End-of-term Parent & Family Updates

York U’s fall 2017 term is coming to a close, and by now your student is likely preparing for final exams. They have been studying for more than three months, developing expertise in their chosen field and expanding their worldview. The exam period is an opportunity to demonstrate the knowledge they have gained, but it can also be a stressful time for students. York U has prepared the following tips for parents and families to help support your student through the exam period. In this end-of-term parent and family update, you’ll find:

  • Important sessional dates;
  • Final exam stress management techniques;
  • How to help your student stay motivated; and
  • Campus safety and weather information.

Visit York University’s Parents & Family website for additional resources.

​Important Dates

  • Dec. 4: Fall Classes End
  • Dec. 5: Fall Study Day (no classes; University open)
  • Dec. 6 to 21: Fall examinations
  • Dec. 22 to Jan. 3: Holiday break

For a complete list of all Undergraduate Fall/Winter 2017/18 Important Dates, visit the Registrar’s Office website.

Image by York University.
Important exam period dates for York U students.

Health & Wellness – Final Exam Stress Management

Image by York University.
Help your student prepare for the final exam period by emphasizing the importance of one’s health, including getting enough sleep.

As December 1 arrives, exam anxiety becomes one of the most common concerns for students. A little routine exam anxiety is not a bad thing; in fact, having a sense of urgency is actually beneficial in that it alerts your body to be prepared to mobilize energy stores.” Without a sense of urgency, students wouldn’t have the motivation to meet the challenges they face on a day-to-day basis. If, however, the anxiety gets too overwhelming, you should encourage your student to take some proactive steps to cope with anxiety before and during exams.

Health comes first

Often parents place emphasis on success and achieving exceptional grades, but the best advice you can offer your student is to make sure they make self-care their priority. Here are some tips you can share with your student to help them optimize their health and well-being:

  • Your student should always communicate with someone close to them when they feel stressed or anxious.
  • It is important that students avoid making important decisions when they are distressed or feeling overwhelmed.
  • Exercise can help reduce stress by releasing endorphins and increase blood flow to your brain for improved cognition.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol as they can worsen anxiety and depression.

Last but not the least, your student should always remember that exam stress is only temporary and will eventually pass. At one point or another, the dark clouds will give way to sunshine and perhaps even a rainbow!

Tips for getting a good night’s sleep

Sleep is the most important thing that students often forgo in order to study, complete assignments or enjoy a night out. However, the quality and quantity of sleep a student gets determines how effective they will be the next day. Sleep is also necessary for consolidating memory, diminishing stress, restoring the body’s energy supply and repairing muscles and tissues for optimal functionality. If your student is not getting at least seven hours of sleep, let them know that altering their sleep habits, schedule and day-to-day routines can have huge impact on the quality of their night’s rest. Here are some things your student can do to get a good night’s sleep.

  • Stick to a regular sleep schedule – Set a regular bedtime, wake up at the same time every day (even on weekends) and take 20-minute power naps to make up for lost sleep.
  • Use your bed for sleep only – Your student should avoid using their sleeping space for doing work, eating or watching TV as it will be harder for them to unwind when it’s time to hit the hay.
  • Naturally regulate your sleep-wake cycle – During the day, increase light exposure by spending time outside and have a well-lit workspace with sources of natural light to help your student feel awake and alert. Your student can also enhance melatonin production at night by turning off television and computer screens as well as by avoiding reading from back-lit devices such as tablets and smartphones.
  • Try some relaxing bedtime routines – Before going to bed, your student can create a relaxing, noise-free environment and wind down by reading a book, listening to soft music, taking a warm bath or doing some light stretches.
  • Eat well and exercise – Avoid eating heavy meals at night and limit caffeine intake in the evenings. Exercise regularly as even 20-30 minutes per day can result in a deeper and more rejuvenating night’s sleep.

WellTrack™

York University.
Encourage your student to download the Welltrack app, which makes it easy to monitor your health and well-being.

York University has made WellTrack™ – an online resource for managing stress, anxiety and depression – available to students. WellTrack™ is a secure and anonymous way for users to assess their personal well-being and quickly gain access to resources tailored to meet their individual needs. Students are able to engage in self-guided therapy and interact with tools designed to help them adjust their thoughts and behaviour. The app also includes a Moodcheck tool to help build a database of people, places, and things that are positive and negative for your mental health. Other components include a Zen Zone (for meditation), a Thought Diary and Activity Scheduler. WellTrack™ is available as an app and as a website at welltrack.com.

Motivation During Exam Season

If you can’t fly, then run,
If you can’t run, then walk,
If you can’t walk, then crawl,
But whatever you do,
You have to keep moving forward.
– Martin Luther King Jr.

Your student might be starting to get homesick, lonely or frustrated with all the work that University brings. They may not have seen their friends in a while or had the chance to spend a night out free of worries. At this point, there is one thing that can get them through exams: motivation.

No, not a “coach-yelling-at-you-from-the-sidelines” kind of motivation, but an internal desire that pushes you to attain success. We absolutely cannot emphasize enough the significance that motivation plays in your student’s success. University students who lack motivation can unfortunately run into numerous social and academic difficulties, but this piece will help you avoid this by providing you with ways in which your student can stay motivated!

The first thing to recognize is that there is only one type of motivation and that is self-motivation. Family, friends or co-workers can help your student get excited to accomplish a certain task, but at the end of the day your student will have to channel their own willpower to get the job done.

Secondly, it is important for your student to establish a strong, compelling and personal “WHY” for being at university. This will give them something concrete to focus on and serve as the light at the end of the tunnel when they are feeling down. One of the best ways of staying motivated is to be surrounded by others who are motivated. Your student should establish friendships with those who are also academically motivated and willing to help them when they need inspiration. They can also find a mentor who will be available to talk when your student feels they need a fresh perspective.

Most importantly, tell your student that they should never let failure discourage them. It is vital to stay positive, celebrate successes and learn from mistakes. The biggest key to success is: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

Last, but not the least, encourage your student to focus on what their future will hold if they continue to work hard and accomplish their goals. Start by first looking toward the near future for motivation, which could involve an upcoming fun weekend or a night out with friends after exams. Then, gradually increase the timeframe – one month, one year, four years (graduation!), ten years – until they have created a picture of their career path and the successful future that can serve as an excellent motivator in the present.

Weather Conditions & Safety

During the winter months in Canada, it will get darker out earlier in the day and there is an increased chance of inclement weather. For these reasons, it’s important to keep safety top of mind and to be aware of York’s various safety resources and procedures.

In the case of a weather event or an emergency on campus, York University has various methods of keeping students, faculty, staff and their families informed. Information is made available through:

  • Mainstream media including television and radio
  • Social media
  • The York U Safety App
  • York University webpage
  • York University Information Line (416-736-5600)
  • Emergency LCD screens placed around campus

In weather or emergency situations, you’ll also find information regarding class scheduling and examinations on the Registrar’s Office website.

Ongoing personal safety is also important.

If your student needs to get to their car or another location on campus after dark and doesn’t feel safe doing so by themselves, they can take advantage of York’s goSAFE service, one of the largest services of its kind in Canada. This year-round operation sends two staff members to your location to accompany your student on their walk to another building, the bus stop or car. They can be reached by phone (416-736-5454) or via the York U Safety App.

The York U Safety App is a must for all students with smartphones. It provides direct calling to campus security and goSAFE as well as campus weather information and access to all other campus safety-related services.

For more information, please visit the Safety website and bookmark York’s Parents & Family website! You can also follow York University on Twitter and Facebook.

Fall Reading Week Returns to York University

Between the new subway station, the construction of a new student centre and the expansion of the Schulich School of Business on campus, York University has some significant changes on the horizon. One such change directly benefits students: York’s Senate has passed a student-led proposal to reinstate a full Fall Reading Week beginning October 2018.

The final proposal to amend the Senate Policy on Sessional Dates and the Scheduling of Final Examinations was brought before Senate in October 2017, where it was passed with full support. The decision to schedule two full-length Reading Weeks is in response to the needs of students and is intended to support academic success and student wellness by providing a more effective study/revision period.

Image by York University
York University will reinstate a full Fall Reading Week in October 2018.

Supporting Student Initiatives

There are many benefits to having a full Fall Reading Week. Students will have more time to prepare for midterms, complete important assignments and prepare for the remaining assignments in the term. The driving force behind the longer break, however, was to help students balance their academic progress with awareness of health and wellness. With a few extra days to revise during the Fall term, students will have more opportunities to access key academic support services and decompress, easing academic strain. York University places a high emphasis on supporting student health and wellness, which is integral to their academic success.

Carol Altilia, Registrar of York University, spoke about the significance of the move towards a full Fall Reading Week: “Supporting this student-led initiative underscores the importance that the Division of Students places on partnering with students to advance their matters of concern and emphasizes the University’s commitment to supporting student wellbeing and mental health.”

Image by York University
The full-length Fall Reading Week will provide students with additional opportunities to study, access key academic support services and achieve work-life balance by focusing on their wellbeing.

The impact of the change includes a number of adjustments to Orientation scheduling and modifying the means by which the study day between the end of classes and the first day of exams will be provided to all students. For more information regarding York University important dates, visit the Registrar’s Office website.

Student Accessibility Services: Announcing organization changes to better support the learning, mental health & wellness needs of our students

York University provides students with a range of health and wellness resources to create a healthy, inclusive and supportive environment that fosters well-being among members of the York community and contributes to students’ academic success. Lucy Fromowitz, Vice-Provost Students, and Dr. Marc Wilchesky, Executive Director, Counselling & Disability Services, are pleased to announce the following organization changes to better serve the needs of York U students.

Image by York University
Personal Counselling Services will be renamed Student Counselling & Development (SCD).

Effective immediately, Learning Disability Services (LDS), Mental Health Disability Services (MHDS) and Physical, Sensory & Medical Disability Services (PSMDS) will be collectively renamed “Student Accessibility Services” (SAS) and Personal Counselling Services will now be called “Student Counselling & Development” (SCD). These changes will help students and the University community easily identify the appropriate support provider for students’ specific needs. Note that the Glendon campus will continue to provide health, wellness and accessibility services on that campus under the current name of The Accessibility, Well-Being & Counselling (AWC) Centre.

Maureen Barnes, current manager of Learning Disability Services, will assume the role of Director, Student Accessibility Services to ensure an efficient and effective transition of York’s three separate accessibility service units into one department that will deliver consistent and transparent services to students. Karen Swartz and Mark Mingail will continue in their current leadership roles in SAS. Polly MacFarlane, current director of Personal Counselling Services, will assume the role of Director, Student Counselling & Development.

Image by York University
York provides a range of health, wellness and academic resources to support student success.

The realignment of SAS includes developing a new communications plan to help all members of the York community differentiate between accessibility services (learning; mental health; and physical, sensory and medical) and counselling services. Although SAS will no longer use the various unit names (Learning Disability Services, Mental Health Disability Services and Physical, Sensory & Medical Disability Services), each of those teams will remain intact and will continue to support students as they do currently.

York’s decision to position the two support pillars – Student Accessibility Services (SAS) and Student Counselling & Development (SCD) – is in keeping with an ongoing transition throughout the postsecondary education sector in both Canada and the United States. Current scholarship and industry practice points to a shift away from the use of the term “disability” when describing services and resources toward the more inclusive term “accessibility.” The name change to Student Accessibility Services emphasizes the significant role of the accessibility unit in helping to make the campus more accessible for learning. The name change to Student Counselling & Development better reflects their mandate to help York students realize, develop and fulfill their personal potential in order to maximally benefit from their university experience and manage the challenges of university life.

These organization changes, in turn, support and align with the Division of Students’ vision – to be Partners in Student Success.

Changes will roll out gradually in digital and print communications over the next month and be complete by the New Year.

For more information about Student Accessibility Services visit: yorku.ca/accessibility-services

For more information about Student Counselling & Development visit: yorku.ca/student-counselling

“All Together Now” — York hosts the 2017 Ontario Academic Advising Professionals (OAAP) Conference

Today marks the first day of the 2017 Ontario Academic Advising Professionals (OAAP) Conference at York University’s Keele Campus! Hosted over the next day and a half – October 26 to October 27 – the conference welcomes delegates from colleges and universities across Ontario to discuss developments in academic advising. Notable keynote speaker and York alumnus, Tim Cork, will jumpstart the discussion with an inspiring welcome, followed by 27 workshop sessions developed and led by advising and student services practitioners from across the province.

The conference theme “All Together Now” represents the OAAP’s focus on collaborative, inter-institutional learning and the development of integrated and holistic advising practices that will benefit students. Conference attendees will learn about developments in academic advising that will enhance the student experience, including innovations in mental health and wellness, integrating theory into advising practice, models of advising service delivery, communities of practice and advising techniques and approaches.

Image by York U
York academic advisors prepare for the 2017 OAAP Conference.

The 2017 OAAP Conference was conceptualized and planned by York’s very own academic advising community. Over the past few years, York’s advisors have been coming together as a community to discuss issues, leading practice and to share in advising professional development. Some notable outcomes of working together have been the establishment of a University-wide advising professional development competency framework, the launch of a series of professional development opportunities tailored to advisor needs and an annual internal advising conference.

Academic advisors: We warmly welcome you to York University and hope you are ready to delve into insightful presentations and engage in discussions around how together we can strengthen advising practice in Ontario!

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A York academic advisor helps plan the 2017 OAAP conference.

The OAAP is dedicated to positively impacting the educational experience of postsecondary students in Ontario and provides academic advisors with professional development opportunities to learn about new strategies to improve and enrich the student experience.

York University announces a new student award in honour of Invictus Games

York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton welcomed the Invictus Games National Flag Tour to the Keele campus on Sept. 20.

At the welcome ceremony, Lenton announced a new award in honour of the Invictus Games in support of increased access to postsecondary education for Canada’s Military personnel and their children.

The York University Service Award provides up to $20,000 over four years to a York University student who is a Canadian Armed Forces member, active or retired, and who has a physical, sensory, medical, mental health or learning disability. The award will also be available to a student with a disability who is a child of a Canadian Armed Forces member.

“This new award will stand as a legacy of the 2017 Invictus Games at York, and will serve as an important way to honour the dedicated individuals whose commitment to service exemplifies the best of Canada,” said Lenton. “It is a great honour to host the inspiring athletes who will compete at next week’s Invictus Games here at York, and we look forward to welcoming competitors, their families and the wider community to the University.”

Image by York University
Above: Back row, from left, President & Vice-Chancellor of York University, Rhonda Lenton, Schulich School of Business student and flag bearer, Sayam Khan, Brigadier-General Stephen Cadden, Commander, 4th Canadian Division, York U Professor Walter Perchal, Giovanna Cioffi, three-time graduate of York University. Pictured in the front row are York University Lions athletes.

“The York University Service Award demonstrates the institution’s recognition of the dedication and courage of the men and women who serve our country so well. I know what a tremendous impact events and programs like this have on our military and their families,” said Brigadier-General Stephen Cadden, commander, 4th Canadian Division.

York University’s Keele Campus was the first stop in the Greater Toronto Area during The National Flag Tour, which has travelled from coast-to-coast visiting 22 military bases, 15 legions and more than 50 communities. The tour runs from Aug. 16 through to Sept. 22.

York University students Sayem Khan and Giovanna Cioffi and Professor Walter Perchal, were selected to help carry the Official Invictus Games Flag – a physical representation of the unconquerable spirit of the Games’ competitors.

Image by York University
Above: From left, Vimy, Invictus Games mascot, Flag bearers Sayam Khan, Schulich School of Business student, Professor Walter Perchal of York University, and Giovanna Cioffi, who is a three-time graduate of York University. Both Perchal and Cioffi are current members of the Canadian Forces.

Sayem Khan is a member of the elite Schulich Ambassador Program at the Schulich School of Business at York University. Khan applied to be a flag bearer via the Invictus Games. He arrived in Canada as an immigrant and is proud of his work with the Toronto Police Service’s ‘Youth in Policing’ initiative.

Professor Walter Perchal is a current member of the York University faculty. He served with the Canadian Forces for many years. Over the course of his duties, as a Senior Officer, Perchal previously commanded The Royal Regiment of Canada. He later served as Special Advisor to the Canadian Army Commander, and did foreign service as a Military Advisor with NATO Allies.

Giovanna Cioffi is a three-time graduate of York University. She is now pursuing her PhD in Communication and Culture. Coffi earned two master’s degrees including Environmental Science and Disaster and Emergency Management from York, following her undergraduate York Degree. She currently serves with the Canadian Forces.

The Invictus Games Toronto 2017 takes place from Sept. 23 to 30. York University will serve as a venue for the games’ athletics competition. York is among several venues in the Greater Toronto Area to host the competition. On Sept. 24 and 25 athletes will compete at the York Lions Stadium in athletics events that include track, jumping, throwing and combined events including those competing in wheelchairs, with prostheses, or under the guidance of a sighted person known as a guide.

The Invictus Games uses the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding of and respect for those who serve their country and their loved ones.  Visit www.InvictusGames2017.com for the full Flag Tour schedule and tickets.

This feature is repurposed from Yfile, York University’s eNewletter, September 21, 2017.

Welcoming Lucy Fromowitz and Celebrating Sizzlin’ Success at the Division of Students Barbecue

Here at YorkU, we have a lot to celebrate this summer: we can reflect proudly on our accomplished graduates as they go out into the world, the foundation of a brand-new Markham campus, and the advent of what promises to be a wonderful 2017-2018 academic year with the appointment of our new Vice-Provost Students, Lucy Fromowitz!

To welcome our new leader and celebrate our staff’s commitment to student success, the Division of Students gathered on Friday, July 21 at The Underground for a Sizzlin’ Success Barbecue. During the event, staff members from the Division of Students shared classic barbecue fare including burgers (with alternate options for various dietary restrictions), salad and popsicles, and settled in to learn a little more about our new Vice-Provost Students and the upcoming year at YorkU.

The Sizzlin’ Summer Celebration

Immediately upon walking into the Sizzlin’ Summer Barbecue, Division of Students staff were treated to a display of YorkU pride. The event committee had transformed the Underground with red and white decorations, balloons and lights to reflect the YorkU colours. After some lively conversation between colleagues, our student MCs took the stage to start the afternoon’s events. Angelica Lyn Grospe and Sebastien Lalonde are dynamic student leaders in the YorkU community and they kept the event rolling with humour and style!

Introducing: Lucy Fromowitz

After welcoming the crowd and inviting Randy Pitawanakwat, Coordinator, Aboriginal Student Services, to acknowledge the Indigenous land upon which YorkU stands, Angelica and Sebastien introduced Lucy Fromowitz.

As a previous YorkU student and employee, Lucy has a unique understanding of the University’s history and identity. In each of her professional roles, Lucy has provided leadership in enhancing student engagement, learning and success. In her new role at YorkU, Lucy will lead the campus in the coordination of advising and student services, promote communications with students, and support strategic enrolment planning and recruitment— all while helping to create a safe, healthy campus environment for students at YorkU.

Lucy took to the stage to discuss the unique role of The Division of Students. She notes that the Division works to create opportunities for student success by supporting student services, daily administrative requirements, marketing and outreach operations. We also work closely with YorkU’s student population to form a community of ideas and engagement. Students inspire everything we do, and the significance of that was central to Lucy’s address. For Lucy, thinking like and with students is the key to our mandate.

“We have to approach things the way our students do: with curiosity,” she said. “We create with our students.”

Lucy honoured the commitment of the Division of Students staff to supporting student success and service excellence. To demonstrate the dedication of everyone in the department, she asked staff members who had been with YorkU for 25, 10 and five years and then one year to stand up. As people rose with their peers, the room cheered and clapped in recognition.

Lucy continued by saying that, as YorkU moves into the future, engaging with our students and listening to their diverse perspectives will be a cornerstone of creating positive change. Our values – Respect, Accountability, Excellence, Care, Innovation, Inclusion and Collaboration — will guide us as we move into the 2017-2018 academic year, yielding new opportunities. Together, students and staff will continue the collaborative dialogues that make the YorkU campus a progressive, distinct, student-centric place.

After a lighthearted selfie with Lucy, Angelica and Sebastien breezed through the long list of YorkU acronyms, listing terms such as ACE, CDS, SCS, VPF&A, OSCR, CSBO, LSE, SCLD and YU to “help” Lucy reorient herself to York. “York has its own language,” they said, leading to nodding heads and smiles as staff called out the acronyms as they were spoken.

Celebrating the Division of Students Staff

Angelica and Sebastien then introduced Brendan Schulz, Executive Director, Student Success, Carol Altilia, University Registrar, and Sheila Forshaw, Executive Director, Resources.

To illustrate how everyone in the room had a role in supporting our students across the student lifecycle, each audience member stood up as Brendan, Carol and Sheila called out key milestones — recruitment, admission, document processing, registrarial and financial services, health and wellness, student development, care and support, leadership development, career planning. All 200+ staff stood, often more than once, as their collaboration and cooperation was highlighted. The University Registrar next drew attention to the updated “Building on Successes” handout capturing the unit-specific achievements of the past year (2016-17) and encouraged everyone to pick up a copy on their way out.

After recognizing the Division of Students staff, a lively game of “Tips for Lucy” commenced where each table filled out a questionnaire with insider information about the best places to eat, find a quality coffee, mingle with students or unwind, along with the best campus view and the fastest route from Bennett to Tait McKenzie. The interactive game – a brainchild of the Student Success Centre (SSC – another acronym!) team — was an excellent way for staff members to share their experienced perspectives on YorkU with Lucy and with each other.

All staff then gathered outside in the sunny square for popsicles – the perfect close to a summer BBQ.

To experience the event in pictures, click through the Sizzlin’ Success Celebration Flickr feed: https://www.flickr.com/photos/yorkuniversity/albums/72157684025278664.

A special “thank you” to the Event Committee for planning the Sizzlin’ Summer Celebration: Rheza Evangelista, Julie Rahmer, Donna Cope, Saba Rafiq, Catherine Salole, Shanthini Jeyakumar, Dianne Twombley and Mary Dytyniak!

The Division of Students reflections on success

Happy summer to you!

As we see our students crossing the stage during Convocation this week, it is a good time to reflect on all the great work that has been accomplished this past year.

Some key accomplishments from the year include:

  • Held the largest-ever York Orientation Day event.
  • YU START earned two nationally recognized awards for innovation – one from CACUSS and the other from CAUBO.
  • Launched the Student Mental Health strategy as part of the overall Campus Mental Health strategy.
  • Received Canada 150 funding to enhance and deliver our largest ever annual Career Success Symposium for students with disabilities.
  • Debbie Hansen named Executive Director, Community Supports & Services. She and her team are leading the new Centre for Sexual Violence Response, Support & Education.
  • Completed the expansion of our Accommodated Test & Exam Centre.
  • Skennenko:wa Gamig (The House of Great Peace, formerly Hart House) formally opened on  June 21. The facility, dedicated for use by Indigenous students, staff and faculty as a gathering space, will provide additional programming space for CASS and serve as a gathering place for the Indigenous community at York.
  • In August 2017, ACMAPS will celebrate its tenth year of dedicated service to mature and part-time students. In that time we’ve helped literally thousands of students on their journey to graduation, including York’s eldest graduate ever at age 89, Alma Kocialek.
  • Long-time York University Lions head athletic therapist Cindy Hughes inducted into the Canadian Athletic Therapy Association (CATA) Hall of Fame.
  • York University Lions wrestling brothers Mohab El-Nahas and Shady El-Nahas each won gold medals in their respective weight classes at the Canadian Open Judo Championships in Calgary.
  • York University Lions quarterback Brett Hunchak will participate this summer in the Edmonton Eskimos training camp as part of the CFL-CIS Development Program.
  • Completion of Manage My Academic Record website – enhancing student wayfinding.
  • Implementation of Electronic Funds Transfer for refunds to student accounts.
  • Implementation of comprehensive new Senate “Forgiveness” policies.
  • System and staff readiness for the transformation of OSAP/Net Tuition.

On July 4, Lucy Fromowitz will be joining York University as our new Vice-Provost Students. You will have seen from the earlier announcements that Lucy comes to us with a wealth of experience and expertise. We are really looking forward to partnering with Lucy to move the Division forward.

Best Regards,

Carol, Sheila & Brendan

Welcoming Lucy Fromowitz as New Vice-Provost, Students

Upper-body portrait shot of Lucy Fromowitz, with Divisional branding.

Rhonda Lenton, Vice-President Academic and Provost extends a welcome to incoming Vice-Provost, Students, Lucy Fromowitz:

I am pleased to inform members of the York University community of the appointment of Ms. Lucy Fromowitz as Vice-Provost, Students; her appointment will take effect July 1, 2017.

We are delighted that Ms. Fromowitz will be returning to York University after an absence of 16 years; some members of the York community may recall that she held several positions here at York from 1978 to 2001, including Director of Alumni Affairs and Director of Admissions. She is also a York alumna, holding a BA in English and an LLM from Osgoode Hall Law School.

From 2001 to 2007, she held the position of Vice-President, Student and Community Engagement at Centennial College, where she provided leadership in relation to a broad range of student and community services and contributed to strategic planning for the division and the College. She undertook a restructuring of the division to better meet the needs of a diverse student population.  She also held responsibility for community outreach (including providing opportunities for under-served populations), strategic enrolment planning, student support and success strategy, as well as internationalization strategy.

In her most recent position as Assistant Vice-President, Student Life at the University of Toronto since 2008, Ms. Fromowitz has led the creation of a new division of Student Life, with 14 departments, the development of a unified vision and strategy for the division, and the realignment of responsibilities to support institutional goals. She spearheaded the implementation of university-wide programs to enrich student life, enhance student navigation and remove barriers to full participation; she also established and implemented a cohesive strategy for programs and services to support student learning and development within a learning outcomes framework.

We are very pleased that Ms. Fromowitz will be bringing these outstanding experiences, qualifications and skills to York University as our next Vice-Provost, Students. She will provide key leadership in advancing our institutional priorities around the enhancement of student engagement, experience, and success — including the coordination of advising and student services and supports and the promotion of communications with undergraduate and graduate students — and strategic enrolment planning and recruitment. She will also collaborate with colleagues across the University to promote a safe and healthy campus environment for all community members.

I look forward to welcoming Ms. Fromowitz back to York University and to working closely with her and colleagues in the Division of Students and across the University in the coming years to continue to advance our academic priorities.

Divisional Successes and Improvements in 2016

Interior winter holiday decorations

As the year draws to a close and we get ready to spend a few quiet moments with our friends and family, it is also a good time to look back at what lies behind us and to acknowledge the successes and improvements we’ve worked so hard to achieve as a Division.

Here are the highlights from 2016:

Structures — Physical & Organizational

  • Renovations have been completed to Hart House for use by Aboriginal students, staff and faculty. Stay tuned for a ribbon-cutting ceremony in early 2017 as the Centre for Aboriginal Students (CASS) and others continue the Indigenization of York’s Keele campus.
  • We have secured funding for and begun construction of the expanded Accommodated Test & Exams Centre.
  • The Student Success Centre has been established, and in that context we also welcomed the Atkinson Centre for Mature and Part-Time Students (ACMAPS) into the Division.
  • Learning Skills Services moved to the Learning Commons and expanded its reach through the launch of the Learning Skills Peer team.
  • We improved and strengthened the Enrolment Management Group in support of Strategic Enrolment Management (SEM).
  • We restarted Retention Council.
  • The Sexual Violence Response Office (SVRO) was launched and is being supported by the Office of Student Community Relations (OSCR).
  • Student services planning has begun for the Markham campus.

Strategies, Programs & Processes

  • We have a Peer Mentor Program for students with disabilities and mental health issues led by students with lived experience in these areas. This means two-way support.
  • We have expanded our Mature Student Peer Mentor Program from ACMAPS.
  • We received a large donation to address mental health issues for varsity athletes.
  • The Career Success Symposium for Students with Disabilities proved valuable and popular.
  • We secured more than $40,000 in sponsorship dollars from throughout the University to implement the 2016 LeaderShape Institute.
  • We took the Leadership & Career Strategy from a test to a pilot, allowing students to recognize value, identify skills and articulate their ideas. The pilot was rolled out to 200 students and 39 supervisors.
  • We, the only university in Canada to have such funding, continued to grant it for the Autism Spectrum Disorder Pilot.
  • We expanded the It All Adds Up campaign, which focuses on helping students identify the many sometimes unacknowledged successes and accomplishments they’ve already achieved in their academic careers.
  • The Integrated Voice Response System was redesigned.
  • We initiated a number of process reviews including one for OSAP in readiness for Net Tuition.
  • We rolled out development plans.
  • Students (as well as faculty and staff) can now draw on the support of weekly visits from York’s very own Therapy Dog, Barnaby.
Three women with a dog, who is licking the face of one of them.
Barnaby and his affections.

Launches & Implementations

  • the Pan-University Mental Health strategy;
  • initial mental health stress-relieving strategies for exams at the Aviva and Tait McKenzie Centres;
  • the Gluco Fit program in partnership with the Canadian Diabetes Association, supporting community members from the Jane/Finch area who have been identified as pre-diabetic or have diabetes, and assisting them with fitness and nutrition;
  • the YUAdvise professional development competency framework for advisers;
  • Electronic Fund Transfers (Direct Deposits) enabling students to receive refunds faster;
  • the Alcohol Strategy for Students;
  • Manage My Academic Record;
  • the Visual Schedule Builder;
  • the revamping of the Undergraduate Academic Calendar;
  • the Undergraduate Academic Calendar online editor;
  • a new Curriculum Management System (initial stages);
  • the Degree Progress Report to 400 users;
  • a February Convocation in Absentia for more than 800 graduands;
  • the reporting of course waivers;
  • a new process for scheduling forums;
  • revised forgiveness policies;
  • a quality-assurance program to assess the student experience.

Successes

  • We collected more than 9,000 prospect leads during Fall recruitment.
  • We exceeded our digital marketing campaign goals.
  • Ontario 101 confirmations were up 6.7 per cent.
  • We witness a 10 per cent increase in offers made to 105s (that’s 1,650 more).
  • Our international applications and offers were up by more than 35 per cent.
  • We organized the largest one-day Orientation event east of the Rockies, hosting more than 4,000 first-year students in the Lion’s Stadium for York Orientation Day.
  • We saw a 55 per cent increase in the number of students engaged with the Disability Services Career Mentorship Program.
  • We accommodated a 15 per cent rise in volume through Alternate Exams.
  • One of our Residence dons, Maseh Hadaf, received the Julianne Pettigrew Award, which recognizes the top conference presentation at OACUHO (the Ontario Association of College and University Housing Officers), to which our Residence Life Team sent a delegation.
  • The TRY (Toronto-Ryerson-York) Cup once again resides with York University as the Champions of the Intramural world for Toronto.
  • We won the National Championship in women’s tennis.
  • We made our presence felt at the 2016 Rio Olympics:
    • 5 York Athletic Therapy grads worked there;
    • John May (current women’s volleyball coach) coached the Olympic beach volleyball team;
    • York Lions Khamica Bingham (4×100 sprint) and Britt Crew (shot put) competed for Canada.

York Lion mascot high-fiving a male student in a hallway (Accolade East)

There’s a lot to reflect on and even more to be proud of — York’s Division of students clearly takes it mandate as Partners in Student Success very seriously.

We hope that these successes and improvements will serve as motivation for all of us to work even harder in 2017 to bring them to their full fruition, and to add even more points of pride to the Division.

York Launches Strategy to Advance Campus Mental Health

York's Campus Mental Health Strategy
York’s Campus Mental Health Strategy

Do you know someone who has struggled with their mental health? Perhaps a family member, close friend, colleague or even yourself? Given that 20% of Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime, chances are the dialogue around mental health taking place at York, in Canada and across the world directly impacts you or someone you know.

As this conversation grows, the impetus for change falls to institutions such as York to lead the charge to raise awareness around mental health and ensure support is readily available and accessible to all of our community members – students, staff and faculty.

The University has recognized this need and has responded by developing York’s Campus Mental Health Strategy that seeks to address the needs of our campus community. The strategy officially launched this past October 18 at Founders College Assembly Hall. More than a hundred people attended.

National College Health Assessment Findings
National College Health Assessment survey data

Among others, key stakeholder Vice-President Academic & Provost Rhonda Lenton and Mental Health Steering Committee Co-Chairs Lesley Beagrie, Suzanne Killick and Stephanie Francis spoke to the importance of York paving the way for other institutions to prioritize and support the advancement of mentally healthy campuses.

The strategy highlights mental health priorities for three key campus groups: students, staff and faculty, as identified during the community consultations spearheaded by York’s Mental Health Steering Committee. The plan will continue to reflect York’s commitment to health and wellness promotion; facilitation of care and support; and collaboration and discussion. New principles developed as a result of the consultations include:

  • deliver a long-term approach for the management of mental health challenges;
  • outline initiatives to help achieve improved mental health outcomes for members of the University community;
  • identify support aimed at helping individuals becoming more involved in managing their own mental health;
  • advocate for accessible services to be made available to the community, both on and off campus; and
  • focus on partnership with the University community and working together to achieve a mentally healthy campus.

The plan will also focus on four key priorities: leadership; planning and promotion; campus engagement; and service delivery.

Stephanie Francis, Division of Student’s mental health & wellness project lead
Stephanie Francis, Division of Student’s mental health & wellness project lead

Stephanie Francis, Coordinator, Health Education & Promotion, Student Success Centre, and the Division of Student’s mental health & wellness project lead, is encouraged by the gain made so far.

“We have already witnessed signs of progress towards advancing a mentally healthy campus within the Division of Students, and will continue to provide support and resources for students to meet strategic goals. This year, we developed and provided Mental Health training to 1000 Orientation-Week leaders; welcomed more than 600 Grade 12 students from the York Region District School Board to campus for a full day of games and lectures dedicated to educating young people about mental health; and helped conduct more than 50 community consultation sessions with students, faculty and staff to help inform the Strategy.”

Mental health extends beyond our borders here at York. It is prevalent at campuses across the country and the globe. Founder and student ambassadors from Jack.org echoed this sentiment, sharing their personal struggles and encounters with mental health issues inside and outside school communities. Led by Eric Windeler, and created in memory of his late son Jack, Jack.org is Canada’s only national network of young leaders advocating for youth mental health and aims to put an end to mental health stigma.

Jack.org
Jack.org is Canada’s only national network of young leaders advocating for youth mental health.

The investment of community members in York’s Campus Mental Health Strategy was made clear by the attendance, engagement and concerns brought forth during the question and answer period of the launch. Questions posed ranged from how York plans to simplify access to counselling services for students and increase availability of counsellors. Staff and faculty raised the need for clear resources to help them address and respond to student mental health concerns, as well as support when dealing with personal and professional issues.

While York does already offer a number of resources to aid its community members – accessible through the Mental Health & Wellness at York website – the University will also soon be adding specific, actionable recommendations that address day-to-day mental health concerns that arise on campus. Additional short-term goals include: further development of existing supports, identification of resource gaps and a continuation of community roundtable discussions (similar to past consultations) to support an open campus dialogue.

York students, staff and faculty members in attendance
York students, staff and faculty members in attendance

By re-evaluating progress every three years, the University hopes to ensure a progressive movement toward creating and maintaining a mentally healthy campus that empowers our community to thrive.

For more information about York’s Campus Mental Health Strategy and community updates, please visit: yorku.ca/mentalhealth.