Awards ceremony celebrates an exciting first year for York’s newest Faculty

It was an event to celebrate the end of the beginning – a wrap-up of a very busy and exciting first year of the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS).

Students, staff, faculty and alumni gathered for the Student Council of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (SCOLAPS) awards ceremony, recognizing the contributions members of council have made to the Faculty and acknowledging the rich relationships that have been built between SCOLAPS, faculty and staff.

Above: Members of the SCOLAPS student council

“It has been an incredible joy to work with the SCOLAPS executive over the past year; they have played a responsible, proactive role in helping our Faculty to move from the drawing board to reality,” said Martin Singer, dean of LA&PS. “The university experience is not simply classroom based and that’s what this award ceremony was about – recognizing students who understood early on that they are in charge of their education.”  

SCOLAPS represents nearly 26,000 York students, acting as a voice on various committees, LA&PS Faculty Council and on York Senate. This year, students on council jumped right in and engaged in a number of key York initiatives, including the white paper process and the Strategic Planning Framework for LA&PS. They’ve also organized various events on campus and are committed to an ongoing mentorship program called Leadership, Education, Achievement and Development (LEAD) that matches first-year and upper-year students through specialized workshops and leadership-based activities. Additionally, they administer the student-run Ian Greene Award, honouring teaching excellence.

Fourth-year administrative studies student Neil Britto says that being part of SCOLAPS in its inaugural year has been one of the most rewarding undergraduate experiences. “There really isn’t any other opportunity in the Faculty like it,” he says. “SCOLAPS provides a venue for students to meaningfully engage in governance activities and to get a first-hand perspective of all the exciting initiatives taking place in the Faculty and across the University.” 

Britto and fellow council member Shazma Abdulla, an English major, received the Marilyn Lambert-Drache Award for Initiative in Governance for the strong voice they’ve had as members of the Dean’s Advisory Group and for the proactive role they’ve played while representing council on various committees. Britto will return to council next year as a member of the executive and as council treasurer. 


Above: From left, Neil Britto, Shazma Abdullah, LA&PS Dean Martin Singer, Steven Goncalves, Peter Salerno, Mathew Harper, Adnan Raja (recipients and presenters of Marilyn Lambert-Drache Award for Initiative in Governance)

To her delight, Abdulla also received a second award for her initiative in governance. She, along with criminology student Steven Goncalves, took home the SCOLAPS Award for Outstanding Contribution to Governance. “These two individuals have shown immense dedication and commitment and have really just gone above and beyond in their student lives,” said SCOLAPS chair and English student Adnan Raja, who presented the award. “They both have been amongst the most involved.”

Raja went from presenter to recipient and was honoured by his fellow members of council with the newly established Martin Singer Award for Dedication to Student Engagement. Raja is a York senator and an active member of Faculty Council. As Singer noted at the event, Raja has advocated for students consistently and eloquently at various committees and has been a constant source of energy – inspiring students both within and outside of council to get more involved.

Right: From left, Singer, students Peter Salerno and Shazma Abdullah, with the newly established Martin Singer Award

“Adnan has tried very hard not to make academic engagement a slogan, but a reality,” said Singer. “He has made the first year of SCOLAPS a groundbreaking and successful year; and I think he has set a high standard for the years to come.”

Faculty and staff were also honoured at the April 28 event. Teaching assistant Andreas Georgiou, English and humanities Professor Elicia Clements and beloved late professor David Sealy received the Ian Greene Award for Teaching Excellence. Professor Ian Greene presented the award himself and paid a touching tribute to Sealy who passed away in December. Sealy was cited by students as being “a brilliant scholar, an engaging teacher and an inspiring mentor” who cared for, and took the time to get to know, each of them. 

Political science and women’s studies Professor Janice Newton and administrative studies Professor Gary Spraakman, received the SCOLAPS Award for Faculty Contribution; Lesa Cozzi, senior manager of faculty governance in the Office of the Faculty Council, and Stephen Davis, petitions officer in the Office of the Faculty Council, took home the SCOLAPS Award for Staff Contribution; and public policy & management student Nimmy George, received the SCOLAPS Award for Alumni Contribution for her work bringing students and alumni together.

Right: From left, Steven Goncalves, Gary Spraakman, Janice Newton and Adnan Raja

“It was really important to us to get everyone who’s had – big or small – contact with the organization to come out and to celebrate,” said Raja at the awards event. “It’s a great opportunity to recognize people who make a major contribution and an impact on this University, on this Faculty and on students.”

Watch a video of the SCOLAPS award ceremony online. For more information or to get involved, e-mail