Sheila Embleton among York International’s award winners

Two York University community members and a Glendon-based student group are this year’s recipients of the 2010-2011 York International Awards.

Sheila Embleton, Distinguished Research Professor in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies; Inbal Marcovitch, graduate student and research coordinator, Osgoode Hall Law School; and the students behind Glendon’s Hispaniola Organizing Committee are this year’s winners.

York International faculty award recipient – Sheila Embleton“We are very pleased to present this award to outstanding members from our University’s community,” said Lorna Wright (left), York University’s associate vice-president international. “Once again we have outstanding faculty, staff and students doing fabulous work to promote internationalization at York and beyond our borders, too.

“Internationalization is pervasive and integral to all teaching and learning at York. These awards recognized people and groups that continue to raise the international profile of York University,” said Wright, who was a York International faculty recipient in 2006-2007 when she was a professor at Schulich School of Business.

York International faculty award recipient – Sheila Embleton

Embleton was nominated by York Vice-President Academic & Provost Patrick Monahan for her leadership in being “a strong proponent for internationalization” and for providing a “broad and deep foundation on which we can build.”

Sheila EmbletonRight: Sheila Embleton

“I’m thrilled at the award, and thrilled to be part of the team that has really moved York, in the last decade, from being ‘in the pack’ as far as international is concerned, to being an undoubted leader in Canada,” said a delighted Embleton.

“It was during her term [as vice-president academic from 2000 to 2009] that her greatest impact was felt,” Monahan noted in his nomination document. “She created the position of associate vice-president international and appointed its first incumbent [Adrian Shubert]. She also created an annual competition for funds, in order to stimulate and promote innovative international projects in support of research, teaching and the student experience. Under [her] leadership in partnership with the AVPI, York’s position as a leader in Canada in internationalization was enhanced and solidified.”

Some of Embleton’s accomplishments in this area include: expansion of York’s language curriculum, supporting the establishment of the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) award-winning York International Internship Program (YIIP); establishment of the York International Mobility Award to help support students with exchange and study abroad expenses; establishment of numerous exchange agreements with universities abroad; helping to introduce the Letter of Recognition program as a complement to a student’s academic record; helping expand the CBIE award-winning Emerging Global Leadership Program  into the Caribbean; and contributing to the development of a number of programs incorporating international dimensions and opportunities including the international bachelor of science and bachelor of arts programs.

She has also played an important role as an adviser to numerous government agencies and has helped develop and strengthen York’s global academic ties, in India in particular. She spent a year as president of the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute and is now president of the Canada India Education Council. She had a long and distinguished international career before she became the vice-president academic. In 1999 she was named a Knight First Class of the Order of the White Rose by the government of Finland for contributions to Canadian-Finnish relations; and in 2005 received the CBIE International Leadership Award.

“I truly believe internationalization enhances the University’s reputation. York is actually quite well known and well respected in Germany and in India, for example,” said Embleton. “But the real reason is for our students – all that is said about needing to educate students to be the global citizens of tomorrow – I think it’s absolutely true, and absolutely essential to our students’ futures, to get some solid exposure to things international now and to develop those competencies – wherever they will end up working.”

York International staff award recipient – Inbal Marcovitch


Marcovitch was nominated by five members of the Faculty of Education for being “a very principled leader who listens well to the perspectives of others and works to create opportunities for people to have a dialogue and learn about each other for the common purpose of greater understanding.”

Inbal MarcovitchLeft: Inbal Marcovitch

“I am honoured to be nominated and selected to this award,” said Marcovitch, “but I would also like to recognize the role of the University as a community that embraces diversity of culture, opinions and perspectives on local and global levels. It is not surprising that many ideas for projects emerged while exchanging thoughts, opinions and perspectives with many students, faculty, staff and other members of the York community.”

Her nominators noted that Marcovitch came to York University as an international student, worked at the York International office and then with the Research & Field Development Office in the Faculty of Education where she helped develop international and local professional development programs. “She has a wonderful curiosity about others and she also has a thirst for new experiences and understanding the perspectives of others,” they noted. “Inbal has also been active on peace initiatives, especially those with Israel. She started a student club at York, working with several Faculties and groups that usess the framework of the World Health Organization’s Health as a Bridge to Peace, which aims to bring students together from both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian issues, and from other cultural groups, in order to broaden positive communication between students.”

“Very soon after joining York, I realized that one of the essences of Canada is the incredible privilege of people living here to communicate, expand boundaries and create friendships with those who otherwise, in other geographical circumstances, would most likely be labeled ‘enemies’,” said Marcovitch. “This realization opened up many opportunities and paths of exploration.”

Marcovitch is now employed at Osgoode Law School where she is planning and facilitating international programs, working with international visitors and endeavouring to increase the internationalization of the University.

York International student award recipient – Glendon Hispaniola Organizing Committee


The Glendon Hispaniola Organizing Committee was nominated by York President Emerita Lorna Marsden for being “highly innovative” and for creating “a project that diversifies and widens the scope of the International Studies Symposium.”

The Glendon Hispaniola Organizing Committee, comprised of students Kathryn Bodkin (panellist coordinator), Tamaisha Eytle (media & communications coordinator), Andrée Paulin (community outreach, arts & fundraising), Shareefah René (financial coordinator),  Alexandra Ross (project coordinator), Alexandra Verbinschi (panellist coordinator) and Professor Ramón A Victoriano Martinez (Faculty adviser).

 From left, Kathryn Bodkin, Alexandra Verbinschi, Tamaisha Eytle, Professor Ramón A Victoriano Martinez, Andrée Paulin, Alexandra Ross and Shareefah René
Above: From left, Kathryn Bodkin, Alexandra Verbinschi, Tamaisha Eytle, Professor Ramón A Victoriano Martinez, Andrée Paulin, Alexandra Ross and Shareefah René

The committee was singled out for their innovative use of social media to advertise the symposium to create not just buzz but lines of communication as well. They created a website, a Facebook group, a Twitter account, a blog and a YouTube channel. “The students have generated a wide awareness of the island of Hispaniola,” said Marsden. “The project in its entirety is completely student-fundraised; students networked to fundraise over $20,000 [to pay the festival’s costs].”

The symposium Transcending the Border: Dialogues on the Challenges of Hispaniola was held March 5 at Glendon College, and was the 16th annual International Studies Student Symposium. The keynote speaker was Canadian ambassador to the Dominican Republic Todd Kuiack, a York alumnus currently stationed in the Canadian Embassy to the Dominican Republic. Six panels covered language, citizenship, human rights, religion, cultural expression, interstate relations, global dynamics and much more. Billing themselves as “six young female undergraduate researchers attempting to explore the two nations by opening a dialogue with various scholars, government officials, field workers and non-academics who wish to discuss more than the earthquake.” Their efforts drew an impressive group of panellists including Ernesto Sagas, political scientist and Latin American expert, as well as Don Boudria, member of Parliament and former member of the Privy Council of Canada.

“This project was one of the most amazing experiences that each of us have had,” said Eytle. “Thank you to York International and everyone else who has been a great support throughout the process and who will continue to support us as the project continues.”

“I am so proud of myself and my team because I know the hard work, the sleepless nights, […] and much more that went into this project. I am so thankful that we have been recognized for it, and I really appreciate it,” said  René. “As this is my final semester at York, this award completes my experience at this University, in Canada and in my degree major, because I feel that I have accomplished something outside of the normal classroom which has contributed greatly to my personal development and provided great skills to carry with me for life.”

The awards will be presented at York International’s annual Cultural Gala on March 25. Tickets are still available at their office at 200 York Lanes. Cost for each ticket is $5 and a donation of three non-perishable canned food items, or $10 without a donation. All canned food collected will be donated to the York University food bank.

More information is available on the York International website.

Submitted by Edward Fenner, York International