Lynda Tam, who retired as associate dean, students for York University’s School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD) in 2019, passed away on May 4 at the age of 67. She is survived by her husband Gallan, and her children Jaclyn and Jonathan, who describe her as “a person who loved and lived wholeheartedly.”
Tam was a lifelong lover of literature, music, vegan cooking and culinary tourism. She was known for giving thoughtful, creative and surprising gifts to her friends and family, and for being a great listener and problem solver for those around her.
After graduating from McGill University and spending 10 years raising her children, Tam began a career in academia that would see her support thousands of students as a mentor, administrator and leader at York.
Tam was dedicated to helping students find creative ways to realize their full potential. During her time at York, she lead several significant initiatives to support students both personally academically. In addition to serving on several committees, Tam was the major architect of a retention program for AMPD students required to withdraw, designed a peer mentor and student ambassador program, created annual networking opportunities for students and alumni and oversaw two thorough examinations of Fine Arts programs at the University.
Tam used technology to enhance student services, designing a mobile student resource platform, creating enrolment programs and training guides and improved advising services with an online booking system that has been replicated by other faculties.
In 2015, Tam was honoured with the 2015 Deborah Hobson York Citizenship Award for employees who have demonstrated a high level of service to students and who promote York’s spirit in terms of creativity, innovation and redefining the possible.
In a video tribute recognizing the award, several colleagues offered their praise and thanked Tam for the positive influence she had on their careers and on the lives of students she served. “She’s had a profound influence on my life,” said AMPD Associate Professor Mark Wilson. “There’s not a day (that) goes by when I don’t think of something she said that helps me through a situation. What would Lynda Tam do?
“She says things like, ‘be kind to your future self,'” Wilson continued.
In a message to Tam’s family and colleagues, one York student said, “The world will be a little less bright without her amazing energy, but her legacy will live on as a light within all of us who had the fortune of connecting with her throughout her amazing journey.”