Glendon celebrates 50 years of bilingual academic excellence with a landmark conference

For half a century, York University’s Glendon campus has provided students with a strong bilingual postsecondary foundation in the liberal arts. In 2015-16, Glendon marks a significant milestone by celebrating 50 years of academic excellence, research and innovation.

Lester B Pearson (right) with Escott Reid at the 1966 official opening of the Glendon campus
Lester B.Pearson (right) with Glendon’s founding principal Escott Reid at the 1966 official opening of the Glendon campus

Glendon’s story is steeped in rich history. Glendon was officially inaugurated in 1966 by then prime minister Lester B. Pearson. Led by founding principal and former Canadian diplomat Escott Reid, and equipped with a vision to make it a national institution to educate Canada’s future leaders, Glendon began the often challenging road of striving to be exceptional and unique. Since then, Glendon has seen dramatic increases not only in its size and scope of degree offerings, but also in the quality and impact of its educational and research programs.

Daniel Ipperciel
Donald Ipperciel

“For 50 years, Glendon has borne the who’s who of liberal arts graduates,” said Donald Ipperciel, principal of Glendon. “As Canada’s only bilingual, liberal arts campus with a focus on public life, our alumni – from former federal minister David Collenette and former Ontario finance minister Greg Sorbara (currently York University’s chancellor) to political columnist Chantal Hébert and defense attorney Clayton Ruby – are in leading roles in government, business and non-governmental organizations across the country and around the world.”

Its strong focus on bilingualism in the past five decades culminated in Glendon’s designation as the Centre of Excellence for French-language & Bilingual Postsecondary Education in Southern Ontario. Not only has Glendon demonstrated vision in investing in the future of Francophone and Francophile communities, notes Ipperciel, it has had an impact in mobilizing these communities and has provided opportunities for growth and partnership. Glendon has been a key player in the Francophonie and has taken steps towards placing value upon and promoting the French language in Ontario, from its principle of asymmetrical bilingualism to innovation in teaching French as a second language and research initiatives through the Centre on Language & Cultural Contact.

The Glendon campus community now looks toward the next half century. Continuing its tradition to encourage students and faculty alike to embrace the bold, the innovative and the independent mind, Glendon has broadened the scope of its offerings. It has extended its mandate by infusing liberal arts thinking into professional programs such as translation and conference interpretation. This year, it launched new science programs in biology and psychology, as well as a Certificate in Law & Social Thought. Beginning in Fall 2016, Glendon will be offering new professional programs in business and communications.

“The global citizens of tomorrow are the leaders who will help meet the world’s most urgent challenges, and they’re getting their start, right here and right now, at Glendon College,” added Ipperciel. “By nurturing an appreciation of intellectual inquiry and a capacity for critical thought and clear expression, we are preparing our students for leading positions in all walks of life.”

The Glendon Centre of Excellence offers a modern gateway to the historic campus
The Glendon Centre of Excellence offers a modern gateway to the historic campus

Glendon will launch its 50th anniversary celebrations on Dec. 3 with a conference of the Glendon Chairs of Québec Studies, titled “Québec-Ontario: Where do we stand today?” After 400 years of francophone immigration to Quebec and Ontario, the conference will explore the challenges and opportunities faced today, as well as reflections for the future. Speakers include: Jean-Louis Roy, academic, journalist and diplomat; Bruno Ramirez, history professor at Université de Montréal; Daniel Salée, political science professor at Concordia University; Simon Langlois, sociology professor at Université Laval; Nicole Lemieux, chief representative from the Bureau du Québec à Toronto; and Kelly Burke, assistant deputy minister in the Office of Francophone Affairs.

For more details and to register, visit

The Flickr slideshow offers a glimpse into the original Glendon Manor located at the heart of the campus.