Cherry trees on Keele Campus set to bloom

Sakura trees in bloom at York

The sakura cherry trees situated across York University’s Keele Campus are expected to reach peak bloom over the next week, providing an annual – but short-lived – opportunity for the community to take in their natural beauty.

Peak bloom, when 70 per cent of the blossoms on a sakura cherry tree have opened, typically only lasts a short time: four to 10 days. Those looking to enjoy the pink and white blossoms on Keele Campus – one of only a few places in the Greater Toronto Area that has the trees – are encouraged to seek them out soon.

The best display of sakura cherry trees is located adjacent to Calumet College. However, trees are also located in pockets around the campus, along Campus Walk, and there is a small group outside the Tait McKenzie Centre.

Sakura Cherry trees in bloom near Calumet College on the Keele Campus

The trees were planted as part of the Japanese government’s Sakura Project, which symbolizes the long-standing close relationship between Japan and Canada and York University’s many cultural and academic ties with Japanese institutions.

The Japanese flowering cherry tree, or sakura, is a revered symbol of Japan. Its blossoming marks the arrival of spring and is celebrated in waka and haiku poetry, and with annual hanami, or flower-viewing, picnics under the full blossoms of the sakura.

In 2003, York was the first university in Canada to participate in the Sakura Project, which had a goal of planting 3,000 trees in Ontario by 2005. More than a decade later, the trees planted on the Keele Campus continue to thrive.

York recognized as one of Canada’s Best Diversity, Greenest Employers

York University top 100 employer banner

Continued sustainability and decolonizing, equity, diversity and inclusion (DEDI) progress has earned York University a spot on Canada’s Greenest Employers list for the 12th year in a row, and its first ever inclusion in the Best Diversity Employers list.

Organized by the Canada’s Top 100 Employers project, both lists are annual editorial competitions that spotlight institutional excellence across the nation. The Greenest Employers list recognizes those that “lead the nation in creating a culture of environmental awareness in their organizations,” and the Canada’s Best Diversity Employers list recognizes those with exceptional workplace diversity and inclusiveness programs.

“This is the first time York University has achieved two top employer designations. This impressive milestone is a testament to our community’s commitment to our values as a progressive university dedicated to excellence, social justice, diversity, inclusion and sustainability”, said President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton. “I am grateful for the significant contributions community members continue to make toward driving positive change locally and globally.”

“Being recognized as Canada’s Best Diversity and Canada’s Greenest Employers is possible because of the values and dedication of York employees, staff and faculty alike. I hope York and all our colleagues can take pride in how hard we work to be a place where so many different people, all taking so many different paths in their careers and lives, can thrive and feel like they belong,” said Laina Bay-Cheng, interim Vice-president of Equity, People and Culture.

Laina Ya-Hui Bay-Cheng
Laina Bay-Cheng

One of the reasons York was selected for Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for the first time was the launch of the Decolonizing, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy, which formalizes and co-ordinates DEDI efforts across the institution. Importantly, the strategy appreciates that there are many forms of discrimination and oppression that exist in society that must be addressed to create an equitable and inclusive world. At York, DEDI values are also infused into other key planning documents, and existing frameworks, including the Framework and Action Plan on Black Inclusion and the Indigenous Framework.

The DEDI Strategy also includes the “rights of the planet,” reflecting York’s determined leadership and ambitious goals in advocating for environmental justice and sustainability. Over the years, the University has made considerable investments and proactive efforts to safeguard the environment in response to the burgeoning climate crisis, placing York’s campuses ahead of other post-secondary institutions, organizations and entire municipalities.

For over a decade, those efforts have consistently led to York being named on the Greenest Employers list due to its sustainability initiatives aimed at reducing the overall environmental impact of the University through conservation and measurement, decarbonization and innovation. Among recent examples is the release of York’s own detailed emissions data and ecological footprint assessment, compiled by the Ecological Footprint Initiative at York. With its release, York became the first Canadian institution to compile and publicize its own comprehensive data of this nature.

The University also recently announced it would be accelerating its timeline and aiming to achieve net-zero emissions by 2040 – a decade sooner than its previous commitment.

This year’s Greenest Employers list recognized employee and senior-level involvement in new and ongoing sustainability projects across the University, such as annual Earth Month tree planting and campus clean-up events, community partnerships with organizations like the Global Footprint Network and the Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce, and York’s leadership in hosting the 2023 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, the largest fair-trade event in Canadian history.

Other notable sustainable features highlighted through the editorial competition were long-standing York waste management initiatives such as Zero Waste, York’s comprehensive, multifaceted waste management program that was first established in 1990 and has been expanding for over three decades. The program has continually surpassed its targets, growing from an initial goal of 50 per cent waste reduction to a recent achievement of 70 per cent of waste diverted from landfills in 2019.

In areas of teaching and research, York’s over 500 sustainability-focused courses supported its application in being named as a Greenest Employer, in addition to its Eco-Campus in Costa Rica that operates as a local, national and international school dedicated to education and research on neotropical conservation, eco-health, community well-being and sustainable livelihoods for neighbouring communities.

“York’s collaborative and holistic approach to sustainability has played a large part in why we continue to excel in sustainability leadership,” said Mike Layton, York’s first chief sustainability officer. “This work wouldn’t be possible without the support of students, faculty, instructors and staff. Community adoption of green initiatives and a continued desire to support the University in expanding its impact to create a more sustainable future is integral. This recognition is a reflection of community efforts.”

For more information about the Top 100 Awards that York has been recognized for, visit the Diversity Employers site or the Greenest Employers site.

Message de la présidente

York U letters in Vari Hall

Chère communauté de York,

En date du vendredi 19 avril, le syndicat SCFP (CUPE) 3903, qui représente les auxiliaires d’enseignement, le corps professoral contractuel et les auxiliaires de cycles supérieurs a ratifié les ententes provisoires conclues avec l’Université, après plusieurs mois de négociations collectives, mettant ainsi fin au conflit de travail.

Je souhaite exprimer toute ma gratitude aux équipes de négociation des deux parties prenantes pour leurs efforts visant à renouveler pour trois ans des conventions collectives qui prennent également en compte les ajustements salariaux rétroactifs liés à la Loi 124, dans le contexte budgétaire difficile où se trouve l’Université.

Maintenant que nous nous apprêtons à reprendre toutes nos activités universitaires, nous devons bien évidemment porter notre attention sur notre population étudiante et appuyer ses ambitions, qu’il s’agisse de terminer le trimestre de printemps, de commencer le trimestre d’été ou encore d’obtenir un diplôme de fin d’études, que ce soit au premier cycle ou aux cycles supérieurs.

Le succès étudiant est au cœur de la réalisation du plan académique de York, qui consiste notamment à bâtir sur notre solide réputation d’excellence pédagogique, sur l’excellente qualité de nos programmes, sur l’interdisciplinarité et l’innovation en recherche, sur des partenariats locaux et internationaux sous le signe de l’engagement, et sur une expérience universitaire chaleureuse et inclusive.

Bien que le secteur postsecondaire ontarien continue d’être confronté à des défis considérables, l’Université York est bien placée pour saisir les occasions qui se présentent à elle pour continuer d’investir dans son avenir.

Ensemble, nous avons accompli tant de choses, et nous avons raison d’être fiers de nos réalisations, comme en témoigne notre ascension régulière dans les classements mondiaux. Publié récemment, le classement mondial QS plaçait l’Université York parmi les 100 meilleures universités au monde dans trois disciplines, soit l’éducation, la langue anglaise et sa littérature, et la philosophie. Nous avons obtenu l’approbation du Gouvernement pour la création d’une école de médecine, ce qui permettra une fois de plus de réaffirmer notre engagement à répondre aux besoins en santé de l’Ontario. Par ailleurs, notre campus de Markham ouvrira ses portes cet automne pour ainsi créer davantage de possibilités pour plusieurs Facultés de faire fleurir le talent nécessaire dans de nouveaux domaines en émergence, au carrefour de l’entrepreneuriat et de la technologie.

Je suis certaine que vous vous réjouirez comme moi de la reprise de toutes les activités universitaires et que vous souhaiterez que l’on s’unisse en tant que communauté pour continuer de travailler à la réalisation de notre vision, qui consiste à offrir aux étudiants et étudiantes de tous les horizons une expérience universitaire positive.

Veuillez agréer mes sincères salutations, 

Rhonda Lenton
Présidente et vice-chancelière

A Message from the President

York U letters in Vari Hall

Voir la version francaise

Dear York community,

As of Friday, April 19, CUPE 3903 – the union representing teaching assistants, contract instructors and graduate assistants – and the University ratified the tentative agreements reached after many months of collective bargaining, ending the labour disruption.

I would like to express my thanks to the bargaining teams for both parties for their efforts to successfully achieve the three-year renewal collective agreements that also address Bill 124 retroactive payments with consideration to the pressing financial challenges faced by the University.

As we resume full academic operations our attention must necessarily be focused on our students and supporting their learning goals – whether they are completing the spring term, beginning the summer term, or graduating. This goal includes both our undergraduate and graduate students.

Ensuring their success is central to the realization of the University’s Academic Plan, which includes building on our well-established reputation for teaching excellence, high-quality academic programs, leading interdisciplinary research and innovation, engaged local and international collaboration, and a welcoming and inclusive campus experience.

While the higher education sector in Ontario continues to navigate significant challenges, York is well-positioned to seize the opportunities before us to continue investing in our future.

We have achieved so much together and have a great deal to be proud of as reflected in our steadily improving world rankings. The recently released 2024 QS World Rankings placed York among the top 100 in the world in three subject areas: education, English language and literature, and philosophy.

We have government approval to create a School of Medicine as a further extension of York’s commitment to meet the health care needs of Ontario and our Markham Campus opens this fall creating more opportunities for multiple Faculties to provide much needed talent in newly emerging fields being reshaped by entrepreneurship and technology.

I trust you will join me in welcoming the return to full academic operations and in coming together as a community to further the realization of our vision to provide our diverse students with a positive learning experience for all.


Rhonda Lenton
President and Vice-Chancellor

York invites community to participate in Safety and Health Week

two york students smiling and talking on campus BANNER

Safety and Health Week, which runs from May 6 to 10, 2024, spotlights the critical importance of health and safety in all facets of life — be it at work, home or within the community.

Throughout the week, York University will host webinars, activities and promotions related to workplace safety, health and connection. Faculty and staff are encouraged to participate individually or as a team to strengthen their sense of community and a shared commitment to health and safety.

Safety and Health Week at York University is more than just a series of events—it’s a part of our ongoing commitment to ensuring a safer and healthier environment for our community,” said Laina Bay-Cheng, interim vice-president, Equity, People and Culture. “We look forward to seeing you participate and thank you in advance for your engagement. We truly are better – in all senses of the word – together.”

Events and Activities

Health, Safety and Employee Well Being (HSEWB) invites all employees to take part in a variety of virtual events and downloadable activities designed to foster a culture of safety and good health.

Living Well With Stress

Led by TELUS Health
This seminar will teach participants how to effectively manage stress for optimal health, well-being, and workplace productivity.Date: Mon., May 6
Time: 1 – 2 p.m.
Format: virtual session
Who can participate? Staff, faculty and instructors
Championing Trans Inclusive Workplaces

Led by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
Join us for an enlightening and educational session with Dani Gomez-Ortega, a renowned diversity and inclusion champion.Date: Tues., May 7
Time: 11 a.m. – noon
Format: virtual session
Who can participate? Staff, faculty and instructors
Introduction to Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Employees

Led by TELUS Health
This seminar introduces the meaning and significance of psychological safety at work and explores actions employees can take to contribute towards a psychologically safe workplace for themselves and their teams.Date: Tues., May 7
Time: 1 – 2 p.m.
Format: virtual session
Who can participate? Staff, faculty and instructors
Plain Language Helps Workplace Health and Safety

Led by Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
Join writing and design expert Jocelyn Pletz, as she demonstrates how plain language and design principles connect with effective health and safety communication.Date: Wed., May 8
Time: 11 a.m. – noon
Format: virtual session
Who can participate? Staff, faculty and instructors
Posture Do’s and Don’ts – Chair Setup

Led by Health, Safety and Employee Well-being
A 30-minute interactive demonstration on how to understand and adjust your ergonomic chair. No equipment required.Date: Wed., May 8
Time: 1 – 1:30 p.m.
Format: In-person drop-in, York Lanes Room 280A
Who can participate? Staff, faculty and instructors
Register to receive a credit on YU Learn
Posture Do’s and Don’ts

Led by Health, Safety and Employee Well-being
A 30-minute seminar to learn the do’s and don’ts of neutral posture at your workstation.Date: Thu., May 9
Time: 1 – 1:30 p.m.
Format: virtual session
Who can participate? Staff, faculty and instructors
Crucial Conversations for Managers

Led by Organizational Learning and People Excellence.
This course examines various communication models to help move individuals from disagreement to dialogue.Date: Fri., May 10
Time: 10 a.m. – noon
Format: virtual session
Who can participate? Managers
B-Well BingoIt is important for our mental health and well-being to maintain social connections with colleagues. To help facilitate this, HSEWB has created a B-WELL Bingo that you can do as a team, or individually.Download Bingo card

For additional resources on ways to promote and sustain mental health and well-being, visit the Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP), HSEWB or Well-being at York.

To see more activities, or to learn more about the history of Safety and Health week, visit Safety and Health Week.

York University to mark National Day of Mourning

Vari Hall Plaza

Flags on York University campuses will be lowered to half-mast on April 26 and 28 in recognition of the National Day of Mourning, which honours individuals who have died, been injured, or suffered illness in the workplace.  

As the National Day of Mourning falls on a weekend this year, York University will recognize the event on Friday, April 26 with flags lowered to half-mast.

“On the National Day of Mourning, we remember those who lost their lives and those who became injured or ill in their workplace.  We reflect on the ways in which we can prevent future incidents and we reaffirm our commitment to developing and fostering a healthy and safe working environment for all York community members. Colleagues are invited to pause at 11 a.m. on April 26 to observe a moment of silence,” said Mary Catherine Masciangelo, assistant vice-president Human Resources and CHRO.

The National Day of Mourning was enacted on February 1, 1991, by an act of parliament. April 28 was selected because it coincides with the date of Ontario’s first Workers’ Compensation Act, approved by government in 1914. Canadian flags on Parliament Hill and at Queen’s Park will fly at half-mast on April 28. A minute of silence will be observed at 11 a.m.

To learn more about the National Day of Mourning, please visit: 

Employee Resources and Support

As a reminder, all York University employees and their immediate family members have access to confidential counselling 24 hours a day, seven days a week from the Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP), available at, or by telephone at 1-844-880-9142 (English), 1-844-880-9143 (French) and 1-877-338-0275 (TTY). There is also an online portal with 24-7 access and resources. Please visit yu link for additional information.

York receives $300K boost for research commercialization

Concept of idea and innovation with paper ball

York University’s Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation (VPRI) and the IP Innovation Clinic have received a second instalment – the first was received in 2023 – of $300,000 from the government of Ontario to advance its commercialization services, particularly for research and innovation related to artificial intelligence, automotive and medical technology.

The funding, announced on April 8 by Jill Dunlop, minister of colleges and universities, is from Intellectual Property Ontario (IPON), a provincial agency that provides IP support for Ontario businesses and researchers.

This marks the second year in a row the initiative has received $300,000 from the government as it works towards increasing patent filings, outreach and consultation.

“IPON’s continued and valued investment in York helps advance the University’s commitment to helping our researchers realize the full potential of their innovative work and amplify their community impact,” said Amir Asif, vice-president research and innovation. “Strengthening commercialization efforts at York and supporting entrepreneurs in the province through education and training create positive change for the people of Ontario and the province.”

The funding will enable the collaborating units to continue to provide a suite of intellectual property and commercialization services to researchers and their partners, with the goal of taking more of the University community’s great ideas from the lab to market. 

“Together with countless law students and our industry partners, we have saved over $2 million in legal fees to resource-scarce innovators seeking to commercialize their IP and grow Canadian companies. We look forward to fostering the success of many more,” said Pina D’Agostino, associate professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School and the founder of the IP Innovation Clinic. “We are grateful to Minister Dunlop and Intellectual Property Ontario for supporting the IP Innovation Clinic for a second year.”

D’Agostino continued: “Ultimately, this is also a big win for our students who can continue to get access to first-rate experiential learning to make them job-ready while helping those who do not have access to legal resources.”

York was one of 10 universities with an existing program to receive the renewed funding, totalling $1.7 million. IPON also announced a new investment of $2.9 million to help commercialize research at 10 institutions across Canada.

“This funding will help institutions across the province more effectively translate research into commercializable innovations, while ensuring the IP at their foundation is appropriately developed and protected,” said IPON CEO Dan Herman.

“Through the province’s support of IPON, our government is ensuring the social and economic benefits of publicly funded research stay in our province, so that Ontarians and the Ontario economy benefit from these new discoveries and innovations,” said Dunlop.

For the full announcement, visit the IPON website.

Watch the April 11 town hall

Laptop with York U webpage

Students, faculty, instructors, course directors and staff at York University were invited to a virtual town hall on April 11, 2024.

The town hall was presented by York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton. She and other members of the University leadership team were on hand to answer questions from the more than 900 people in attendance.

The full video of the town hall is now available to the York U community.

Community members can also find answers to questions submitted to the town hall on the Labour Disruption website’s FAQ.

Additional questions can be sent to

Staff member illustrates leadership in globally networked learning

image of the world on laptop BANNER

Francesca Boschetti, associate director of the York University English Language Institute (YUELI) in the School of Continuing Studies, gave a talk at the Languages Canada Annual Conference in Vancouver showcasing her groundbreaking work in globally networked learning.

Francesca Boschetti
Francesca Boschetti

A collaborative approach to research and teaching that allows students, instructors and researchers from around the world to work together, globally networked learning holds a special place in Boschetti’s heart because of her own journey as a language student and advocate for multiculturalism.

“I grew up in Italy and studied multiple foreign languages throughout my schooling and into university, where I concentrated on language teaching and learning,” explains Boschetti, who has spent her career figuring out how to best weave internationalization initiatives into language programs in the Canadian university setting.

Boschetti’s talk, titled “Globally Networked Learning: Internationalization at Home in English Language Classes,” focused on setting up virtual exchanges to provide students from universities in different parts of the world with an opportunity to connect with each other and enhance their intercultural communication and networking skills.

To illustrate her approach, Boschetti discussed the globally networked learning project she launched in collaboration with York International and YUELI in Winter 2022 – a year-long virtual exchange between English for Academic Purposes students at YUELI and English for Hotel Administration students at Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM), a university in the Dominican Republic. Students involved in the exchange interacted through online activities, including message board chats, group discussions on Zoom, and friendly competitions and games.

“Cross-cultural communication and collaboration have a transformative power,” says Boschetti. “Witnessing our students thrive in the classroom, honing their language skills, forging new friendships and gaining invaluable cultural insights reaffirms my commitment to fostering an inclusive, globally connected learning environment.”

In her presentation, Boschetti detailed how the institute identified a university partner, designed programming, collaborated with instructors and engaged different cohorts of students. She shared the best practices, learning outcomes, strategies and challenges they encountered.

Many attendees approached her afterwards, seeking advice on how to successfully launch similar programs at their own institutions, which is exactly the response she was hoping for.

“As we thrive to enrich the student experience,” says Boschetti, “initiatives such as virtual language exchanges serve as catalysts for meaningful engagement and intercultural dialogue.”

Join the York community for a virtual town hall on April 11

Laptop with York U webpage

La version française suit la version anglaise.

Dear York community,

I invite you to join me for a virtual town hall on Thursday, April 11. This town hall is an opportunity for members of our community to ask questions, and to share feedback and ideas on how we can work together to drive positive change.

Participants are required to register for the town hall in advance using their York U email. Questions and comments can be submitted prior to and during the event by emailing Learn more about the upcoming event on the Community Conversations website.

Date: Thursday, April 11

Time: 2:30 to 4 p.m.

Link to register:

I hope you will join me along with other members of the York University leadership team.


Rhonda Lenton
President and Vice-Chancellor

Le 11 avril, joignez-vous à la communauté de York pour une conversation communautaire virtuelle 

Chers membres de la communauté de York, 

Je vous invite à assister à la conversation communautaire virtuelle du jeudi 11 avril. Cette conversation communautaire est l’occasion pour les membres de notre communauté de poser des questions et d’exprimer leurs idées sur des façons de travailler ensemble pour susciter des changements positifs. 

Pour participer, vous devez vous inscrire à l’avance à la conversation communautaire avec votre adresse courriel de l’Université York. Vous pouvez soumettre vos questions et vos commentaires avant et pendant l’événement en envoyant un courriel à Pour en savoir plus sur l’événement, visitez le site Web des Conversations communautaires. 

Date : Jeudi 11 avril 

Heure : De 14 h 30 à 16 h     

Lien pour s’inscrire :

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

J’espère que vous vous joindrez à moi et aux autres membres de l’équipe de direction de l’Université York. 
Sincères salutations,     

Rhonda Lenton  
Présidente et vice-chancelière