As one of Canada’s most diverse universities, York University is dedicated to cultivating a vibrant and harmonious community where everyone feels welcomed and included.
With the launch of the new Decolonizing, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (DEDI) Strategy and our bold new commitments to decarbonization, we are engaging in both institutional transformation and impactful collaborations that will improve lives of people and the planet.
York’s diverse population
- of York’s employee population is female
- of York’s employee population are part of a racialized group
- of York’s employee population self-identify as disabled
- of York’s employee population self-identify as Indigenous
- of York’s employee population identify as 2SLGBTQ+
Stakeholder Perceptions of York as excellent
- York rated as a 1st choice university
Senior Executive Officer
Office of the VP, Equity, People and Culture
Chief Sustainability Officer, Office of Sustainability
Alumni (MES 2006)
York launches first of a kind Decolonization, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy
The Strategy will promote a more inclusive and welcoming environment across research, administration and campus culture
In May 2023, York University launched its Decolonizing, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (DEDI) Strategy, marking a vital moment in York’s history that brings it closer to realizing its vision and living its values of a welcoming, diverse and inclusive learning environment.
York is one of the first universities to include decolonizing in a meaningful way in a document of this kind. The strategy incorporates five strategic directions that provide focus for enabling activities: teaching and learning, research and innovation, representation and success, campus climate and environment, and leadership and capacity building.
Work on the DEDI Strategy began in 2021, aided by the President’s Advisory Council on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, which provided advice on the new strategy’s development, and the York community, who provided feedback on the Draft Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy.
The strategy is a living document and is the beginning of a continually evolving conversation, as it allows for the examination of the University over time. Several recommendations are already in progress with annual goals and targets and a toolkit is set to be released in Fall 2023.
York ranks in top 40 of prestigious global rankings for SDGs impact
York University is being recognized globally for its impact and excellence in several ranking programs
York University continues to be recognized globally as a progressive university committed to addressing globally complex challenges through quality education and innovative research and partnerships, evidenced by its strong showing in various university rankings.
York recently ranked in the world’s top 40 out of more than 1,700 universities worldwide in the Times Higher Education rankings for its impact in advancing the SDGs. York placed in the top 100 in the world in nine of the 17 SDGs, which include:
- 12th in the world for SDG 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities
- 21st in the world for SDG 1 – No Poverty
- 25th in the world for SDG 10 – Reduced Inequalities
The University also received improved ranking recognizing its academic excellence in the 2023 Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings. York moved up to the 456th position and earned a top 10 rating in 17 subjects – continuing York’s upward momentum in the QS rankings.
In the Maclean’s ranking, York ranked 5th in the comprehensive category, moving up from last year’s 6th place finish. York also moved up one spot in the Maclean’s Reputation Rankings, placing 17th out of 49 universities, compared to 18th place in 2022.
Promoting well-being at York
New pan-university strategy will bolster the York community’s wellness
Work is underway for York University’s new Well-being Strategy, with a draft version released for community input in Fall 2023. This strategy both continues and elevates York’s longstanding commitment to the health and well-being of its community members.
The new strategy builds on over a decade of work by York in the mental health and well-being space, which began with the formation of a Mental Health Action Group and Steering Committee in 2012 and resulted in the creation of a Mental Health Strategy in 2015.
A shift to a Well-being Strategy began in 2021. In 2022, York launched the Canadian Campus Wellbeing Survey (CCWS) for students, established a Well-being Executive Committee and led numerous community consultations to understand current well-being needs to inform the new strategy’s development.
Working in partnership to promote a safe and inclusive community
Security Services Review adopts a community-centric approach
Governed by core values of diversity and inclusion, York University is committed to creating an inclusive and equitable campus environment where everyone feels welcomed, respected and safe. In February 2022, the University formed an internal expert panel to undertake a review of its security services – an action first identified in the Action Plan on Black Inclusion: A Living Document for Action. Following a one-year review, York released the panel’s final report and recommendations in April 2023. The overarching recommendation is to transition York away from the current law enforcement model that guides its security services and implement an alternative, community-centric model.
The review of York’s security services was grounded in transparent consultation and supported by strong partnerships between Black community members and the York community. To ensure the review was conducted with an intersectional lens, the panel engaged in meaningful discussion and consultation with all equity-deserving groups on campus, including community members who are Indigenous, racialized, 2SLGBTQIA+ and individuals with visible and non-visible disabilities. As we seek to transform security services at the University, ongoing engagement with students, faculty and staff and community partners will enable us to develop solutions that benefit our diverse campus community.
Honouring exceptional changemakers
York awards honorary degrees at the Fall 2022 and Spring 2023 Convocation
York University celebrated the Fall 2022 and Spring 2023 Convocation ceremonies with a distinguished and diverse lineup of individuals who were recognized for their positive impact in areas ranging from human rights advocacy and environmental activism to innovation and entrepreneurship:
- Sally Armstrong: Renowned author, journalist and human rights activist.
- Noah ‘40’ Shebib: Music producer and ambassador for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
- Mark Tewksbury: Record-breaking Olympic champion and LGBTQ+ rights advocate.
- Dr. Denis Mukwege: Internationally recognized Congolese surgeon and human rights activist.
- Professor Daniel Kahneman: Nobel laureate and influential researcher in psychology and economics.
- Dr. Cory Doctorow: Award-winning science fiction author and activist.
- Susur Lee: Renowned chef and culinary icon.
- Dr. Thomas Lee: Pioneering engineer and inductee in the Canadian Academy of Engineering.
- Shawn Loney: Entrepreneur and climate change advocate.
- Ruth Lor Malloy: Canadian human rights policy advocate.
- The Honourable Michael Hopeton Tulloch: Distinguished public servant, academic and advocate of human rights and racial justice
- Joan Andrew: Distinguished public servant and advocate for gender and immigrant rights.
- Nancy Archibald: Award-winning filmmaker and former Executive Producer at the CBC.
Fostering a culture of service excellence
York’s Human Resources function reorganizes to invest in its people and processes
In Winter 2022, Human Resources completed a reorganization, to enhance its role as university partners and fosters a culture of service excellence.
The reorganization began in 2019 and models the David Ulrich HR Business Partner model, which streamlines service delivery with HR professionals serving as trusted advisors, change agents, employee champions, and administrative expertise.
Under this model, HR services are delivered through:
- The Centres of Expertise – York’s Central HR unit – which is responsible for strategic policies, procedures, research, HR program design and subject matter expertise in areas such as organizational learning, health and safety and compensation; and
- The new University Services Centre which is responsible for high volume HR activities including payroll, benefits and recruitment administration; and
- People Partners supporting Faculties and Divisions and reporting through HR’s People Partnerships unit who serve as a single point of contact for local HR needs.
HR’s work towards service excellence to improve client satisfaction in service delivery and overall cost have been benchmarked through the Cubane survey. York’s Cubane satisfaction scores have shown consistent improvements year-over-year, increasing from 14 in 2018 to 27 in 2022 – reflecting a +13 increase and marking York’s highest performing shared service. HR has set a goal of achieving a score of 29 by 2026.
Improving digital coverage of Black excellence
York Libraries collaborate to enhance Black representation on Wikipedia
To address disparities in Black content on Wikipedia and Wikidata, the York University Libraries partnered with the University of Toronto, Toronto Metropolitan University and the Toronto Public Library to host the Black Histories Wikipedia and Wikidata Edit-a-thon in February 2023.
The edit-a-thon ran throughout the month of February. Through weekly synchronous sessions, a diverse group of interdisciplinary scholars and students came together to improve Black content online coverage and quality. York hosted an in-person event on February 15.
Participants gained information and data literacy skills while they worked to diversify online content. The edit-a-thon aimed to foster open scholarship and provided programming to engage with Black and racialized students and provide experiential education for students on current technologies. The public was also invited to attend and received editing training.
The edit-a-thon built on the success of previous years’ events, including the Black History Edit-a-thons and International Women’s Day Edit-a-thon. These collaborative knowledge-sharing events contribute to a more diverse and accurate portrayal of Black histories, empowering communities and raising awareness of the biases in media platforms.
New chancellor marks historic first at York
York alum and renowned businesswoman Kathleen Taylor will advocate for equity and diversity
York University began a historic era when it installed Kathleen Taylor as its 14th chancellor, marking the first time a woman has held the position of Chancellor at the University. As chancellor, Taylor will drive positive change as she connects with students at convocation ceremonies and helps to advance institutional priorities.
Following an installation ceremony in May 2023, Chancellor Taylor conferred degrees on thousands of York graduands at the spring convocation ceremonies in June.
She is a graduate of the JD/MBA program offered by Osgoode Hall Law School and the Schulich School of Business and has been actively engaged with the York community – for example, through her membership on the Schulich School of Business Dean’s Advisory Council.
Chancellor Taylor was the first woman to serve on the board for a major bank in Canada and has been a strong advocate for diverse representation across organizations and boards. She was the first president and CEO of the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts chain following its founder and was the first woman to lead a major branded international hotel company.
Federal government awards $1.5 million to support anti-racism research, KMb
The 2022 federal budget contributes to York’s Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community and Diaspora
In April 2022, the federal budget allocated a transformative provision of $1.5 million for the Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community, and Diaspora at the Faculty of Education. This funding ensures long-term support for research that creates pathways to quality education for Black youth.
As Canada’s first endowed chair dedicated to research projects, knowledge mobilization initiatives, and community partnerships, the Jean Augustine Chair has been addressing systemic barriers and racial inequalities within the Canadian education system since its establishment in 2008.
This new funding will amplify its efforts to drive positive change for Black youth in Canada; expand access, equity, and inclusivity in education; and produce research that informs public policymaking.
Professor Carl E. James, the current Chairholder, is leading the efforts to enhance educational and social outcomes for the Black community. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a highly influential researcher who has received numerous awards for his work and leadership in equity and social justice.
Strengthening community inclusion and well-being
York’s Centre for Human Rights, Equity & Inclusion delivers REDDI and Anti-Racism Workshops
Over the last year, the Centre for Human Rights, Equity & Inclusion (CHREI) worked to strengthen the York community’s sense of inclusion and well-being by delivering 128 training sessions to 3,752 faculty, staff and students. These sessions included Rights, Equity, Diversity, Decolonization & Inclusion (REDDI) and Anti-Racism workshops, as well as customized sessions tailored to community requests.
CHREI’s REDDI workshops are a series of interactive and instructor-led training sessions. They provide the opportunity for the York community to come together to learn and reflect upon a variety of themes surrounding human rights, equity, diversity, decolonization and inclusion.
York community members can earn a earn a REDDI Certificate of Completion after taking three core REDDI training sessions, or a REDDI Mini-Series Certificate after completing three mini-series, plus one full-length workshop.
Raising awareness of student well-being
Canadian Campus Wellbeing Survey results will inform student well-being initiatives at York
In 2022, students completed the Canadian Campus Wellbeing Survey (CCWS), which enabled the University to learn about their well-being needs and support its diverse student population.
In the last year, results were shared broadly across departments to increase awareness of the mental health issues faced by students and communicate identified priorities for intervention.
The national survey, coordinated by the University of British Columbia, is designed to help Canadian post-secondary institutions better support whole campus health and wellbeing. Since 2013, York had participated in the American National College Health Assessment but decided to issue the CCWS to better assess the needs of Canadian post-secondary students.
York plans to issue the CCWS every three years.
Recognizing excellence in storytelling and brand
Several divisions received national and international recognition for their exceptional marketing and communications strategies
Over the past year, York University’s campaigns have continued to be recognized on the world stage for its excellence in generating awareness of and enhancing the reputation of York.
The Communications & Public Affairs (C&PA) team were recognized with a global Circle of Excellence Award for advancing the University’s strategic goals through video, receiving Silver for its Back-to-School Video in the Videos on a Shoestring (Student Audience) category.
C&PA and the President’s Office (PO) Communications team were also recognized for best in class, receiving three 2023 Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education (CCAE) Prix d’Excellence award(s):
- Gold: Best Use of Social Media for our #MeetYU campaign.
- Silver: #YorkUConvo in the Creativity on a Shoestring category.
- Bronze: The 2022 President’s Annual Report: Right the Future in the Best Website category.
The PO Communication’s team were also the recipients of two International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), Toronto Chapter’s 2023 Ovation Awards for communications excellence in the audio/visual and publication categories. The awards included:
Making York a better place to work and learn
York’s Service Excellence program is improving service quality and efficiency
York’s vision for Service Excellence was developed to enhance the quality and efficiency of services that advance the University’s vision. The Service Excellence Program (SEP) enables this vision by co-creating solutions with the York community that are user-focused and collaborative, to make daily work simpler, faster and more efficient.
Since 2020, SEP has identified 70 process improvement opportunities, with a quarter now implemented. Among these achievements is the establishment of a central administrative hub, the University Service Centre (USC). This year the USC successfully eliminated backlogs and accelerated payments to service providers. SEP also helped the University to implement a new digital payment platform within Student Financial Services, which is expediting refunds of international students by two weeks, supporting a better student experience.
Further changes are in progress to foster a stronger culture of service excellence and allow the community to focus its time and effort on achieving the priorities set out in Building a Better Future: York University Academic Plan 2020–2025. SEP is proud to work with the community on transformation opportunities that make York an even better place to work and learn.
Enhancing the student, staff and faculty experience at York University
The Student Systems Renewal Program aims to foster collaboration and empower accountability
The Student Systems Renewal Program (SSRP), in collaboration York community members, is transforming the student, faculty and staff experience. The SSRP project is cultivating York pride by establishing a strong sense of purpose while strengthening the University’s culture of Service Excellence.
The SSRP is introducing streamlined processes and technology solutions to align and inform administrative functions and processes with leading practices for the community. These will improve efficiency, timeliness, security and reliability of student information while enhancing student engagement and enabling students to better plan and manage their time at York. It will also make personalized academic and financial supports more accessible.
The SSRP is a multi-year transformation, composed of seven projects. Two foundational projects have been completed as of July 2023: Identity and Access Management and the Enterprise Integration Platform. In September 2023, the Constituent Relationship Management solution will focus on streamlining and automating the recruitment process for prospective students, and in November 2023, the Financial Aid, Awards and Scholarships solution will provide students with pre-populated information on financial aid, awards and scholarship applications so they will know what they qualify for. For staff, the adjudication process will be improved through automation, enabling easier review and approval processes.