Alumni AGM and reception connect grads to York U’s future

Greg Sorbara
Greg Sorbara
More than 200 grads and guests attended the YUAA mixer on Sept. 14
More than 200 grads and guests attended the YUAA Annual General Meeting and mixer on Sept. 14
York President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri addresses grads at the YUAA AGM
York President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri addresses grads at the YUAA AGM

York’s annual homecoming celebration provided an opportunity for the University’s alumni community to come back to campus, relive the moments that defined their student experiences and reconnect with York as participants and contributors. With the Pan Am Games set to touch down next year and a possible York Region campus in the near future, there was plenty of news to share with York University’s alumni.

On Sept. 18, more than 200 grads attended the annual York University Alumni Association (YUAA) Annual General Meeting and Greater Toronto Area alumni reception. The 2014 event, which took place at the Park Hyatt Toronto, was a major part of this year’s homecoming celebrations.

“It’s a busy time for York University, but it’s also a time to celebrate,” Jeff O’Hagan, York’s vice-president advancement, shared with guests during the annual general meeting. “With so many exciting opportunities at our doorstep, tonight’s event is our chance to keep you, our grads and some of our most important ambassadors, up-to-date and for you to share your feedback with us so that your voices can be heard as we chart the University’s path.”

The new YUAA Board
The new YUAA Board

These sentiments were echoed by YUAA Chair and York alumnus Randy Williamson (LLB ‘88). “York’s alumni are doing us proud in almost every field of endeavor imaginable. Any opportunity for us to bring them together and share in their successes is of the utmost importance.”

And while the event was a familiar gathering for many alumni in attendance, it was a first for some, including Alana Elmaleh (BA ‘10).

“After attending the Rogers Cup Alumni BBQ in August, I started looking for other ways to stay connected to York. I thought the YUAA AGM and alumni reception would be a perfect opportunity to meet other like-minded grads and build new connections. From staff to faculty to fellow alumni, everyone was very friendly and happy to be there, celebrating York. It was an extremely positive experience for me.”

Guests at the annual general meeting were treated to a comprehensive update on the University and the activities of the YUAA. This included information about York’s alumni chapters, featuring the creation of two new chapters (Winters College Alumni and Vanier College Productions), as well as the announcement of this year’s 2014 Bryden Alumni Awards recipients.

2014 Bryden Alumni Award recipients

Pinnacle Achievement: Nigel Lockyer (BSc ‘75)
Outstanding Contribution: Samuel Schwartz (MA ’69, LLB ‘72)
Redefine the Possible: Kofi N. Barnes (LLB ’91)
One to Watch: Irvin Studin (BBA ‘99, PhD ‘11)
Local Hero: Sonia Cianfarani (BA ‘96)

The YUAA also inducted three new directors to its board during the event, including the board’s first-ever student director, Kiera Dinsmore. To view information on the new and current YUAA Board members, visit

Jeff O'Hagan, VP advancement speaks to grads
Jeff O’Hagan, VP advancement speaks to grads

York’s President and Vice-Chancellor, Mamdouh Shourki, capped off the evening as he shared updates on the recently launched Yes to York campaign in support of the proposed Markham campus. “York has always been the university of York Region and a new campus in Markham Centre would allow us to firmly establish a stronger relationship with the community in that area. We’ve been using the ‘this is my time’ slogan for a few years now – I really believe that this is York’s time.”

The evening also recognized several alumni-supported scholarships and awards recipients (see recent article for detailed info about the YUAA award recipients honoured at this year’s YUAA AGM).

Following the annual general meeting, alumni guests were invited to kick back with good food, good drink and great company at the GTA alumni reception. Recently inducted York Chancellor Greg Sorbara (BA ’78, LLB ’81, Hons. LLD ‘13) radiated with excitement as he addressed guests during the reception. “I’m honored to be here tonight in the company of so many accomplished York grads. As alumni, we are all a part of this incredible University’s past, present and, most importantly, its future – I, for one, cannot wait to see where we go next.”

For Elmaleh, the event was just the beginning of what will become a strong and long-lasting relationship with York. “This event helped me to realize that York’s alumni network is a valuable support system for whatever diverse path a graduate may have taken. I am now interested in researching various ways of staying involved and connected with the University in the future. I am proud to support my alma matter in any way I can.”