Office of the President Thu, 08 Feb 2018 13:57:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Sanofi Pasteur and NSERC invest in $2.6 million collaboration at York University to combat infectious diseases with Math Tue, 23 Jan 2018 16:43:00 +0000 A major new research initiative based in the Faculty of Science at York University will develop mathematical techniques to identify populations most susceptible to infectious diseases and enable manufacturers to produce cost-effective vaccines that can be deployed quickly. The research is also expected to better position Canada to respond rapidly to emerging public health issues such as Zika outbreaks.

The $2.6-million NSERC/Sanofi Industrial Research Chair in Vaccine Mathematics, Modelling and Manufacturing, awarded to York University Distinguished Research Professor Jianhong Wu, was announced at York today.  A professor in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics, Faculty of Science, Wu will lead a large team of York professors, post-doctoral fellows and graduate students.

York University Distinguished Research Professor Jianhong Wu Faculty of Science

Sanofi Pasteur, which has previously collaborated with York on a number of major projects related to infectious disease modelling, will invest $1.5 million over five years. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) will provide $1 million through its Industrial Research Chair program, established to help universities build on existing strengths in areas of interest to industry. The remainder will be contributed by York University through various supports.

Manufacturers of vaccines in Canada are facing a number of significant challenges: the increasing cost of developing vaccines, the need to move rapidly from development and production of vaccines to mass use in target populations; and the complexity of understanding how infectious disease is transmitted, in an increasingly interconnected world.

Canadian vaccine manufacturers and regulatory authorities need to be able to make evidence-based predictions and develop new technologies to analyze how diseases are transmitted. Wu and his team will develop fundamental mathematical theories, methodologies, techniques and tools to analyze infection risk in populations, map the spread of disease through mathematical modelling and conduct cost-benefit analyses of immunization programs based on vaccine efficiency and industrial production capacity.

The IRC program will include projects that will study: the use of vaccines to address hospital acquired infections such as Clostridium difficile (C.diff) and the need to combat colonization of hospital wards; transmission of influenza in three-generation households to determine if there are segments of the population where the high-dose flu vaccine should be targeted; and the impact of childhood immunization on transmission of disease, along with optimal programs of booster follow-ups.

Sanofi Pasteur will benefit from the mathematical methodologies and technologies developed as well as the datasets collected and analyzed. York students will benefit from Sanofi Pasteur’s research and development expertise, and gain valuable experiential education opportunities, as they train to become Canada’s next generation of experts in mathematical modelling, data analytics, economic evaluation and infectious disease dynamics.

Wu, who is also a Canada Research Chair in Industrial and Applied Mathematics, founded York’s Centre for Disease Modelling, which has developed many international partnerships: with China on communicable disease modelling and management; with India on vector-borne disease informatics; with Brazil on health informatics; and with many European and North American groups on a wide variety of major diseases. The Industrial Research Chair project will use his Laboratory for Industrial and Applied Mathematics and York’s Advanced Disaster, Emergency and Rapid Response Simulation facilities.


“The NSERC/Sanofi Industrial Research Chair grant is a testimony to the leadership that both NSERC and Sanofi Pasteur provide in supporting impactful research excellence and innovation at York University. As an innovative scientist and a leader in his field, Dr. Wu is the well-deserving recipient of this Industrial Research Chair grant, which will leverage the world-class disease modelling expertise at York to meet significant challenges faced by Canadian vaccine manufacturers.”
Rhonda L. Lenton, President and Vice-Chancellor, York University

“NSERC’s Industrial Research Chairs provide a unique platform that combines the forces of academic and industry partners, turning great ideas into real-world solutions. Dr. Wu and his team’s new mathematical technologies could help cut development costs and the time to bring vaccines to market, accelerating the impact on patients’ health.”
B. Mario Pinto, President, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada

“Sanofi in Canada is proud to support this collaborative effort. It is another great example of how industry, academia and government can come together to benefit Canadians and support the advancement of science in our country. As Canada’s leading investor in biopharmaceutical R&D, having consistently invested a minimum of approximately double the industry commitment of our revenues each year, we look forward to seeing the results of this partnership and how it will help to empower the lives of Canadians.”
Niven Al-Khoury, President, Sanofi Canada

“Establishing the NSERC/Sanofi Industrial Research Chair at York University will not only accelerate frontline research and support Canadian industry, but also help improve the wellbeing of people around the globe. It is yet another example of the exciting research initiatives in York’s Faculty of Science that engage our faculty members and students with partners in the public and private sectors to enhance value and maximize impact.”
Ray Jayawardhana, Dean, Faculty of Science, York University

“The dedicated resources this collaboration brings will enable us to focus on infectious diseases that are critically important to the health of Canadians. With access to clinical trial data and vaccine efficacy data from both public agencies and the private sector, we will use mathematical modelling to inform the most efficient and cost-effective ways to immunize the public against these diseases.”
Jianhong Wu, York University Distinguished Research Professor, Faculty of Science

First-ever Canadian 'Dreamers' head to York University Tue, 16 Jan 2018 14:54:32 +0000 Rosa is part of a group of 10 students with precarious refugee status to enter York University. CBC Toronto is not showing her face and is withholding her last name because her case is still being processed.

Rosa is part of a group of 10 students with precarious refugee status to enter York University. CBC Toronto is not showing her face and is withholding her last name because her case is still being processed. (David Donnelly/CBC)


Like many so-called "Dreamers" in the U.S., Rosa grew up in constant fear of being deported from Texas back to El Salvador.

From the mid-to-late 2000s, before then-president Barack Obama introduced Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA) for people who had arrived illegally in the US as children, immigration raids were common and Rosa worried she might never get a chance to go to university.

Obama announced DACA in 2012. But just months before the policy change, the raids became so frequent that Rosa and her family fled to Canada and ended up in Toronto.

DACA was rescinded last year by President Trump, throwing the future of 800,000 undocumented young people in the U.S. in doubt. Unlike their American counterparts, many Canadian "dreamers" are documented because they've claimed refugee status.

CBC Toronto is not using Rosa's last name, because her immigration status in Canada is still precarious. But her dream of going to university finally became reality last fall when she was selected for a pilot project at York University — the first such program in Canada — allowing 10 young people whose immigration status is uncertain to study for a degree.

"At the time I was freaking out! You can ask anybody," said Rosa. "I was like, 'What if I didn't pass the interview?' But I did and now I'm here. And hopefully next semester I make an actual video."

At 23, Rosa is in her first year of film studies at York. She was referred to the program by FCJ Refugee Centre, Toronto's oldest agency assisting refugees, which collaborated on the pilot project with York University.

'Thousands of 'dreamers' in Canada'

Francisco Ricco, co-founder of FCJ, says up to 30 young people come through the centre every week. At a weekly youth group, they form friendships and share fears about their uncertain future.

Two years ago, he approached York University to discuss the possibility of a pilot project for those young people.

"We hear a lot about dreamers in the States," Ricco told CBC Toronto. "But we have thousands of dreamers in Canada and we never hear about them."

York University's Rhonda Lentin

For York University president Rhonda Lentin, the pilot project is a chance to expand access to education for young people with precarious immigration status. (David Donnelly/CBC)


At the York's new subway station, Rosa was surprised recently to be greeted by Rhonda Lenton, president of the university.

Hearing that a CBC crew was speaking to a couple of students from the pilot project for young people with precarious immigration status, Lenton asked if she could come along to introduce herself. Lenton hadn't personally met any of the first cohort, even though she'd made the pilot project a priority in her first year as president.  

It was hard to tell that morning who was more excited — Lenton to meet a couple of the new students, or the students to meet the university president.

Across Canada, Lenton estimates there could be anywhere from 200,000 to half a million young people in Canada, whose immigration status is uncertain — the precise number is hard to know — who have little chance of entering Canadian universities.

"One of the most important things we can give them," Lenton said, "is access to higher education while they're waiting to learn about their status."

While many Canadian schools, including those in the Toronto District School Board, have a "don't ask, don't tell policy" when it comes to students of uncertain immigration status, there's no such policy governing the next chapter of their lives after they graduate from high school.

Dwayne precarious immigration student York

Dwayne, a first year student at York University, is heading to a class in Canadian public policy. (David Donnelly/CBC)


The year after Rosa's family crossed into Canada at the border near Buffalo, Dwayne arrived at Toronto's Pearson airport with his mother. (We're not using Dwayne's real name either, because his refugee application is also still being process).

In 2011, Dwayne and his mother had fled a shelter in Namibia, where they say they were hiding from Dwayne's violently abusive father, after his father tracked them down and attacked his mother. In Toronto, they lived in another shelter for three weeks before finally ending up in a motel on Kingston Road, where Dwayne says most of the other residents are also refugee claimants from Africa.  

Dwayne says he'll never forget his first class at York. There weren't many courses available late last summer, by the time York University and FCJ finally settled the details of the pilot project, so Dwayne was nervous and unsure of his goals when he walked into a vast lecture hall for a third-year course in the history of Canadian public policy.

'Better not only yourself, but everyone'

But he was intrigued as he began learning how public policy evolved in Canada and how it contrasts with the U.S. approach.

Rhonda Lentin, York University, student with precarious refugee status

York University's Rhonda Lenton asks Dwayne about his first year in a new pilot program, the only opportunity for young people with an uncertain immigration status to attend university in Canada. (David Donnelly/CBC)


"It's funny," said Dwayne, "because growing up, I never thought of being a public servant. But coming here and life whacking me left and right, I feel like public service is where I'm going."

Dwayne sees an opportunity in public service "to better not only yourself, but everyone" and he hopes that someday his own experiences will help him shape Canada's refugee process.

"You're in a state of limbo. That's the best word for it, because all you can do is wait."

Rhonda Lintern York University

York president Rhonda Lenton says the university is receiving more applications, not just from the U.S., but from around the world because of growing uncertainty about the future of immigration in the U.S. (David Donnelly/CBC)


One of Lenton's own goals as York's new president is to expand access to education at the university over the next five years. Until now, the only option for young people whose immigration status is uncertain was to apply as foreign students. The reality is that none of them can afford the tuition fees, which many times more expensive than for Canadian students.

"Thinking about that access agenda for York," says Lenton, "a couple of populations really emerged as important: Indigenous students and those students with precarious immigrant status."

In the U.S., so-called Dreamers have become a major political force, taking to the streets and the headlines to protest after Trump ended the DACA program.

Canadian dreamers, on the other hand, are all but invisible, with York University the only major institution to acknowledge their growing presence. 

Funding for the first year of the small pilot came from a Pan Am Games grant from the city of Toronto to improve equity, access and human rights. That funding runs out in March and there's no guarantee the pilot project will become permanent. 

For now, Lenton says the university hopes to land a new grant from the Laidlaw Foundation to support its first 10 students for another two years. 

Mary Wiens · Journalist/ Producer | Metro Morning · CBC News
January 15, 2018

York University welcomes two new subway stops to Keele campus Fri, 15 Dec 2017 19:19:28 +0000 With the official opening of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) Line 1 extension, York University welcomes two new subway stops: the York University stop in the heart of the Keele Campus, and the Pioneer Village stop which sits at the north side of campus, on Steeles Avenue. The subway extension is a transformative and long anticipated public transportation option for York’s more than 60,000 community members.

The new subway stops connect York’s Keele Campus to York Region and the City of Toronto, in an efficient and sustainable way.

“We are grateful for the tremendous efforts of all who helped to make the subway extension a reality, including our government and community partners,” said Rhonda L. Lenton, President and Vice-Chancellor. “Enhanced public transportation is essential to ensuring that our students, faculty, staff and alumni have ready access to our campuses. It increases our connectedness with communities and partners across the Greater Toronto Area, facilitates research collaboration, work-integrated learning, and enhances York University as a destination.”

Youtube time-lapse video of TTC subway construction at York University

Click on the above image to watch the time-lapse video "Six Years in 30 Seconds" of subway station construction at York University


The combined total investment of about $3.2 billion, thanks to the Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario, the City of Toronto, and York Region in this vital public transportation infrastructure, delivers on meaningful, sustainable and efficient changes that benefit the entire community.

Construction of the TTC’s University-Spadina subway line extension into York Region began in 2011, but some subway advocates have been urging governments toward this investment for more than three decades.

The York University and Pioneer Village Subway Stations are part of an 8.6 km–six station Line 1 extension. This extension stretches from Sheppard West Station (formerly Downsview Station) northwest through York University within the City of Toronto and north to the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, in The Regional Municipality of York.

York University Markham Centre Campus will feature light-filled flexible space for students Wed, 29 Nov 2017 17:35:56 +0000 York University’s Board of Governors has approved the preliminary design and budget for the York University Markham Centre Campus project, an important milestone along the way to opening the new campus in September, 2021.

Approval of the design and budget for the approximately $253 million project means the design development phase will now begin, including production of construction documents in preparation for tendering. The university intends to start construction by the end of 2018.

“This important milestone sets a clear path toward York’s new Markham Centre Campus opening its doors in 2021,” said York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton. “We look forward to getting shovels in the ground on a new campus that will contribute significantly to helping us realize our vision for York as well as to city-building in Markham. The Markham Centre Campus supports our commitment to increase access to a high-quality, research-intensive university education, and to enhancing our connectedness to local and international communities. We have outstanding partners in Markham and we are eager to move this exciting project forward.”

The York University Markham Centre Campus , located west of the Markham Pan Am Centre, will offer 4,200 students in a high-growth part of the province access to more than 20 degree programs, including a variety of professional programs as well as innovative joint programs with York’s academic partner on the project, Seneca College. York will partner with local businesses and industry to provide unique experiential learning opportunities for students and contribute to the region’s major economic clusters.

York University’s new campus will become an integral part of Markham’s city centre, an important city-building initiative by York in cooperation with the City of Markham and surrounding neighbours and stakeholders.

Preliminary design for the campus, by Diamond Schmitt Architects Inc., features a large, landscaped campus commons area and a 10-storey building at the southeast corner of Enterprise Boulevard and Rivis Road. A four-storey podium with double-height glazing will create strong visual impact, maximize light penetration into the building, and enhance a sense of connectedness with the neighbourhood. The new campus will welcome about 1,000 students per year after it opens in 2021, increasing to 4,200 over four years.

The design process followed extensive consultation and workshops with representatives of York Faculties to gather information about planned courses, requirements for teaching and learning space and projected enrolment, and reflects what students said in a university-wide survey about what they value in terms of common space. The result is a preliminary design that will maximize flexibility and focus on access and student life.

The Ontario government committed in June to provide $127.3 million toward the cost of the new campus which will be built on a site of approximately five acres that will be contributed by the City of Markham, and the Regional Municipality of York will invest $25 million in the new campus. York is also raising funds for this important project from its alumni and friends as part of Impact - The Campaign for York University.

For more information about the Markham Centre Campus click here.
High resolution photo, click here.

President Lenton makes the case for building an inclusive economy Thu, 16 Nov 2017 14:27:46 +0000 Each year, Ontario’s most influential leaders gather at the Ontario Economic Summit, hosted by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. The two-day event presents an unparalleled opportunity to share insight, explore opportunities, and most importantly, to shape public policy.

Above: From left, Andrew Pickersgill (co-chair of the summit and managing partner of McKinsey & Co.), Roberta Jamieson (president of Indspire), York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton, and Kevin Lynch, vice-chair of BMO Financial


This year, York University’s president participated in the summit as part of her drive to engage in high priority conversations that will shape the future of higher education in Ontario. President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton attended the summit on Nov. 9 and 10 and participated in a highly anticipated panel discussion, “Defining Inclusive Economic Growth.” Lenton engaged in the important discussion with Roberta Jamieson, president of Indspire, and Kevin Lynch, vice-chair of BMO Financial. The moderator of the panel was Andrew Pickersgill, co-chair of the summit and managing partner of McKinsey & Co.

As Lenton outlined in her remarks, Ontario’s universities play a vital role in preparing students for a global knowledge economy and York University is well positioned to lead in this area. Lenton’s unique perspective shaped the discussion by pressing for greater focus on the importance of social innovation and the contribution of the humanities and social sciences in the economy. “We cannot afford to leave behind any motivated and qualified individual who wishes to pursue post-secondary education,” she said.

Lenton’s term as York University’s eighth president and vice-chancellor began in July, and since then she has been working to ensure the University is positioned at the forefront when it comes to her four areas of focus: access, connectedness, excellence and impact.

From tea to 3D, York University opens YSpace, a new innovation hub in Markham Mon, 06 Nov 2017 19:58:42 +0000 Today, York University announced the official opening of YSpace, its new innovation and entrepreneurship centre in Markham aimed at helping budding entrepreneurs turn bright ideas into action. York University’s President Rhonda Lenton was joined by Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti and International Trade Minister Michael Chan (MPP Markham-Unionville) to mark the occasion. A number of York University’s key entrepreneurs showcased their technologies and products in the YSpace “maker space” and “co-working space.”

Entrepreneurs from Studio 1 Labs, which has developed a functional bed sheet patient monitor, explain the device’s function to York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton and City of Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti at the opening of YSpace.


York University’s new co-working and maker space offers students and community entrepreneurs and innovators a place to build and scale their ventures, connect with industry and not-for-profit partners, and provides them with access to programs designed to build their entrepreneurial skills.

With York’s Markham Centre campus scheduled to open in 2021, the University is actively taking steps to cultivate new connections that foster a strong and growing culture of teaching, learning, research and innovation.

“This exciting new phase of York’s investment in Markham will help to shape our relationship for years to come,” said York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton. “YSpace will serve as a vital hub in Markham where students, educators, business leaders, and inventors can come together to collaborate. YSpace will also importantly support our commitment to ensuring that every student has an experiential education opportunity, while showcasing York’s commitment to increasing access to a high-quality, research-intensive university education, enhancing our connectedness to our communities, and contributing to the social and economic impact of the region through innovation and entrepreneurship. We look forward to many years of building York University and Markham together.”

“YSpace is the perfect fit for our city,” says Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti. “We are thrilled to be partnering with York University.  This new innovative hub is where great thinkers, innovators and entrepreneurs will join forces to excel in a knowledge-based world economy while building on Markham’s stellar reputation for having a highly educated, skilled and diverse workforce. I’m also excited high school students will have access to YSpace, which will set them on the path to success.”

YSpace builds on the success of Innovation York, the University’s innovation office. Innovation York’s goal is to facilitate and maximize the commercial, economic, and social impacts of research and innovation, and to create a culture of engaged scholarship and experiential learning.

“Innovation York, York’s innovation office, offers entrepreneurs and innovators an opportunity to become a part of community at YSpace Markham,” Vice-President Research & Innovation Robert Haché explains. “A community that is supportive, that offers training programs to develop skill-sets, co-working space, and facilities to build prototypes and even products, is essential if we are going to support entrepreneurs and give them the best opportunity for success.”

A dozen startups that have benefited from Innovation York’s programs and services were at the official opening of YSpace to demonstrate how they have transformed their bright ideas into products and services, including: a cloud-based healthcare analytics platform that helps hospitals improve their efficiency and reduce costs; a new freeze drying technology which addresses the problems of affordability and efficiency of current freeze dryers; technology that provides media and entertainment options to users in rideshare cars and tracks behaviour; and finally, a one-stop shop for senior care.

York University launches Indigenous Framework, appoints special advisor to the president on Indigenous initiatives Mon, 06 Nov 2017 14:05:40 +0000 York University will further its commitment to equity and social justice with the launch of its Indigenous Framework and the appointment of a special advisor to the president on Indigenous initiatives.

The Indigenous Framework for York University is the culmination of several years’ work by members of York’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities and the engagement of Indigenous community partners. It builds on the University’s distinct values, traditions, history and vision.

In June, York University’s Hart House was renamed Skennen’kó:wa Gamig or the House of Great Peace. It is on the traditional territory of several Indigenous nations


The framework addresses the recently adopted University Academic Plan (UAP) and its call for a pan-University Indigenous strategy. It echoes broader initiatives within the postsecondary educational system in Ontario and Canada, including the “Principles on Indigenous Education” developed by Universities Canada in 2015.

“The Indigenous Framework makes an important contribution to our shared commitment to reconciliation and to fostering stronger connections with and support for the Indigenous community at York and beyond,” said York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton. “It is an important milestone in a continuing process that will see the 10 principles put into action. This new framework will advance our vision of being a connected University through expanded participation of Indigenous students, faculty and staff, as well as increased engagement with Indigenous knowledge and communities. More broadly, the framework embodies the four pillars I believe are foundational to York’s success in the years ahead – excellence, access, connectedness and impact.”

Students from Kiiwednong Aboriginal Head Start planted handmade hearts in the Heart Garden at Skennen’kó:wa Gamig


Integral to York’s pan-university framework is the need to engage Indigenous communities both inside and outside York. Engaging Indigenous students, staff and faculty will help to enrich teaching and research, as well as all students’ learning experiences.

“The release of our framework is a significant step forward for York, as it reaffirms what we can achieve and aspire to when the University works respectfully and in collaboration with Indigenous communities,” said interim Vice-President Academic and Provost Lisa Philipps. “The framework was developed in partnership with York’s Indigenous Council, engaging both Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members at York, and has created a strong foundation from which we will continue to build upon in response to the Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Call to Action.”

The Indigenous Framework’s 10 recommendations are as follows:

  1. Expand the role of the Indigenous Council.
  2. Increase the number of Indigenous faculty.
  3. Enhance the recruitment and academic success of Indigenous students.
  4. Expand Indigenous programming and curricular offerings which explore Indigenous life, cultures and traditions.
  5. Facilitate research that is relevant to Indigenous life, and respects Indigenous approaches to knowledge and learning.
  6. Engage with Indigenous communities to enrich the learning process.
  7. Establish spaces for Indigenous cultures and community within the University.
  8. Ensure that the perceptions and experiences of Indigenous community members are reflected in the classroom, on campus and in university life.
  9. Develop and expand educational opportunities for Indigenous communities.
  10. Ensure the process for developing, implementing and evaluating this framework involves Indigenous community members both within and outside the University.

The entire Indigenous Framework document can be viewed online.

The framework will be shared through a series of Community Engagement Sessions throughout 2018, where community members can provide feedback and support the University to develop strategies and approaches that fulfill the framework’s recommendations. Community engagement sessions will be organized into three themes: Teaching and Learning; Research; and Arts, History and Language. Each session will be co-facilitated by an Indigenous faculty member and a senior administrator.

Ruth Koleszar-Green

Ruth Koleszar-Green


To support the framework’s community engagement process and implementation, the University has appointed Professor Ruth Koleszar-Green as special advisor to the president on Indigenous initiatives.

“I welcome Prof. Koleszar-Green into this new role,” said Lenton. “She demonstrates a commitment to working with and across the University, and her expertise will be invaluable as we engage the broader community in dialogue to develop concrete actions that will welcome and embed Indigenous knowledge at York.”

Koleszar-Green, co-chair, Indigenous Council at York U and professor in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LAPS), is a citizen of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. She is from the Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) nation and is a member of the Turtle Clan. She holds a master’s in social work from Ryerson University and a PhD from the University of Toronto/OISE in adult education and community development. She began teaching in 2008 and has been a faculty member at York since 2014.

Koleszar-Green identifies as an urban Indigenous person, who has strong ties to the Toronto urban community where she has lived and worked for over 20 years. She has been an academic advisor to Indigenous students at Ryerson, and has supported Indigenous women and children impacted by family violence. She has also worked with Indigenous youth around issues of food security. She is an active member of the Aboriginal Legal Services Community Council, where she facilitates restorative justice spaces.

Koleszar-Green has served as a member on the Ontario Income Security Working Group for the Ministry of Community & Social Services. She has co-chaired the Indigenous Council at York for the past two years.

“I am very honoured to accept this appointment, as I see it as public declaration of commitment by President Lenton and the University in supporting and advancing Indigenous students, staff and faculty,” said Koleszar-Green. “The Indigenous Framework calls for an expansion of the Indigenous Council, as it can play a pivotal role in helping to advance the University’s reconciliation and Indigeneity agenda and this appointment is in line to do just that.”

York University, Fermilab agree to joint appointment in support of gigantic neutrino experiment Tue, 17 Oct 2017 18:31:28 +0000 image of York U Faculty of Science Dean, York U President and Director of Fermilab Nigel Lockyer signing an MOU

From left, Dean of York U's Faculty of Science Ray Jayawardhana, President and Vice-Chancellor of York U Rhonda Lenton and Nigel Lockyer, Director of Fermilab

TORONTO, October 17, 2017 – Neutrinos are tiny, abundant particles of matter that pass unnoticed through us and almost always through the Earth, but the full extent of their role in the universe remains a mystery. Neutrinos may hold the key to fundamental questions about the nature of matter, exploding stars and cosmic evolution.

Today, York University took a significant step to strengthen its involvement in the next great neutrino physics experiment, being hosted by the United States and under construction, with a view to deciphering the elusive properties of these ubiquitous particles.

The Faculty of Science at York University and the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) announced an agreement to jointly appoint a scientist who will participate in the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment(DUNE). It is the first such agreement Fermilab has signed for the experiment with a university outside the United States, and York is the only Canadian university currently involved in the international DUNE collaboration spanning 31 countries.

From left, Dean of York U's Faculty of Science Ray Jayawardhana, President and Vice-Chancellor of York U Rhonda Lenton and Nigel Lockyer, Director of Fermilab

From left, Dean of York U's Faculty of Science Ray Jayawardhana, President and Vice-Chancellor of York U Rhonda Lenton and Nigel Lockyer, Director of Fermilab

“This landmark agreement with Fermilab is a wonderful reflection of York’s and the Faculty of Science’s commitment to world-class, groundbreaking research,” said Rhonda Lenton, President and Vice-Chancellor of York University. “It will provide exciting opportunities for our researchers and students to make a global impact.”

“We are delighted to partner with Fermilab and to have York scientists involved in one of the most exciting and ambitious new ventures in the world of physics,” said Ray Jayawardhana, Dean of the Faculty of Science and author of the popular science book Neutrino Hunters. “Neutrinos play a starring role from the subatomic realm to the cosmic scale, so pinning down their characteristics will help scientists address fundamental questions.”

Nigel Lockyer, Director of Fermilab, said “Fermilab is pleased that YorkU and Canada are joining the international community to build the world’s most ambitious neutrino detector and to measure the properties of this enigmatic particle.”

The newly recruited researcher will be based in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the Faculty of Science at York University, where scientists already collaborate on large, multi-national particle physics projects like the T2K neutrino experiment in Japan and the ATLAS and the ALPHA experiments at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland.

Image of how neutrinos will be captured in DUNE experiment

DUNE is expected to make transformative discoveries that will deepen scientific understanding of neutrinos and their role in the universe, the dynamics of the supernovae that produced the heavy elements necessary for life, and the possibility of proton decay.

The experiment involves more than 1,020 scientists and the excavation of 800,000 tons of rock to build the Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility (LBNF) required for this experiment. LBNF will comprise the world's most intense neutrino beam and include two detectors installed at Fermilab near Chicago and 1,300 km away at the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead, South Dakota. Groundbreaking for the experiment took place last July, and prototype detectors are under construction at CERN.

York U to confer four honorary degrees at fall convocation Tue, 17 Oct 2017 15:09:30 +0000 Four outstanding individuals will be recognized with honorary degrees at York University's fall convocation ceremonies, taking place Wednesday, Oct. 18 to Friday, Oct. 20.

The honorary degrees will mark the contributions of an innovative entrepreneur, a business leader, a social justice activist and a champion of gender equality.

Ceremonies on Wednesday and Thursday will take place at the Aviva Centre, 1 Shoreham Drive, York University, Keele campus. The Kellogg-Schulich Executive MBA ceremony on Friday will take place in the McEwen Auditorium, Seymour Schulich Building, also located on the Keele campus.

Here are the recipients in order of the Faculty ceremonies at which they will be honoured:

Vincent Tao – innovator, entrepreneur and visionary
Doctor of Laws
Wednesday, Oct. 18, 3:30pm – Faculty of Education, Faculty of Health and Lassonde School of Engineering
A founding faculty member of York University's Geomatics Engineering program at the Lassonde School of Engineering, Vincent Tao has evolved into a global entrepreneur in the fields of technology, media and the Internet. Growing up in Shanghai, China, Tao moved to Canada in 1995 and proceeded to change the global approach to technology.

His pioneering research in the field of geomatics led to Tao's work with spatial mapping, and eventually to the development of 3D mapping software – a precursor to Google Earth. In 2005, he was invited by Microsoft to join Bill Gates' strategic program – Internet mapping. After a career at Microsoft, Tao founded PPTV, which is now China's leading online TV provider, with more than 320 million users. In 2014, he founded Z Ventures Group, designed to invest and develop companies in the fields of technology, media and the Internet.

Tao has continued to author hundreds of papers and holds a number of patents. He has received many awards, most specifically, the 2016 Top 30 Tech Investor, and the Ernst & Young Most Impactful Entrepreneur Award. He currently holds adjunct professor positions with five international universities and sits on the board of a student-oriented charity organization in China. From 2001 to 2006, Tao was honoured with a Canada Research Chair professorship at York University.

As a technological visionary, Tao embodies the admirable qualities of a leader, innovator and entrepreneur. He inspires new generations with his groundbreaking research because he recognizes the importance of education to change the world.

Rudy Bratty – solicitor, developer, philanthropist and inspirational business leader
Doctor of Laws
Thursday, Oct. 19, 10:30am
 – Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies – I
Referred to as 'The Man Who Built Toronto', Rudy Bratty is synonymous with real estate development in Southern Ontario and indeed throughout Canada. Born in Toronto in 1932, Bratty was building and selling homes by the age of 17 to finance his education at the University of Toronto. He then obtained his law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School before being called to the bar in 1957, and was eventually appointed Queen's Counsel in 1970.

With his legal career focused on real estate and development law, Bratty expanded his interests by serving on sports, entertainment, and publishing boards including Canada Trust Company, Financial Post, Toronto Blue Jays, Cineplex Odeon, and Brampton Brick. He has also served on several hospital boards including St. Michael's Hospital, the North York General Hospital Foundation, and the Banting and Best Diabetes Centre.

A notable philanthropist, Bratty has supported Toronto's cultural communities for decades. As a result, he has an extensive list of accolades, including a star on the Italian Walk of Fame, Queen Elizabeth II Gold and Diamond Jubilee Medals, the Human Relations Award by the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews, and the Canadian Italian Business and Professional Association's Business Excellence Award.

He is the son of Italian immigrants, and so it is fitting that wing of the museum in Halifax's Pier 21 is dedicated the Rudolph P. Bratty Exhibition Hall. Bratty is a community leader who has pursued excellence in business and community service, and he continues to improve Canada with his generosity.

Angela Robertson – social justice activist and advocate for women's and low-income people's rights
Doctor of Laws
Thursday, Oct. 19, 3:30pm – School of Arts, Media, Performance & Design, Faculty of  Environmental Studies, and Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies – II
Dedicated to people and communities facing discrimination, poverty and marginalization, Angela Robertson is a passionate feminist leader whose activism and career is focused on community support. A proud York alumna, Robertson is the type of action-person that cities yearn to have on their frontlines.

Beginning in the 1990s, Robertson worked as an editor of social issues manuscripts at Women's Educational Press, served as an advisor to the Minister Responsible for Women's Issues, was a manager at Homes First Society and the Community Social Planning Council of Toronto, and was the executive director of Sistering – A Woman's Place for more than a decade. Since then, she has expanded this impressive resume to include a directorship at Women's College Hospital, and is currently the executive director of Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre. Each vocation benefited from her undiminished passion and leadership.

Whether the challenge is battling the feminization of poverty, the struggles of the homeless, LGBTQ rights, racism, or eliminating the stigma of HIV/AIDS, Robertson has embraced the task. She been recognized with a number of awards including: the Urban Alliance on Race Relations Award, the YWCA Woman of Distinction Award for Social Change, the Rubena Willis Women of Distinction Award for work on violence against women, the Women's Post Top 20 Women of 2010 Award, and the Fred Victor Centre Mary Sheffield Award for work addressing poverty and homelessness in the City of Toronto. She has also been recognized by Toronto's NOW Magazine as one of the top 10 community activists on social justice issues and one of six Toronto LGBTQ heroes worth celebrating.

A proponent for equity and justice, Robertson embodies the principles of York University and is an inspiration for all members of society.

Ronald Mock – corporate leader, investment guru and champion of gender equality
Doctor of Laws
Friday, Oct. 20, 10am – Schulich School of Business: Kellogg-Schulich Executive MBA
As one of Canada's most influential CEOs, Ronald Mock has balanced his career with financial success and social responsibility. A proud York University alumnus and member of the Schulich School of Business Dean's Advisory Council, Mock insists "Business is always about the people.”

Starting his career as an electrical engineer with Ontario Hydro, Mock worked in a variety of areas, including nuclear safety and licensing for the Pickering and Bruce nuclear generating stations. He eventually moved into the investment field and served with Burns Fry (now BMW Nesbitt Burns), and was a member of the Board of Governors of the Montreal Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade before founding Phoenix Research and Trading.

In 2001, he joined the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan before accepting the position of President and CEO in 2014. Since then, Mock has captained one of the world's largest pension funds that now encompass $171 billion in assets vested globally.

Earlier this year, Mock was named a Champion of Change by Women in Capital Markets, for his dedication to gender equality representation. A tireless champion of socially ethical business operations, Mock is an excellent example that positive change can start from the top.

A statement from President Rhonda L. Lenton on the tragic death of a student Wed, 04 Oct 2017 20:19:32 +0000 "It is with great sadness that I inform you that a member of the York University community, a student, died in hospital after being struck by a vehicle near the Keele Campus, late yesterday. Out of respect for the family we are not able to share the student’s name, at this time.

On behalf of the entire York community, we extend heartfelt condolences to the family and friends.

Dealing with sudden and unexpected loss is not easy, and York University has services and supports in place for our community members who are impacted and need help in dealing with this tragedy. Our team is reaching out to community members who are most directly affected.

The University will continue to work with the Toronto Police Service as needed, and we will also provide updates to the community as information becomes available.

If you are a student in need of support, I urge you to reach out to our Student Community Relations team at 416-736-5231 or the Personal Counselling team at 416-736-5297. For after-hours support, please call the 24/7 Good2Talk line at 1-866-925-5454.

For faculty and staff in need of support, please call the Employee and Family Assistance Program toll-free 24 hours a day, seven days a week for immediate, confidential help at 1-844-880-9142 (English), 1-844-880-9143 (French), or 1- 877-338-0275 (TTY).

We mourn this tragic loss of life together."