York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton hosted a University Town Hall meeting last Thursday at the Keele Campus. The purpose of the Town Hall was to update faculty, staff and students on the progress made in 2018-19 on the University Academic Plan (UAP) and the strategic opportunities identified for 2019-20.
Standing before a large audience gathered in the Tribute Communities Recital Hall, with many more community members on the Keele and Glendon campuses watching online, Lenton opened her remarks with an overview of the University’s vision and focus on providing a broad demographic of students with access to a high-quality, research-intensive university that is committed to the public good. She then spoke about the pillars that underpin that vision and focus – access, connectedness, excellence and impact.
“I have talked about access and what we can do to ensure that we are not leaving talent behind,” said Lenton. “Connectedness means working with each other and with our partners in the broader community, both locally and internationally. Excellence is being the best that we can in everything that we do. And if we do all of those right, we maximize our impact.”
She announced the release of the 2018-19 President’s Annual Report and offered highlights outlining how York is realizing its vision, including the development of the University’s Indigenous Framework, which improves access for Indigenous students and connects curriculum with Indigeneity; how the University is meeting the needs of a diverse student population and improving access to a high-quality education for a growing cohort of mature students through targeted upskilling and innovative programming; and the University’s plan to move forward with a new campus in downtown Markham, Ont.
Lenton described how York University is becoming recognized internationally for its excellence in delivering experiential learning opportunities for its students and noted the innovative ways the University pursues experiential learning, including simulation-enhanced learning, community-based research, and industry-academic partnerships such as the Shopify Dev Degree and the new academic space at IBM’s headquarters in Markham.
“We are gaining international recognition for our impact,” said Lenton, highlighting the recent Times Higher Education rankings, which placed York University fifth in Canada and 26th in the world for impact, and York’s improved performance in the recently released Maclean’s rankings. These successes, said Lenton, are due to the University’s strong, integrated culture of planning, which involves every Faculty and division.
This integrated approach to planning has also helped reinvigorate York’s strategic vision for the Markham Centre Campus (MCC), which Lenton said will be located in one of the fastest growing areas of Ontario. She spoke about the recent approval of a new business plan by the Board of Governors that is an important milestone in realizing the new facility, and how the MCC will advance York’s priorities.
At the completion of her presentation, Lenton was joined by members of her senior leadership team – Vice-President Finance and Administration Carol McAulay, Provost and Vice-President Academic Lisa Philipps, Vice-President Advancement Jeff O’Hagan, Interim Vice-President Research and Innovation Rui Wang, and York’s new Vice-President Equity, People and Culture Sheila Cote-Meek – to answer questions from students, faculty and staff.
In the dialogue that followed, the senior leadership team answered a variety of questions covering a broad range of areas, including climate change, enriching democracy, the importance of inter-Faculty programs, sustainability, enrolment growth and what York could do to be ranked among the top five universities in Canada.
The senior leadership team was also asked about the Strategic Mandate Agreement consultation process, now underway, and the new performance metrics introduced by the provincial government.
To learn more, take time to watch the video recording of the full proceedings of the 90-minute Town Hall and Q-and-A, which is now available on the York U Conversations website.