Glendon celebrates its 50th anniversary with a special designation under the French Language Services Act

From left: Minister
From left: Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs Madeleine Meilleur presents the partial designation certificate to York President & Vice Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri, York Vice-President Academic & Provost Rhonda Lenton and Glendon Principal Donald Ipperciel

At 50 years young, York University’s Glendon College is celebrating a special anniversary with the news that the Province of Ontario has recognized the Glendon campus as a French-language service provider through a partial designation granted to York University under the French Language Services Act.

The announcement of the designation made last week by Ontario’s Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Reza Moridi, coincides with Glendon’s 50th anniversary and is recognition of Glendon’s commitment to provide French-language programs and services.

“Our government is proud to grant York University, Glendon campus partial designation as a French-language service provider. Ensuring that francophone students in Ontario have widespread access to quality French-language programs is a key priority for our government, and I look forward to continuing to work with our institutions to support environments that allow students to learn in their own language and get the skills they need to get good jobs,” said Moridi.

News of the partial designation was celebrated at a special event held on March 23 at the Glendon campus to mark the closing of the Semaine de la Francophonie and the 50th anniversary. Attending the event were numerous dignitaries, including senior administrators from York University, leading intellectuals in French-language education, members of the francophone community and provincial politicians.

York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri speaks to guests at the celebration
York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri

“This is a wonderful acknowledgement of York University’s dedication to French and bilingual education and of our commitment to provide increased access to francophone students,” said York University President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri to the hundreds of people at the reception. “The bilingual nature of the Glendon campus makes it a key player in the development of the Francophone community in central and southwestern Ontario, where nearly half of French-speaking Ontarians will reside by 2020.”

Shoukri said the designation is particularly important because it firmly establishes Glendon’s vital role within the University, the province and Canada as a distinct faculty dedicated to Francophone and bilingual programming.

Some 700 francophone students attend Glendon along with 2,000 Francophiles who chose the bilingual campus in order to immerse themselves in a second language, he said. Students choose from more than 20 undergraduate programs, two professional programs (education and translation), seven certificates and four master’s degree programs (in French Studies, translation, conference interpreting and public and international affairs), as well as a PhD program in Francophone Studies.

“Partial designation ensures that funding for French-language programs is protected, and York, through Glendon, is committed to expanding those programs,” said Provost and Vice-President Academic Rhonda Lenton. “This year, Glendon launched science programs in biology and psychology, and next fall it will offer new programs in business and communications.”

Glendon Principal Donald Ipper
Glendon Principal Donald Ipperciel speaks to the audience about the meaning of the partial designation

Glendon Principal Donald Ipperciel said the announcement is particularly meaningful as Glendon celebrates its 50th anniversary. “Glendon has grown beyond its original vision to embrace internationalization and is carrying its tradition of liberal arts programming into new professional programs,” said Ipperciel. “We are the only university campus in southern Ontario to offer a range of university programs in French and we are adding new programs to ensure we continue to meet the needs of francophone students and employers.”

In his comments to those gathered for the event, Ipperciel paid special tribute to Glendon’s past principals, including Professor Kenneth McRoberts and Dyane Adam, who is also the past Canadian Commissioner of Official Languages.

In her comments to those gathered for the event, Provincial Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs Madeleine Meilleur praised Glendon for its ongoing commitment to providing excellence in French-language postsecondary education. She noted the designation highlights the unique place that Glendon has in York University and the Province of Ontario. A position, she said, it has occupied since it was officially opened in 1966 by Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson. Since that point in time, said Meilleur, students from across Ontario have come to Glendon specifically for its francophone and bilingual education, which is delivered by some of the best educators and academics in the world.

Meilleur took time in her comments to pay tribute to influential Glendon graduates, including David Collenette, who over the course of his 30 years as a parliamentarian, served as a federal minister in several capacities, and Anne Cavoukian, who served as Ontario’s information minister and privacy commissioner for 17 years. Glendon, said Meilleur, is also the alma mater of Chantal Hébert, Toronto Star national affairs writer and political columnist, and architectural critic Christopher Hume, along with Greg Sorbara, the University’s current chancellor and former provincial government minister.

“The designation reflects York University’s commitment towards French-language postsecondary education. It strengthens access to college and university-level studies and programs in French as well as representing an important lever for fostering the growth of the Francophone community. This is a significant investment in the province’s prosperity,” she said.

Former Glendon Principal and past Canadian Commissioner of Official Languages Dyane Adam with Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs Madeleine Meilleur
Former Glendon Principal and past Canadian Commissioner of Official Languages Dyane Adam with Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs Madeleine Meilleur

Partial designation requires universities to take a number of steps. The institution must ensure an active offer of services in French and create a complaint process for students to evaluate the quality of those services; ensure effective representation of Francophones on the Board of Governors and university committees as well as in management, and make the board and senior managers accountable for the quality of French language services.

York University has established an Advisory Board on Francophone Affairs and has appointed two Francophones to its Board of Governors. The University is also partnering with a number of other educational institutions in Ontario to improve access to postsecondary programs for Francophones and Francophiles.