Pandemic Relief Program for faculty and instructors opens the door to global learning

FEATURED image for faculty relief program

In February, the Provost’s Office announced new support for faculty members and contract course directors struggling with added pressures resulting from the pandemic in the Winter 2021 term. Funds from the Guest Lecturer Support Program were used to offer honoraria for visiting experts who shared new insights in classrooms as course directors were given a break.

Priority was given to tenure-stream faculty and contract course directors experiencing extraordinary challenges, as various lockdown and stay-at-home orders forced school closures, adding new demands on time for many educators.

The program was very well received overall, with some winter course instructors saying: “For me, this will greatly help ease the pressures of teaching with two small children during COVID.” Others expressed gratitude and thanks “for the University’s timely support. It helps me in a time of need while also providing students with a great learning opportunity.”

Others commented on how the program helped them meet the challenges of going remote, saying: “This program is so welcome and is definitely helping me with carrying the teaching load online.”

Overall, the program resulted in more than 100 guest lectureships across more than 35 programs in eight Faculties. Due to its success, there are plans to make it available again in the Summer 2021 Term and for those who are interested, more details and a request form can be accessed here.

Bringing the world to York virtually during the pandemic

In the Winter 2021 Term rollout, a wide range of guests were invited to engage with York undergraduate and graduate students. These included lecturers and visiting scholars from 20 universities in five different countries, including:

  • Scholars from: Harvard, SUNY, American University of Beirut, University of San Francisco, Duke, Western, Carleton, National University of Mexico, Indiana University, Seattle Pacific University, Columbia, University of Bergamo, Ottawa, OCAD, University of Toronto, Tufts, University of Texas, Memorial, University of Saskatchewan, Massey University, Ryerson, UTM and Oregon State.
  • Artists from: Sketch Working Arts, Randolph College for the Performing Arts, Activist Music, and Illumine Running Production, as well as independent artists.
  • Health professionals from: York Region Public Health, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and Etobicoke General Hospital.
  • Lawyers from: Six Nations of the Grand River, Brian Weingarten Defence Law, Singer Katz LLP, Millard and Co, the Income Security Advocacy Centre, the Community Justice Collective, Goldblatt Partners, and Semaganis Worme Lombard Barristers & Solicitors.
  • Private Sector professionals from: Power Technologies Group, Dana Incorporated, Unique Appliances, Bell, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment LaunchPad, Blueprint Nutrition and Valoroso Consulting.
  • Professional and research staff from: ACTRA, the Max Planck Institute, Blueprint for Free Speech, the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, the Jane Finch Community Research Partnership, Justice for Migrant Workers, the Daymark Foundation, the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre, the Native Education College, FCJ Refugee Centre, the Detroit Zoological Society, and the Shift.
  • Guests from: the Toronto and Peel District School boards.

With plans to continue during the summer, the Guest Lecturer Support Program is an  example of an initiative that aligns closely with York University Academic Plan (UAP) priorities to support 21st Century Learning and specifically to ensure that “our graduates are known for their global mindset, ethical judgement, and superior ability to integrate diverse ideas and worldviews.”

It illustrates what is possible when parameters shift and new approaches to education are explored. When the pandemic is over, initiatives like these could be explored, say organizers, to further understand where virtual opportunities can add value and contribute to the future of education.

New Provostial Fellows program launches at York University

Vari Hall

The Office of the Provost and Vice-President Academic is launching a new Provostial Fellows program to advance the priorities of the University Academic Plan (UAP) while giving tenured faculty a chance to gain more hands-on experience working with University leadership.

The University Academic Plan Building a Better Future: York University Academic Plan 2020-2025 has established six important priorities for York University. To support this mandate, tenured faculty members are invited to submit expressions of interest to become inaugural Provostial Fellows.

Fellows will have an opportunity to work directly with the Provost and relevant senior leadership on a project or initiative geared towards advancing one of the UAP priorities listed below, at either an institutional or Faculty level.

Anyone interested in applying or who may have a particular project in mind, should consider these details:

  • Projects do not need to target a Fellow’s home Faculty;
  • Projects that also seek to enhance and intersect with the University-wide challenge to elevate contributions to the UN Sustainable Development Goals will be of particular interest; and
  • Proposed projects should also seek to provide an opportunity for personal professional growth and learning, as well as the exploration of leadership at the Faculty or institutional level.
UAP Graphic
The University Academic Plan 2020-2025 identifies six academic priorities

The program is intended for tenured faculty who are interested in future university leadership. Indigenous faculty and those from equity deserving groups are encouraged to apply.  

The Provost’s Office welcomes all who are interested in advancing the priorities of the UAP while working to build a better future at York and beyond.

More details on the program, application process and relevant timelines can be found on the Provost & Vice-President Academic site.

Toronto moves into Grey-lockdown

Vari Hall at night
Vari Hall at night

The following is a message to the University community from Provost & Vice-President Academic Lisa Philipps:

La version française suit la version anglaise.

Dear Colleagues,

As you may know, on Friday, March 5 the Ontario government announced that the City of Toronto will move into “Grey-lockdown,” officially ending the Stay-at-Home order in the GTA as of March 8 at 12:01 a.m. At this time, we can confirm that this change does not pose any significant impacts to on-campus classes that have been planned for the Winter 2021 term.

York University continues to focus our planning on ensuring that we are providing access to a high-quality learning experience for our community. As a reminder, the University has approved a limited number of courses that require in-person classes, imposing gathering limitations and other health and safety measures that meet with current public health requirements.

The accommodations that the University has made for the winter term will remain in place and adhere closely to the recently announced restrictions. For those seeking access to campus, we remind everyone that:

  • If your activity is not part of a previously approved or ongoing instructional activity, requests to attend on-campus activities must be made by submitting a campus access form.
  • Those who have been approved to come onto our campuses must complete the screening checklist every day before their visit, responding “no” to all questions in order to come on site.
  • Libraries will remain open for contactless curb-side pickup and students with exceptional needs requiring access to book lockers, research appointments, digitization services, photocopiers and computers can contact askusyul@yorku.ca for assistance.
  • Y-Space will remain closed to in-person activities and Innovation York will continue to offer virtual support for affected entrepreneurs and staff.

We continue to monitor the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic and should any additional information about the impact of these current restrictions on campus activities come forward, it will be shared directly with affected students, staff, faculty and instructors. In the meantime, please visit the YU Better Together website for regular updates.

Sincerely,

Lisa Philipps
Provost & Vice-President Academic


Passage de Toronto au palier gris – confinement

Chers collègues,

Le vendredi 5 mars, le gouvernement de l’Ontario a mis fin au décret ordonnant de rester à domicile et a annoncé le passage de la Ville de Toronto au palier gris – confinement à compter du 8 mars à 0 h 01. Nous confirmons que ce changement n’entraîne actuellement pas de répercussions majeures sur les cours qui sont prévus sur le campus dans le cadre du trimestre d’hiver 2021.

L’Université York continue d’axer sa planification sur l’offre d’une expérience d’apprentissage de haute qualité à sa communauté. À titre de rappel, York a approuvé un nombre limité de cours en présentiel avec des restrictions strictes en place pour les rassemblements, en plus d’autres mesures de santé et de sécurité conformes aux exigences actuelles de santé publique.

Les mesures d’adaptation que l’Université a instaurées pour le trimestre d’hiver sont conformes aux nouvelles restrictions récemment annoncées. Si vous avez besoin d’accéder au campus, n’oubliez pas que :

  • Si votre activité ne fait pas partie d’une activité pédagogique déjà approuvée ou en cours, vous devez soumettre un formulaire de demande d’accès au campus.
  • Les personnes autorisées à fréquenter nos campus doivent remplir le questionnaire de dépistage chaque jour avant leur visite. Pour pouvoir venir sur le campus, elles doivent avoir répondu « non » à chaque question du questionnaire.
  • Les bibliothèques restent ouvertes pour la collecte sans contact en bordure de trottoir; les étudiants qui ont exceptionnellement besoin d’accéder à des casiers de livres, des rendez-vous de recherche, des services de numérisation ou des photocopieurs et ordinateurs peuvent contacter askusyul@yorku.ca pour obtenir de l’aide.
  • Y-Space reste fermé aux activités en personne. Innovation York continue d’offrir un soutien virtuel aux entreprises et aux membres du personnel concernés.

Nous surveillons constamment la réponse des autorités de santé publique à la pandémie de la COVID-19. En cas de nouveaux développements relatifs à l’incidence de ces restrictions sur les activités du campus, nous les communiquerons directement aux membres du corps étudiant, du personnel, du corps professoral et du corps enseignant concernés. Entre-temps, vous pouvez trouver les dernières nouvelles sur notre site Web YU Better Together.

Sincères salutations,

Lisa Philipps
Rectrice et vice-présidente aux affaires académiques

Faculty encouraged to take advantage of York’s membership in the National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity (NCFDD)

Vari Hall Winter Scene
Vari Hall Winter Scene

York University has joined the National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity (NCFDD) as an institutional member. The NCFDD is a recognized, independent organization devoted to helping diverse scholars thrive in the academy throughout the career lifespan. The NCFDD provides virtual programs and resources to help faculty, post-docs and graduate students to complete writing projects, improve their work-life balance and build healthy relationships at work. Offerings range from quick tips and strategies to more sustained development programs, including peer support groups.

NCFDD resources are broadly applicable across academic disciplines.

Popular topics include:

  • Academic time management and the art of saying “no.”
  • Overcoming academic perfectionism.
  • How to develop a daily writing plan, and more.

These resources are provided by trained mentors and offer a confidential area for problem solving which is accessible online. The NCFDD is dedicated to faculty success throughout a career lifespan and is an excellent resource for support, for increasing productivity, for learning effective time management, and for living a balanced and healthy life.

NCFDD member resources include but are not limited to:

  • Weekly Monday Motivator
  • Monthly Core Curriculum Webinars
  • Monthly Guest Expert Webinars
  • Access to Multi-Week Courses
  • Access to Dissertation Success Curriculum for graduate students
  • Private Discussion Forum for peer-mentoring, problem-solving and moderated writing challenges
  • Monthly accountability buddy matches
  • Access to 14-Day Writing Challenges
  • Access to the Member Library that includes past webinar materials, referrals, and readings

To learn more and for instructions on how to activate your free membership, visit https://vpap.info.yorku.ca/2020/10/national-center-for-faculty-development-diversity-membership/.

York University has a new COVID-19 planning and response team

Featured illustration of the novel coronavirus

The following is an important message to the community from York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton.

La version française suit la version anglaise.

Dear Colleagues,

As we begin a new year at York University, supporting our community through the pandemic remains our top priority. As public health guidance continues to evolve alongside the rollout of vaccines, we have made some adjustments to the organization of our institutional response.

I am pleased to announce that Parissa Safai has been appointed as Special Advisor to the President for Academic Continuity Planning and COVID-19 Response. Safai is associate professor in the School of Kinesiology and Health Sciences and a former associate dean (Interim), Teaching, Learning and Student Affairs in the Faculty of Health. She will lead a small, dedicated team of staff members who will be focused on managing the University’s response to COVID in 2021. I am grateful that the following individuals will be joining this team:

  • Peter Aylan-Parker will be stepping away from his role as associate director, University Events & Ceremonies, to serve as Project Manager, COVID-19 Planning & Response.
  • Octavio Colantonio, coordinator CCTV & Access Control Technologies in Community Safety, will be seconded into the role of Campus Access Planning Advisor.
  • Jennifer Lee, associate director of Communications, Office of the Provost & Vice-President Academic, will serve as Communications Advisor to the team.

The President and Vice-Presidents group will continue to provide overall policy guidance to keep our community safe, while ensuring academic and research continuity. Planning will be informed by priorities identified at the Academic Continuity Table led by the Provost & Vice-President Academic, and the Research Continuity Table led by the Vice-President Research & Innovation.

I want to extend special thanks to Samina Sami, executive director, Community Safety for her leadership at the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), and the many other staff from across the University who have volunteered their time and worked tirelessly as members of the Emergency Management Team and EOC to support COVID-19 response planning since January 2020. Many of these staff members will remain involved in supporting the work of the COVID Planning and Response Group, while also recovering some time to devote to their regular roles. The University owes a great deal of its success in managing the pandemic to the dedication, personal commitment, and outstanding teamwork demonstrated by our professional staff colleagues, our administrative staff and on-the-ground workers.

We continue to actively monitor the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic in order to inform planning for the Summer and Fall 2021 terms. As announcements on vaccine availability continue to be made, the team will update the community regularly. For the latest developments and the University’s approach to supporting our community, please continue to monitor YU Better Together.

We welcome these changes to support smooth operational planning at York University this year and appreciate the ongoing patience of our students, faculty and staff. With many supports in place to facilitate remote learning, we know that we will make both the current and upcoming term a success.

Sincerely,

Rhonda L Lenton
President and Vice Chancellor


Nouvelle équipe de l’Université York pour la planification et la réponse à la COVID-19

Chers collègues,

Alors qu’une nouvelle année commence à l’Université York, le soutien de notre communauté durant la pandémie demeure notre priorité absolue. Comme les directives en matière de santé publique continuent d’évoluer parallèlement au déploiement des vaccins, nous avons modifié la structure de notre réponse institutionnelle.

J’ai le plaisir d’annoncer que Dre Parissa Safai a été nommée conseillère spéciale de la présidente pour la planification de la continuité académique et la réponse à la COVID-19. Dre Safai est professeure agrégée de l’École de kinésiologie et des sciences de la santé et ancienne doyenne associée (par intérim) de l’enseignement, de l’apprentissage et des affaires étudiantes de la Faculté de la santé. Elle dirigera une petite équipe de membres du personnel qui se concentreront sur la gestion de la réponse de l’Université à la COVID en 2021. Je me réjouis que les personnes suivantes se joignent à cette équipe :

 

  • Peter Aylan-Parker quittera son poste de directeur adjoint des événements et cérémonies de l’Université pour le poste de gestionnaire de projet, planification et réponse à la COVID-19. 
  • Octavio Colantonio, coordonnateur des systèmes CCTV et des technologies de contrôle d’accès du Service de sécurité communautaire, sera détaché à titre de conseiller en planification de l’accès au campus.
  • Jennifer Lee, directrice adjointe des communications au bureau de la rectrice et de la vice-présidente aux affaires académiques, sera la conseillère en communications de l’équipe.

Le groupe composé de la présidente et des vice-présidents et vice-présidentes continuera à fournir des orientations stratégiques générales pour assurer la sécurité de notre communauté, tout en garantissant la continuité des activités académiques et de la recherche. La planification sera basée sur les priorités définies par la Table de continuité académique dirigée par la rectrice et vice-présidente aux affaires académiques et la Table de continuité de la recherche dirigée par le vice-président de la recherche et de l’innovation.

Je tiens tout particulièrement à remercier Samina Sami, directrice principale de la sécurité communautaire, pour son leadership au Centre des opérations d’urgence (EOC) ainsi que plusieurs autres membres du personnel de l’Université, qui ont consacré leur temps et leurs efforts pour appuyer la planification de la réponse à la COVID-19 depuis janvier 2020, en tant que membres de l’équipe de gestion des situations d’urgence et du EOC. Bon nombre de ces membres du personnel continueront à apporter leur soutien au travail du groupe de planification et de réponse à la COVID tout en retrouvant une certaine disponibilité pour leurs rôles habituels. Le succès de l’Université dans la gestion de la pandémie résulte en grande partie du dévouement, de l’engagement personnel et du travail d’équipe exceptionnel dont les membres du personnel professionnel et administratif et nos travailleurs sur le terrain ont fait preuve.

Nous continuons à surveiller activement la réponse de la santé publique à la pandémie de la COVID-19 afin d’orienter la planification des trimestres d’été et d’automne 2021. Au fur et à mesure des annonces sur la disponibilité des vaccins, l’équipe informera régulièrement la communauté. Pour connaître les derniers développements et l’approche de l’université en matière de soutien à notre communauté, veuillez consulter le site YU Better Together.

Nous sommes heureux de ces changements qui permettront une planification opérationnelle harmonieuse à l’Université York cette année et nous remercions les membres du corps étudiant, du corps professoral et du personnel pour leur patience. Grâce aux nombreuses ressources mises en place pour appuyer l’apprentissage à distance, nous sommes convaincus de pouvoir assurer le succès du trimestre en cours et de celui à venir.

Veuillez agréer mes sincères salutations,

Rhonda L. Lenton
Présidente et vice-chancelière 

Provost announces launch of York’s multi-year Complement Renewal Strategy

Vari Hall
Vari Hall

Lisa Philipps, provost and vice-president academic, issues the following announcement to the York University community:

I am very pleased to launch York University’s multi-year Faculty Complement Renewal Strategy. The strategy outlines:

  • understanding what high-level principles should guide the University, and what outcomes we should strive for, as we invest in faculty complement renewal over the next five to 10 years;
  • informing the annual, Faculty-based complement planning process with an appreciation of longer-term goals for the University; and
  • clarifying how best to build the complement needed to achieve academic priorities as expressed in key planning documents including the University Academic Plan and Strategic Research Plan.

This strategy builds on the sector and literature study that was undertaken, the resulting papers, and extensive feedback received from individuals and groups consulted in person, online and through email over the last year and a half.

The Faculty Complement Renewal Strategy and related background resources can be found at http://vpap.info.yorku.ca/ppy_protected/renewing-york-universitys-full-time-faculty-complement/.

Vibrant, interactive website illuminates York University’s Academic Plan 2020-2025

New UAP FEATURED image for YFile
The new, interactive UAP 2020-2025 website

Today marks another milestone in the journey to bring the document Building a Better Future: York University Academic Plan 2020-2025 to life with the launch of a visually compelling new website.

The Building a Better Future: York University Academic Plan 2020-2025 website illuminates the new UAP 2020-2025 and its six priorities for action with inspirational, interactive content that is rooted in York University’s history, values and commitment to a more just and sustainable future.

The Building a Better Future: York University Academic Plan 2020-2025 is a vibrant, interactive website that outlines in detail the call to action contained in the document
The Building a Better Future: York University Academic Plan 2020-2025 website illuminates the new UAP 2020-2025 and its six priorities for action with inspirational, interactive content

At its core, the UAP 2020-2025 is about coming together to make positive change for York University’s students, campuses, and local and global communities. Both the plan and the website serve as a call to action and contain blueprints that position York University as an agent of positive change in a world facing an unprecedented convergence of trials from climate change, a global pandemic, racism and xenophobia, poverty and inequality.

Dynamic and responsive, the UAP 2020-2025 website illustrates in vivid detail the University’s attention to these trials as articulated in Building a Better Future. The website also addresses the York community’s collective focus on supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs offer a framework for UN member countries to take urgent action in 17 areas that are critical to ensure peace and prosperity for people and the planet. The new website explores the critical details and proposed actions that are contained in the UAP 2020-2025. It offers stories and content showcasing the actions of students, faculty and staff who are responding to this call by bringing their expertise from across disciplines to work together to build new knowledge and tools, develop strategies and craft solutions to global challenges.

The new website addresses in detail the Six Priorities for Action that are contained in the UAP 2020-2025 and their relationship to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

The website is a changing entity that will continue to be updated with latest activities and results. University community members are invited to visit the site frequently to explore the plan and offer their stories, inspirational results, and successes.

The UAP’s six priorities for action 

The UAP 2020-2025 website highlights in detail the document’s six priorities for action, which are based on the University’s enduring commitment to critical inquiry and the pursuit of knowledge that comes from many differing perspectives and ways of knowing.

  1. 21st Century Learning: Diversifying Whom, What, and How We Teach
    Every York University graduate, regardless of background or field of study, must be equipped with the knowledge, transferable skills, and values to navigate a 21st century world in which change is the only constant.
  2. Knowledge for the Future: From Creation to Application
    As change accelerates around us, York University aims to be more responsive to its communities by generating critical knowledge and works of art, ideas and innovations that engage multiple perspectives while propelling Ontario as a global knowledge-economy leader.
  3. From Access to Success: Next Generation Student Supports
    With many of the University’s students facing current challenges and uncertain futures, York will devote additional attention to supporting students of all backgrounds and circumstances to complete their studies successfully and to realize their full potentials.
  4. Advancing Global Engagement
    York University draws people from around the world who seek to learn from each other and to gain the global fluencies needed to work locally and across borders toward a better future.
  5. Working in Partnership
    York University understands that by partnering with other entities and sectors it gains vital insights and capacity to create positive impact for its students, campuses, and broader communities.
  6. Living Well Together
    Making positive change requires that all members of the University’s diverse community feel welcomed into a sense of belonging, common purpose, and shared responsibility to support and enrich each other’s work.

Building a Better Future: York University Academic Plan 2020-2025 positions York as a university with distinctive capabilities to meet these challenges and uncover the opportunities that lie within them.

To learn more, visit https://www.yorku.ca/uap2020-25/.

Updates on resources, supports and opportunities for York community provided at fall Virtual Town Hall

Vari Hall
Vari Hall
York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton

Students, staff and faculty had an opportunity to ask York University’s senior leadership team questions about the new term and their academic, research and professional work during the all-community Virtual Town Hall on Sept. 21.

The event featured President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton, Provost and Vice-President Academic Lisa Philipps, Vice-President Research & Innovation Amir Asif, Vice-President Equity, People and Culture Sheila Cote-Meek, Vice-President Finance and Administration Carol McAulay, Vice-President Advancement Jeff O’Hagan and Vice-Provost Students Lucy Fromowitz, answering questions received through Zoom and by email.

Following a land acknowledgement, Lenton began her opening remarks by welcoming the participants to a new academic year and emphasizing that decision-making by University leadership throughout the pandemic has prioritized the safety and wellbeing of the York community. The president encouraged the use of COVID-19 tracking apps and discussed protective measures such as plexiglass barriers that have been installed to protect those accessing campuses. Lenton assured participants that the YU Better Together website, which includes a new COVID-19 case counter, has resources to keep the community fully informed about the ongoing pandemic response.

Lenton also discussed the recent disruption to the eClass platform and talked about how the UIT team will keep working to improve the performance and reliability of eClass and to prevent disruptions in the future. UIT responded quickly to the disruption and restored performance, such that the system is now working well. The president said that further funds are being invested to enhance York’s IT systems and expertise.

Regarding the University’s strategic priorities, Lenton provided an update on scenario planning around enrolment challenges and potential budget impacts, noting that the outlook has improved considerably since the spring and that York is on track to meet targets, an impressive accomplishment for the entire community.

The president also spoke to the new academic plan (UAP) for 2020 to 2025, outlining strategies to overcome the harmful legacy of systemic anti-Black racism in the context of a new Equity Plan for the University, conversations to inform an Anti-Black Racism Frameworkand the appointment of Professor Carl James as senior advisor, equity and representation, in the Division of Equity, People and Culture.

To close her remarks, Lenton discussed York’s new brand strategy, which aligns with the UAP, and centres on how York is committed to driving positive change in the world around us. Over the coming weeks and months, she said that community members can expect to see the brand come to life in many ways through training, updates on key institutional projects and a new communication campaign with vibrant new visuals and stories.

The interactive portion of the town hall began with a question from a student about which libraries and food facilities on campus will be open with social distancing protocols. McAulay answered by directing community members to the YU Better Together website, which she indicated has the most up to date information about specific buildings and services that are operating. Philipps added that library spaces are available for booking for those who require a quiet study space on campus, with more information available on the York University Libraries website.

In response to a number of questions about the opening of the archives and whether the libraries will allow students to take out and return books, Philipps elaborated that the libraries have done extensive work to expand the range of resources available electronically though agreements with publishers and a digitization service. She outlined a curbside pickup service for those who need to take out books that aren’t available digitally.

One participant asked a live question about plans for the winter term and whether most classes will be online or in person. Lenton responded to the question with assurances that, in order for everyone to know what to expect as soon as possible, a decision was made to continue with the same format and provisions as the fall term, with the majority of courses being offered online. For courses that require in-person instruction, Lenton discussed the agreement that information would be clearly marked on course outline so that students would know about their requirements and what safety precautions are being put in place. Philipps added that a survey of instructors is wrapping up so that this information will be available for students before they enrol in winter courses.

Participants asked many questions about international studies, including when international students can expect to be able to travel to Canada and experience in-person classes and when domestic students will know whether than they can participate in winter term exchanges abroad. Lenton shared that York was the first University to submit a plan to the federal government about how they would potentially support incoming international students in the quarantine process, and that the York leadership continue to work with other universities and the government to coordinate future planning. Despite uncertainty around the opening of borders, Lenton assured students that York is ready to be responsive.

One community member asked whether York will consider funding a campus-wide automated closed captioning capability for Zoom to support universal design for learning, which the president welcomed and committed to posting a fulsome answer after an opportunity for a conversation.

Several participants asked about how the community would be notified and what steps would be taken in the event that students and employees were exposed to individual who tested positive for COVID-19. Fromowitz outlined protocols in place to protect those who have been on campus, including contact tracing, immediate notification, self-isolation rooms for students in residence and updates on the YU Better Together website.

A question was asked live about York’s next steps to implement the aspects of the UAP that recognize the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the need to reorient education toward sustainability. Philipps spoke to the desire for ongoing engagement to determine how energies should be directed, staff resources assigned to continue the conversation and resources available through the Academic Innovation Fund. Asif elaborated that information would be brought forward about initiatives being done in collaboration with the UN and encourages interested students to contact his office about opportunities to work on aspects of the SDGs. Lenton added that she is excited so see how the University community will come together to think about how to make a profound difference.

Staff had questions related to remote working and how the University leadership envisions the future of the workplace, which Cote-Meek addressed by discussing opportunities to work on an employee-centred remote work policy in the near future. Lenton added that some of these issues are covered in collective agreements and that these conversations will take place with employee groups and unions. A question also arose regarding whether the University has explored early retirement for members under the York pension plan. Cote-Meek said a voluntary exit program is being explored. McAulay added that York’s pension plan would not be a vehicle for such a program as retirement age is determined by the plan.

Further to the president’s earlier remarks, several participants had questions regarding support for students and faculty using eClass. The president reiterated that that the system is behaving reliably and that it has been able to manage trials with more capacity than the current peak usage experienced in the first week of classes. Philipps encouraged users to explore information and support services available on eClass, such as a chat function. Fromowitz directed participants to a recently developed Student Guide to Remote Learning for further support.

In response to questions about students experiencing financial challenges, Lenton provided information on York University Emergency Bursaries available to students and the University’s goal of continuing to support that fund. O’Hagan provided an update on the tremendous support from the York community in helping students through this difficult time, noting that $425,000 has been raised for the Emergency COVID-19 Student Relief Fund through contributions, with matching from the University. Fromowitz explained that bursary funds are being expanded for the fall and that students can apply for financial supports through the Student Financial Profile through Student Financial Services.

Lenton closed the town hall by reminding all members of the York community to prioritize their mental health and wellbeing, and outlining remote resources to support their success, including academic support and counselling services, Teaching Commons workshops and information available at yorku.ca/MentalHealth and yorku.ca/BetterTogether.

The town hall livestream can be viewed at https://conversations.info.yorku.ca/first-page/webcast/.

Provost offers an update on the Winter 2021 term

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

The following is an important message to the York University community from Provost and Vice-President Academic Lisa Philipps:

La version française suit la version anglaise.

Dear Colleagues,

York University’s Senate Executive Committee has recently approved the extension of the Principles to Guide Fall 2020 Graduate and Undergraduate Course Planning to the Winter 2021 term. This means the same fundamental approach to course delivery in the fall will also apply for the Winter 2021 term. The guidelines are premised on preparing for online/remote delivery of both undergraduate and graduate courses. Where remote learning is not well suited to accommodate course components, such as labs, studios or small graduate classes, York is preserving flexibility and will make best efforts to accommodate requests for in-person instruction.

Instructors will be polled to identify those courses that require in-person activities to achieve their learning outcomes. Instructors will also be invited to propose optional in-person learning components where this could enhance the learning experience for students able to attend in person.

In-person teaching and learning will be accommodated as far as possible within health guidelines, which even in Stage 3 include limits on the number of people who can gather indoors or outdoors, as well as physical distancing, nose and mouth coverings, and other precautions.

Students will be informed at the time of course registration whether a course has a required in-person component. Courses with optional in-person components should also have a fully remote version that allows students to complete it that way if they need to. Wherever a course can be delivered remotely in its entirety, instructors will have the choice to do so.

Those faculty members teaching in the Fall or Winter term will also be accommodated wherever possible to come onto campus if they require access to faculty offices or other spaces to deliver their courses. Requests can be made here.

Staff will continue to work from home unless asked to return to campus to support research, in-person teaching, in-person student service activities, or other required services. Managers will be in touch with those who need to be on campus and will provide as much notice as possible in order to plan for any accommodations or special arrangements needed. We expect most employees will continue to work from home throughout the Fall and Winter terms.

York continues to meet all public health and provincial guidelines related to COVID-19. As part of our gradual, phased return to campus, we look forward to welcoming additional in-person teaching, learning, research and other activities back to York University campuses as soon as we can safely do so.

Lisa Philipps
Provost & Vice-President, Academic


Mise à jour au sujet du trimestre d’hiver 2021

Chers collègues,

Le Comité de direction du Sénat de l’Université York a approuvé récemment une prolongation des principes directeurs pour la planification des cours de premier cycle et de cycle supérieur d’automne 2020 pour le trimestre d’hiver 2021. Cela veut dire que la même approche fondamentale pour la prestation des cours d’automne s’appliquera pour le trimestre 2021. Ces principes directeurs sont fondés sur la préparation de cours en ligne/à distance pour le premier cycle et le cycle supérieur. Quand certains éléments du cours comme des laboratoires, des studios ou de petites classes de cycle supérieur ne se prêtent pas bien à l’apprentissage à distance, York préservera la flexibilité et fera tous les efforts possibles pour accommoder les demandes d’enseignement en présentiel.

Un sondage sera effectué auprès du corps enseignant pour déterminer les cours qui requièrent des activités en personne pour atteindre les objectifs d’apprentissage. Le corps enseignant sera également invité à proposer des composantes optionnelles d’apprentissage en présentiel quand cela peut améliorer l’expérience d’apprentissage pour les étudiants capables de participer en personne.

L’enseignement et l’apprentissage en personne seront permis dans la mesure du possible, conformément aux directives sanitaires, qui, même à l’étape 3, limitent le nombre de personnes pouvant se rassembler à l’intérieur et à l’extérieur et qui nécessitent la distanciation physique, des couvre-visages et d’autres précautions.

Les étudiants et étudiantes seront informés au moment de leur inscription à un cours s’il comporte une composante obligatoire en présentiel. Les cours ayant des composantes optionnelles d’apprentissage en présentiel devraient aussi avoir une version entièrement à distance permettant aux étudiants et étudiantes de suivre le cours de cette façon, au besoin. Quand un cours peut être entièrement offert à distance, le corps enseignant aura la possibilité de le faire.

Les membres du corps professoral qui enseignent au trimestre d’automne ou d’hiver seront également autorisés, dans la mesure du possible, à venir sur le campus s’ils ont besoin d’accéder aux bureaux de la faculté ou à d’autres espaces pour donner leurs cours. Les demandes d’accès peuvent être faites ici.

Le personnel continuera à travailler de la maison à moins qu’on ne lui demande de retourner sur le campus pour appuyer la recherche, l’enseignement en personne, les activités de service aux étudiants ou d’autres services essentiels. Les gestionnaires seront en contact avec les personnes qui doivent se trouver sur le campus et leur fourniront un préavis aussi long que possible afin de planifier les éventuels aménagements ou arrangements spéciaux nécessaires. Nous nous attendons à ce que la plupart des employés continuent à travailler à domicile pendant les trimestres d’automne et d’hiver.

York continue de respecter toutes les directives provinciales et de santé publique liées à la COVID-19. Dans le cadre de notre retour progressif et échelonné sur le campus, nous nous réjouissons d’accueillir à nouveau sur les campus de l’université York, dès que nous pourrons le faire en toute sécurité, d’autres activités d’enseignement, d’apprentissage, de recherche et autre en présentiel.

Lisa Philipps
Rectrice et vice-présidente aux affaires académiques 

York University launches new academic plan for 2020 to 2025

Vari pond
Vari pond

Today, York University officially launches its new academic plan that will chart its path for the next five years. The plan, which is titled “Building a Better Future: York University Academic Plan 2020-2025,” received a strong endorsement by the University Senate during its meeting on Thursday, June 25.

“The University Academic Plan 2020-2025 is about coming together to make positive change for our students, our campuses, and our local and global communities. It reflects the significant opportunities that York will embrace over the next five years in advancing our vision to provide a broad sociodemographic of students with access to a high-quality research-intensive University committed to the public good,” says York Provost and Vice-President Lisa Philipps. “I am confident that this new UAP will continue to project our commitment to our values of excellence, progressiveness, diversity and inclusivity, social justice and equity, and sustainability.”

A document rooted in York University’s history and values

An inspirational document that is rooted in York University’s history, values and commitment to a more just and sustainable future, the new UAP 2020-2025 was developed following extensive community input obtained through 22 consultations with Senate committees, students, Faculty councils and staff over a period of nine months. In addition, its authors considered more than 3,000 written responses provided by University community members via polling software, online forms and email correspondence

As a result, the new University Academic Plan 2020-2025 is truly a communal effort, says Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies Professor Carl S. Ehrlich, who is Chair of Senate’s Academic Policy, Planning & Research Committee (APPRC).  “Over this past academic year, we have held innumerable consultations with – and received feedback from – every segment of our York University family at every stage of our journey. The resulting document is one that is truly reflective of where our University currently is and of what our hopes and aspirations for the future are,” says Ehrlich. “For the most part eschewing specificity for the sake of inclusivity, all members of our community should be able to find themselves and their interests/concerns reflected in some manner in this new UAP.”

The new University Academic Plan 2020-2025 identifies six priorities

A dynamic document that was designed to grow and change, Ehrlich says the built-in flexibility of the new UAP should allow the University to continue doing what it has done and does best, while moving forward in both anticipated and unanticipated new directions for the future, whether academically, communally, or socially.

“We are the inheritors of a proud academic tradition that provides us with a solid foundation as we continue building upon it,” observes Ehrlich. “The new UAP challenges us to act responsibly as members of a vast array of differing intersectional communities, both local and global. And as a diverse community, we can exemplify irenic interactions and mutual social responsibility, while keeping our minds open to various ways of viewing and understanding ourselves and the world in which we live.”

“I would like to thank Provost and Vice-President Academic Philipps and APPRC Chair Carl Ehrlich for their leadership, and to everyone who contributed to the new UAP,” says  President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton. “York’s strong planning culture, exemplified in this plan, has always positioned us for success. Thanks to the hard work of the community, we have a powerful new guiding document that will allow us to expand the positive change we create in the world through research, innovative teaching and a commitment to community engagement.”

Six priorities for action

The UAP 2020-2025 contains six priorities for action, which are based on the University’s enduring commitment to critical inquiry and the pursuit of knowledge that comes from many differing perspectives and ways of knowing. The six priorities are:

  1. 21st Century Learning: Diversifying Whom, What, and How We Teach
    Every York University graduate, regardless of background or field of study, must be equipped with the knowledge, transferable skills, and values to navigate a 21st century world in which change is the only constant.
  2. Knowledge for the Future: From Creation to Application
    As change accelerates around us, York University aims to be more responsive to its communities by generating critical knowledge and works of art, ideas and innovations that engage multiple perspectives while propelling Ontario as a global knowledge-economy leader.
  3. From Access to Success: Next Generation Student Supports
    With many of the University’s students facing current challenges and uncertain futures, York will devote additional attention to supporting students of all backgrounds and circumstances to complete their studies successfully and to realize their full potentials.
  4. Advancing Global Engagement
    York University draws people from around the world who seek to learn from each other and to gain the global fluencies needed to work locally and across borders toward a better future.
  5. Working in Partnership
    York University understands that by partnering with other entities and sectors it gains vital insights and capacity to create positive impact for its students, campuses, and broader communities.
  6. Living Well Together
    Making positive change requires that all members of the University’s diverse community feel welcomed into a sense of belonging, common purpose, and shared responsibility to support and enrich each other’s work.

A challenge to elevate York’s contributions to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

The new UAP serves as a blueprint for action, positioning York University as an agent of positive change in a world facing a convergence of unprecedented trials from climate change, a global pandemic, racism and xenophobia, poverty and inequality. The plan  responds with a challenge to elevate York’s contributions to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which  offer a framework for UN member countries to take urgent action in 17 areas that are critical to ensure peace and prosperity for people and the planet. York University’s new UAP serves as a rallying call for students, faculty and staff – a call to bring their expertise from across disciplines to work together to build new tools, develop strategies and solutions to global challenges.

A graphic showing the UN sustainable development goals
The United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals

“Building a Better Future: York University Academic Plan 2020-2025” positions York as a University with distinctive capabilities to rise to these challenges and uncover the opportunities that lie within them.

The document states, “We believe that at this juncture, to make a better future, the world needs more of York University.” To learn more, read the full version of “Building a Better Future: York University Academic Plan 2020-2025,” available here: https://vpap.info.yorku.ca/files/2020/06/Building-a-Better-Future-YorkU-UAP-2020-2025.pdf.