Consistent with its name, the new series ProFile will feature faculty and staff at York University. Included in this short Q-and-A style profile are details about working life at York, followed by a few fun and quirky questions.
ProFile: Liz McMahan
Position at York U and department/faculty: Manager, Convocation and Special Projects, Division of Advancement
How long have you been with York University, and what is your role? I have worked in University Events and Ceremonies at York for seven years. In my role, I manage the planning and execution of academic ceremonies including convocation and Orientation Day as well as other ceremonies and large events.
Describe a typical work day at York for you? My day starts with saying hello to my colleagues on the way to my office. I then review my calendar to see what meetings are happening that day so that I can prepare for them, and read my new email. The rest of the day I’m often busy communicating and meeting with colleagues, campus partners and vendors about plans for upcoming events or strategizing new and improved ways of doing things at convocation. I also sit on the board of the North American Association of Commencement Officers (NAACO) as the director at large for education, so I can also be found liaising with academic ceremonies professionals from across the continent sharing what we do at York and learning about new opportunities for our ceremonies.
What do you enjoy most about working at York University? I love being in a position where I get to celebrate our students. Despite how stressful planning a large event can be, I am always mindful that convocation is one of those BIG life moments that people look back on over the years. My goal is to make each student feel personally recognized and celebrated for their achievement when they cross the stage and become a graduate. It’s a privilege to be part of making that celebration happen.
Where is your favourite place on campus and why? My favourite place on campus is the Faire Fecan Theatre. I worked in arts administration for many years and so I love any opportunity to be in a theatre with all of that creative energy. Plus, the Performance Facilities team is such a great group to work with!
Describe York University using one word: Diverse
And now for a little fun…
What’s your favourite family tradition? Planning, preparing and sharing Christmas Eve dinner – always a big Middle Eastern feast – with my husband and immediate family.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read or seen recently? The National Ballet of Canada has been sharing video clips from some of their recent work to help people stay connected to the arts during this time of physical distancing. I missed the opportunity to see Crystal Pite’s beautiful Angels’ Atlas when it was on stage recently, so was thrilled to be able to watch a clip of that performance (https://national.ballet.ca/Ballet-Moments).
Where is the most interesting place you’ve lived? I lived in Den Haag in the Netherlands several years ago and loved the culture there – riding my bike everywhere, buying fresh flowers each week, travelling by train. I try to go back each year for a visit.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? A teacher.
What’s the farthest place (from York) you’ve travelled to? Estonia, but always looking for new adventures and places to go.