York pays tribute to recent retirees with a celebratory luncheon

Suzin and Lucy

Each year, the York community must say goodbye to members of its faculty and staff as they embark on the next chapter of their lives in retirement. At this year’s annual retirees’ luncheon held on Nov. 23 in the Private Dining Room in Schulich’s Executive Learning Centre, members of York’s senior administration gathered with recent retirees and their guests to celebrate the enormous contribution they have all made to the University.
York's recent staff retirees capture the special moment by taking a group photograph with York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri

York’s recent staff retirees capture the special moment by taking a group photograph with York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri

A brief reception gave attendees a chance to catch up and share stories with former colleagues and friends, and reflect back on their time spent at York. President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri then took to the podium. “I stand here before you on behalf of York and on behalf of myself to thank you for all you have done, and what you have done is an incredible job,” said Shoukri.

“Look at the numbers,” he continued. “You have contributed to the education of now, since York’s started, more than 260,000 young people.[…]260,000 people who built 260,000 careers, 260,000 households, who are working and excelling in almost every field, and who are almost everywhere in the world. Everywhere I go, I see York grads who Group 2really owe it to people like you at the institutions they graduated from. You built this place and for that we are all grateful.”

This year’s faculty retirees pose for a picture after accepting their commemorative pins

A lavish three-course lunch was broken up by the announcing of the honourees, the presenting of their commemorative 10-carat gold York U pins and, of course, group photographs to capture the special moment.

For the recent retirees in the room, this day was not as much about the end of their careers as it was about the beginning of the “golden years” they’ve earned, and they each have different ideas about how best to spend them.

Rodney Webb began at York as a biology professor in 1975 and went on to hold numerous positions at the University: associate dean in the Faculty of Science & Engineering, graduate program director and associate dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies, associate vice-president of the university and, in his final year, interim chair of the Department of Biology. Webb has continued to teach part-time since his retirement in July, and although he loves teaching, he is looking forward to being fully retired in the new year: “I will enjoy the freedom of going out for a walk in the fields or the bush when I feel like it,” he said. “I’d like to go fishing more often and spend more time with the family. I’m also planning to do a variety of volunteering; I’m just not yet sure where I might best spend my time.”

Lui and Fakhry

From left, Stanley Lui, former assistant manager of Custodial Services, and Fakhry Yousof of Campus Services & Business Operations, have become great friends at York and plan to remain friends throughout retirement

History and humanities Professor William (Bill) Westfall, who also started at York in 1975, says he has enjoyed his career at York but is eager to begin his second career – a more leisurely one – as a golf professional. “My partner and I won our first golf tournament a couple of months ago, so I think I should pursue this gift,” he said with a laugh. “But I’ll also be writing and reading and doing the other things that I do.”

Stanley Lui, former assistant manager of Custodial Services, who spent 17 years at York, working on both Keele and Glendon campuses, said he decided to retire because he’s “not getting any younger.” Lui expressed his gratitude towards the University and its staff for providing such a stable, secure and welcoming workplace. He plans to make the most of his free time by going on a long-overdue trip to visit his daughter in Hong Kong.

Fakhry Yousof of Campus Services & Business Operations has not wasted a second since retiring. He has already been on three trips, and when he isn’t globetrotting, he can be found working hard on his family farm with his wife. “The highlight of my career was working for Glendon, which is a very lovely place,” said Yousof. “The best 20 years of my life were spent at Glendon. York is one of the best institutions around and I consider myself very lucky to have spent 20 years here.”

Suzin and Lucy

Suzin Ferris (right), former training specialist in the Office of the Registrar, brought her friend and colleague along to celebrate her nearly 40 years of service

Suzin Ferris said working at York was the best thing she ever did. Not only was she on staff at York for nearly 40 years in a variety of roles – her last, as training specialist in the Office of the Registrar – but she also studied here at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. When asked about how she’s been spending her retirement so far, she happily divulges: “I have been doing nothing and I’m enjoying every minute of it. My favourite thing to do is [listen to] audiobooks.”

Whether they’re choosing to use their newfound time exploring neglected passions, travelling the world or visiting with loved ones, there’s a collective joy in having the freedom to do as they please.

By Lindsay MacAdam, editorial assistant