Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and at this year’s Red and White Day Campus Breakfast, the meal was made even more significant by the launch of York’s new fundraising campaign to the on-campus community.
Clad in red and white, some 150 staff and faculty alumni and donors gathered on Sept. 29 in the Executive Dining Room at the Schulich School of Business in honour of Red and White Day, a biannual celebration of York pride and accomplishments. The event highlighted the importance of on-campus philanthropy and how the generosity of faculty and staff feeds into Impact: The Campaign for York University.
Of York’s thousands of faculty and staff, around 800 are alumni and more than 300 are donors. In his opening remarks, Guy Larocque (BA ’89, MA ’97), executive director of alumni engagement in the Advancement Division, spoke about the important role on-campus alumni and donors play in the University’s success, especially in improving students’ access to learning and opportunities.
“As graduates and donors working on campus, you know the value of a York education better than anyone,” said Larocque. “You are sterling examples that impact is not just felt through large gifts and endowments, but through volunteerism and donations at every level. We have already raised $270 million towards Impact, and this achievement shows the commitment to giving across the University.”
This commitment to giving resonates with Sheila Forshaw (BSc ‘83), executive director, resources in the Office of the Vice-Provost Students, who has been a donor for more than 20 years.
“York means everything to me,” said Forshaw. “The University, the faculty and staff played a central role in making me the person I am today. York gave me life-long learning and friendships, and in my roles as a staff member and a proud donor, I want to give those experiences to current students. I understand that many students face financial barriers, and scholarships help students achieve their dreams.”
Attendees heard from two winners of the York University Faculty Association (YUFA) Undergraduate Scholarship: Ruhama Quadir, who is in her final year of her bachelor’s in international business administration, and Alex Di Giovanni, a fourth-year philosophy student. Both students, who received the award for stellar academic merit, said that the prize allows them to focus more fully on their studies and explore interests that enrich their educations.
“Not only does the YUFA scholarship allow me to dedicate more time to my studies, but it also allows me to give back to the student body,” said Di Giovanni, who helps to run a tutoring organization that provides free academic assistance to students in natural science courses.
“The YUFA scholarship has opened the door for me to widen my intellectual and artistic horizons,” said Quadir. “It upholds the spirit of academic achievement and interdisciplinary thinking at York’s core. For this impact, I have only one thing to say to you: Thank you.”
The focus on bettering student experiences is one of the reasons alumni choose to return to York as employees. Lori Santos (BA ‘92, BEd ‘92), administrative assistant in the graduate office of the Department of Psychology, said that her love for York stems to her time as a student and research assistant.
“I’m passionate about education and young people, and that made me want to stay at York,” said Santos. “It’s so multicultural and inclusive, and even though it’s a large campus, there is a real sense of community.”
David Coward (BAS ‘93, LLM ‘09), assistant vice-president of human resources and chief human resources officer, also emphasized the importance of community impact in his speech at the breakfast event.
“York fundamentally changed my life both professionally and personally,” said Coward. “You, the faculty and staff, are magicians because you took me, a student who came here as a naïve country boy, and made me into a professional. Our roles here are as magicians—to help people transform who they are.”