McLaughlin College celebrates its Fellows during virtual event

laptop webinar computer virtual

Meeting for the first time in a virtual format, the McLaughlin College Fellows of York University continued its annual tradition of a ‘get together’ on April 30 to celebrate those who have and continue to contribute to the College.

Founded in 1968, McLaughlin College has always organized a ‘Fellows Dinner,’ and for the last several decades Fellows have met for an in-person event, which was not possible this year due to the pandemic.

A Fellow is an old British term for scholars who are attached to the academy and who instruct and/or pursue academic wisdom and foster intellectual growth. McLaughlin College Fellows are located across the globe, and many Fellows, and their guests, near and far attended this first virtual get together over Zoom.

Some of those present included: Anthony Antonacci, Eleanor Glor, Tony Genco, Rory O’Connor, David Ip Yam, and York Professors Alice Propper, Marilyn Lambert-Drache, and Professor Emeritus Martin Thomas, and many more.

The program commenced with the York University virtual Land Acknowledgement presented by McLaughlin College President Destiny McDonald, and a letter of greetings from LA&PS Dean J.J. McMurtry who was unable to attend because of a scheduling conflict. Distinguished high-profile McLaughlin College Fellows were then recognized, including Allan Rock, PC, CM, OOnt, QC, president emeritus of the University of Ottawa (UofO), former Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations, and Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, among his many other accomplishments and awards, and currently a professor of law at the University of Ottawa, and, H. Ian Macdonald, OC, KLJ, president emeritus of York University, a former distinguished Ontario Public Servant, Rhodes Scholar, with numerous awards and honours to his credit, and, professor at the Schulich School of Business at York University.

Sebastian Moreno

This was followed by an introduction of the Director of the McLaughlin College Community Choir (MCCC), Sebastian Moreno. Moreno noted the MCCC, now in its second year, adapted to a virtual format, and produced several videos over the course of the academic year that were shown at McLaughlin College events and activities. Two of these videos, “Count on Me” by Bruno Mars, and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “My Shot,” were shown at the Fellows Get Together and were thoroughly enjoyed by all. (To view these and the other MCCC videos see,

Immediate-past Master, and now Head, of McLaughlin College, David Leyton-Brown, presented a tribute to Lilian Polsinelli, recently retired from York University, who served for 28 years as McLaughlin College’s administrative coordinator, and for 10 years in various other capacities at York University. Professor Emeritus Leyton-Brown noted that Lilian was the sustaining feature at McLaughlin College for so many years and will be missed for her dedication and service.

A number of newly minted Fellows of McLaughlin College were introduced and gave brief remarks, including: Hilkka Becker, chairperson of the International Protection Appeal Tribunal of Ireland; Judge Judith Gleeson, Upper Tribunal, United Kingdom Immigration and Asylum Chamber; Carole Simone Dahan, senior legal counsel (Judicial Engagement), UNHCR, Geneva, Switzerland, and Osgoode Hall Law School alum; Howard Brown, president, Brown & Cohen Communications and Public Affairs, Inc.; Professor Regina Rini, Department of Philosophy, York University; and, Zainub Verjee, executive director, Galleries Ontario/Ontario Galleries, among others.

University Professor Emeritus Ian Greene, also a former master of the College, commemorated three outstanding and distinguished Fellows of McLaughlin College that were lost over the past year: Justice Peter Cory, who had a distinguished judicial career, including as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, and who served as Chancellor of York University (2004-08); Jamie Laws, a long-serving and active Fellow, who was affiliated with the College during his student years, including as president of the McLaughlin College Council, and for his notable professional achievements was inducted in the Canadian Athletic Therapists Association (CATA) Hall of Fame. He also served as a sport therapist with the Canadian Olympic Team in three Olympic Games, and with the Toronto Argonauts Football Club for nearly 20 years, and with the York University sports program; and, Professor Leo Panitch, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and leading socialist scholar, brilliant thinker, author, and activist, and long-serving member of York University’s Department of Politics. Greene noted that these distinguished Fellows were great friends of the College and made a substantial contribution to its activities and community and will be dearly missed.

Dean and University Professor Emeritus Robert Drummond, the unofficial poet of McLaughlin College, composed a poem to mark the end of the academic year. It reflected on the past year’s challenges of delivering not only a superior higher educational experience to students at McLaughlin College and York University, but with all the requisite student services and social activities virtually. Drummond was awarded the coveted Head’s Fellows Award for his distinguished service to McLaughlin College over the past year.

James Simeon
James Simeon

Professor James C. Simeon, current head of McLaughlin College, concluded the proceedings by thanking all the Fellows for their commitment, dedication and service to students at the College through their participation in its various activities and events. Fellows of the College add an important component to the life of the College, serving not only as outstanding successful role models, but, as career guides, advisors and inspirational leaders who enrich the lives of everyone at the College, he said.

“The McLaughlin College Fellows, and those at the other eight Colleges at York University, are truly one of the important features of our collegiate system at York University. Fellows make a vital contribution to the higher educational experience of our students. We are so pleased that we could continue this annual meeting of the Fellows, albeit virtually, on this occasion,” said Simeon.

To see the list of College Fellows at McLaughlin College, visit