Year in Review 2021: Top headlines for York University, September to December

2021 stamped on a journal

As a new year emerges, YFile takes a look back on 2021 to share with readers a snapshot of the year’s highlights. “Year in Review” will run as a three-part series and will feature a selection of top news stories published in YFile. Here are the stories and highlights for September to December, as chosen by YFile editors.


An image of a woman with a laptop that shows the YFile website
YFile marked a major milestone in its 19-year history with the debut of a lively new website and newsletter in September

Welcome to the new and improved YFile
York University’s journal of record, YFile, marked a major milestone in its 19-year history with the debut of a lively new website and newsletter. Both feature a modern design, improved functionality and an enhanced experience for the York University community.

York University’s groundbreaking Academic Innovation Fund turns 10
York University’s Academic Innovation Fund celebrated an important anniversary in 2021. The program has promoted exceptional innovation in teaching, learning and the student experience, and it continues to grow and thrive.

New partnership to advance fight against global financial crime and support equity, diversity and inclusion in STEM
Funding from Scotiabank provided $980,000 to support critical research into global financial crimes and security. It is named the Scotiabank Lassonde Financial Crimes Research Initiative and supports research into global financial crimes and computer security, while also providing support for programs that advance equity, diversity and inclusion in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

The Royal Society of Canada elects five York professors into its ranks
Faculty members elected included: Philip Girard, a professor at Osgoode Hall Law School; Jennifer Hyndman, associate vice-president research and a professor in the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change and the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS); Michele Johnson, associate dean of students and a history professor in LA&PS; and Christina Petrowska Quilico, a music professor in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design. Appointed to the RSC College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists is Jane Heffernan, a professor of mathematics and statistics in the Faculty of Science.


UNESCO Chair Charles Hopkins recognized with lifetime achievement award
York University’s UNESCO Chair Charles Hopkins was the recipient of the Clean50 Lifetime Achievement Award for his work on a global scale to reorient education towards sustainable development. This prestigious award recognized Hopkins’ focus on creating a better future for all.

Carl James
Carl E. James

York University launches first-of-its-kind initiative to address barriers for Black youth across Canada
The national, pan-University program is backed by $1.2 million from the RBC Foundation as part of RBC Future Launch. The initiative is led by Professor Carl E. James, the Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community and Diaspora in the Faculty of Education.

Announcement of deputy provost, Markham Campus
Following an extensive search the University announced that Gordon Binsted will take on the role of deputy provost Markham for a five-year term, commencing Jan. 1, 2022. The York community also learned about updates to the Markham Campus and how the Markham Campus building was starting to take shape.

Daughters for Life Scholarships offer women life-changing opportunities
Four young women who received the Daughters for Life Scholarships reflect on their journey to York University and how their studies position them to be future changemakers.


Varathaledchumy Shanmuganathan
Varathaledchumy Shanmuganathan

York U Class of 2021: A pandemic can’t keep this Tamil grandma from graduating
Varathaledchumy Shanmuganathan, known as Varatha, was among the more than 4,000 resilient students, some young enough to be her grandchildren, who celebrated their graduation during York University’s virtual fall convocation on Nov. 2.

Planting the seeds for a better tomorrow 
The actions of Sovann Muon and the Grounds Maintenance team at the Glendon Campus show that with passion, innovation and just a seed of an idea, anything can grow.  

York University and Oak Valley Health to advance medical education and health research in York and Durham regions
York University and Oak Valley Heath announced a local health partnership aimed at advancing innovative medical education and research collaboration opportunities as well as improving the health and health care of citizens in Markham, Whitchurch-Stouffville, Uxbridge and beyond.

Lassonde professor advances research in predicting cancer treatment outcomes
The quantitative MRI biomarker developed in this project led by Lassonde School of Engineering Professor Ali Sadeghi-Naini can predict whether a patient’s tumor is likely to be controlled by stereotactic radiotherapy (SRT) or if the treatment is likely to fail.

Building future pathways for nursing education
The launch of York University’s new stand-alone four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree was announced. The new program builds on Ontario’s recent changes allowing both publicly assisted colleges and universities to offer a baccalaureate degree in nursing to increase opportunities for students to access a high-quality education.


York invests more than $3.5M to support interdisciplinary research clusters
York University will fund new and groundbreaking research through the Catalyzing Interdisciplinary Research Clusters (CIRC) program. Seven proposals will receive $150,000 per year over three years. An additional six other proposals will receive $75,000 for one year.

Announcing York University’s Action Plan on Black Inclusion
York University launched its Action Plan on Black Inclusion: A Living Document for Action. The document outlines a series of strong and accountable commitments and is informed by input received from the community.

DARE research project continues into grad studies for sociology student
An undergraduate summer research project selected for the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies’ (LA&PS) Dean’s Award for Research Excellence (DARE) program in 2020, has shown that mentorship between faculty and students can have a long-lasting impact.

James Webb telescope (image by NASA)

York University scientist helps build instrument on new James Webb Space Telescope
The state-of-the-art telescope is the result of a collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency and is the most powerful telescope ever built and there is an expert research connection with Associate Professor Adam Muzzin of the Faculty of Science.

This concludes YFile‘s Year in Review 2021 series. To see part one, January to April, go here. To see part two, May to August, go here.