ProFile: John Amanatides, head of Bethune College

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ProFile Featured

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: John Amanatides

Position at York U and department/faculty: Faculty member in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

John Amanatides
John Amanatides

How long have you been with York University, and what is your role? I’ve been here 34 years. My current role is head of Bethune College. Colleges exist to make a big university feel small to incoming students and provide a home for academic support, community building, intramural sports and extra-curricular events.

Describe a typical work day at York for you? In my role as head I spend most of the time in the College. I work to make sure that our academic support programs are meeting the needs of our students and support our student government. I love interacting with them, helping them grow into mature leaders.

What do you enjoy most about working at York University? Spending time with students outside of the classroom.

Where is your favourite place on campus and why? Bethune College, of course.

Describe York University using one word: Home.

And now for a little fun…

What is the most used app on your phone? Overcast, a podcast app. I love podcasts and listen to them when I travel to York. Unfortunately, now that I’m isolated at home, I don’t listen as much.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read or seen this week? The Far Side is back! (

Where is the most interesting place you’ve lived? During my last sabbatical I went to Kodaikanal, India, with my family and taught at an international school there. My wife’s parents taught there in the ‘60s and she always wanted to go back. I taught physics, history and math (mostly math). We had an amazing time and I’d love to go back. I also learned how hard it is to be a high school teacher; you really have to be a motivation expert, not just a content expert.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? An astronomer. I loved looking up at the night sky. I even remember seeing northern lights in Toronto (!) when I was a kid. We were poor but my dad bought a telescope and built a deck on our roof to observe the sky.

What is something you always have in your fridge? Milk. I love milk. I’ve read that about the time when humans first domesticated cattle in west Asia, about 10,000 years ago, those humans also acquired a mutation that allowed lactose to be broken down beyond weaning. This allows their descendants (which includes me!) to enjoy milk all of our lives.

If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would that person be and why? God. I’ve got some questions for him.

If you’d like to be featured in ProFile, download the form here and send it back to with the subject line “ProFile candidate.” Please include a high-res photo in your response.