Celebrating the life of education Professor Patrick Solomon

The Faculty of Education at York University will host a community event to celebrate the life of Professor Patrick Solomon, one of the pioneers of the Faculty’s Urban Diversity Initiative. The celebration takes place Thursday, March 12 from 6 to 8pm at the Underground Restaurant, located in the Student Centre on York’s Keele campus. Solomon died on Oct. 4, 2008 of cancer (see YFile, Oct. 8, 2008).

Right: Professor Patrick Solomon

A graduate of Mico Teachers College in Jamaica, Professor Solomon taught at Clarendon College in Jamaica before moving to Canada in 1969. He completed a BA at the University of Waterloo in 1973, an MEd in educational administration at the University of Western Ontario in 1978 and a PhD in social foundations of education at the State University of New York in 1987.

Prof. Solomon was engaged in equity, diversity and social justice works for most of his professional career as an elementary and secondary school teacher, school administrator and university professor. He began working at York’s Faculty of Education in 1991 and he was instrumental in launching the Urban Diversity Initiative in 1994. The first of its kind in the province, the initiative was developed in response to a call by the Ontario Ministry of Education for institutions to make teacher education more relevant to the province’s increasingly diverse population and to integrate issues of equity, diversity and social justice into the schooling process. To date close to 1,000 teachers have graduated from the program and are using what they have learned to engage and empower students in classrooms across Toronto and beyond.

An exceptional scholar and teacher, Prof. Solomon’s work received international recognition and praise. Three of his books received the prestigious American Educational Studies Association (AESA) Critics’ Choice Book Award: Urban Teacher Education and Teaching: Innovative Practices for Diversity and Social Justice, co-edited with Dia Sekayi (2008 award); Teaching for Equity & Diversity: Research to Practice, co-authored with Cynthia Levine-Rasky and Jordan Singer (2005 award); and The Erosion of Democracy in Education: From Critique to Possibilities, co-edited with John Portelli (2001 award). In 2003, he also received the inaugural Exemplary Multicultural Educators Award by the Canadian Council of Multicultural Educators for his multicultural and anti-racism education research and practice with teachers.

Prof. Solomon maintained strong links to his native Jamaica through the many student exchanges that he organized between York and the University of the West Indies. He was also actively involved with the Toronto chapter of the Mico University College Alumni Association, serving on the board of directors and on the education committee.

The Faculty of Education has established the Patrick Solomon Memorial Award in Urban Diversity. The Award will be distributed annually to students that share his values of equity, diversity and social justice in education and who demonstrate a commitment to community service. Donations will be accepted at this event or can be mailed to:

Sandy Tieman,
York University Foundation
West Office Building, 4700 Keele Street
Toronto, ON M3J 1P3

Members of the University community who are interested in attending this celebration of Prof. Solomon’s life should RSVP by calling Anderson Coward, communications coordinator, Faculty of Education at 416-650-8024 or e-mail acoward@edu.yorku.ca by no later than Thursday, March 5.