York University’s School of Public Policy and Administration (SPPA) held its first “Celebrating Public Service Reception” at Queen’s Park on March 21.
The event, held in the Ontario Legislature Dining Room, provided York’s SPPA students with an opportunity to meet and connect with senior public officials, MPPs and their own program alumni.
It also provided SPPA faculty and staff an opportunity to develop connections and bonds between the Ontario government elected and appointed officials. It was an exemplary networking event like none other, and one that participants will long remember.
More than 100 guests – including undergraduate and graduate students, alumni, community partners and MPPs – were in attendance.
The event’s special guest of honour was none other than the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario Elizabeth Dowdeswell, a highly distinguished former public servant who was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Laws degree from York University in 1999.
The Lieutenant Governor of Ontario emphasized the importance of public service in advancing the “social good” in society. She urged all those students in attendance to pursue a career in the public service and noted that based on her own experience, they would be sure to find it a highly fulfilling and reward career.
Taking the podium as Master of Ceremonies for the formal reception was Chancellor Greg Sorbara, who stated the School of Public Policy and Administration was one of the “jewels in the crown at York University.” The value and necessity of a highly professional, effective and productive public service, he observed, in a modern democratic society should never be underestimated.
Other distinguished guest speakers included York University President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri, the Secretary to the Cabinet and the Head of the Ontario Public Service, Steve Orsini; and Peggy Sattler, MPP, London West, NDP critic for research and innovation.
Shoukri remarked that York University prides itself on offering innovative interdisciplinary programs that prepare students for the rigors and challenges of a fast-paced and ever increasing technological globalized economy and society. York University’s student graduates, he noted, are being prepared not only to be citizens of this great province and nation, but of citizens of the world.
Other notable public servants in attendance included Dave Levac, MPP, Brant; Speaker of the Ontario Legislature, Mario Sergio, MPP, York West, minister responsible for seniors; and two former York University presidents, Lorna Marsden and H. Ian Macdonald.
Also in attendance were former Speaker of the Ontario Legislature and diplomat Alvin Curling, OOnt; former Ontario Minister of Community and Social Services, Zanana Akande; former Ontario Human Rights Commissioner and mayor of the City of Toronto, Barbara Hall, OC; Deputy Chairperson of the Refugee Appeal Division, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada Ken Sandhu; and Distinguished Visiting Professor, Social Innovation, at Ryerson University and Chair of Evergreen, Helen Burstyn.
Notable dignitaries who attended the event included Will Gage, York University associate vice-president Teaching and Learning, and Peter Avery, associate dean Students, Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies.