York’s Institute for Technoscience & Society looks to shape public debate, policy

Institute for Technoscience & Society web page graphic cropped
Credit: Zoran Svilar

York University’s Institute for Technoscience & Society (ITS), established in 2022 as an Associated Research Centre of the new Connected Minds: Neural and Machine Systems for a Healthy, Just Society initiative, is on a mission to build a global hub focused on the complex relationship between technoscience – the scientific study of how humans interact with technology – and society. In particular, the institute is committed to unravelling the configuration of social power that underpins science, medicine, technology and innovation.

According to Professor Kean Birch, the inaugural director of ITS, the institute was established to cement York’s international standing and reputation in disciplines such as science and technology studies, communication and media studies, design, critical data studies, the history and philosophy of science, and other related fields in which York is a global leader. Aligned with the University’s Strategic Research Plan, especially when it comes to the topics of digital cultures and disruptive technologies, its members are actively engaged in research on the social, political, and economic implications of artificial intelligence (AI) and neuroscience.

Kean Birch
Kean Birch

Birch is enthusiastic about the future of research in this area: “We’re seeing a lot of interest in these topics,” he says, “especially in the societal implications of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and other digital technologies.”

He insists, however, the institute’s depth in expertise is not limited to those areas, extending into topics such as the history of science through games design, the global governance of biotechnology and pharmaceutical innovation.

To support this diversity of knowledge, ITS is organized into the following four research clusters to help create synergies and support collaboration:

  • Technoscientific Injustices, which deals with the implications of emerging technoscience, its impacts on different social groups, and how to create just and inclusive science and technologies;
  • Technoscientific Economies, which deals with the entanglement of science and with different economies, what kinds of innovation get promoted by which kinds of economy, and how to support responsible and inclusive innovation;
  • Technoscientific Pasts & Futures, which deals with how the future of science and technology is bound up with our pasts and how the past helps us to build hopeful visions of and policies for the future; and
  • Technoscientific Bodies & Minds, which deals with the societal implications of prevailing understandings of health risks, diseases, and health-care delivery, as well as how prevailing understandings reinforce social injustices, inequities and divisions.

The institute is making its impact known in Canadian debates about the role of science and technology in society. Recently, Birch was interviewed by the CBC about the U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit against Apple Inc. for antitrust violations; and his recent opinion pieces about personal data as a collective asset and the social costs of generative AI were published in the Globe and Mail.

ITS plans to continue on this trajectory through regular events and policy briefing papers, as well as interventions in public and policy debates.

“York is incredibly well-placed to make an important social, political, and economic impact when it comes to these issues,” explains Birch, “because of the institutional strength and expertise of faculty and early career researchers here.”

YSpace program gets boost for under-represented founders

hands holding out food banner

YSpace will receive more than $476,000 in new funding from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) over the next two years to expand its Food & Beverage Accelerator program across the country and support over 100 racialized and women founders to scale and thrive in the industry.

YSpace created Ontario’s first food and beverage accelerator in 2019 to help grow consumer packaged goods ventures in the field. The five-month program provides customized workshops, expert mentorship and peer-to-peer circles to ventures as they develop their strategy, grow their network and scale their business.

To date, the YSpace accelerator has supported 93 ventures and over 200 entrepreneurs who are scaling into mass retail, raising funds and getting acquired. Many ventures in the program have seen exponential growth and established valuable connections in the industry.

YSpace Food Accelerator entrepreneurs gather at the September 2023 Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA) Pitch Competition. From left: Ari Alli – Noble Snacks, Charlene Li – EATABLE, Kieran Klassen – Heartwood Farm & Cidery, Dominique Mastronardi – The Happy Era, Rebecca Prime – Beck’s Broth, Muna Mohammed – eight50 Coffee).
YSpace Food Accelerator entrepreneurs gather at the September 2023 Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA) Pitch Competition.
From left: Ari Alli, Charlene Li, Kieran Klassen, Dominique Mastronardi, Rebecca Prime and Muna Mohammed.

One example is EATABLE, a company that produces all-natural gourmet popcorn with flavours inspired by classic cocktails, wines and spirits, which has expanded their retail footprint to over 1,600 doors across Canada and the U.S. “As part of the YSpace Food Accelerator, we connected with industry experts who helped us grow 19 times in revenues since our launch in 2019,” says Charlene Li, co-founder and CEO.

Another example is Zing, which creates vegan and gluten-free condiments and seasoning salts that are designed to be pantry shortcuts. It is available in over 400 retail doors across Canada and the U.S. “YSpace programming and mentorship helped our company develop and execute an effective retail strategy that allowed us transition from an e-commerce to an omni-channel business,” says co-founder and CEO Jannine Rane.

The new funding provided by the AAFC’s AgriDiversity Program will support under-represented groups in the food and beverage industry and help provide them with the resources to build their entrepreneurial and business skills. The program was created under the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a $3.5-billion, five-year agreement between the federal, provincial and territorial governments to strengthen the agriculture, agri‐food and agri‐based products sector.

“We are thrilled that our Food & Beverage Accelerator will soon be able to support racialized and women founders nationally,” says David Kwok, director of entrepreneurship and innovation at YSpace. “We have built a robust and impactful program, and now with the funding resources to serve these groups, we can expand not only our reach but impact across Canada.”

In his role as Canada’s minister of agriculture and agri-food, Lawrence MacAulay has seen first-hand how integral women are to creating a thriving economy. “A more diverse and inclusive labour force can provide significant benefits to the agriculture sector by supporting competitiveness and risk management, innovation and rural vitality, and sustainable growth,” he says.

The new Food & Beverage Accelerator program will build and implement specialized tools and resources to support the unique challenges faced by under-represented groups in the consumer packaged goods and agri-food sector. To achieve this, YSpace will be leveraging its expertise from both ELLA, which provides dedicated programming for women entrepreneurs, and the Black Entrepreneurship Alliance, which provides specialized streams for Black entrepreneurs to better engage with those communities. YSpace will also look to leverage those experiences and expertise to consciously expand its offering into other under-represented communities in consultation with those communities.

“This specialized and comprehensive programming designed for under-represented communities doesn’t quite exist yet on a national level and will fill an ecosystem gap in the consumer packaged goods and agri-food sector,” says Judy Wong, consumer packaged goods program advisor at YSpace. “This is incredibly important for both our economy and the entrepreneurial ecosystem to further drive growth and innovation in the agri-food sector.”

Further information about YSpace and its diverse programming for existing and aspiring entrepreneurs can be found through its website.

York Libraries prototypes curricular offerings for Markham Campus

person holding poster board with the word innovation and related sketches

By Elaine Smith 

With the opening of York University’s Markham Campus less than a year away, the team at York University Libraries is busy bringing to life carefully crafted plans for this hub of innovation. The preparation includes being attuned to the needs of students and faculty, who will be seeking assistance and embarking on experiential learning opportunities. 

“We have been involved since the early days, connecting the common threads on this innovation-oriented campus and collaborating with the teaching faculty,” said Kris Joseph, director of digital scholarship infrastructure for York University Libraries. Those common threads include building the framework to support digital literacy and designing experiential learning opportunities in the library, which requires having the infrastructure and the programs to support them.  

“We are partnering with faculty early to co-design assignments and learning objectives, and to ensure that we have the resources, equipment and tools that students will need to successfully complete their assignments,” said Joseph. “It’s essential that we design assignments so that students can think critically about the technology they are using. We’re prepared to help students achieve a broad and nuanced understanding. In our planning, we also consider the kinds of accommodations that may be needed by students to ensure that our tools and resources are as accessible as possible to all.”  

A large portion of the library space at Markham will be flexible learning space, but there will also be a gaming, extended reality (XR) and data visualization space, media editing suites and a makerspace, building upon the offerings of the Media Creation Lab on the Keele Campus. The spaces allow opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration, something that appeals to faculty members like Andrew Sarta

Sarta, an assistant professor of strategy in the School of Administrative Studies, is an expert in organizational adaptation and behavioural strategy within environments undergoing social or technological change, who will be teaching a course about technological creativity and innovation at the Markham Campus. He is one of the future Markham professors who is testing his course design at the Keele Campus to ensure the curriculum will work well. He toured the existing Media Creation Lab spaces at the Scott Library to get a better feel for how to integrate the library facilities and experience into the course. 

York University Libraries has hired a new librarian to oversee the Markham Campus library, and he’ll have the coming year to prepare. Ted Belke joined York University from the Toronto Public Library (TPL) system, where he worked as senior service specialist, innovation.  

“Ted was instrumental in the creation of the TPL Digital Innovation Hubs, so we’re fortunate to have a librarian with experience in setting up leading-edge digital spaces,” said Joseph. “TPL is also a leader in community partnerships, so he’ll bring a lot of that knowledge to the table.” 

Another new addition to the York University Libraries faculty is an experiential education (EE) librarian, Jenna Stidwill, PhD, who has experience with developing experiential education and using innovative and cutting-edge technologies. She will support library-based EE across all campuses, developing a program to ensure students have EE placements across the various York libraries. Many of the Markham courses will be tied to industry partners, and she and Belke will also further the library’s role in supporting industry-sponsored placements.  

“The libraries are at the heart of research and knowledge production at York,” said Joseph. “We help people think critically about information and different forms of media so they can determine what is valuable and how to synthesize it. This is important no matter how many types of technology are involved.” 

Tour highlights Markham Campus construction updates

Markham Mayor Frank Scarpetti and York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton at the Markham Campus construction site

On Sept. 12, a hard hat tour provided an opportunity for York University and Markham community leaders to interact with the spaces within the Markham Campus building and begin to envision the many ways in which students, faculty, community members and industry partners will be able to use them.

President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton, and Markham Campus Interim Deputy Provost Dan Palermo were joined by Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti, members of the local council and senior city staff for a hard hat tour of the Markham Campus to explore the latest updates to the site.

With several of the floors nearing completion, and the 10-storey building now fully enclosed, the campus site continues to be a hive of activity. Work is taking place outside to prepare the site for all of the hard- and soft-surface landscaping, while inside the building construction crews continue to make progress to ensure the building is ready to open to the inaugural cohort of students in September 2024.

“This building is a fitting representation of the new programs York University is excited to launch here in Fall 2024,” says Palermo. “It’s incredible to see the progress being made, and to share that with the council and Mayor Scarpitti – key enablers to this campus’ inception – made it a truly memorable experience. I believe our students, in particular, will be thrilled with the building and happy to call it their new home, which is truly designed with them in mind.”

Lenton and Palermo provided a sneak peek inside the building for Markham community leaders as it nears its completion, in recognition of how Markham City Council, under the leadership of Scarpitti, have been core supporters of the campus. The campus would not have been possible without their generous donation of land on which the building is situated.

Here is a photo gallery of the latest updates highlighted by the tour.


Updated: AGYU to debut public art series with City of Markham

York University's Accolade Galleria, Keele Campus

Update: New information after publication of this article indicates the Sept. 10 launch event has been cancelled, and the first edition of this program entitled “Bicycle” will not proceed. Continue to read YFile for further updates on this project.

The Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) has partnered with the City of Markham to launch a two-year public art series called Façade, in which four artists will be commissioned by four different curators to each develop a 127- by 32-foot photomural for the west façade of the Markham Pan Am Centre in Markham, Ont.

A 2023 artwork by Julian Yi-Zhong Hou called "Bicycle"
Julian Yi-Zhong Hou, Bicycle, 2023 (detail)

The series invites four artists to explore the performative potential of an architectural element as public space and to contemplate the layered identity of a place through the lens of their artistic and theoretical concerns.

Each of the artworks presented in Façade will bring a distinct perspective to this series, in both artistic approach and content. The projects will be unveiled consecutively, beginning with Bicycle by B.C.-based multidisciplinary artist Julian Yi-Zhong Hou, and be curated by Yan Wu, public art curator for the City of Markham.

The rest of the series will include work by northern Minnesota- and Chicago-based visual artist Andrea Carlson, curated by AGYU assistant curator of exhibitions Clara Halpern; and Berlin-based artist Aleksandra Domanović, curated by AGYU director and curator Jenifer Papararo; with a final project curated by Mariam Zulfiqar, director of British arts organization Artangel.

“This collaboration between the AGYU and the City of Markham’s Public Art Program reflects the essence of the project Façade itself – a liminal space where exterior and interior meet, where rigid dividing lines open and where art becomes a bridge to the public,” said Papararo. “Just as the artworks in this new public art series address complex issues of belonging and identity, the partnership between the AGYU and the City of Markham’s Public Art Program invites us to reimagine the potential of education, culture and its impact in defining communities.”

Chosen as the architectural host of Façade, the Markham Pan Am Centre is a multipurpose community and aquatics centre designed to serve as one of the venues for the 2015 Pan American Games, and is adjacent to where York University is constructing its new Markham Campus, scheduled to open in 2024, which will focus on technology and entrepreneurship, hosting programs in science, engineering, the arts and more.

A family-friendly launch event, free and open to all, will kick off the Façade public art series on Sept. 10, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Markham Pan Am Centre. The event will feature drag performances by Haus of Devereaux, with a special guest appearance by Lady Boi Bangkok; tarot card readings by FASTWÜRMS; I Ching readings by Yam Lau, associate professor in York’s Department of Visual Art and Art History; food trucks; and the big reveal of Yi-Zhong Hou’s new photomural.

“We’re delighted that AMPD Professor Yam Lau will be a part of the AGYU’s exciting series in Markham,” said Sarah Bay-Cheng, dean of York’s School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD), “and we look forward to future collaborations, with the opening of the Creative Technologies program in fall 2024.”

Façade photomural on-view dates:

  • September 2023 to March 2024: Bicycle by Julian Yi-Zhong Hou, curated by Yan Wu, public art curator for the City of Markham.
  • April to September 2024: Project by Andrea Carlson, Curated by Clara Halpern, Assistant Curator, AGYU.
  • September 2024 to April 2025: Project by Aleksandra Domanović, Curated by Jenifer Papararo, Director/Curator, AGYU.
  • April to September 2025: Project curated by Mariam Zulfiqar, Director, Artangel, U.K.

Free bus transportation will be available from downtown Toronto (Spadina Avenue and Bloor Street West) to the launch event, subject to capacity; contact Maria Won at mwon11@yorku.ca to register. For more information about the Façade launch event or the public art series, visit facadepublicart.ca.

Dan Palermo appointed interim deputy provost, Markham Campus

Markham Campus Right the Future

Le français suit la version anglaise.

Dear colleagues,

I am pleased to inform the York community that Professor Dan Palermo has accepted our invitation to assume the role of Interim Deputy Provost, Markham for a term commencing on July 1, 2023.

Dan Palermo
Dan Palermo

Professor Palermo previously served as Vice Dean at the Lassonde School of Engineering, where he oversaw all academic matters for the school. He is also a Professor of Structural Engineering in the Department of Civil Engineering and serves as an Associate Editor for the Canadian Journal of Civil Engineering (CJCE).

In 2018, Dr. Palermo received the York University President’s University-Wide Teaching Award and the distinction of Fellow from the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering. This same year, he was recognized as one of the 2018 Outstanding Associate Editors for the Canadian Journal of Civil Engineering – an accolade that recognizes the efforts and commitment of exceptional members of the journal’s editorial board.

Prior to joining York University, Dan was a faculty member at the University of Ottawa between 2005 and 2013 and at the University of Calgary in 2004. His research interests include seismic repair and retrofit of concrete structures, seismic applications of shape memory alloys and tsunami-induced loading of structures, among other key areas in the field of civil engineering.

I look forward to working with Professor Palermo as he brings new leadership to this important role at the University. I hope that all members of the York University community will join us in congratulating him.

Please share this announcement with your colleagues as appropriate.


Lisa Philipps
Provost & Vice-President Academic

Dan Palermo nommé recteur adjoint par intérim du campus Markham

Chers collègues, Chères collègues,

J’ai le plaisir d’informer la communauté de York que le professeur Dan Palermo a accepté notre invitation à assumer le rôle de recteur adjoint par intérim du campus Markham à partir du 1er juillet 2023.

Dan Palermo
Dan Palermo

Le professeur Palermo est l’ancien vice-doyen de l’École de génie Lassonde, où il supervisait toutes les affaires académiques. Il est également professeur d’ingénierie des structures au Département de génie civil et rédacteur en chef adjoint de la revue Canadian Journal of Civil Engineering (CJCE).

En 2018, M. Palermo a reçu le Prix d’enseignement de la présidente de l’Université York et est devenu membre de la Société canadienne de génie civil. La même année, il a été reconnu comme l’un des corédacteurs exceptionnels de CJCE – une distinction qui reconnaît les efforts et l’engagement de membres exceptionnels du comité éditorial de la revue.

Auparavant, M. Palermo a été professeur à l’Université de Calgary en 2004 et à l’Université d’Ottawa de 2005 à 2013. Ses recherches portent notamment sur la réparation et la modernisation sismiques des structures en béton, les applications sismiques des alliages à mémoire de forme et la charge des structures induite par les tsunamis, parmi d’autres domaines clés du génie civil.

J’ai hâte de travailler avec le professeur Palermo qui saura donner une nouvelle impulsion à cette fonction importante de l’Université. J’espère que tous les membres de la communauté universitaire de York se joindront à moi pour le féliciter.

Veuillez diffuser cette annonce auprès de vos collègues s’il y a lieu.

Sincères salutations,

Lisa Philipps
Rectrice et vice-présidente aux affaires académiques

York University’s Markham Campus welcomes community to first Spring Showcase

Markham Centre Campus FEATURED image

York University’s Markham Campus held its first Spring Showcase on May 18, 2023, at Yspace Markham, inviting the community to learn about the new campus and its programs. The event drew in hundreds of community members eager to learn more about a world-renowned higher education institution like York University establishing roots in Markham and York Region.

Student volunteers, staff and faculty members showcased the unique programs and features that will make Markham Campus an exciting addition to the region. The buzz from families and prospective students contributed to an evening of excitement and anticipation for the new campus.

High school students shared enthusiasm for the convenient location of the campus, as well as the opportunity to learn more about the programs it will offer.

Students and professors mingle at the Markham Campus Spring Showcase
Parents and prospective students speaking with program representatives at the Spring Showcase information fair

Gordon Binsted, deputy provost for Markham Campus, kickstarted the event with an insightful information session delivered in the Markham Cineplex. He outlined the tech-forward and entrepreneurial programs and key features of the campus before inviting attendees to ask questions. Audience questions ranged from specific programs of interest to access to public transit to transportation between campuses to the campus’ anticipated opening date. Attendees also learned:

  • Markham Campus is located next to nearby transit options with increased service plans currently in the works for GO’s Unionville Station (only a five-minute walk from the campus);
  • plans are underway for a shuttle between the Keele and Markham campuses; and
  • future students can apply as soon as this fall for programs beginning at the campus in Fall 2024.

“Imagine having all the amenities and opportunities of a larger campus like Keele Campus, but in a more intimate setting at the Markham Campus,” says Binsted. ”You’ll have the opportunity to connect with professors and classmates on a more personal level and access a wide range of resources and amenities right on campus. Moreover, every program emphasizes experiential education, providing you with hands-on learning experiences in the community, labs, and work-integrated settings. This not only equips you with valuable work experience but also creates a positive impact on the surrounding community.”

One of the highlights of the evening was the information fair, featuring program booths representing Markham Campus programs. Prospective students and their parents were able to interact with faculty members and program representatives, gaining valuable insights into their programs of interest and empowering them to make informed decisions about their educational journeys. This interactive experience helped attendees envision the endless possibilities and opportunities that await them at the new campus.

Group photo of Markham Campus Spring Showcase volunteer organizers
Student volunteers, faculty, and staff members who contributed to the success of the event

“I’m really excited about the co-op placement aspect of the Markham Campus programs,” says Melissa Agaba, an international development studies student at York University. “This is especially helpful for newcomers and first-time students since they won’t have to wait until post-grad to gain valuable experience. They can avoid the frantic scramble in their final year to secure work experience.”

“This showcase was an excellent opportunity to share the excitement around art and technology, and to bring to life the collective vision we have been working on at Markham Campus,” says Rebecca Caines, professor, creative technologies. “It feels like we’re one step closer to moving into the campus and making exciting things happen.”

Anesa Albert, associate director of communications, recruitment and digital engagement, Faculty of Graduate Studies, says she was impressed with the turnout from those interested in graduate programs. Prospective graduate students expressed a keen interest in the integrated work experience component of programs, she said.

“As a biomedical student, I’m specifically interested in the new Biotechnology Management program,” says Oluwatimileyin Aina, a biomedical science student at York University. “I’m looking forward to seeing the new environment, meeting new people, and exploring new opportunities. I feel like Markham Campus will be the next big thing in Ontario.”

When Markham Campus opens its doors in Spring 2024, it will be a hub of innovation, learning and collaboration, further enriching the vibrant communities of Markham and York Region.

Visit www.yorku.ca/markham to learn more about Markham Campus.

York, Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce partner to create positive change

York University and the Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce (CBCC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to create positive change for Black-owned businesses and social enterprises by reducing barriers to commerce and driving inclusive economic growth

York University has taken steps to create positive change for Black-owned businesses and social enterprises through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce (CBCC).

The agreement, signed March 13, is a first between York and the CBCC and recognizes the important work the chamber does in supporting Black-owned businesses – creating a pathway for CBCC members to fast track their applications in York’s first-of-its-kind Social Procurement Vendor Portal. The new agreement also commits both organizations to share knowledge and best practices to break down barriers.

Social procurement seeks to increase community benefit by being intentional about how an organization buys its goods and services. Recognizing the way the University purchases goods and services can foster inclusive economic growth and has a positive impact on surrounding communities, York was one of Canada’s first universities to establish a comprehensive Social Procurement Policy.

Following the MOU signing, York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton moderated a discussion about inclusive economic recovery featuring panelists, Doug Minter (centre), Mgt Consultant/Elevate Program Manager, Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce, Olu Villasa (right), Manager, Black Entrepreneurship Alliance, Black Creek Community Health Centre, as well as Anne Jamieson, Senior Manager, Inclusive Employment, United Way Greater Toronto, and Carol McAulay, Vice-President, Finance and Administration, York University.
Following the MOU signing, York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton moderated a discussion about inclusive economic recovery featuring panelists: Doug Minter, Mgt Consultant/Elevate program manager, Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce; Olu Villasa, manager, Black Entrepreneurship Alliance, Black Creek Community Health Centre; as well as Anne Jamieson, senior manager, Inclusive Employment, United Way Greater Toronto; and Carol McAulay, vice-president, finance and administration, York University

“York is a leader in creating positive change toward a more equitable, inclusive and sustainable future and we recognize the importance of academia in convening people and ideas for meaningful action,” says York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton. “As an anchor institution, we have an opportunity and an obligation to lead by example and maximize our economic and social impact on the communities around us. I want to congratulate York’s social procurement team and the Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce on this milestone agreement aimed at leveling the playing field for Black-owned businesses and social enterprises.”

By keeping community economic development as a core principle, social procurement helps create more sustainable and prosperous communities. The premise is simple: as York grows, local communities should share in the success.

“CBCC is excited to sign the MOU with our natural partner York University,” says Jamila Aman, executive director, Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce. “At CBCC we actively seek to promote, improve trade and commerce as well as the economic, civic and social welfare of Black and Afro-Canadians. We develop programs aimed at creating a high level of economic awareness at all community, educational, and political levels for the benefit of our members.”

In 2022, York launched its Social Procurement Vendor Portal, becoming the first university in Ontario – and one of the first in Canada – to open its procurement process to non-third party certified diverse vendors and social enterprises. By actively identifying and contracting with diverse-owned businesses and social enterprises, and others who disproportionately experience unemployment or underemployment and discrimination, York has prioritized vendor diversity through both its Social Procurement Policy and its Social Procurement Vendor Portal.

>>Find out how diverse-owned businesses and social enterprises can choose one of two paths to register on York’s Social Procurement Vendor Portal

This innovative drive to change how the University buys goods and services, is highlighted in how York is building its new 10-storey, 400,000-square-foot Markham Campus, set to open in Spring 2024. Through the new policy, vendors are being drawn from across the community and so far, $5.8 million has been spent at businesses headquartered and operated in York Region in fields like concrete, building supplies and technical consultations. And in response to the Social Procurement Policy, York’s construction partner Stuart Olson and their subcontractors have hired 15 equity-deserving apprentices.

Learn more at News @ York.

York celebrates Markham Campus construction milestone and major gift

Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti, Ontario Minister of Colleges and Universities Jill Dunlop, York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton and Metropia Founder and CEO Howard Sokolowski
Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti, Ontario Minister of Colleges and Universities Jill Dunlop, York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton and Metropia Founder and CEO Howard Sokolowski

A milestone event at the Markham Campus involved a ceremonial signing and installation of the final structural beam and a $5-million donation from Metropia.

Markham topping off
The final beam for the Markham Campus structure was moved into place during a topping off ceremony

York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton, together with dignitaries, University leadership, local community members and philanthropists, marked an important phase in the building of its new Markham Campus with a topping-off ceremony Feb. 1 and the announcement of a $5-million donation toward capital construction costs from Metropia, presented by Howard Sokolowski, a York alumnus and the company’s founder and CEO.

The milestone was recognized with a ceremonial signing of the final beam of the Markham Campus structure. The final structural I-beam was then lifted and placed by a crane – completing the building’s frame. 

The $5-million donation from Metropia and Sokolowski will go toward the capital construction costs of the campus. In honour of this gift, the student success centre on the first and second floors of the new building will be named the Metropia Student Success Centre.

Watch the video below for more on the topping off ceremony and gift announcement. The Markham Campus is set to open in Spring 2024.

Long-serving faculty member creates bursary award for Markham students

Markham Centre Campus FEATURED image

A new bursary award for York University’s Markham Campus students will honour the contributions and legacy of Professor Alice Pitt who currently serves as senior advisor, Markham Academic Strategic Planning.

Alice Pitt
Alice Pitt

Pitt has been a faculty member at York since 1995, serving the University in leadership roles such as vice-provost academic (2012-20), Faculty of Education dean (2008-12), and Faculty of Education associate dean (2002-07).

The award will honour her contributions to York University while expanding financial support for students.

The $25,000 donation from Pitt will create an endowed bursary to benefit continuing undergraduate students entering their final year in a Markham Campus program and experiencing financial hardship. Each year, one recipient will receive approximately $1,000 from the Alice Pitt Bursary. The award will be available through Student Financial Services once the campus opens in Spring 2024.

Pitt credits the inspiration and wisdom of colleagues and students for her successful career at York.

“Working with colleagues from every corner of the university and in conversation with the Markham and York Region communities has been such fun and gave my creativity and curious mind lots of stimulation,” says Pitt. “From designing welcoming spaces to facilitating conversations across programs about student learning and experience, I have learned so much.”

She hopes her donation will inspire others to contribute in ways that increase access to post-secondary education for future generations. In addition to her current gift, Pitt has also made arrangements in her will for a future gift to continue support for students in financial need at York’s Markham and Keele campuses.

“York University is proud of the diversity of its student body and is always looking for ways to provide what students need to flourish, to articulate their goals, and to achieve them,” says Pitt. “It is important to me that students who attend York at the Markham Campus have access to supports designed with them in mind and from the time the doors open.”

Increased access to high-quality university education in general and increased access for those who might not seek out university study stand to strengthen communities and improve opportunities, she says.

“We are very grateful for Alice’s continued support for Markham Campus,” said Gordon Binsted, deputy provost, Markham. “She has been instrumental in getting the campus off the ground and her contributions exemplify the community spirit that we hope to foster at the campus.”

Markham Campus will embed York University in the heart of one of the most diverse and dynamic urban communities in the province and country. The impressive facility will feature 10 floors of teaching and learning spaces and plenty of common areas to meet, study and collaborate.