The Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS) held its first open Town Hall in the Senate Chambers to help launch its Colleges Re-Visioning on Thursday, Dec. 6. In Canada, York University is one of a handful of universities with a unique college system, where all the institution’s undergraduate students are affiliated with a college. The other universities with college systems like York’s are Trent University in Peterborough and the University of Toronto. York’s college system is “bred in the bone” and has been part of the University since its founding in 1959. The York University college system was modelled on the college systems of two of the most successful and oldest universities in the world – the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge.
When LA&PS Interim Dean, JJ McMurtry, announced the Colleges Re-Visioning initiative for Founders, McLaughlin, Vanier and New Colleges on Nov. 29, he noted that, “Undertaking a future vision that re-invigorates our colleges is essential for maintaining their vitality, adapting to rapid societal change, while continually serving the needs of their community members.” Also noting that the re-visioning would be time-limited, he said it would be centred on trying to address a number of crucial questions that arose, in part, from the general Colleges Review that was done in 2016. How can York University’s colleges better serve the needs of their students? How can the colleges better serve their broader communities of staff, faculty, Fellows and alumni? How can the relationships between colleges and their affiliated programs be strengthened and enhanced? In order to better serve their respective college communities, how can the colleges better utilize their exterior and interior spaces?
The first open and deliberative consultative Town Hall meeting, moderated by the two College Heads tasked to undertake the College Re-Visioning, Professors Pablo Idahosa of Founders College, and James C. Simeon of McLaughlin College, focused on the how to undertake the consultative process and began the discussion on some of the substantive concerns that currently confront York University’s colleges. A number of possible consultative ways and means were outlined and a consensus emerged that a designated website, a series of College Town Halls, surveys, focus groups and stakeholder meetings would be essential for an open and deliberative consultative process to take place where everyone who might be affected by a new vision for the colleges affiliated with LA&PS would have a say in what the new vision ought to be. Likewise, there was consensus that a number of core issues should be addressed thematically as part of the consultative process. It was also agreed that social media and the use of the most modern modes of communication should be fully incorporated into the consultative process. The focus of the deliberations would converge on a key question: “How can we provide our students with the best higher educational experience possible at York University’s colleges?”
Building on this highly successful first open general dialogue on the LA&PS Colleges Re-Visioning, a new interactive website has been launched that incorporates all the essential elements for these open and deliberative consultations, which would ineluctably lead to a new vision for the colleges. At each of the four Colleges Town Hall meetings, interwoven with focus groups, stakeholder meetings, as well as surveys, will inform the new vision necessary to ensure that the colleges maintain their vitality, relevance and currency in a rapidly changing societal and globalized environment. The vision can identify how the LA&PS Colleges can ensure their mission of delivering the “best higher educational experience possible.”
The new interactive LA&PS Colleges Re-Visioning website can be found at https://colleges-revisioning.laps.yorku.ca/. All are welcome to provide their views, ideas and reflections, either by sending a message at the designated Colleges Re-Visioning consultation address, firstname.lastname@example.org or by completing the online feedback form that is found at the new website. Online messages have the option available of being sent anonymously.
Everyone will have an opportunity to attend the Town Hall meetings to provide their voice in helping shape a new vision for LA&PS Colleges. The schedule of College Town Halls has been set for the following dates and times:
- Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019, from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Senior Commons Room, 305 Founders College;
- Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019, from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Junior Common Room, 014 McLaughlin College;
- Wednesday, March 6, from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Renaissance Room, 001 Vanier College;
- Wednesday, April 3, from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Harry Crowe Room, 109 New College.
The LA&PS College Re-Visioning is an exciting venture in open and deliberative consultative decision-making that will provide an opportunity to realize a new vision for all those who are affiliated with Founders, McLaughlin, Vanier or New Colleges.