Faculty of Education celebrates York’s 50th in honour of late professor

York’s Faculty of Education celebrated the University’s 50th anniversary with a colloquium in honour of Professor Patrick Solomon, featuring a keynote address by Professor Gloria Ladson-Billings, Kellner Family Chair in Urban Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The May 7 event, Equity, Diversity, Community: A Colloquium in Honour of Patrick Solomon, celebrated the Faculty’s innovations in multicultural education and community outreach programs. It also paid tribute to Solomon, one of the pioneers of the Urban Diversity Initiative in the Faculty of Education, who died of cancer last year.

Left: Patrick Solomon

Solomon twice received the American Educational Studies Association Critics’ Choice Award in 2008 for the book Urban Teacher Education and Teaching: Innovative Practices for Diversity and Social Justice, co-edited with Dia N.R. Sekayi, and in 2005 for the book Teaching for Equity & Diversity: Research to Practice, which he co-authored with Queen’s University Professor Cynthia Levine-Rasky. In 2003, he received the first annual Exemplary Multicultural Educators Award by the Canadian Council for Multicultural & Intercultural Education for his multicultural and anti-racism education research and practice with teachers.

In her presentation, "The Social Funding of Race", Ladson-Billings used the metaphor of social funding to explore the ways in which the social construct of race as a meaningful category is symbolically and structurally produced and reproduced by the state and in everyday social interactions. Ladson-Billings, well-known for her research examining the pedagogical practices of teachers who are successful with African-American students, says teacher education programs hoping to work from an anti-racist or multicultural perspective must begin by taking this phenomenon into account.

Right: Gloria Ladson-Billings

Following the keynote presentation, a panel of Solomon’s former teaching colleagues and research collaborators discussed his important contributions to equity, diversity and community-focused teacher education. They also examined how those achievements could be built upon over the next decade. The panel, introduced by York Faculty of Education Professor Warren Crichlow, included Levine-Rasky, Professor Aparna Mishra Tarc of the University of Western Ontario and Professor John Portelli of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. Each panellist addressed the positive impact that Solomon had on their thought and practice.

Solomon’s legacy continues in York’s Urban Diversity Initiative, the first program of its kind when it was launched in 1994. The colloquium was attended by close to 100 guests who mingled at a reception featuring a series of posters documenting many aspects of community engagement within the faculty.

To listen to Ladson-Billings’ presentation, visit the Faculty of Education Web site.

The Faculty of Education recently established the Patrick Solomon Memorial Award in Urban Diversity. The award will be distributed annually to students that share Solomon’s values of equity, diversity and social justice in education and who demonstrate a commitment to community service. Donations can be mailed to: Sandy Tieman, York University Foundation, West Office Building, 4700 Keele St., Toronto, ON, M3J 1P3.