Kenneth McRoberts honoured by the Ontario government

Premier Dalton McGuinty has presented a 2010 Ontario Francophonie Award to Kenneth McRoberts (right), principal of York University’s Glendon College, in recognition of the immense contribution McRoberts has made to francophone life in the province.

The Ontario Francophonie Award is presented every two years by the Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario (AFO) to one francophone and one francophile (a person who loves the French language and francophone culture). The awards, which were presented at the AFO’s centennial celebration gala in Ottawa on Saturday, go to individuals who have had significant impact on the political, social, economic or cultural vitality of Ontario’s francophone community. This year, a special Youth Francophonie Award was also presented.

“We are pleased that the Ontario government and the Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario have chosen Dr. McRoberts for this high honour,” said York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri. “Principal McRoberts has made enormous contributions to the communities York’s Glendon campus serves, and to the promotion of the French language and culture in Ontario.”

McRoberts, who was first appointed as principal of York University’s Glendon College in 1999 and recently began a third term, is the first francophile to become president of the Association des universités de la francophonie canadienne. A professor of political science at York for 30 years before his appointment at Glendon, McRoberts is widely respected for his scholarly work on Canadian linguistic duality, constitutional issues, Quebec-Canada relations and federalism.

His keen interest in linguistic duality developed when he was working for the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism in the 1960s, and has shaped not only his research and teaching, but his commitment to promoting French language and culture in Ontario. Glendon College is the only institution in southern Ontario offering university programming in French and therefore plays a key role in providing bilingual education opportunities for Ontario students.

McRoberts has worked closely with the community to ensure Glendon College would better serve both francophones and francophiles. He has overseen the creation of new undergraduate and graduate programming for francophone and bilingual students, including the iBA (international BA), which allows students to combine study in a discipline with study of the language and culture of an international region. The Glendon campus also now offers a concurrent Bachelor of Education degree to prepare French immersion teachers in Ontario, a PhD in études francophones, and a bilingual master’s program in public and international affairs – part of the Glendon School of Public & International Affairs established through McRoberts’ leadership in 2006.

McRoberts also helped to secure $20 million in capital funding from francophone leaders and Ontario government officials to transform Glendon into the Southern Ontario Centre of Excellence for French-language and Bilingual Postsecondary Education.