York to mark its 50th birthday tomorrow with cake and ceremony

York University has spent 50 years bringing together researchers, educators, students and partners from different disciplines to address the complex challenges of tomorrow. This month, Canada’s interdisciplinary university takes time to honour the past and look even further into the future.

To celebrate York’s academic achievements, communicate its vision for the future and engage the communities surrounding its campuses, a series of special U50 events will take place throughout 2009, including celebrations on the University’s official birthday tomorrow. It commemorates the day the York University Act gained royal assent on March 26, 1959.

Everyone is invited to come and help celebrate York’s 50th tomorrow. The University is hosting a special Student Appreciation Day that will feature student-centred activities with refreshments for students as well as gift bags containing U50 pens, mugs and desktop lights, plus draws and giveaways in the East Bear Pit, Central Square and Complexes 1 and 2.

Right: On March 26, York will host a special student appreciation day

From noon to 1pm, there will be a cake cutting ceremony in the CIBC Lobby of the Accolade East Building. Everyone is then invited to enjoy a complimentary slice of birthday cake, which will be distributed from 11am to 7pm in the Student Centre and East Bear Pit. At 11am, waffles will also be given out in the East Bear Pit. Coffee and cake will be distributed to students in Complexes 1 and 2 from 10:30am until 3pm. Students are also invited to a special Red Pub Night in the Underground at 10pm – those wearing red will get in to the pub for free. There will be a free giveaway and all students will receive a special 50th birthday loot bag. Student Appreciation Day is supported by the York U50 Office, Student Community & Leadership Development, york is U, the college councils of York University, the York Student Centre and Aramark.

york is U, York’s student alumni association, has produced a special YouTube video about York’s 50th.

Also on March 26, the University will convene a special 50th anniversary ceremonial meeting of York’s Senate in which Senators will be photographed in their traditional academic robes. A reception will be held to honour York’s more than 200 award-winning faculty – Fellows of the Royal Society of Canada, University Professors, Distinguished Research Professors and Canada Research Chairs.

The York University Bookstore is offering a special one-day birthday discount of up to 50 per cent off 50 selected "red" items. Look for the special tag highlighting the items in the Bookstore. As well, with every purchase of $50, patrons will receive a $5 gift card. The birthday sale runs from 9am to 7pm. No other discounts can be combined with these birthday promotions.

On March 27 and 28, York’s 50+50 Symposium is a two-day "interdisciplinary discussion of pretty much everything", featuring prominent Canadian and international thinkers Margaret Atwood, Arjun Appadurai, Nicholas Negroponte, Jeffrey Simpson, Edward O. Wilson, Lloyd Axworthy, Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella and Sheila Watt-Cloutier. They will each be paired with York scholars as they investigate what we have learned in the last 50 years and how it will help us in the next 50. For more on the symposium, see YFile, March 24.

On Saturday, March 28, York hosts a black tie gala, York in Concert, that will feature performances from a pool of illustrious York alumni, including author Nino Ricci (BA Spec. Hons. ’81), vocalists Matt Dusk (BFA Spec. Hons. ’01), and Suba Sankaran (BFA Spec. Hons. ’97, MA ’02), and choreographers Debra Brown (BFA Spec. Hons. ’78) and York dance Professor Susan Cash (BFA Spec. Hons. ’78, MA ’07). The concert starts at 7pm at the Tribute Communities Recital Hall and will be preceded by a reception at 6pm. Performers will later join guests in a post-concert reception.

Left: Singer Matt Dusk returns to York for the York in Concert gala

From March 23 to April 22, Torontonians will experience York’s 50th anniversary thanks to a 30-day visual domination of the Bloor-Yonge subway station. Support for the campaign comes from York’s 50th anniversary presenting sponsors: TD Bank Financial Group, Enbridge Inc., Cineplex Entertainment and media sponsor CTVglobemedia and from patrons Tim and Frances Price, The S. Schulich Foundation and the Lambert family. For more on York’s subway domination, see YFile, March 23.

There is also a commemorative volume available in the Bookstore. In York University: The Way Must Be Tried (2009), author Michiel Horn, professor emeritus of history and University historian, weaves archival research and interviews into a compelling narrative, documenting the development of an institution committed to helping professors and students reach across disciplinary boundaries. See YFileFeb. 18

As part of its 50th birthday celebrations, York University has partnered with Lailey Vineyard Wines to offer two U50 Vintners Quality Alliance wines, under the name Vin 50 – a 2006 Cabernet Merlot and a 2007 Chardonnay. A portion of the sale from each bottle purchased will go to the York University Foundation’s York to the Power of 50 campaign to benefit York students. The York University Foundation has already raised $180 million of its $200-million goal for the York to the Power of 50 campaign, to coincide with the University’s 50th year.