A chorus of thanks for the final dean of York’s Faculty of Arts

More than 250 friends and colleagues of Robert Drummond, dean of York’s Faculty of Arts, assembled in the main dining room of the Schulich School of Business on May 13 for a reception to honour Drummond and thank him for his outstanding service to the Faculty of Arts. Drummond has served as dean of the Faculty since July 1, 2001.

The dean dressed in grand style for the reception, donning a traditional Scottish kilt with the Drummond tartan and a sporran.

Right: Dean Robert Drummond addresses guests at a reception held to thank him for his leadership

“When you think of Bob, you think of things like decency, humanity and integrity. In my mind, he represents everything that York stands for. Bob, your legacy will always be there; it will endure. You have been a wonderful colleague," said York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri, who was the first to speak. "I am sure your colleagues are all here to thank you for what you have done for the University, and for them, and not necessarily only to see you wearing a kilt.”

Nimmy George, former leader of the Faculty of Arts Student Council and former vice-chair of the Student Senate Caucus, speaking on behalf of Arts students said: “You are taught in life that it is OK to agree to disagree, but it is definitely a life-changing moment when you see that life lesson play out before your own eyes. Disagreement, to many, means tearing down your opponent but, on that day, I learned something invaluable – that the true test of one’s character is how you treat your opponent. Dean Drummond, I know I’m not the only student who has learned many lessons from you. For those lessons and so much more I’d like to say, thank you.”

Gwyn Buck, former executive assistant to the dean of Faculty of Arts, speaking on behalf of Arts staff asked rhetorically: “How does one distill the elements of Bob’s leadership? I think they boil down to a few principles: he is a man of unimpeachable integrity; he is committed to consulting and building consensus; he has the vision and the patience to focus on long-term solutions rather than quick fixes. While a staunch defender of the Faculty, he has always had his eye on the interests of the larger University. His tenacity – he never gives up, no matter how daunting the obstacles. And even when the chips are down, his legendary wit saves the day and, finally, he is utterly unflappable. These qualities have earned Bob the admiration, respect and affection of his colleagues, his staff and his students.”

The comments continued as Ross Rudolph, a political science professor and senior adviser to York’s vice-president academic who served as MC for the reception, thanked Drummond and his wife Vicky for their many contributions and their selfless generosity of resources. “If you have not already heard, for his extraordinary contributions, Robert will be invested as University Professor at the Faculty of Arts convocation on Friday, June 26," said Rudolph. "It is conventional on such occasions to cite the merit of the award winner. In this case, we can all agree that no one at York is more deserving of the honour.”

Anne Simone, administrative assistant to the dean, Faculty of Arts, said after the reception that not one speaker needed to be asked to speak at the event. Each one approached her and eagerly requested the opportunity to do so. Other speakers included York Vice-President Academic & Provost Sheila Embleton; Associate Dean in the Faculty of Graduate Studies and former associate dean in the Faculty of Arts Susan Warwick; Mary Scheepers, executive officer, Faculty of Arts; and Heather Campbell, associate dean, research & faculty relations, in the Faculty of Arts.

Simone said that Drummond embodied compassion and that in fact, just moments before the reception, she pointed out that a student came to speak to him in haste because she desperately needed his counsel. Drummond put all else aside and spent 10 minutes addressing her issue. She said this was typical of Dean Drummond, always ready to tend to the concerns of others.

“I was overwhelmed by the turnout and the comments of the speakers, and I want to express my gratitude to my colleagues for the event and for all their help and support while I have been in the dean’s office,” said Drummond.

There will not be another dean of the Faculty of Arts because on July 1 the Faculty merges with the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies to form the new Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies.

Drummond will be taking administrative leave and will continue his research. He is a recognized expert in the government and politics of Ontario and public policy in an aging society. Drummond has a long history of service to the University and has played an integral role in developing the Faculty of Arts as acting dean in 1993-1994 and then as dean from 2001 to the present. He has also served as vice-chair and chair of the Senate of York University.

Drummond graduated from York University’s Glendon College with an Honours BA magna cum laude in 1967. He completed both his master and doctorate in political science at Chicago’s Northwestern University. 

Submitted to YFile by David Wallace, communications coordinator, Faculty of Arts