White Rose Legacy Circle pays tribute to generosity of York’s community members

White Rose Legacy event tea
White Rose Legacy event tea
The White Rose Legacy tea took place Oct. 21
The White Rose Legacy Circle tea honoured York’s visionary planned giving benefactors for their future legacy support. The event took place Oct. 21

Since 2012, the White Rose Legacy Circle at York University has recognized alumni, faculty, staff, retirees and friends who have remembered York in their wills or through other forms of planned giving.

In honour of the White Rose Legacy Circle’s third anniversary, the University held a special afternoon tea event on Oct. 21 in the private dining room in the Seymour Schulich Building on the Keele campus. Hosted by York’s President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri, the annual event was attended by more than 40 guests, including Janet Morrison, vice-provost students, and Wade Hall, assistant vice-president development.

Above: From left, Wade Hall, vice-president development, York students Alain Mugisha, and Angela Del Bianco with Professor Emeritus Rein Peterson
From left: Wade Hall, assistant vice-president development; York students Alain Mugisha and Angela Del Bianco; and Professor Emeritus Rein Peterson

“Legacy gifts have a huge impact on the University – on our programs, on our students, on campus life – and this event is about recognizing and celebrating your generosity in support of York’s future,” said Hall in his remarks to guests.

Hall revealed that, in the past 28 years, York has received more than $16 million from the estates of generous legacy donors who have died, while an additional $15 million has been pledged in future gifts by existing members of the White Rose Legacy Circle. “Your support is helping us in areas as broad as research, campus buildings, support services, and scholarships and bursaries for our students. The University owes you and others like you an incredible amount of gratitude for helping pave the way for generations of future world leaders.”

Russell D. Smith (BA'67), Frankie Ip, Noël Chan, and Donald P. Walker (BA'72) *FYI - Noel Chan is Associate Director, Office of Advancement, Alumni & External Relations at Glendon.  He is also a York Grad (BA'84 and BAS'85).
From left: Russell Smith (BA ’67); Frankie Ip; Noël Chan (BA ’84, BAS ’85), associate director, Office of Advancement, Alumni and External Relations at Glendon; and Donald P. Walker (BA’72)

To demonstrate this impact, Morrison shared the story of Layth Gafoor (BA ’02, LLB ’06), a York alumnus who had the unique challenge of being a first-generation postsecondary student. “Despite many obstacles, Layth has risen into a tremendously successful professional career and personal life, thanks to the support of donors like you,” she said.

Not only does Gafoor have two degrees, but he also works as principal and managing director for Lucentem Sports & Entertainment Law, he regularly guests lectures at Osgoode Hall Law School and he is a current member of the York University Alumni Association board. He met his wife at York University.

“Layth has often said that York is responsible for fostering his success,” Morrison said. “His story of perseverance and achievement exemplifies what is made possible at York and, through your continued support, what is to come from the next generations of York students.”

The event also served as an opportunity for the University to honour those members of the White Rose Legacy Circle who have recently died and whose legacy gifts have been realized.

One such donor was Clara Thomas. Shoukri took a moment to share a bit about the incredible impact made by the former Department of English faculty member and namesake of the Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections.

“Clara Thomas was a well-loved and admired member of our faculty, however, it was only until recently that most people discovered that she was an anonymous planned giving donor to York,” said Shoukri.

Above: From left, York President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri with Stephen Thomas,  son of Professor Emerita Clara Thomas
From left, York President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri with Stephen Thomas (MA ’73), son of the late Clara Thomas and professor emerita of English, York University

After her death in 2013, Thomas left a $100,000 bequest in her will to support the Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections. In addition, with $300,000 of her remaining estate, the Thomas family established the Clara Thomas Doctoral Scholarship in Canadian Literature in her memory.

“Because of donors like Clara, York will be able to provide valuable support and create incredible opportunities for students, spaces and academic programs across our campuses,” added Shoukri, who presented Thomas’ son Stephen with a special pin in honour of his mother’s legacy at York.

For more information about planned giving at York, visit myyorklegacy.com.