Join the York community for a virtual town hall on Aug. 11

Keele Campus FEATURED image

President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton sends this invitation to the University community:

La version française suit la version anglaise.

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to announce that we will be holding a Virtual Town Hall on Wednesday, Aug. 11, where we will discuss the University’s plans for a return to on-campus activities this fall.

We invite all students, staff, course instructors and faculty to attend, and to submit their questions in advance of the event using this form. Community members can also visit the updated Better Together FAQs page for answers to frequently asked questions about return to campus plans.

Date: Wednesday, Aug. 11

Time: 2:30 p.m.

Zoom Webinar:

Webinar ID: 922 3853 1516

Telephone Dial-In: (647) 374-4685 

Password: 311801 

Link to Livestream:

To help answer your questions, I will be joined by:

  • Lisa Philipps, vice-president academic and provost;
  • Amir Asif, vice-president research and innovation;
  • Sheila Cote-Meek, vice-president equity, people and culture;
  • Lucy Fromowitz, vice-provost students; and
  • Parissa Safai, special adviser to the president for academic continuity planning and COVID-19 response, and associate professor, School of Kinesiology and Health Science.

If you have any accessibility needs, notes or comments, please let us know.

We will be hosting this town hall via the video conferencing platform Zoom Webinar. You can learn about downloading and using Zoom here. The webinar will also be livestreamed on the Town Hall website.

You can add the town hall to your Outlook calendar using the attached .ics file.

If you have attended a past town hall, we would like your feedback through this short survey. If you were unable to attend previous town halls, you can access all of them here.

The latest community updates, resources and answers to frequently asked questions can always be found on our Better Together website.

I look forward to your questions.


Rhonda L. Lenton 
President & Vice-Chancellor

Joignez-vous à la communauté de York pour une conversation communautaire virtuelle le 11 août

Chers collègues,

Nous avons le plaisir d’annoncer que nous organiserons une conversation communautaire virtuelle le mercredi 11 août, durant laquelle nous discuterons des plans de l’Université pour le retour des activités sur nos campus à l’automne.

Nous invitons l’ensemble de la population étudiante, du personnel, du corps enseignant et du corps professoral à participer et à soumettre leurs questions en amont de l’événement à l’aide de ce formulaire. Vous pouvez également visiter la foire aux questions (FAQ) du site Better Together pour consulter les réponses aux questions fréquemment posées au sujet du retour sur le campus.

Date : Mercredi 11 août 2021

Heure : 14 h 30

Webinaire Zoom :

Code du webinaire : 922 3853 1516

Numéro de téléphone : (647) 374-4685

Mot de passe : 311801

Lien pour la diffusion en direct :

Pour m’aider à répondre à vos questions, je serai accompagnée de :

  • Lisa Philipps, vice-présidente aux affaires académiques et rectrice
  • Amir Asif, vice-président de la recherche et de l’innovation
  • Sheila Cote-Meek, vice-présidente de l’équité, des personnes et de la culture
  • Carol McAulay, vice-présidente des finances et de l’administration
  • Lucy Fromowitz, vice-rectrice aux affaires étudiantes
  • Parissa Safai, conseillère spéciale de la présidente pour la planification de la continuité académique et la réponse à la COVID-19 et professeure agrégée de l’École de kinésiologie et des sciences de la santé

Si vous avez des besoins, des remarques ou des commentaires en matière d’accessibilité, veuillez nous le faire savoir.

Cette conversation communautaire aura lieu grâce à la plateforme de visioconférence Zoom Webinar. Vous pouvez télécharger Zoom et apprendre à vous en servir ici. Le webinaire sera également diffusé en direct sur le site Web des conversations communautaires.

Vous pouvez ajouter la conversation communautaire à votre calendrier Outlook à l’aide du fichier .ics en pièce jointe.

Si vous avez déjà assisté à une conversation communautaire, nous aimerions connaître votre opinion avec ce bref sondage. Si vous n’avez pas pu assister aux conversations précédentes, elles sont toutes disponibles ici.

Vous trouverez les dernières mises à jour, ressources et réponses aux questions fréquemment posées sur notre site Web Better Together.

J’attends vos questions avec impatience.

Sincères salutations,

Rhonda L. Lenton 
Présidente et vice-chancelière

Dance prof’s documentary wins at Cannes Indies Cinema Awards

FEATURED image Patrick Alcedo_new_AMPD

A film by York University Associate Professor Patrick Alcedo earned the Best Short Documentary award at the Cannes Indies Cinema Awards on July 10. The film, titled They Call Me Dax, tells the story of 15-year-old Dorothy Echipare who struggles to survive as a high-school student and ballet dancer while living alone in a poor urban district in Quezon City, Philippines.

Movie poster for the film They Call Me Dax“I was elated and surprised when I learned that my new short docu won, as it was an international online competition,” said Alcedo.

Chair of the Department of Dance in York’s School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD), Alcedo has directed, written and produced three documentary films in the past year. Two of his other documentary films – A Will To Dream and Am I Being Selfish? – also won, respectively, Best Dance Feature Documentary and Best Inspirational Short Documentary at the Silk Road Film Awards Cannes in May. This same competition singled out They Call Me Dax as Best Dance Short Documentary.

The three films put a spotlight on issues of teenage pregnancy, illegal drugs, precarity of labour and inconsistent governmental support in poverty alleviation in the Philippines. They illustrate how dance, when partnered with grit and altruistic teaching, has the potential to navigate and even overcome these social, economic and political issues.

Patrick Alcedo
Patrick Alcedo

“As a dance ethnographer, I am passionate about putting an emphasis on dance’s ability to empower the marginalized. I want to illustrate that dance, as lived in the lives of its practitioners, is an incredible embodied form in understanding the complexities of race, class, ethnicity, gender, religious practices and diasporic/transnational identities,” said Alcedo. “As a Philippine studies scholar and a Filipino, I devote my energies and resources to fleshing out who Filipinos are, whether in the Philippines or in transnational elsewhere – from the point of view of dance, from their own dancing and choreographed bodies.

Along the same vein of marginality as Dorothy’s story, Am I Being Selfish? focuses on the life of her fellow dancer, Jon-Jon Bides. Despite the resulting financial hardship, Jon-Jon insists on supporting his wife and two young sons by teaching ballet to poor children and at-risk youth, like Dorothy.

The feature-length documentary, A Will To Dream, anchors its narrative in the life of Luther Perez, a former ballet star in the Philippines and Dorothy and Jon-Jon’s mentor and adoptive father. To give underprivileged children and youth from squatters’ areas in Quezon City and Manila a shot in life, he surrendered his U.S. green card – and with it the promise of a better life abroad – to teach them dance.

To date, these films have garnered six official selections from film festivals and award-giving bodies such as the New York Independent Cinema Awards, International Shorts, Lift-Off Online Sessions and the Chicago Indie Film Awards.

Alcedo’s latest win at the Cannes Indies has caught the attention of three television stations – DZRH News of the Manila Broadcasting Corporation, Net25 and Omni Filipino News – that together have thus far garnered more than 28,000 views.

The three films build on Alcedo’s 20-minute documentary Dancing Manilenyos, which was an official selection at the 2019 Diversity in Cannes Short Film Showcase and received an Award of Merit from the 2019 Global Shorts Competition and an Award of Recognition from the 2018 Hollywood International Independent Documentary Awards.

These three recent films would not have been possible if not for the team that Alcedo has put together. Behind these works are cinematographer Alex Felipe, editor and colourist Alec Bell, and transcriber Paulo Alcedo – all York University alumni. Additional cinematography is from John Marie Soberano and archival footage is from both Mark Gary and Denisa Reyes. Peter Alcedo Jr. did the musical scoring.

The pre-production, production and post-production of Alcedo’s films have received support from AMPD, the York Centre for Asian Research, the government of Ontario’s Early Researcher Awards program, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council’s Research-Creation Grant.

Pediatric neurosurgeons develop emotional bonds with patients, York-led study shows

doctor FEATURED image

A new study led by York University sheds light on the intense emotional and relational bonds formed with patients from the surgeon’s side of the bed. The findings, published in the British Journal of Neurosurgery, show pediatric neurosurgeons care deeply about their patients and feel emotionally invested as if they were their own children.

Leeat Granek

In the study, lead author Leeat Granek, associate professor, School of Health Policy and Management in the Faculty of Health at York, found that pediatric neurosurgeons find meaning, joy and pleasure in the relationships they form with their patients and their families, while also experiencing difficult and painful emotions when these patients decline during the course of their disease or experience a complication during surgery.

“This research was surprising because we often think that surgeons don’t have feelings and remain detached in order to do their very difficult work,” said Granek. “Our research showed that the opposite was the case. These neurosurgeons develop meaningful long-term relationships with their patients and their families, and care very deeply about them. Caring about patients means that you are vulnerable. When things go wrong with one of your patients, you take it home with you, you can’t sleep thinking about it, you care.”

The goal of the study was to explore the relational and emotional components of the patient-surgeon bond from the perspective of practising pediatric neurosurgeons in the field. Granek and her team did interviews with 26 neurosurgeons from 12 countries using video-conferencing technology. Data was analyzed using a qualitative method that involves coding the data for major themes.

These themes included having a relational attachment to patients, forming bonds with the parents/caregivers of these patients, dealing with patient suffering, death and complications, and communicating bad news. One of the most significant findings was that neurosurgeons found it particularly emotionally challenging to communicate bad news. This began with the diagnosis where neurosurgeons had to tell parents that their seemingly healthy child would require brain surgery. Surgeons described feeling apprehension and difficulty in either having to share the bad news, or fear of disappointing the family when things did not go as planned in the operating room.

One surgeon who participated in the study noted being very emotional in their work. The surgeon described experiences of being influenced by cases and by families, which created additional meaning in their life.

Many surgeons in the study noted the deep attachment to patients was a product of working with children, with whom bonds are easier to form and where the relationship with the patient is more straightforward, honest and trusting than it might be with adult patients. The relationship with caregivers was described as a mix of feeling the strain of accountability, a sense of empathy and identification with the parents, and a deep sense of care towards these families. Data collected also showed that while the attachment to patients and their families provided meaning and joy to the work that pediatric neurosurgeons do, the challenging side of these relational bonds was being witness to patients who are suffering or who die as a result of surgery.

Another study participant noted that when they couldn’t prevent harm from coming to a child, it felt like human nature to “take things a lot harder.”

Very few studies have looked at the surgeon-patient relationship and none have looked at neurosurgeons. Granek says this may be an especially important issue within the field of pediatric neurosurgery, where young patients face significant health challenges that may involve one or more brain surgeries in their lifetime. The patient and their caregivers are required to put their trust and their child’s life in the hands of a neurosurgeon, often whom they have just met. An important implication of this study is the need for more extensive research on the surgeon-patient relationship within pediatric surgery that focuses on how this relationship affects the surgeons, patients and families, and how these relationships may potentially affect patient outcomes, said Granek.

“Despite the importance and centrality of the surgeon-patient bond, there is no research on this topic and more data is needed to understand the nuances of this relationship and how it may affect patient care and surgeon well-being,” said Granek. “Training neurosurgical Fellows should include pedagogical modules about the relational and emotional dimensions of their work, with a specific and dedicated focus on communicating bad news.”

See below for a video explaining this research.

Welcoming YU Back to campus

Bergeron Centre with the words Welcoming YU Back

Bergeron Centre with the words Welcoming YU BackSharing information with the York University community is vital in the lead up to the safe return to our campuses. This special issue is one of the many ways we are sharing what we know about “what YU can expect this fall.”

Parissa Safai
Parissa Safai

The point of departure for all of York’s return-to-campus planning efforts is the guidance we receive from the provincial government and from Toronto Public Health. Just recently, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities (MCU) provided all colleges and universities in Ontario with their expectations for Fall 2021 and we are pleased to have received these initial parameters and guidance. On July 20, we shared an update with the community on what this means for York. We are buoyed by the opportunity to further safely enhance the on-campus and in-person experience for students, staff, faculty, instructors and guests this fall.

The University continues to prepare for a mix of in-person and remote learning options in September, as planned. We continue to actively plan for a safe return to our campuses by creating the conditions that will allow our community to return with confidence.

This special issue will expand on the initiatives and activities that are being put in place to keep our University community safe. I hope that you enjoy these pieces and that they give you a greater sense of the work being done to prepare for a return to campus life. Another summer issue will be coming up and in the meantime, please continue to follow the Better Together website and look our for the weekly Wellness Wednesday Return to Campus Special Issue.

Parissa Safai
Special Advisor to the President for Academic Continuity Planning and COVID-19 Response

Featured in this issue of Welcoming ‘YU’ Back

What YU can expect this fall

As the fall term approaches, the University’s COVID-19 Planning and Response team continues to closely follow the latest guidance from public health authorities and will work with leaders from across York to create the conditions that will allow the community to return to campus with confidence.

A Q-and-A with Humaira Pirooz, director of Health, Safety & Employee Well-Being

Humaira Pirooz, director of Health, Safety & Employee Well-Being, answers questions related to plans for this fall and the safe return to work on York University’s campuses.

Do you have questions about the return to campus?

A new feature added to the Better Together website gives the community a way to receive answers to questions on research, student services, parking and a range of other topics.

Share your vaccine selfie and story on Roll Up Your Sleeve YU

Roll Up Your Sleeve YU is a social campaign featuring York community members who are interested in sharing their vaccine stories. The campaign will run over the summer months and into the early fall.

An overview of upgrades to the University’s ventilation systems in office spaces and classrooms

Stewart Dankner, the University’s director of property management in Facilities Services, answers questions about the work underway to update air filtration and ventilation systems to protect the health and safety of students, faculty, instructors and staff.

What YU can expect this fall

Students-Commons-Steps-1 gathering safely

The declining number of COVID-19 cases in Toronto and across the Greater Toronto Area over the past few weeks have given many a much-needed sense of relief. It’s encouraging to see an improving public health situation amid the uptake of vaccines among eligible Ontarians. In the context of return-to-campus planning efforts, an accelerated vaccine rollout across the city and province during the summer was anticipated. However, many hadn’t predicted just how rapid the pace would be (see TVOntario July 8).

That said, it’s still essential to be mindful of how seriously we need to treat COVID-19, given the presence of Delta and other variants of concern identified by the World Health Organization. The return-to-campus planning team is closely following the situation around the world, including in the U.K., Israel and the Netherlands. While there are some important differences between what is happening in Ontario versus these other countries, (see the Globe and Mail July 8), the increase in the number of cases and the subsequent reintroduction of risk-reducing measures tell us two important things: it is essential to get fully vaccinated as soon as you can; and a robust, multi-pronged approach to health and safety will play a central role in our gradual return to campus.

The University continues to strongly recommend that all eligible York community members receive their full COVID-19 vaccination series this summer. The latest health data reveals that there is a disproportionate rate of infection among those who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated (see CBC News July 13).

To support “on the ground” vaccination efforts, York University hosted pop-up clinics on July 6 and 8 this year, in collaboration with health partners from Humber River Hospital. The turnout on both days was exceptional. It was especially noteworthy that 18 per cent of doses administered at the first York pop-up clinic were first doses. Given the success of these pop-up clinics, the option to offer additional Keele Campus clinics is being explored with Humber River Hospital for deployment in late August and early September.

What’s new about fall planning this year?

Vaccines are a powerful tool to protect against COVID-19, but they are just one of many that can be used to keep ourselves, those we care about and our community safe. York’s return-to-campus planning continues to advance multiple strategies and initiatives to protect the health and safety of the community in the fall and beyond (see York’s Better Together website).

This includes a gradual approach to welcoming people and groups back to on-campus and in-person activities. The University’s approach to the fall will remain more measured and this means that we will not see an immediate return to pre-pandemic numbers on our campuses on any given day. The planning team recognizes that: some students, faculty and instructors will not be able to come to York’s campuses due to travel and/or health restrictions; some staff will be participating in the Transitional Remote Work pilot; and not all courses will be offered in-person or on-campus.

In the midst of preparing this special issue of YFile, new guidance was received from Ontario’s Ministry of Colleges and Universities for the upcoming fall term (see the Better Together community update July 20). York is continuing to plan for a mix of in-person and remote learning, scheduling only the courses that have been previously submitted and approved for in-person instruction. The University does not intend to convert existing courses or meets that have been marked for remote or online delivery to in-person delivery.

In the coming weeks, the University will closely follow the latest guidance from public health authorities and any additional restrictions that may be imposed. The COVID-19 Planning and Response Team continues to work with leaders from across the University to create the conditions that will allow the community to return to York campuses with confidence.

For example, all York community members will be expected to continue observing the mask and face covering mandate and the screening protocol this fall. In August, the University will also be introducing YU Screen, a new automated screening tool. YU Screen will be available for anyone intending to come to campus, as COVID-19 screening continues to be required. This tool will also help support case and contact management where needed and help to monitor overall campus density. Full instructions on how to use the tool will be rolled out in late August when YU Screen goes live.

Lastly, it is important to highlight that over the month of August, the entire University community will see a major educative push across multiple communication channels on the safety measures that will need to be observed this fall. As soon as possible, York University will also have a suite of resources available that touch on conflict resolution and suggested language for syllabi to remind faculty, instructors and students of the public health requirements that will need to be observed while on campus.

A Q-and-A with Humaira Pirooz, director of Health, Safety & Employee Well-Being

People walk through Vari Hall, which is located on York U's Keele campus

Whether it’s for a common space or the workplace, there will be a plan to ensure everyone is kept safe on York University’s campuses this fall. Humaira Pirooz is the director of Health, Safety and Employee Well-Being (HSEWB) at York and leads a team that plays an essential role in advising the University community. Pirooz and the HSEWB team are responsible for running a host of health and safety programming in addition to policy development, well-being initiatives and helping to manage claims for staff and faculty on York’s campuses.

Q. Who is responsible for leading health and safety planning at York?

Humaira Pirooz
Humaira Pirooz

A. Health, Safety and Employee Well-Bring has been integral to York’s pandemic response. They have worked closely with the COVID-19 Planning and Response Team and have created a suite of programs, protocols, procedures, tools and templates for every unit to use for their health and safety planning. They also play an important role in educating and advising planning leads, staff and faculty in each area so that they understand what is required.

Every area across the University is responsible for creating a plan that is tailored to their specific work environment to ensure safety. Health and safety advisors at HSEWB are always available to help out with this process and ensure plans align with expected standards.

HSEWB has been involved in COVID-19 planning and support since the start of the pandemic and will continue to be involved in the transition back to York’s campuses. They support the community of care commitment, where everyone has a role to play in protecting the health and safety of the community.

Q. What is being done to make sure workplaces will be safe to return to?

A. A lot of work has been happening on campus since last March to keep campuses safe and facilitate a safe return. From enhanced ventilation to automated screening and case management, there are a number of things the University is doing to prepare.

Each unit will also be required to conduct a Health and Safety Risk Assessment and have the COVID-19 safety control measures in place that have been identified in their area-specific workplace safety plan. These measures can include things like screening requirements, wearing masks or face coverings, clear signage, frequent cleaning and easily accessible hand hygiene facilities.

Q. What are safety plans and how do they work?

A. HSEWB has an updated template for developing workplace safety plans, and that aligns closely with the latest public health guidance. The plans themselves will be completed by managers or designates in collaboration with health and safety officers in each unit within the University.

The COVID-19 Area-Specific Workplace Safety Plan lists the measures that have been put in place to protect those who are working or studying on York’s campuses. Due to the evolving nature of the pandemic, the template has been designed to help managers and area supervisors adapt their plans to position closely with the latest public health guidance and the steps in the province’s Roadmap to Reopen.

Q. How will health and safety inspections for COVID-19 work?

A. We all have a role to play in keeping ourselves and those around us safe by following the latest safety and public health measures, workplace safety policies, procedures and programs that are implemented, and reporting any hazards.

Health and safety officers carry out COVID-19 inspections in their assigned areas or units to ensure safety criteria are met, and they work with leadership to resolve any identified issues or escalate them to the COVID-19 Planning and Response Team.

The Joint Health and Safety Committee conducts regular COVID-19 inspections in all the applicable areas open for regular occupancy since the early days of the pandemic. They regularly visit applicable labs, shops and studio spaces to look out for hazards and report them to area managers or designates for followup and implementation of corrective action.   

Q. How will contact and case management be handled for staff and faculty?

A. While Toronto Public Health continues to suspend contact tracing for COVID-19 cases (with some exceptions), the Office of Student Community Relations (OSCR) and HSEWB facilitate contact management for students, staff and faculty, to prevent transmission on York’s campuses.

OSCR and HSEWB work closely on contact management, always maintaining confidentially for cases involving students, faculty, instructors, researchers or staff. A potential close contact of any confirmed positive COVID-19 case on York’s campuses will be contacted and advised to seek guidance from their local public health unit.

HSEWB manages all confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 of staff and faculty at York and potential close contacts through the sick leave and/or accommodation process. HSEWB continues to support employees or faculty members until they are cleared to return to work on York’s campuses.

Updated: Eleven athletes with ties to York University are competing in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan

Eleven athletes with connections to York University are taking part in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. (The games were postponed from 2020 to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.)

Competing are Jason Ho-Shue (Badminton), Katie Vincent (Canoe-Kayak), Brandie Wilkerson and Melissa Humana-Paredes (Beach Volleyball), Shady El Nahas (Judo), Brittany Crew (Shot Put), Pierce Lepage (Decathlon), Bismark Boateng and Khamica Bingham (Track & Field), Arthur Szwarc (Indoor Volleyball) and Syed Muhammad Haseeb Tariq (Swimming). Alumna Andrea Prieur, a certified athletic therapist, will be part of the Health Services team, and alumna Natalie Ghobrial is the athletic therapist for the Women’s Softball team.

Jason Ho-Shue  Badminton
A Canadian badminton player from Markham, Ont., Ho-Shue is a student in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies. In 2015, he settled triple crowns at the Pan Am Junior Badminton Championships in the boys’ singles, doubles and mixed doubles events. He won the bronze medal in the mixed team event. In 2016, he became the youngest Canadian badminton player to win the national title in men’s singles event. He also won double titles at the XX Pan Am Individual Championships in men’s singles and doubles. Ho-Shue competed at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. He was a gold medalist in the men’s doubles event partnered with Nyl Yakura at the 2019 Lima Pan American Games, earning a bronze medal in the men’s singles.

Katie Vincent – Canoe-Kayak
Currently an undergraduate student in York’s Faculty of Health, Vincent is a Canadian athlete competing in the Canoe-Kayak Sprint. She first represented Canada in 2013 at the World Junior Championships, and the next year earned two golds in the C-1 200m and the C-2 500m. In 2015, she continued to show her podium potential at the ICF World Cup when she earned medals for individual and team competitions. In 2016, she secured her first solo World Cup gold, and went on to bring home three more gold medals from the U23 World Championships. Vincent’s winning streak continued through 2017 with three more individual podiums at the World Cup, and a team gold. In 2018, Vincent and team mate Vincent Lapointe brought home two World Cup gold medals, and twice broke their own world record; in 2019, the continued their winning streak with a World Cup bronze and silver in Poznan, Poland, followed by two more silvers in Duisburg. Vincent qualified for Tokyo 2020 during the national trials in March 2021 when she one a C-1 race-off against long-time team mate Lapointe. She qualified with a third-place finish by 0.32 of a second.

Brandie Wilkerson – Beach Volleyball 
Arguably one of Canada’s greatest medal threats, Wilkerson attended York until 2014 and starred for the women’s volleyball team during her time with the Lions. She earned Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) second-team all-Canadian and Ontario University Athletics (OUA) first-team all-star honours for two straight seasons, 2011-12 and 2012-13. The native of Toronto also ranked fourth in the OUA and first on the team in scoring in 2013-14 (3.91 points per set) and sixth in kills per set (3.10), despite starting just 11 matches. Wilkerson’s career began on a high note at the beginning of the last decade – now 29-years-old, she was named York’s female rookie of the year in 2010-11 and earned the OUA rookie of the year award. She was a CIS and OUA all-rookie team member and an OUA East second-team all-star that season.

Melissa Humana-Paredes – Beach Volleyball
A six-time FIVB Gold Medalist, 12-time FIVB Medalist, five-time Canadian champion, two-time AVP champion, Commonwealth Games champion, and most recently, a world champion, earning the first-ever Gold for Canada, Humana-Paredes is an extremely accomplished volleyball player with roots at York University. Humana-Paredes and her family have been synonymous with the York volleyball programs for decades. A York alumna, she previously played for four years for the Lions, her brother Felipe was a five-year member of the men’s team and their father Hernan Humana was a long-time coach of both teams. Humana-Paredes’ Lions career included three OUA all-star honours, a CIS second-team all-Canadian selection and York’s female Athlete of the Year award in 2012. She won back-to-back bronze medals at the U23 world championships, competed at the 2015 Pan Am Games, the FISU Games in 2013, and toured around the world to compete at the FIVB and NORCECA events, winning numerous medals in the process. The team of Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan won the gold medal at the 2019 Beach Volleyball World Championships, defeating the American team of April Ross and Alix Klineman 2-0 for Canada’s first-ever medal in the event.

Shady El Nahas – Judo
A 23-year-old Canadian from Alexandria, Egypt, El Nahas competed as a wrestler at York in 2017, where he went a near-perfect 23-1 in OUA competition with 19 pins. He was a gold medallist at Concordia, McMaster and York regular-season events. He was a 2017 York rookie-of-the-year nominee, and earned the men’s wrestling MVP during his only season with the Lions. Since then, El Nahas has achieved considerable success on the international stage. He is a two-time gold medal winner at the Pan American Judo Championships in 2019 and 2020 and also took gold at the 2021 IHF Judo Grand Slam in Tbilisi, Georgia. He has four other medals at Grand Slams, three bronze medals and a silver at 2018 Osaka. At the 2021 World Championships, El Nahas got into a bronze medal match where he lost to Ilia Sulamanidze of Georgia to finish in a tie for fifth.

Brittany Crew  Shot Put
Crew is a decorated former Lion with multiple medal-winning performances at international competition and recently earned a slew of impressive awards for York at the national stage. A 27-year-old shot putter from Toronto, Ontario, Crew graduated from York University in 2019 with a degree in kinesiology and health science. She is a three-time gold medallist at the U SPORTS Championships (2015, 2016 and 2019) and earned bronze at the 2015 FISU Summer Universiade in South Korea. Crew was rewarded in each of those gold-level seasons with the York female Athlete of the Year award in 2015, 2016, and 2019. She set a U SPORTS record for shot put with a 16.96m toss at 2016 nationals, then broke her own record in 2019, launching a 17.56m throw. She out threw her nearest competition by more than two metres en route to winning the event. Crew returns to the Olympics for a second time after donning the red and white in 2016 at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Pierce Lepage – Decathlon
The 25-year-old runner from Whitby, Ont., graduated from York University in 2019 with a degree in interdisciplinary social science. It was also a landmark year for Lepage because he struck gold at three different events at the York-hosted OUA championships, winning in 60m hurdles, long jump, and high jump. At the 2019 U SPORTS championships, he earned gold in 60m hurdles and long jump. He was also part of the silver medal-winning 4x200m relay team, and won bronze in high jump. Lepage was named 2019 York male Athlete of the Year. At international events, Lepage is known for competing as a decathlete, routinely reaching the podium on the world stage. In his first decathlon of 2019, LePage scored a personal best 8453 points to win the Decastar meet in June, which gave him the decathlon qualifying standard for Tokyo 2020. He shared the podium with Canadian teammate Damian Warner at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, winning bronze, after a silver at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. LePage did not compete in the decathlon in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In May 2021, LePage attended the famed Hypo-meeting in Götzis, Austria and won silver with a personal-best of 8534 points.

Bismark Boateng – Track & Field
The 29-year-old Canadian from Accra, Ghana wasn’t always a track & field athlete. He began his post-secondary athletic career with the Rams as a soccer player, but eventually discovered track and transferred to York to join the team. His sprinting career took off from there, proving he made a wise decision. He struck gold in 60m at the CIS Championships in 2015 and took home silver in 2016. Internationally, Boateng was part of the gold medal 4x100m relay winning team at the 2018 NACAC Championships in Toronto.

Khamica Bingham – Track & Field
A 2020 humanities graduate, the 27-year-old sprinter from Brampton, Ont., has played a key role in Canada’s Olympic efforts since she joined Canada nationally. She is a two-time medallist in the Pan American Games, earning a silver with Canada at Lima 2019 and a bronze at Toronto 2015. Bingham made her Olympic debut at Rio 2016 where she anchored the 4x100m relay team to a sixth-place finish, in what was Canada’s first Olympic final in the event since Los Angeles 1984. She missed advancing to the 100m semifinals by just one place. In 2013, she represented Canada at the Universiade, finishing fourth in the 100m semis.

Arthur Szwarc – Indoor Volleyball
Szwarc was a Lion for two seasons, earning accolades in both years for men’s volleyball. His team won an OUA bronze medal in 2015 and he was named a CIS second team all-star in 2016. While at York University, he also represented Canada at the 2015 Universiade and FIVB Junior World Championship and won bronze at the 2015 U21 Pan Am Cup. Szwarc turned pro in 2017, joining French club Arago de Sète for two seasons and being named the Best Middle Blocker of Ligue A in 2018. He then moved to Italian side, Top Volley Cisterna. In January 2020, Szwarc was named best middle blocker at the NORCECA Continental Qualifier as Canada went undefeated to secure their spot at Tokyo 2020.

Syed Muhammad Haseeb Tariq – Swimming
Tariq is a York University graduate from the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies. During his time at York, he was a member of the York University Lions competitive swim team, holding the position of team treasurer and then team president in his final year. Tariq began swimming competitively at the age of 15, and in 2015 he broke his own York school record by swimming a 27.40s in the 50m backstroke at the 2015 OUA championships. He competed for his native Pakistan at the South Asian Games in 2016, earning four gold medals during the trials in 2015. He won the 50m and 100m freestyle events and also broke two national records in winning the 50m and 100m backstroke events.

Athletic therapists

Joining the Canadian Olympic team is alumna Andrea Prieur, a certified athletic therapist who will be part of the Health Services team. Prier will be working hard to keep Team Canada healthy during this very unusual Olympic Games. A York alumna, she earned a certificate in sport therapy in 1997. She is well-versed in major multisport events, having served as a therapist at the 2012 London and 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games; at several Pan American Games, including most recently in 2015; and at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, in 2014. She has also worked as part of the integrated support team for the Canadian diving team since 2010 for events around the world. She was also Team Canada’s chief therapist for the 2019 FISU (International University Sports Federation) Summer Games.

Natalie Ghobrial is  in Tokyo with the Women’s Softball team as their athletic therapist. Ghobrial is a York University alumna who and former member of the Lions varsity lacrosse team and varsity soccer team.

York and CUPE 3903, Units 1, 2 and 3 successfully negotiate renewal collective agreements

Vari Hall

The following is a message from Provost and Vice-President Academic Lisa Philipps and Vice-President Equity, People & Culture Sheila Cote-Meek:

On behalf of the University, we are very pleased that CUPE 3903, Units 1, 2, and 3 and the University have successfully negotiated renewal collective agreements for the period 2020 to 2023.

These three-year agreements are in keeping with the mandate directed by the provincial government’s Bill 124. These collective agreements also make important advances in the areas of equity, diversity and inclusion through language and other changes to terms and conditions that we expect will support CUPE 3903 and York’s shared commitment to building a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

The University looks forward to working with CUPE 3903 and mediator Chris Albertyn on a new joint committee that will be established expressly for the purpose of making recommendations for a new, comprehensive job stability program for CUPE 3903 Unit 2.

We would like to express our sincere thanks to the members of both bargaining teams for their hard work toward achieving negotiated agreements, while also successfully adjusting to bargaining in a virtual/remote environment.

Lisa Philipps,
Provost and Vice-President Academic

Sheila Cote-Meek,
Vice-President Equity, People & Culture

York University PhD student receives Autism Scholars Award

Carly Albaum

Carly Albaum
Carly Albaum

The Autism Scholars Awards recognize outstanding researchers working to establish novel treatment options and services for children with autism. This year’s recipient of the $20,000 Doctoral Award is Carly Albaum, a PhD student in York University’s Clinical Developmental Psychology program. Focused on better understanding the conditions that lead to positive results in psychotherapy, Albaum’s research describes the parameters that allow mental health interventions to be successful for children on the autism spectrum.

Adding to Ontario’s scope of diagnosis and assessment, along with the quality of its treatment system, the Autism Scholars Awards Program supports innovative ideas with the potential to positively impact the lives of families across Canada. The program is funded by the Council of Ontario Universities to ensure that the province continues to promote cutting-edge scholarship in autism, a condition that, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, affects one in 66 children.

Albaum’s research investigates the impact of different components of psychotherapy in the achievement of successful treatment outcomes for children with autism. Centred on improving our understanding of why certain children benefit from psychological treatment while others do not, her work outlines the standards that allow mental health interventions to be effective for all youth with autism.

Concerned with process elements common to treatments across different types of therapy, Albaum’s research hopes to elucidate exactly who benefits from psychotherapy and why. Interested in the care of those with social and communication difficulties, she examines factors such as the role of parents in supporting youth involvement in therapy sessions, and the relationship between client and therapist to enhance the mental health of children on the autism spectrum who are often unable to fully engage in psychological interventions.

Providing new insight into how processual components are related to specific treatment results, Albaum’s work translates theoretical knowledge into more effective practices and services. Helping to inform mental health-care providers of the most compelling therapeutic methods, she aims to ensure that all youth with autism, along with their families, can benefit from psychotherapy.

Albaum received both her bachelor of arts with specialized honours and her master of arts from York. Her undergraduate thesis focused on expressed emotion in parents of children with autism, while her master’s project examined therapeutic alliance in cognitive behaviour therapy for children on the autism spectrum. Her interest in positive psychology aided the completion of her clinical training at the Toronto District School Board and at Mackenzie Health’s Shaw Clinic, Child and Family Services. She continues to be actively involved in advancing the mental health of her community as well as the standards of scholarly excellence in the field of autism research.

Interim update on provincial guidance for the fall term

People walk through Vari Hall, which is located on York U's Keele campus

The following is an important message to the York community from York University Provost and Vice-President Academic, Lisa Philipps, and Provost and Vice-President Research and Innovation, Amir Asif.

Dear York community, 

Late last week, the deputy minister of colleges and universities (MCU) distributed a memo providing guidance to the post-secondary sector for Fall 2021 planning, based on progressing vaccination rates in Ontario and continued improvements in public health indicators. This guidance includes:

  • the resumption of all in-person instruction and on-campus activities without capacity limits;
  • no physical distancing requirements; and
  • the continuing requirement for masks and face coverings to be worn in indoor spaces.

It is important to note that post-secondary education (PSE) institutions will still be required to follow relevant public health and workplace safety requirements. The MCU will be releasing an updated Postsecondary Education Public Health Measures Framework in early August 2021 with further information, including the requirement for all PSE institutions to have Continuity of Education Plans in place before September, in the event of a disruption to in-person teaching and learning.

The guidance from the MCU is welcomed news, as it provides greater clarity for us as we continue to plan for the gradual reopening of our campuses. As has been the case in our planning throughout the pandemic, we will continue to put the safety and well-being of our community first, in order to allow us to resume in-person activities on our campuses with confidence.

We also appreciate that many course directors may have already made plans based on the confirmed mode of delivery loaded onto our system this past week. Students have also begun to register for courses based on the information provided, regarding requirements for on-campus/in-person or online/remote delivery. Those plans provide a strong foundation for increasing activities on our campuses while meeting the diverse needs of our students as we prepare for the fall. We will therefore proceed with the mix of in-person/on-campus and remote/online activities as planned.

Hopefully, the improvements in our public health situation will allow for increased in-person/on-campus activities, including instructor/student meets and co-curricular and extracurricular student events. However, broadly speaking, the MCU guidance does not materially impact our fall term plans. Specifically, the University does not intend to convert existing courses or meets that have been marked for remote or online delivery to in-person delivery.

For the remainder of the summer term, as mentioned in our last community update, York University continues to maintain existing two-metre physical distancing requirements, while some fitness and in-person research activities involving human participants will resume under Step 3. We also continue to ask that those who wish to come to campus at this time request access via the Campus Access System.

Further details about the fall term will be shared with you by early August. In the coming weeks, more information will also be shared via weekly Wellness Wednesday Return to Campus Special Issues and on the Better Together website. If you have questions about York’s safe return to campus that are not currently covered under the FAQs, please feel free to submit them here.

Lisa Philipps
Provost and Vice-President Academic 

Amir Asif
Vice-President Research and Innovation