Ready for their close-up: Robed senators pose on York’s birthday

It turns out that in the clinch, the members of the Senate of York University are model models.

Things had just gotten started at the long-planned photo shoot of the senators, dressed in their formal robes for York’s 50th birthday on March 26, which happened to coincide with a regular Senate meeting. The group was assembled in the Moot Court of Osgoode Hall Law School and photographer Gary Beechey was standing high on a ladder, flanked by his high-powered lights. Calling out instructions, he banged off half a dozen shots in quick succession.

And then his lights went out.

It turned out his lights had blown a Moot Court fuse, but he told the assembly: “No problem, I’ve got what I need. I don’t think anyone’s eyes were closed.”

Above: York’s senators in their formal ceremonial robes. Click photo to enlarge

And so it appears in the historic shot above. You can see a larger version here, and you should be able to enlarge it even further in your browser.

After the photo shoot, the senators held a brief but work-filled regular meeting and, still in their robes, moved on to a ceremonial session. President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri brought them up to date on his measures to improve the atmosphere on campus. Senate Chair Celia Haig-Brown introduced more than a dozen former Senate chairs, stretching back to the 1970s.

Board of Governors Chair Marshall Cohen mused about York’s bicameral form of governance – with both a Senate and a Board of Governors – which he said can be confusing at times, like Parliament. “Sometimes it’s hard to tell how it works – but it does work,” he said. After 50 years, he added, “we should all be proud of our institution.”

To round out the session, University Secretary & General Counsel Harriet Lewis read out congratulations to York on its 50th anniversary from the leaders of all three levels of government, starting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

“With an exceptional faculty dedicated to expanding the horizons of its students, York University has had a profound impact on postsecondary education in Canada, especially in the fields of law, business, fine arts, science and engineering, including the nation’s only space engineering program,” said Harper.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said York “has established itself as one of our province’s – and Canada’s – foremost universities.”

Toronto Mayor David Miller spoke of York’s “visionary leadership” and said the University has “fostered an interdisciplinary academic environment for researchers and teachers alike.”

After that, it was time for a reception – and time to hang up the robes once again.