Groundbreaking at Glendon launches centre of excellence

An official groundbreaking ceremony on the Glendon campus on Monday marked the launch of a new building that will enable Glendon to fulfill its mandate as the Centre of Excellence for French-Language & Bilingual Postsecondary Education in southern Ontario.

York University President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri and Glendon Principal Kenneth McRoberts were joined by John Milloy, Ontario minister of training, colleges & universities; Paul Genest, Ontario deputy minister of intergovernmental affairs, deputy minister of francophone affairs and associate secretary of cabinet; Jérôme Cauchard, consul general of France in Toronto; Paul-Arthur Huot of the Bureau du Québec in Toronto; and a host of other dignitaries, faculty, staff and students at the launch of the construction, projected for completion in December 2011.

Right: John Milloy, Ontario minister of training, colleges & universities

Milloy’s formal announcement at Glendon in 2008 outlined the Government of Ontario’s intention to invest $20 million in the Glendon expansion to improve access to French-language higher education in southern Ontario. The investment is also intended to support partnerships between Ontario’s francophone colleges and Glendon, bringing new joint university-college programs to the Glendon campus.

“We are pleased that the Government of Ontario is investing in a facility to make York University’s Glendon College a Centre of Excellence for French-Language & Bilingual Postsecondary Education,” said Shoukri. “This new facility will provide our French-speaking students with a superior educational experience necessary for the changing economic and political world.”

Left: From left, York President Emeritus H. Ian Macdonald, York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri, John Milloy and York President Emerita Lorna Marsden

Milloy expressed his enthusiasm for the project and the outstanding collaboration among the participants. “The Government of Ontario is proud to work with Glendon to enhance [this campus’] well-deserved reputation for excellence in French-language and bilingual education,” said Milloy. “This is a great day for York, a great day for Glendon College and a great day for Ontario.”

Messages of greeting and continued support were also delivered on behalf of Madeleine Meilleur, Ontario minister of community & social services and minister responsible for francophone affairs; and Kathleen Wynne, Ontario minister of transportation and former minister of education.

“Glendon is an excellent choice for the Centre of Excellence for French-Language & Bilingual Postsecondary Education,” said Genest, whose ties to Glendon include being speaker last year at a master’s level symposium in the Glendon School of Public & International Affairs. Genest took the opportunity to announce the first Annual Franco-Ontarian Day this Sept. 25, an event which “recognizes the importance of our history, and of the French language in Ontario.”

Right: From left, Jérôme Cauchard, consul general of France in Toronto, speaks with Glendon Principal Kenneth McRoberts

McRoberts expressed his thanks to Milloy for his remarks and his support of Glendon. He also recognized the personal gift to the project made by York University President Emerita Lorna Marsden, as well as the contribution of the Banque Nationale.

“Glendon has a unique role in southern Ontario,” said McRoberts. “It is the only institution in the region to offer [such] a range of university programs in the French language… within 22 undergraduate programs, primarily in the social sciences and humanities, as well as three master’s programs and a doctoral program. Moreover, most of its full-time faculty members are able to teach in French as well as English, and all of its personnel can serve students in both languages.”

McRoberts commented that southern Ontario now contains one-third of the province’s francophone population, a group that continues to increase. The region is also home to the largest concentration of French immersion students in the province. These facts support “the growing need for French-language education at the university level in our region. In fact, Glendon’s student body has undergone a 40 per cent increase in the past decade,” from 1,700 to nearly 2,700 enrolled this year.


Above: Ground is ceremoniously broken for Glendon’s new Centre of Excellence for French-Language & Bilingual Postsecondary Education

“It is obvious, therefore, that we have reached the limits of our current infrastructure…and the Government of Ontario’s decision to invest $20 million in this campus arrives at a critical moment for Glendon,” added McRoberts. “The new building will be connected to York Hall and will include ultra-modern classrooms and study areas for students, as well as a 250-capacity amphitheatre.

“With the knowledge that this additional space will be available to us, we have been able to establish several new programs, such as the bachelor of education for future French teachers, the bilingual and trilingual iBA option in many of our current programs, a PhD program in Études francophones, and a bilingual MA in public & international affairs. The latter is a part of Glendon’s unique School of Public & International Affairs – the first bilingual graduate school of this nature in Canada,” said McRoberts.

Left: Mamdouh Shoukri looks on as Paul Genest, Ontario deputy minister of intergovernmental affairs, deputy minister of francophone affairs and associate secretary of cabinet, addresses the crowd

“The groundbreaking ceremony was an exciting step for the Glendon community,” said Professor Andrew Clifford, director of Glendon’s School of Translation. “When the construction project is completed, Glendon will be able to offer a clear and impressive welcome to all those who come to be a part of this campus. The new classroom, laboratory, and conference spaces will offer vital support to new research and training efforts that will have a profound impact on the education of francophones and other student populations.”

“Studying in a Centre of Excellence for French-Language & Bilingual Postsecondary Education, appreciated by the international community, fills Glendon students with a sense of pride and privilege,” said Oscar Mera-Burbano, president of the Glendon College Student Union. “We are also grateful to the Ontario government for recognizing and supporting the uniqueness of Glendon’s bilingual reality.”

The funds provided are part of a $1.4-billion strategic infrastructure investment announced by the Government of Ontario in 2008 and also fall under its Access to Opportunities strategy for French-language postsecondary learners and its Politique d’aménagement linguistique, which aims to ensure the sustainable development of the Franco-Ontarian community.

By Marika Kemeny, Glendon communications officer