President Lenton addresses challenges and priorities for York in 2023-24

Arial view of Kaneff

York University President & Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton addressed the September 28 Senate meeting to share York’s priorities for the 2023-24 year ahead, addressing the budgetary and enrolment challenges within the current, volatile post-secondary education sector. Read President Lenton’s full address here.

Auditor General’s Report

In Fall 2022, York University was selected among others by the Office of the Auditor General Ontario for a value-for-money audit of York’s 2022-23 operations to examine and ensure York’s fiscal sustainability. The president indicated that a draft report with recommendations will be shared by the Auditor General’s office expected in late October. The next phase of the audit involves tabling the report to the Ontario Legislature in late November or early December.

Fall Convocation

The president announced the honorary doctorate recipients who will have their degrees conferred at the 2023 Fall Convocation. Learn more about the recipients.

The University Academic Plan and Looking Ahead to 2023-24

At Senate, the president reviewed the University’s recent enrolment and budget performance, the factors that have accumulated to create additional pressures in the current three-year rolling budget, and the impact of anticipated deficits on the University’s performance against financial metrics set by the Ministry of Colleges and Universities.

“We are one of the fastest rising universities in Canada and we have accomplished a great deal,” said President Lenton. “Our goals are not for the benefit of any one faculty or campus. York is a multi-campus university and our success hinges on our ability to continue to work together to provide our students with the very best.”

Lenton identified the projects and initiatives for the year ahead that will play an important role in advancing the University’s academic plan and meeting York’s vision to provide a broad demographic of students with access to a high-quality education at a research-intensive university committed to the well-being of the communities we serve.

Nominate a candidate for honorary degree at York

Dr. Denis Mukwege with York University President Rhonda Lenton and Chancellor Kathleen Taylor

The Senate Sub-Committee on Honorary Degrees and Ceremonials encourages members of the York University community to submit nominations for honorary degrees.

The awarding of honorary degrees is an important feature of Convocation at York University. By recognizing individuals whose achievements represent the values York cherishes, whose benefactions have strengthened the community and the institution, and whose public lives are deemed worthy of emulation, the act of awarding honorary degrees enriches Convocation for our graduands and guests.

A candidate for an honorary degree must meet one or more of the following general criteria:

  1. has eminence in their field;
  2. has demonstrated service to humankind, Canada, Ontario, York University or a particular community in a significant manner;
  3. has provided a significant benefaction to the University; and/or
  4. is someone whose public contributions to society are worthy of emulation.

To nominate a candidate, complete a nomination form and submit it along with two letters of support. The material is treated as confidential and should not be disclosed to the nominee.

Detailed guidelines on nomination requirements, process and answers to frequently asked questions can be found on the website. Questions about the requirements or process should be directed to Pamela Persaud at ppersaud@yorku.ca or Elaine MacRae at emacrae@yorku.ca. For reference, a list of honorary degree recipients is available on the website.

Completed nomination packages may be submitted electronically to ppersaud@yorku.ca or emacrae@yorku.ca.

Four leaders to receive honorary degrees during Fall Convocation

convocation

York University will award honorary degrees to four outstanding individuals recognized as exemplary changemakers during the 2023 Fall Convocation.

From Oct. 11 to 20, graduates will cross the stage at six different ceremonies, with an additional ceremony for the School of Continuing Studies.

Below are the honorary degree recipients in order of the Faculty ceremonies at which they will be honoured:

Itah Sadu, author, entrepreneur
Honorary doctor of laws
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies I, School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design
Thursday, Oct. 12, 10:30 a.m.

Itah Sadu
Itah Sadu

Itah Sadu is an international, award-winning storyteller and bestselling children’s author. Her children’s books have been translated into various languages, and have been adopted for curriculum development and film adaptations.

She is the co-owner of the independent bookstore A Different Booklist with her husband, Miguel San Vicente. Their bookstore is a Toronto destination specializing in African and Caribbean-Canadian literature and diverse resources from around the world. She is also a founder of the Blackhurst Cultural Centre, formerly known as A Different Booklist Cultural Centre.

A dynamic entrepreneur and community builder, Sadu uses creativity, leadership and teamwork to create infrastructure and legacy in communities.

Her innovation has brought the city of Toronto the annual Walk With Excellence and the Emancipation Day Underground Freedom Train Ride in collaboration with the Toronto Transit Commission.

Wes Hall, Chair and founder of WeShall Investments, television personality
Honorary doctor of laws
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies II
Thursday, Oct. 12, 3:30 p.m.

Wes Hall
Wes Hall

As the Chair and founder of WeShall Investments, a private equity firm with a diverse portfolio of companies predominantly supporting Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) entrepreneurs, Wes Hall comes from humble beginnings in rural Jamaica. He grew up in a plantation worker’s shack as one of several children supported by his grandmother. In 1985, Hall immigrated to Canada, where he set out to become the businessman he is today. Dressed daily in a suit, Wes started as a mail clerk at a leading law firm in Toronto. His curiosity, intelligence and ability to spot opportunities allowed him to turn a $100,000 loan from the bank to start his first business, Kingsdale Advisors, into Canada’s pre-eminent shareholder advisory firm.  

A staunch philanthropist, Hall is deeply committed to community betterment. He founded the ambitious and highly successful BlackNorth Initiative to help end systemic anti-Black racism in Canada. He has instructed the Black Entrepreneurship & Leadership course at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, a first-of-its-kind course in North America.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce named Hall the Canadian Business Leader of 2022. He has received honorary doctorates from the University of Toronto, Queen’s University, Toronto Metropolitan University, the University of Ottawa and the University of the West Indies. He also received the Medal of Distinction from Huron University in 2022. 

Other accomplishments include penning a bestselling memoir, No Bootstraps When You’re Barefoot. He launched a podcast in partnership with the Toronto Star, “Between Us with Wes Hall,” and is also on the hit CBC series “Dragons’ Den.” 

Andromache Karakatsanis, justice of the Supreme Court of Canada
Honorary doctor of laws
Schulich School of Business, Osgoode Hall Law School
Friday, Oct. 13, 10:30 a.m.

Andromache Karakatsanis
Andromache Karakatsanis

Justice Andromache Karakatsanis is the longest serving justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, appointed in 2011. A judge since 2002, she served first as a trial judge of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice and then as a judge of the Ontario Court of Appeal.

Before her appointment to the bench, she worked in the justice system in diverse capacities over two decades: as a lawyer in private practice; as Chair and CEO of a regulatory tribunal; as secretary of Native Affairs for Ontario; and as deputy minister of justice and deputy attorney general of Ontario. She subsequently served as deputy minister to the premier and head of the Ontario Public Service, providing leadership to the deputy ministers and to 60,000 public servants.   

Throughout her career, Karakatsanis has volunteered extensively and served on the boards of many community and professional associations. She has been recognized with numerous medals and awards in her profession and community. She currently serves as Chair of the National Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters.  

Nnimmo Bassey, architect, poet and environmental activist
Honorary doctor of laws
Glendon College, Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change, Faculty of Education, Lassonde School of Engineering, Faculty of Science
Friday, Oct. 13, 3:30 p.m.

Nnimmo Bassey
Nnimmo Bassey

Nnimmo Bassey is an architect, poet, director of the ecological think tank Health of Mother Earth Foundation (based in Nigeria) and member of the steering committee of Oilwatch International – a network resisting the expansion of fossil fuels extraction in the Global South.  

Bassey’s books include To Cook a Continent – Destructive Extraction and the Climate Crisis in Africa, Oil Politics – Echoes of Ecological War and I will Not Dance to Your Beat (poetry). 

He chaired Friends of the Earth International (2008-12) and was a co-recipient of the 2010 Right Livelihood Award, also known as the “alternative Nobel Prize”. In 2012, he received the Rafto Human Rights Award.  

Bassey received Nigeria’s national honour, Member of the Federal Republic, in 2014 and became a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Architects in the same year. He received an honorary doctorate from the University of York, U.K., in 2019. 

Fall Convocation brings positive change for York graduands

File photo Convocation students

By Ashley Goodfellow Craig, editor, YFile

A new cohort of York University graduands will cross the stage to earn their diplomas during one of seven ceremonies, running Oct. 11 to 20 at Sobeys Stadium on the Keele Campus.

The Fall Convocation events will incorporate changes to align with the University’s values, including updates to policy on regalia, the music performed during the ceremonies, a spotlight on alumni and more.

In August 2022, a working group led by York University’s President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton was formed to explore updates to convocation. These changes aim to enhance the integration of decolonization, equity, diversity and inclusion principles, show respect for Indigenous knowledge and traditions, create a student-centred celebration, as well as align with the University’s commitment to sustainability and create a student-centred celebration.

Changes implemented during Spring Convocation will continue, with students, faculty and guests who identify as First Nations, Métis or Inuit welcome to wear traditional ceremonial dress of their culture. While wearing ceremonial dress has always been welcome, York has incorporated this into their communications to replace outdated messaging that states only academic regalia may be worn.

Other changes to look for include student performers, who will perform during the academic procession as well as before and after the ceremony. At the ceremony’s conclusion, graduates will recess to a song they chose by popular vote. As well, the national anthem will be played after a land acknowledgment and, where relevant, following an Honour Song.

To shine a light on previous graduates, an alumni speaker will take the stage during each ceremony to deliver a welcome message to graduands and their guests.

For a complete list of ceremonies during the Fall 2023 Convocation, visit the Ceremonies web page. For all other information, visit the Convocation website.

Look for a story in an upcoming issue of YFile announcing the honorary degree recipients.

Call for stories about graduating students

Spring Convocation 2022 alumni ceremony

York University is looking for students who are graduating to share their story. Students who have overcome significant obstacles, have unique reasons for pursuing studies at York or who have found a new calling while completing their education, Convocation organizers want to celebrate these accomplishments at each ceremony.

Faculty, course instructors and staff are also encouraged to invite outstanding graduating students to share their stories. Once selected, a member from the York University marketing team will reach out to the featured students. Their stories could be shared on York’s digital channels and with media to highlight student success during convocation. Click here to share your story.

Inaugural events celebrate Black and rainbow grads

convocation

Spring Convocation saw the launch of two inaugural graduation celebrations, one organized by the York University’s Black Alumni Network (YUBAN), and the other by the Sexuality and Gender Advocacy Alumni Network (SAGA).

The events, designed to celebrate the resilience and achievements of the Black and 2SLGBTQIA+ graduates, joins the existing Indigenous grad event organized by the Centre for Indigenous Student Services (CISS), as part of York’s ongoing support of decolonizing, equity, diversity and inclusion (DEDI) initiatives.

The new events are also the result of efforts by the York alumni engagement team to re-build the Black, Indigenous and 2SLGBTQIA+ alumni networks in recent years.

The Black Grad Celebration, hosted by economics alum Fikayo Aderoju (BA ’22) and Schulich School of Business alum Reni Odetoyinbo (BBA ’18), was marked by inspirational words from Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community & Diaspora Carl James (BA ’78, MA ’80, PhD ’86), as well as a performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by York student Ayokunmi Oladesu, a member of Vanier College Productions.

Black Grad Celebration
Black Grad Celebration

“For many Black university students, Black graduation ceremonies are opportunities not only to reflect on their journey through university, but also to celebrate the fact that despite the odds, challenges, doubts and setbacks, they want to celebrate how they managed to obtain their post-secondary credentials that once seemed elusive and unobtainable,” said James.

Actuarial science graduate Kobe Cargill (BA ’23) also took to the stage, sharing his experience as a Black international student, emphasizing the importance of recognizing the achievements of Black graduates.

“I am the first in my family and in my high school to leave Jamaica and get a university degree. I am doing this first and foremost for my family and friends back home,” he shared. “York is a large university with an extensive alumni network, and as Black alumni, we are laying a foundation for those to follow.”

The 2SLBGTQIA+ event, organized by SAGA, was hosted by political science alum Sara Elhawash (BA ’15) who welcomed recent grads and alumni, while acknowledging their accomplishments and challenges in getting where they are today. The event featured food, music and remarks delivered by Alice Pitt, interim vice-president equity, people and culture, and alumnus/current PhD student Gin Marshall (MES ’20) of SexGen, York’s committee responsible for advising and advocating around issues and concerns of sexual and gender diversity.

Rainbow Grad Celebration
Rainbow Grad Celebration

“I was truly honored to witness the power of unity and authenticity within the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. Having graduated in 2015 without a supportive network, it was heartwarming to celebrate alongside my fellow graduates who finally had the opportunity to embrace their true selves,” said Elhawash.

The evening provided an opportunity to network in a safe space and share words of encouragement and advice for future grads. Marshall spoke about their experiences as a queer-identifying university student and their challenges in the workforce. “We know the pendulum is swinging back towards more discrimination, and there is lots of work to be done. Recognize yourself, frame your degree and make sure it represents who you are. It is essential for you to recognize this accomplishment,” they said.

Along with YUBAN and SAGA, these two inaugural events were supported by the Division of Advancement, the Division of Students and the Office of the VP, Equity, People and Culture, and had participation from faculty and staff across the University.

Michael Tulloch offers Osgoode grads three career lessons

Michael Tulloch

During the June 23 convocation for York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, Ontario Chief Justice Michael Tulloch used the occasion of receiving an honorary doctor of laws degree to impart critical lessons to guide graduands in their legal careers.

Tulloch began his address to graduands by praising his formative time 30 years ago as a student at Osgoode. “Without the legal education and the community that this law school provided me I know with certainty that I would not be standing here this afternoon as a judge on one of the greatest and most prestigious Courts of Appeal in the Commonwealth and North America,” he said.

The ceremony led him to reflect on what it was like when he was in the graduands’ position, when he graduated as part of the Class of 1989. “At the time, I had no idea where I, or any of my classmates, would be 20 years later. But one thing we all had was a lot of hope and a real sense of pride in our accomplishments,” he said.

Decades onward, he assured grads that they’ll marvel – as he has – where that hope might take them. “Many of my classmates became outstanding lawyers, judges and academics. Some with international renowned reputations for their contributions,” he said. As Professor Emerita Mary Jane Mossman’s introduction of Tulloch made clear, he resides among the most successful from his class thanks to an accomplished career as a crown prosecutor and private practice lawyer, before being appointed to the Ontario Superior Court in 2003, to the Court of Appeal in 2012 and as Ontario Chief Justice in 2022.

“There is no doubt that 20 years or 30 years from now, most of you will be distinguished leaders within the legal profession and the Canadian society as a whole,” he said.

Tulloch proceeded to then offer graduands three important lessons that have helped keep him grounded and focused throughout his career.

“Be grateful for the privileged position that we are in his lawyers here in Canada,” he cited as the first lesson. “Where we have an amazing scientific, medical and legal infrastructure. Where political and economic stability is the norm. Where the majority in our society aspire to create a just society with a social safety net that tries to catch those in our society that may be less economically and socially fortunate.” While he acknowledged that there are now notable challenges Canada and the world face, he encouraged graduands to remember to keep those privileges and benefits in focus in order to keep preserving them.

“The world is smaller than we think, and the legal profession is even smaller,” Tulloch said of his second lesson. “Someone used to tell me that there are six degrees of separation between us, but I strongly believe that there’s only one degree.”

Mary Condon, Michael Tulloch, Kathleen Taylor
Provost and Vice-President Lisa Philipps, Michael Tulloch and Chancellor Kathleen Taylor

He asked a graduand in attendance named Ali Kwinter to stand up as way of example. “You don’t know me, as you and I have never met,” he said to Kwinter. However, he proceeded to reveal that he did know her uncle – also a lawyer – with whom he has worked out with once a week for nearly 30 years. That morning the two men had been talking, and her uncle happened to mention that his niece would be graduating that day. “That’s how I got to know who you are,” said Tulloch to Kwinter. “That’s evidence, in my view, that we’re all only one degree of separation apart.

“The moral message of this is that the world and the legal profession is so small, and we’re so interconnected, that our reputation matters and we must always guard our reputation fiercely. As the end of the day, our reputation is all that we have.”

For his final lesson, Tulloch stressed that, “People matter, especially in a global world.” As the law changes – through technological advances, globalization and equity, diversity, inclusion and decolonization initiatives, to name a few – he stressed one thing should remain steadfast.

“Amidst all these changes, one thing remains constant and that is the power of the human connection. The essence of our work lies in the relationships we build, the compassion we show and the difference we make in the lives of others,” he said. “Always remember that the people that you’re interacting with are human beings, and you need to understand and empathy. To try to relate to their situation and condition. The law is not just a set of rules. It is a powerful instrument of change, aimed at fostering the spirit of compassion, empathy, and unity.”

He ended his address reiterating the importance of working together to create change in the world. “Recognize that our collective strength far surpasses the sum of our individual capabilities. Each one of you possesses a unique set of skills, experiences and perspectives. And it is by harnessing the power of our collective diversity, that we can truly affect change. Remember, the legal profession is not a solitary endeavor. It is a tapestry woven by countless hands, each thread contributing to the greater whole. It is our duty as custodians of justice, to support and uplift one another. In a world that sometimes seems fractured and divided, and at times, politically polarized, or ideologically disconnected, it is through cooperation and unity that we can build bridges, restore trust, and create a more just society,” he said.

“Together we can create a legal system that is truly reflective of the diverse society we serve, and as you leave these hallowed halls today filled with hope, knowledge and ambition, I urge you to strive not only for personal success, but also for a broader vision of a more just, and equitable society. Seek justice not only within the confines of the courtroom, but also in your communities, in the boardrooms and in every aspect of your life,” he said. “Let us rise above adversity fueled by our collective determination to pursue justice, uphold the rule of law and create a brighter and more equitable world. Congratulation graduates, the world eagerly awaits the mark you will make.”

In pictures: York’s Convocation celebrates Class of 2023

convocation students facing stage

Spring Convocation for York University’s Class of 2023 ran from June 9 to 23, and featured 13 ceremonies at both the Keele and Glendon Campuses.

This year’s Spring Convocation began on June 9 with a ceremony at York’s Glendon Campus, and continued with a dozen more in the following weeks at the Keele Campus. 6,140 graduands received their degrees during ceremonies overseen by the newly inaugurated 14th chancellor of York University, Kathleen Taylor.

View photos from the Class of 2023 ceremonies below:

Glen.96

Nancy Archibald tells grads: ‘The work is waiting’

Nancy Archibald

During the June 22 convocation for York University’s Faculty of Science, longtime CBC filmmaker and producer Nancy Archibald urged graduands to lend their newly gained knowledge and fresh perspectives to righting the future.

At the end of her address to graduands and proceeding the introduction of Archibald, Alice Pitt, interim vice-president of equity, people and culture at York, issued a challenge. “I want to end my remarks by encouraging each of you to think about what matters to you and what contribution do you want to make the world.”

Alice Pitt, Nancy Archibald, Kathleen Taylor
Interim Vice-President Equity, People and Culture Alice Pitt, Nancy Archibald and Chancellor Kathleen Taylor

Those words anticipated the speech delivered by Archibald, the recipient of an honorary doctor of laws degree, who has made significant contributions to the world’s understanding of the world and, especially, the threats it faces. Over a 35-year career as a filmmaker with the CBC, notably the long-running series The Nature of Things, she has made over 40 science and nature documentaries, as well as produced more than 60 films, many with the goal of raising awareness of environmental issues before others in the media did.

During her speech, Archibald recounted her journey and how it began at 21, when an aunt passed and left her $500 in her will. Archibald decided to leave for Europe to see more the world. Six years later she came home, her life changed by travel, and began looking for work.

“I’d always wanted a job I could look forward to and I thought was worth doing. That was important,” she said. She got one at the CBC, soon making programs meant to educate the public about a variety of scientific subjects, including chaos theory, human development from birth to death, aspects of evolution and astronomy. Along the way, she found herself nurturing a budding interest: “I was finding my way to what I passionately cared about: nature and the issues surrounding it,” she said.

Among one of her most formative experiences, was when she and her crew traveled to the Amazon in the 1990s to do a story on the burning of the rainforest. Before her arrival, she had expected – despite the destruction – to see some remnants of the rich ecosystem that rainforests have to offer. She was in for a shock. “We never saw rain forest, although we were where it was meant to be. We saw blackened trees and trees on fire,” she said. They saw too hundreds of local and tribal people who were impacted. One town had attempted to replace their missing rain forest with skinny trees and pots.

The film resulting from the experience of capturing the ecological devastation in the Amazon was called The Road to the End of the Forest and when it aired, thousands of letters came in from viewers shocked, as well as wanting to know more and what they could do. Since then Archibald – in and outside of her work – has raised awareness around the threats to the world’s environments.

As she neared the end of her speech, Archibald encouraged graduands to seek out mentors and collaborators – something she said she benefited greatly from. “Continuing to learn through the lives and experiences of people you admire is enriching. Seeking advice from people you can believe and who give guidelines generously is a good habit,” she said.

A female trailblazer, as the first and only female executive producer at the CBC from 1973 to 1981, Archibald also issued an important call to graduands to protect the rights of not just women, but those afforded by democracy as a whole. “Keep an eye on your freedoms. For women, because they’re recent, but for everyone else, too. We all must take notice and keep watch, because what we’re seeing right now in North America and Europe is a strong movement away from the kind of democracy we’ve taken for granted and that we thought would last forever. And when democracy goes, freedoms can shift,” she says.

Archibald ended with a moment of optimism and well wishes for the graduating class. “The work is waiting. You have new eyes. You’re armed now with critical thinking mind and knowledge. And if you use them well – to speak up, to help forge new ways of living, a more humane and more equitable world – you will be people living meaningful lives. I wish you adventure and fulfillment on this wondrous planet. Its gobsmacking beauty will sustain and inspire you if you let it and make you want to live differently to bring it back, to protect it, and allow it – and you – to thrive.”

Tom Lee reminds Lassonde graduands to ‘stay thoughtful’

Honorary degree recipient Tom Lee

The Lassonde School of Engineering Spring Convocation on June 22 was commenced by honorary doctor of laws recipient, Chair of the Corporate Advisory Council at the Electrical and Computer Engineering Heads Association, and Adjunct Professor Tom Lee, who expressed pride for the graduands and their institution for shaping a more humanitarian engineering ethos.

Welcomed to the stage by Lassonde Dean Jane Goodyer, Lee was praised for his ingenuity and unwavering sense of ethics. “Today, we not only celebrate Dr. Lee’s accomplishments, but also the values he embodies, the same ones Lassonde holds very dear: entrepreneurship, the pursuit of new ideas, academic freedom, and a passionate desire to create a better world,” Goodyer said.

Honorary degree recipient Tom Lee and Chancellor Kathleen Taylor
Honorary degree recipient Tom Lee and Chancellor Kathleen Taylor

Having arrived in Canada in 1971, Lee’s family of six lived in a small, two-bedroom apartment and established roots just minutes away from the heart of York University’s Keele Campus.

“I’m a Downsview guy,” Lee explained as he reflected on what the community surrounding the Keele Campus means to him. “And it feels so good to be home again. And my roots in this neighbourhood makes this day much more special.”

Lee built a notable career after receiving his doctorate in mechanical engineering at the University of Waterloo, eventually being inducted into the Canadian Academy of Engineering and being named the Walter Booth Chair in Engineering Innovation and Entrepreneurship at McMaster University. A continuous thread throughout his many accomplishments is the passion Lee says his peers admired in him at various institutions, a trait which was inspired in him by Pierre Lassonde, whose legacy Lee sees carried on in Lassonde’s graduands.

Paying homage to Steve Jobs, Lee iterated on a famous quote from the late Apple founder’s own address at a Stanford University convocation.

“’Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.’ These words in so many ways capture the spirit of our digital age … We celebrated those who took decisive action, often without concern for immediate consequences. We’ll deal with that later. ‘Stay hungry, stay foolish,’” Lee remarked. “Today though, I want to suggest that we consider adding one more. Stay thoughtful. Stay hungry, stay foolish, stay thoughtful.

“About 10 years ago, I first met Pierre Lassonde and many of the founding leadership of the Lassonde school and they introduced me to a provocative new perspective on engineering education, and they called it renaissance engineering. I’m glad to see that these words and sentiments persist today here because renaissance engineering also had a lasting impact on me,” he continued. “It suggested that engineering could be a foundation for all sorts of creative and ambitious endeavours, and that the needs of people and communities need to directly connect to what you learn in class.”

Tom Lee
Tom Lee

Lee suggested that for many decades an ask-questions-later approach to engineering had given rise to some of the most impressive feats of human inventiveness but had simultaneously driven crises and disasters.

“Nuclear energy, pesticides, plastics, pain medications, refined fossil fuels and internal combustion engines are all examples of engineered technologies that had a great start … but now represent enormous planet-level challenges,” he said.

On the other hand, Lee also expressed his hope that the next generation of thoughtful engineers – to which the Lassonde graduands now belonged – would be best equipped to handle both yesterday’s and tomorrow’s challenges.

“Things are changing, and you have a lot to do with it. More and more. I find your increased awareness of societal and global challenges and your loud and critical voice on the mistakes of people my age, to be welcome and essential to remaining optimistic about tomorrow.

“Today, I hope you celebrate like never before. Maybe even get a little foolish. Go nuts. You deserve it,” Lee concluded. “And tomorrow, you’ll begin building a wonderfully interesting and rewarding career, whatever that may be for you. And I hope that once in a while you will pause and think of something wonderfully thoughtful to do as well, whatever that may be for you.”