement is part of the Ontario government’s Access to Opportunities strategy for French-language postsecondary learners and its Politique d’aménagement linguistique, which aims to increase retention in French-language schools and ensure the sustainable development of the Franco-Ontarian community.