Passings: Professor Marcia Hampton Rioux

A field of flowers at sunset

Marcia Hampton Rioux (née Gautschi), OC, a Distinguished Research Professor and Professor Emerita in the School of Health Policy and Management in York University’s Faculty of Health, died peacefully in her Toronto home on Sept. 20, surrounded by love and family. A brilliant, funny, approachable and compassionate academic, she was a respected member of the York University community.

Nationally and internationally, Professor Rioux was regarded as a leading legal scholar and pioneer in the field of human rights and equity. Born on May 16, 1947, in Trail, B.C., she began her career at the Royal Commission on the Status of Women and later worked at the Law Reform Commission of Canada. She held a PhD in jurisprudence and social policy from the University of California, Berkeley. In addition to being named a Distinguished Research Professor by York University, Professor Rioux was the director at York University’s Institute for Health Research. She was the co-founder and first Chair of the School of Health Policy & Management as well as the Critical Disabilities Studies program.

Marcia Rioux

Passionate and engaged, Professor Rioux was devoted to her students and took great pride in their accomplishments. She was a driving force in the promotion of disability rights and the enhancement of opportunities for marginalized people. She played a leadership role in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and published widely in the area of disability and human rights. She was a co-founder of Disability Rights Promotion International, which now monitors rights for people with disabilities in more than 62 countries. She was a Fellow of the Institutes of Advanced Studies in the U.K. and Australia.

Professor Rioux was the recipient of the Lieutenant Governor’s Community Volunteer Award in recognition of her contributions to Ontario communities. In 2014, she was invested into the Order of Canada for her scholarship in the field of social justice and for her advancement of the rights of persons with disabilities.

She edited a number of collected volumes and more than 70 book chapters and articles on human rights. Her most recent book was published in November 2015, Disability, Rights Monitoring and Social Change: Building Power out of Evidence (Eds. M.H. Rioux, P.Pinto, G. Parekh) Canadian Scholars Press.

Professor Rioux lectured throughout the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia. She was a visiting scholar and professor at a number of international institutions, including the University of Zagreb, Croatia and LaTrobe University in Australia.

In addition to her passion for her work and her students, Professor Rioux loved jazz music and art. She had many surrogate family members as well as a rich tapestry of friends throughout the world.

Courage was a staple in her character and she was never afraid to face challenges. She survived seven different cancers. She died of congestive heart failure.

She was the daughter of the late Edouard and Phyllis (née Gray) Gautschi; loving partner of Ezra Zubrow; sister of Jane Underwood (David) of Oakville, Ont., and Anne George of west Vancouver; and aunt to Kristen Underwood (Ottawa), Kathryn Underwood (Toronto), Marcia George (Ottawa) and Mary George (Vancouver).

In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory can be directed toward the Marcia H. Rioux Award in Critical Disability Studies, Human Rights and Social Justice at York University. Information is available at giving.yorku.ca/MarciaRiouxAward.

A memorial service for Professor Rioux will be held at a later date. Details will be updated on YFile.

Professor Rioux’s colleagues remember her

“Marcia is one of the first people I met when I came to York. Over the years I have learned so much from her dedicated activism on disability rights and from her mentorship. I will miss her as a dear colleague and friend.” – Marina Morrow, Chair of the School of Health Policy & Management, professor, Faculty of Health

“Marcia turned wrongs into ‘rights.’ She was a rare combination of thinker and a doer, who could attack a problem strategically. Our school and the field of Critical Disability Studies benefited enormously from her energy, passion and drive. She lived her life in the fast lane, with gusto, a constant twinkle in her eye and tremendous wit. Our on-going joke was that she could fly around the world and back but could she find where she had parked her car that day. It was always up in the air.” – Tamara Daly, professor, Faculty of Health

“Marcia was an exceptional colleague and leader. She installed a welcoming and collegial culture in the School of Health Policy & Management. That culture, shared by all, was and is of limitless value; it is a treasure that we should keep and nurture. She will always be remembered as exceptional, welcoming, and humble. We will miss you dearly, Marcia.” – Christo El Morr, associate professor, Faculty of Health

“Marcia hired me almost 20 years ago. In addition to her numerous professional accomplishments, Marcia was a women of tremendous substance – she cared deeply about others, always thinking about how to support and advance her more junior colleagues.  She was a highly principled individual who never hesitated to stand up and support the people and causes she believed in.  She was always direct and she was fierce in her commitment to better the world around her.  Her passing marks a tremendous loss for our school and for everyone who knew her.” – Liane Ginsburg, professor, Faculty of Health

“I first met Marcia Rioux at a coffee shop on Bloor St. in the summer of 2001 shortly after we had both been hired to be among the initial faculty at the newly created School of Health Policy and Management (SHPM). From the very beginning she struck me as a force of nature that one had no choice but to follow such was her wisdom and dedication to everything she got involved with. After a while, she became, as both she and my wife termed it, my ‘office wife,’ always guiding me in what to do and how to do it better. The current success of SHPM rests on her shoulders. She will be remembered not only for her academic prowess, but also for being a great friend and mentor to very many people.” – Dr. Joel Lexchin, MD, professor emeritus, Faculty of Health

“Marcia was an amazing scholar and activist who, more than anyone else, is responsible for the existence of the Critical Disability Studies (CDS) MA and PhD programs, though she would be the first to credit others who helped her along the way. She talked at times about the struggles it took to get the CDS program started in an academic culture, which perceived disabled people as being in need of ‘fixing’ rather than as equals. Marcia also credited colleagues inside and outside the academy who were supportive of her plans to make CDS the serious scholarly and activist-oriented program it has become.” – Geoffrey Reaume, associate professor, Faculty of Health

Passings: Ruth Schattner

A field of flowers at sunset

Former York University professor Ruth Schattner died on Aug. 10. She was a longtime faculty member in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies’ Department of French and Department of Humanities.

Ruth Schattner
Ruth Schattner

Schattner, born in Vienna, Austria in 1930, emigrated to New York City with her family in 1948. She attended Hunter College, and earned a bachelor’s degree in French in 1951. She moved to Canada shortly thereafter to study French at the PhD level at the University of Toronto, where she earned a scholarship. She was awarded her PhD in 1963 and accepted a role at York University in 1964 – first at Glendon Campus and then at the Keele Campus.

She was hired on to teach French language and literature, but was later cross-appointed to the Humanities Division. She was known for making her classes exciting by including music, art and theatre.

With a strong belief in the value of liberal education for all, Schattner accepted a part-time position at York University’s Atkinson College where she taught evening classes in addition to her regular faculty appointment. She continued in this role at Atkinson even after her retirement from full-time teaching.

Off campus, Schattner spent her time supporting and enjoying the arts – plays, concert and performances, as well as art and live music. For several years she served as docent at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

She is survived by daughters Evelyn Straka (Blake Landor), and Michèle Straka (Christopher Klugman), and son Alexander Schattner.

Passings: University Professor Emeritus Stuart G. Robbins

passings

Stuart Robbins
Stuart Robbins

Professor Emeritus Stuart G. Robbins died on Tuesday, June 8 in Calgary, two years to the day after the death of his wife, Pat. He is predeceased by his son Kevin and leaves behind his son Steve (Donna); granddaughters Hayley and Chelsea; his brother, David (Linda); and sister, Stella, along with an extensive global network of family, friends and colleagues at York University.

Born March 11, 1939, in Bognor Regis, England, Prof. Robbins, or “Stu” as he preferred to be known, emigrated to Edmonton in 1964 after he procured a lectureship position at the University of Alberta in the Faculty of Physical Education, the beginning of what would become a brilliant academic career. While working full-time, Stu completed his master’s degree in education at Washington State University and his PhD at the University of Alberta. During this time, Stu became a fixture in the Edmonton community and was recognized for his indelible impact on both community and varsity sport. He was the founder and inaugural coach of the University of Alberta Golden Bears soccer team and led them to their first national title in 1972, a success that was followed by a silver medal in 1973, an outcome declared by Stu “the result of a botch-up.” Coach Stu, as he was fondly addressed, was a national-level diving coach and the first director of coaching for the Alberta Soccer Association, something he did in his “spare” time.

In 1974, Stu moved to York University where he remained until retirement in 2000. During this stage of his career, he was an avid crusader for the importance of sport and recreation in the development of young minds and contributed to the advancement of the Department of Physical Education as it evolved into one of the top kinesiology programs in the country. Upon moving from Edmonton, the Robbins family settled in Georgetown, Ont., where the family was well recognized in the community. In 1997, Stu was awarded a University Professorship by the University for his extraordinary and innovative leadership not only at York, but for his professional service to the external community.

“Stu was not only the Chair of Physical Education and Athletics twice (1981-86 and 1989-96), but he also led the department into its transition to the School of Kinesiology and Health Science. As the executive officer in the school, I worked closely with him for eight years and, ever since, we remained very close friends,” said Steve Dranitsarius, now retired from York University. “His area of expertise was physical activity and children, and he worked internationally to advance physical activity in educational curricula principally through the Canadian International Development Agency. He was the innovator who introduced to the world the smaller soccer balls and smaller soccer fields for young children. At York, he also served as associate dean of education, Chair of the University Senate and as a faculty member on the Board of Governors.”

In 2000, Pat and Stu returned to the west, retiring in Calgary to be closer to their cherished grandchildren, a move that provided the opportunity to be actively involved in their academic and personal growth, something that was extremely important to Stu until his final days. Importantly, Stu also stood as a trusted mentor and role model for his son Steve as he followed in his footsteps and embarked on his own academic career.

Stu received many accolades during his life, but of specific note are the Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada, Canada’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002, and induction into the University of Alberta Sports Wall of Fame (class of 2007) and York University’s Hall of Fame (2009).

Stu was an active member of the United Church community, where in Edmonton he was a founding member of Southminster United Church and at St. Thomas United Church in Calgary he was a trusted voice that provided encouragement and comfort to the community. Whether in academia or in the community, Stu held that “my style of leadership was to bring people together and facilitate people doing things better,” a motto that will continue in his absence. A celebration of life will be held in his honour at St. Thomas United Church at a future time, when restrictions allow for all to participate (Stu was not a “virtual” guy).

If friends or colleagues so desire, in lieu of flowers, memorial tributes may be made directly to the Calgary Humane Society, 4455 110th Avenue S.E., Calgary, Alta., T2C 2T7, or to the Tim Horton Children’s Foundation, RR#2, 264 Glenmorris Road East, St. George, Ont., N0E 1N0.

A tree will be planted in Stu’s memory at the Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area in Calgary.

Passings: Professor Emeritus Robert (Bob) Allan

passings

Professor Emeritus Robert (Bob) Allan died June 5 following a battle with cancer. A cornerstone of York University’s Faculty of Science, Prof. Allan is remembered by many for his many contributions to York University.

Robert (Bob) Allan
Robert (Bob) Allan

After completing both undergraduate and graduate work at McMaster University, graduating with a PhD in Chemistry in 1967, Prof. Allan joined the faculty at the newly established York University where he helped build the science program. From 1972 to 1982 he served as Associate Dean in the Faculty of Science. Prof. Allan was a member of the York University Senate for many years while teaching introductory-level and third-year biochemistry courses. A particular delight for him was the organization and running of two Canada-wide Summer Science programs for 35 of Canada’s brightest and best science and math students, held at York University and Lakefield College School in Peterborough in 1969 and 1970. During his entire academic career, Prof. Allan enjoyed contributing, with his administrative mindset, to the betterment of the University.

For most of his adult life, the sport of curling was a favorite pastime for Prof. Allan. He enjoyed the challenge and camaraderie of the sport first at the Thornhill Golf Club where his late wife Dorothy and sons also curled. He was proud of his sons’ skill at the game. He served on the Curling Board of Directors at the club and was an Ontario Curling Association representative for Zone 7 for many years. When Prof. Allan moved from Thornhill to the country in Caledon, he had the opportunity to join the Orangeville Curling Club and found rewarding new friendships amongst the curlers in the Thursday morning jitney league.

A beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, cousin and friend, Prof. Allan was predeceased by his first wife Dorothy Hambly. He will be greatly missed by his remaining family: his beloved wife, Lynn; sons, stepsons and daughters-in-law – Bill and Laura, Gary and Alison, Dave and Lisa, Jamie and Hannah, Matthew and Caroline; plus 12 wonderful grandchildren. He will also be missed by his sister, Marg Howe; nieces Kathryn and Laura; Cousin Sue Mavinic as well as members of the Lerbinger and Hambly and Allworth families.

His family was the most meaningful part of his life, both in the enjoyment it gave and his interest in guiding and helping his children and grandchildren find satisfying and rewarding paths. Through Scouts, camping, canoeing, and curling Prof. Allan spent many enjoyable hours with his boys as they grew. And later, both his stepsons and his grandchildren were the beneficiaries of his genuine interest and love.

He took a leadership role in the First Thornhill Scout troop of which all three boys were members. He encouraged the troop members to learn new skills and organized many a camping trip to try out those skills. The highlight of his scouting was taking a group of 16 Scouts to Cameron River, NWT for a canoeing Jamboree in July 1982.

Prof. Allan leaves behind many long-standing friends. He so appreciated their faithful support during his illness with cancer. The family extends its thanks to all for their thoughts and prayers, and to the medical profession who have given their kindness and exemplary care. T

To all Prof. Allan would say, “Thank you and Fare Thee Well”.

In lieu of flowers, consider spreading kindness to a charity of your choice or to the Nature Conservancy of Canada. A tree will be planted in Prof. Allan’s memory in the Dods & McNair Memorial Forest in the Island Lake Conservation Area.

Passings: Professor Emeritus Donald Willmott

A candle
A memorial candle

Donald Earl Willmott, York University professor emeritus of sociology, died peacefully in Owen Sound, Ont., on May 10. Prof. Willmott had recently celebrated his 96th birthday and 70th wedding anniversary with his wife, Elizabeth Ann (Herrmann) Willmott.

Donald Earl Willmott
Donald Earl Willmott

Born on April 2, 1925, in Renshou, China, to Canadian educational missionaries Lesslie Earl and Mary Katharine (Geyer) Willmott, Prof. Willmott grew up on the campus of West China Union University in Chengdu, Sichuan, where he was instilled with his lifelong calling as a teacher. During the Second World War, his service as translator for the United States Office of Special Services behind Japanese lines in China became defining years for his unswerving devotion to peace and democracy.

In 1945, he moved to North America and  received his BA from Oberlin College (1950), MA from the University of Michigan (1951), and his doctorate in sociology and Southeast Asian studies from Cornell University (1958). He was a pioneer in diaspora studies and applied sociology. His doctoral research on the Chinese in Semarang was among the few dissertations to be published at that time. In 1956, he became the first sociologist at Memorial University of Newfoundland, with a co-appointment as an adviser to the Department of Social Welfare. After working briefly for the Centre for Community Studies in Saskatoon, he was appointed at the University of Toronto, and then settled into a professorship at Glendon College until his retirement in 1990. Prof. Willmott taught the first course in Canada on environmental sociology, drawing inspiration from his research on the Three Gorges Dam in China. Passionate about teaching, he trained several generations of students to become socially conscious citizens in his courses on small group organizations and Asian studies.

Throughout his life, Prof. Willmott was an organizer and activist, contributing his considerable talents to both local and global grassroots initiatives. A favourite saying of his was “think global, act local.” Devoted to the people and culture of his homeland China, he co-founded the Canada-China Friendship Association. In 2014, he was awarded the YMCA Peace Medallion. As a son, brother, husband, father, teacher, mentor, colleague and fellow human being, Prof. Willmott was known for his vibrant enthusiasm, optimism, warm-hearted personality and willingness to help. He loved listening to and playing music, gaining proficiency on several instruments and singing perfect-pitch harmonies. He was a naturalist, woodsman and Mr. Fixit.

Prof. Willmott was predeceased by his parents and brother Dick (Jill). He is survived by his wife Elizabeth, sister Margaret Joy and brother Bill (Diana), his sons Ken (Zhihua) and Glenn (Yaël Schlick), daughter Cory Willmott (Kristen Taylor), and grandchildren Jessie Silverstein (Chris Cherry), Amber, Sabina, Daniel Schlick and Eric, as well as step-grandchild Dylan Taylor (Natalie). He will be missed by all who knew him.

Arrangements are made by the Grey Bruce Cremation and Burial Services. Condolences to the family can be made on their website. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be given to one of Prof. Willmott’s favourite causes, the David Suzuki Foundation or Ecojustice Canada.

President’s statement on the death of Alain Baudot, a founding member of Glendon

Glendon

La version française suit la version anglaise.

It is with great sadness that the York University community learned of the passing of Professor Emeritus Alain Baudot, a founding member not only of the French Studies Department at York, but of Glendon College.

Alain Baudot
Alain Baudot

Alain was one of the very first professors at Glendon. Among his many contributions to the University were the creation of the Department of Multidisciplinary Studies and the groundwork for the development of a PhD program in Francophone Studies. He also demonstrated outstanding leadership as Graduate Program Director for the Master in French Studies and the Master in Translation programs.

In his role as Founding Director of Éditions du GREF (Groupe de recherche en études francophones), the French-language publisher of scholarly and creative works at Glendon, he supported generations of authors. With his passing, Franco-Ontarian publishing circles also lose one of their longstanding pillars.

Alain himself wrote more than 200 articles and several books on subjects ranging from early music, to Belgian literature, to Quebec song and opera, for which he received numerous awards. Notably, he was made a member of the Royal Society of Canada, an Officer of the Order of the Crown (Belgium), Officer of the Order of Academic Palms (France), winner of the Alliance Française Toronto prize (sponsored by the Del Duca Foundation, Paris), and winner of the Association of Canadian University and French Professors prize.

He was also a talented musician and musical director who was named to the Advisory Board of the North York Symphony Orchestra, and performed as a guest pianist for a long and varied list of concerts organized by the Toronto Home Music Club and the Canadian Association of Amateur Musicians.

On behalf of the York University community, I extend my heartfelt condolences to Alain’s family and loved ones, and to the generations of students, colleagues, and authors he supported and inspired over his long and illustrious career.

Sincerely,

Rhonda L. Lenton
President & Vice-Chancellor


Déclaration de la présidente et vice-chancelière de l’Université York Rhonda Lenton à l’occasion du décès d’Alain Baudot

 

Alain Baudot
Alain Baudot

C’est avec une grande tristesse que la communauté de l’Université York a appris le décès du professeur émérite Alain Baudot, non seulement membre fondateur du Département d’études françaises de York, mais également du Collège universitaire Glendon.

Alain a été l’un des tout premiers professeurs à Glendon. Ses multiples contributions comprennent la création du Département d’études pluridisciplinaires et la préparation d’un environnement propice à la création du doctorat en Études francophones. Il a également fait preuve d’un leadership exceptionnel en tant que directeur des programmes d’études supérieures pour la maîtrise en études françaises et la maitrise en traduction.

Dans son rôle de directeur fondateur des Éditions du GREF (Groupe de recherche en études francophones), l’éditeur d’œuvres savantes et artistiques, il a soutenu des générations d’auteurs. À ce titre, les milieux de l’édition franco-ontariens perdent un de leurs piliers.

Alain lui-même a écrit plus de 200 articles et plusieurs livres sur des sujets allant de la musique ancienne à la littérature belge en passant par la chanson et l’opéra québécois, pour lesquels il a reçu de nombreux prix. Il a notamment été nommé membre de la Société royale du Canada, Officier de l’Ordre de la Couronne (Belgique), Officier de l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques (France), lauréat du prix Alliance Française de Toronto (parrainé par le Del Duca Fondation, Paris) et lauréat du prix de l’Association des professeurs universitaires et français du Canada.

Il était également un excellent musicien et directeur musical, nommé au conseil consultatif de l’Orchestre symphonique de North York, et pianiste invité pour de nombreux concerts organisés par Toronto Home Music Club et l’Association canadienne des musiciens amateurs.

Au nom de la communauté de l’Université York, j’offre mes plus sincères condoléances à sa famille et à ses proches, ainsi qu’aux générations d’étudiants, de collègues et d’auteurs qu’il a soutenus et inspirés durant toute sa carrière.

Sincèrement,

Rhonda Lenton
Présidente et vice-chancelière

Passings: Professor Emeritus Austin Clarkson, musicologist and writer

passings

A photo of Austin Clarkson
Austin Clarkson

Austin Clarkson, Chair of York University’s Music Department in the 1970s, has died at the age of 88. He was a musicologist and writer who published numerous articles and reviews in the fields of medieval, Renaissance, and contemporary music, as well as a book on the pianist Reginald Godden.

During his time as Chair, Clarkson brought many distinguished musicians to York’s campus including John Cage, Alvin Lucier, Max Neuhaus, Harry Somers, Pauline Oliveros, and he even had a hand in introducing jazz legend Oscar Peterson to the York community.

His interdisciplinary spirit led him to pursue many interests in music education and other artistic mediums. He studied Dalcroze eurhythmics and Laban Analysis of Movement to explore the role of the body in music learning. He also became qualified to administer the Myers Briggs Type Indicator to help students understand the psychological dynamics of teaching and learning.

In 1990, Clarkson was commissioned to introduce audio programs to the Canadian Historical Wing of the Art Gallery of Ontario. His contributions were enjoyed by visitors for over a decade as the audio recordings allowed visitors to enjoy a variety of interpretive approaches to the artworks.

“The Department of Music has lost an influential early member and former chair of the department who contributed greatly to the vision of the music program in its formative years,” says Louise Wrazen, Chair of the Music Department in the School of Arts, Media, Performance & Design. “Austin Clarkson continued his association with the department even after his retirement and remained energetically active as a researcher (with a project on the composer Stefan Wolpe) and as an educator and advocate for music. We extend our deepest condolences to his wife and family.”

Passings: Professor Emeritus Ian Sowton

A candle
A memorial candle

The following is a memorial tribute for Professor Emeritus Ian Sowton, a long-serving faculty member at York University, poet and prolific author. The tribute was written by Sowton’s colleague, Professor Emeritus Ray Ellenwood:

Ian Sowton. Image: Holy Trinity, 2003
Ian Sowton. Image: Holy Trinity Church, 2003

A message from a friend recently informed me of the death of Ian Sowton (Feb. 23, 1929 to Jan. 23, 2021), after a fall and head injury. It came with a recollection of Ian and Fran housing a student couple with a newborn child when the Sowtons themselves were a young couple with their own children at the University of Alberta in the 1960s. John Unrau, another U. of A. graduate who ended up at York, had his own story of Sowton generosity. (See also the website of Holy Trinity Church near the Eaton Centre.) I would attribute Ian’s world view to that fact that he was one of those “missionary brats” who spent their early years with their parents in places like China. There were several at York in the early years, including Stephen Endicott.

A graduate of the University of Toronto, Ian taught for a number of years in Edmonton before being hired to Chair the nascent English department at Atkinson College circa 1970. I had enjoyed auditing his course on renaissance poetry at U. of A. and was happy to be his colleague for almost 30 years after I came to York. While publishing a book and articles on Spencer and 16th-century poetics, Ian was particularly active in the life of the College and the University: Chair of his department, director of the Graduate Program in English, master of a college, participant on an endless list of committees and task forces – always ready to help, even after his retirement, when he was on the executive of the Association of Retired Faculty and Librarians of York (ARFL).

Toward the end of his academic career, Ian became interested in feminist writers and literary theory, making them an important part of his courses. One result was that, again post-retirement, he was willing to help prepare a festschrift for an eminent feminist scholar at York: Transacting Memory: Essays in Honour of Barbara Godard (2013).

Always publishing his poetry here and there, over the years, Ian got serious after retirement, bringing out five books: Intricate Armada (2005), Imagining Sisyphus Happy (2006), Affordable Wonders (2011), which includes a number of commemorations of deceased York colleagues, The Stink of Experience (2013), and Waking in Harbour One Day (2020), a collection published a few months before his death. Most of the books were blatantly and proudly self-published and many of the poems were celebrations of the woman he had loved for so many years (in complete defiance, I would point out, of the ancient Courtly Love tradition). But for one of the last poems in Waking in Harbour, I accused him of getting close to the bone. Here is the first stanza of “Song of Passage”:

As it rejoins the primal surge

of forever dancing elements

my body shall learn the steps

for meadow grass and flowers

under sun and gracious showers.

Let’s leave it there.

Ray Ellenwood

Passings: Lidia Serras

passings

The following notice was prepared by Detlev Zwick, interim dean, Schulich School of Business:

On Wednesday, Jan. 20, the Schulich School of Business suddenly and tragically lost a wonderful colleague and dedicated staff member. It is with great sadness that I inform you of the passing of our colleague and friend, Lidia Serras, assistant director of Graduate Recruitment and Admissions in the Student Services & International Relations unit.

Lidia Serras
Lidia Serras

Lidia represented Schulich with pride and professionalism at student recruitment events across Canada and around the world. In her role as assistant director, she oversaw recruitment and admissions for Schulich’s specialized master’s programs. She led a large team and inspired them to regularly exceed goals and targets while developing recruitment strategies for the launch of new programs.  

A native of Portugal, Lidia held a master’s degree in international relations from the Technical University of Lisbon and a post-graduate diploma in business administration and management from Nova School of Business and Economics in Lisbon. Prior to joining Schulich as assistant director in August 2018, she had a rich and highly diverse career, living and working in three different continents at large global organizations such as Shell and KPMG, as well as international governmental organizations such as the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, where she was head of learning and development.

Known for her passion and integrity, Lidia was deeply loyal to her team members. She tackled her work with enthusiasm and tenacity and poured all of her heart into everything she undertook. Full of life, Lidia loved to travel and discover the world, and she valued spending time with her family above all else. Lidia will be greatly missed by the numerous faculty, staff, students and graduates whose lives she touched during her time at our school. 

The school will host a virtual memorial service at a later date to bring together family, friends and colleagues to celebrate Lidia’s life and I will provide details once a date and time have been confirmed.

On behalf of the entire Schulich community, I extend our deepest sympathies to Lidia’s husband, Daniel, and their two children, Hanna, and Miguel, as well as her family and loved ones overseas.

To leave a message of condolence, visit https://schulich.yorku.ca/about/lidia-serras/.

Scholarship established in memory of Lidia Serras

In memory of Serras, the Schulich community will establish a new scholarship in her name, to be awarded annually to a full-time Schulich School of Business student, enrolled in a specialized master program, who demonstrates academic excellence and financial need. The recipient must be well-rounded and possess experience working with teams from diverse backgrounds. Applicants for the scholarship must also have experience working with international organizations. The scholarship will reflect the values most closely associated with Lidia, dedication and loyalty, as well as her rich and highly diverse career, having lived and worked in three different continents for large global corporations and government organizations.

For more information, visit schulich.yorku.ca/donors/ways-to-support/memorial-and-tribute-giving/#section-serras.

Passings: Leo Panitch, Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus

A candle
A memorial candle

J.J. McMurtry, dean, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, has issued the following announcement to the York University community.

It is with great sadness that I share news of the passing of Leo Panitch, FRSC, on Saturday, Dec. 19. Professor Panitch was a friend and mentor to many of us at York University, and we will miss him and his intellect immensely.

Leo Panitch
Leo Panitch

Throughout his career, Leo was driven to understand and to contest the contradictions between the formal equality of the liberal world order and the deep and growing inequalities produced by contemporary capitalism. Those concerns led him first to study the contradictions of corporatism, then, as global capitalism entered its neoliberal phase, to the nature of the state and its relationship to political and labour organizations. Most recently, he had turned his attention to the global system, and produced groundbreaking work on the nature of contemporary, neoliberal capitalist empire. In the process, Leo Panitch has come to be recognized among the foremost socialist thinkers of our age with a truly global following.

Leo has also made an immeasurable contribution to the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies through his work in building the Department of Political Science, now Politics, into one of the world’s leading sites for the critical study of politics. He taught, supervised and advised a generation of students, and his mark on the intellectual landscape of Canada, and indeed globally, is indelible. He also contributed in service, as Chair of the department in the late 1980s, but also in providing leadership to its growth and development as others took up the Chair in turn. For many he was fondly known as ‘Chairman Leo’ reflecting both his departmental leadership as well as his place in the socialist pantheon in Canada and around the world.

This week we are thinking of Leo’s family and friends, for whom this holiday season will be especially hard. We will also be thinking on Leo’s legacy here in our Faculty, which includes not only his own work but the graduate students and up-and-coming academics he mentored, the undergraduate students he taught, and his influence on political science beyond our institution.

In the coming weeks we will be working in the Faculty to come up with appropriate ways to acknowledge Leo’s contributions to our intellectual and community life.

J.J. McMurtry
Dean, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies

About Leo Panitch

Leo Panitch was born in Winnipeg, Man. He earned a BA in economics and political science from the University of Manitoba before attending the London School of Economics, were he earned a master of science degree and a PhD in philosophy. Panitch joined York University as a professor of political science in 1984 and stayed until his retirement in 2016. While at York, Panitch was a York University Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Political Science, as well as a Royal Society of Canada Fellow and a Canada Research Chair in Comparative Political Economy (appointed in 2002 and renewed in 2009). He edited 33 annual volumes of the Socialist Register­ – including the recently published 2021 volume – and authored more than 100 articles and nine books.