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Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies

Frequently Asked Questions

1.1 General

What exactly is happening?
In line with the University Academic Plan (UAP) and the will of York Senate, as of July 1, 2009, the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies and the Faculty of Arts - both at the Keele campus, will be dissolved, to be replaced by one new Faculty comprising the humanities, social sciences and related professional programs.
Why are we doing this?
To achieve the benefits and synergies from the creation of the most comprehensive range of interdisciplinary academic programs and researchers in social sciences, humanities and related professional programs in Canada.
What are the key benefits?
  • The development of a dynamic learning environment that gives students interested in these areas maximum choice in program and course selection and the flexibility to transfer between programs;
  • A concentration of innovative graduate programs in the humanities, social sciences and related professional areas;
  • The ability to support, expand and intensify world-class, interdisciplinary research;
  • The amalgamation of duplicate programs to increase clarity and coherence for students.

Where did this idea come from?
The UAP calls upon the University to ensure that it has the best structure and units to support its priorities, which include:

  • the expansion and intensification of research
  • graduate growth and innovation
  • improved student experience and dynamic interdisciplinary environment and delivers clarity, coherence and choice to students

After many wide-ranging discussions, members of the Senate’s Academic Policy & Planning Committee concluded that merging the Faculty of Arts and the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies would help the University to achieve these priorities. The proposal was subsequently approved by York Senate and presented to the Board of Governors.

How did we get here?
Atkinson began as a Faculty dedicated to part-time education for mature students, typically after 5pm and in the summer, and Arts concentrated on those students who came directly from high school and completed their undergraduate education primarily in fall-winter, during the day and in a 4-year timeframe. As things have evolved, some of Atkinson’s programs are offered during the day and accept students directly from high school. In the same vein, Arts has many part-time and mature students (as do other Faculties across the campus). The blurring of the mandates of these Faculties led to an extensive review and created an opportunity to consolidate these two strong Faculties into one new Faculty defined by its academic offering rather than by the kind of student the previous Faculties once attracted or the time of day or seasonality of their programs.
So what principles is the restructuring based on?
  • Clarity in relation to our academic mission
  • Enhancement of the research culture and profile
  • Advancement of graduate education
  • Enhancement of the student experience

The restructuring is based on the principles of coherence and clarity and an understanding that the new Faculty will be built upon the principle of the fundamental importance of research and the creation and dissemination of new knowledge. The new Faculty’s mandate will be clear and comprehensible both internally and externally. In practical terms, this means that similar or identical programs are not offered in different Faculties but rather only in one place so that the university and the student know logically exactly where each program fits and why.

What is the timetable for planning and implementation?
The new Faculty will open its doors as of July 1, 2009. Academic timelines are paramount, providing the critical path for planning; there are parallel timelines to guide the creation of internal administrative structures in the new Faculty and the development of support structures external to the Faculty. Some key academic milestones leading up to the opening are as follows:

  • Nov. 1, 2007: determination of unit structures and programs in the new Faculty
  • Spring 2008: Senate approval of program/degree requirements for new Faculty, following collegial deliberation, and of disestablishment of the Faculty of Arts and the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies to coincide with opening of the new Faculty
  • Spring 2008: search for a Dean of the new Faculty begins
  • Fall 2008: recruitment initiatives in place (e.g. Ontario Universities Fair)
  • Spring 2009: student advising in place

Is this business as usual under a new name?
No. Together we are creating something new. It is a historic opportunity to create a new Faculty for the 21st century university environment in line with the priorities established in the University Academic Plan.
Is this one Faculty swallowing the other?
No. Both Faculties will officially be disestablished effective with the opening of the new, consolidated Faculty on July 1, 2009.
So it’s a merger?
It’s much more than a merger. It is a chance to fashion a brand new Faculty. Thus it is a unique occasion to re-shape the University’s future in York’s 50th year along the lines of the UAP.
Is this a cost-cutting exercise?
No. The key motivation here is academic, not financial. The new Faculty will be organized in such a way as to eliminate duplication and deliver coherence and clarity to students. However, if the new Faculty’s creation generates greater efficiencies in costs or time, those resources will be re-invested in the new Faculty to reflect UAP priorities such as the student experience, research, and graduate studies.
Who is drawing up these plans?
Several working groups have been struck under the direction of the Vice-President Academic. These committees are broadly-based and are meeting frequently. The mandate and members of each committee can be seen at Committee members can be contacted with regard to issues that may arise during the transition process.
Are the unions being consulted?
Yes. Regular labour-management meetings are taking place with all York’s affected unions.
How do I keep up to date with the consultations?
A special Web site has been created at to keep the entire community informed of any issues that may arise. There will also be regular updates in YFile and Ylife (for students).
Where can I send comments and suggestions?
These can be directed to the VP Academic’s office via e-mail to

1.2 Research

How will the creation of the new Faculty benefit research at York?
The creation of the new Faculty will provide a critical opportunity to expand and intensify research across many of York’s humanities and social science departments and related professional programs through a focus on increased participation and performance and through harmonized and focused complement planning. It will also provide an opportunity to expand research into new areas through the development of visionary interdisciplinary research programs and cross-cutting research clusters. The new Faculty will also help the University to provide needed research infrastructure and deliver the most effective, leading-edge and efficient research support services to faculty members by re-investing the financial savings found through the merger into the new Faculty.

1.3 Students

As a student will this affect my degree?
The short answer is no. York University is committed to ensuring minimum disruption to students  currently enrolled in degree programs in the Faculties of Arts and Atkinson who are moved to the new Faculty will be ‘grandparented’ which means that they will be permitted to continue in their existing degrees in the new Faculty. They will be allowed to complete these degrees with the same rules and degree requirements that exist now. Degree designations (e.g. BA, BAS) will not change. These students will follow "grandparented rules" unless they alter their program of study (see specifics below). One of the goals of the restructuring, however, is to consolidate programs offered in both Arts and Atkinson such as English or Sociology. This will inevitably require some changes as the curricula and requirements from two programs are integrated into one program. The aim is to provide stronger programs with greater course selection and scheduling flexibility for students. Programs that are offered only in Arts or Atkinson such as Anthropology or Administrative Studies will move intact into the new Faculty.
What are "grandparented rules"?
"Grandparented rules" allow students to complete their studies following the rules of the programs they were in at the time of the creation of the new Faculty, rather than needing to follow a set of new requirements. This includes all major and degree requirements including General Education and upper level requirements as well as electives/required credits outside the major.
How long do I have to complete my degree under the "grandparented rules"?
Students who continue in their original program have until the end of the Summer 2016 Session to complete their program under the grandparented rules.
When will students in progress be moved to the new Faculty?
Students will remain in their current Faculty (Arts or Atkinson) until the end of the Summer 2009 Session.Current Faculty of Arts or Atkinson students enrolling for the Fall/Winter 2009-2010 session will enrol in courses under the new Faculty during the enrolment period.
What will happen to students who begin their studies at York in the Summer 2009 Session?
New students who are admitted and register in either the Faculty of Arts or Atkinson for the Summer 2009 Session, will be moved to the new Faculty for Fall/Winter 2009-2010. These students will enrol in Fall/Winter 2009-2010 courses for the new Faculty in June and will be allowed to continue in their original degree program under "grandparented rules" (see above).
I am a continuing student in Arts or Atkinson and I want to change my program for September 2009. What program rules will I follow? How do I make the change?
Students moved to the new Faculty who modify their degree program will follow the rules implemented by the new Faculty. This includes students who change their degree, change their major or declare a major for the first time, add or drop a second major or minor, or who declare a new stream. The Undergraduate Calendar Fall/Winter 2009-2010 will be published in May 2009 and will include details about the full range of degrees and programs that will be offered in the new Faculty. Change of major/degree forms are available online through the Current Students Web site.
When I started at York in September 2008 I was undecided about my major. Should I declare my major prior to enrolment in the new Faculty?
Faculty of Arts or Atkinson Faculty of Liberal and Professional Studies students who declare their major during the 2008-2009 academic year will be permitted to continue in their existing degrees and programs of study in the new Faculty following the grandparented rules. Former Arts or Atkinson Students who declare their major or modify their program will follow the newly established rules.
I was admitted for September 2008 and am following the rules that were in place for my major when I got here. In the new Faculty my program has options that appeal to me. How can I continue in my major, but follow the new program rules?
Students who wish to follow the new requirements for their degree program (or who modify their program of study in any way) must formally change their program of study. This requires the submission of a change of major form, available online through the Current Students Web site. In making any change to their program, students will be required to follow new program and faculty requirements. Students cannot combine old and new rules. Completed courses from the original program will count toward the new program.
I am a student completing my program of study under grandparented rules and have, or am thinking of, taking a break in my studies. What rules will I be expected to follow when I return?
Students in grandparented programs who have been away for less than four consecutive sessions and who reactivate before the Fall/Winter 2012-2013 Session will be eligible to follow grandparented program rules from their original Faculty (Faculty of Arts or Atkinson Faculty of Liberal and Professional Studies). Students who have not completed programs with grandparented rules as of the Summer 2016 Session will be complete degrees and programs under rules implemented by the new FacultyStudents in grandparented programs who are away for more than four consecutive sessions; or who reactivate after the Summer 2012 Session will follow the rules implemented by the new Faculty. Students who request reactivation as of Fall/Winter 2012-2013 and subsequent sessions will follow the rules implemented by the new Faculty.
How will the new Faculty support the needs of graduate students?
The Faculty of Graduate Studies, the Research Centres and Faculty-based initiatives will continue to operate as usual during this process and thus graduate students will not be directly affected. However, restructuring will better align the undergraduate programs with the graduate programs rather than having separate undergraduate programs in many of the humanities and social sciences. This stronger alignment will allow for better planning of undergraduate and graduate courses, and will bring together faculty members and students with common research interests.
What about York’s commitment to part-time and mature students?
York remains committed to its diverse student population including a) mature students and b) those students who need or want to study in the evening, on the weekends and/or in the summer. The new Faculty will be providing flexible programming where appropriate so that students from across the University will benefit from Atkinson’s rich history and experience in teaching part-time and mature students in accessible formats.
So is York losing the Atkinson name?
No. As of Aug. 1, 2007, York has established the Atkinson Centre for Mature & Part-time Students whose mandate is specifically to advocate for the distinct needs of these students and to enhance the quality of their academic experience. The Atkinson Centre is located in the ground floor of the Ross Building at 111 Central Square, ext. 55770; Web site
How will I know what courses I am supposed to take in the new Faculty? (only in expanded students’ FAQ)
When planning the courses to complete their programs, continuing students in grandparented programs will be able to refer as necessary to course substitution lists and course credit exclusion lists published on the York Web site, the undergraduate lecture schedule, and the University calendars. New degree and program requirements for students beginning in Fall/Winter 2009-2010 will be made available as of February 2009 and published in the Calendar in May 2009.
Will the existing student-focused initiatives continue in the new Faculty?
The best practices for integrating various student-focused initiatives into the new Faculty will continue to evolve through ongoing discussions. Creating a new Faculty presents many unique opportunities to share innovative ideas developed within Atkinson and Arts about how to best support student engagement and success.
What will happen to the currently established Faculty-based student organizations and clubs?
We have been in consultation with student leaders in Arts and Atkinson to discuss this. We believe that the establishment of the new Faculty is an excellent opportunity to incorporate the best of both existing Faculties into new student organizations and clubs.
Where will I go for advising and student services such as petitions? What about writing and ESL assistance?
Offices will be set up in the new Faculty to provide these services; in the meantime, students will continue to be served by their current Faculty. We are working to ensure that the level and nature of writing assistance and ESL provided to students will not be diminished as a result of restructuring, and to better coordinate access to these services across the University.
Will I continue to be eligible for scholarships and bursaries?
Students will continue to be eligible for various kinds of financial support at the University and Faculty level, although the criteria for some Faculty-specific awards may need to be adjusted to reflect the new Faculty structure.
I am a student representative of my Faculty Council or Senate; will I be able to continue?
Faculty Councils in Arts and Atkinson will be disestablished when the Faculties are disestablished, and a Faculty Council will be created in the new Faculty at the same time. There will certainly be student representation on the Council and its committees, and provisions will also be made for student representation on Senate for the new Faculty’s students. The details are being worked on and students will be consulted and informed along the way.
What about College affiliation?
Discussions in relation to College affiliation are occurring with the Council of College Communities. Students in the new Faculty will be affiliated with a College. We are aware of these issues, and they are being considered as part of transition planning. More information will be available at a later date.
What about health and dental plans?
Full-time students will receive health and dental coverage under the York Federation of Students plan. We are working with our student government partners to address part-time student needs.
What will the name of the new Faculty be?
This has yet to be decided by York Senate. A name is expected to be confirmed in the Winter term of ’08.
What happens to the old Faculties?
The Faculty of Arts and the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies will be dissolved. Programs and courses previously offered through these Faculties will be taught through the new Faculty. Where similar programs were offered in both Faculties, programs and courses will need to be consolidated. Students currently in Arts and Atkinson will be moved automatically into the programs in the new Faculty.
What degrees will be offered in the new Faculty?
All of the degrees currently offered through the Faculty of Arts and the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies will be offered in the new Faculty. Current students will automatically be moved to the same degree programs. Students pursuing graduate studies associated with Atkinson or Arts will continue to receive support through their graduate programs.
What will appear on the diploma and transcript upon graduation?
York University issues degrees, such as Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Administrative Studies, Bachelor of Social Work, etc. The diploma parchment issued by York University notes the degree prominently, and the Faculty name in smaller print. Degrees offered by the new Faculty will be the same as in Arts and Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, except that the new Faculty’s name will be in smaller print. The transcript issued after graduation makes note of the degree and program title (including majors, minors, streams, etc.). Students who completed the Marketing Stream for the BAS (for example) will have this noted on their transcript.
What does it mean to complete a program under grandparented rules?
The University adheres to the principle of grandparenting which allows students to complete programs and the degrees under the rules in place at the time they began their studies at York. Students beginning or switching to programs in the new Faculty will follow the newly established rules.
Will current students have to apply to the new Faculty?
Students currently registered in the Faculty of Arts or the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies will automatically be moved to the new Faculty. It will not be necessary to do anything further. Students from a Faculty other than Arts or Atkinson will be able to apply to transfer to programs in the new Faculty for the Fall/Winter 2009-2010 session.
Will I need to repeat courses to meet my major requirements, if, for example, the year level changes or the number changes in the new Faculty?
In keeping with grandparenting principles, previously taken courses of grandparented programs will be honoured by programs in the new Faculty. To assist with this, course substitution lists will be available.
Will I have trouble enrolling if there are fewer courses being offered?
There is no plan to offer fewer courses in the new Faculty. Enough courses and sections will be available to meet the demand of all new and continuing students. Where overlapping or cross-listed courses are consolidated, additional sections will be offered.
Will there still be evening and summer classes?
Yes, evening and summer classes will be offered.
Will internet and correspondence courses still be available?
Yes. York will continue its commitment to the flexible and innovative delivery of courses.
Can I be co-registered in the Faculty of Education and the new Faculty?
Where will I go for advising in the new Faculty?
Advisers for the new Faculty will be available in March 2009 to help students prepare for enrolment, whether they are new students or continuing students. The locations will be published when they are available. In addition to central services in the new Faculty, students will receive support from their program area.
Will the reputation of my degree still be as good as it was? Will these changes impact my opportunity to go on to graduate school, law school, or MBA programs? Will employers recognize degrees from the new Faculty?
Programs within Arts and Atkinson have built strong reputations for excellence. This is due in large part to the quality of the professors, programs and graduates from these Faculties. The new Faculty will build on these strengths going forward. Degrees are granted by York University. Graduate schools, professional schools and employers will continue to recognize the excellent quality of York’s undergraduate programs and graduate programs. See also: Faculty Transition, Nov. 1, 2007, from the Transition Steering Committee

1.4 Faculty & Staff

I'm a faculty member in Arts/Atkinson; will I be redeployed to the new Faculty?
What about my program affiliation? What processes will be followed? We are working with YUFA and AER to address these issues; experience from the creation of the Faculty of Health will guide the process. Redeployment is governed by the collective agreement. We do not anticipate requiring people to move to a particular program in the new Faculty; if individual faculty members do not wish to move with their current program, we will work with them to try to make alternate arrangements through appointment to some other appropriate program. Cross-appointments between two programs will continue to be possible.

I will be considered for tenure after the new Faculty is established; how will I be affected?
It is a long-established practice that faculty are considered for tenure under the criteria that were in place when they were appointed. Colleagues in “merged” programs will be working together to develop common statements of standards for future appointees.

How will governance structures and processes be affected by the establishment of the new Faculty?
The new Faculty will have a Faculty Council. Faculty Councils determine their own membership, rules and procedures, committee structures, etc. (subject to Senate approval). The University is looking at ways of putting in place interim governance processes until the new Council is formally in place in order to facilitate joint consideration and approval of proposals (for example, legislation on general education). Once unit and program structures in the new Faculty have been determined, colleagues in merged programs will begin more detailed discussions about curriculum and requirements, internal governance structures, etc. The University is putting in place a “streamlined” approval process for programs and curriculum in consultation with the Senate Committee on Curriculum and Academic Standards and the Academic Policy and Planning Committee.
Atkinson currently has had a mandate for summer and evening teaching; what are the commitments and plans for continued offering of courses and programs in summer and evening in the new Faculty?
There is a commitment that there will be no reduction in the availability of summer and evening courses and programs, and opportunities will likely in fact increase. Each program will be expected to examine its capacity to offer evening and summer courses/programs and the demand for them, and to reach a determination about offerings on the basis of these considerations. Offering of online courses will also be a part of these discussions. We do not anticipate that individual faculty members who do not wish to do so will be required to teach summer or evening courses. It should be noted that the Atkinson Centre for Mature and Part-time Students will have as one of its responsibilities to work with units on behalf of part-time and mature students to ensure continuing access to summer and evening programming for them and all students.

Is it intended that departmental and university offices will be open in the evening to serve students? If so, will staff be required to work in the evenings?
Whether departmental offices are open in the evening will depend on whether that particular unit offers evening programming. Colleagues in the Atkinson Centre will work with university offices to ensure that appropriate levels of services are provided to evening students.
Will the merger of duplicate programs result in moving colleagues from those programs into a common space?
Over time, the goal is to bring all members of merged units together in one location or contiguous locations and we will work towards this in space planning, but the acute space shortage on campus makes this impossible immediately. Therefore, in the short term, most individuals and units will remain where they are.

1.5 Alumni

As an alumnus/alumna of one of the affected Faculties, will the nature of my relationship with the University change?
As an alumnus/alumna who attended either Arts or Atkinson, your York degree will not change because of their dissolution or because of the creation of the new Faculty. This initiative will not rewrite your history at York, so if you need to request a new diploma or transcript, it will still list your original Faculty. However, since the programs you attended will continue to thrive in the new Faculty, you will start to receive information and communications about those programs under the banner of the new Faculty. In addition, we are looking to transfer the best alumni programs from both of the existing Faculties to the new Faculty. Finally, the Alumni Office is eager to work with any Arts/Atkinson alumni who would like to establish a Chapter to capture some of the energy and enthusiasm from the Faculties that will be closing. The Alumni Office can be reached at The new Faculty will be launched in York’s 50th year in 2009 so it will be a landmark in York’s academic history. Alumni will be kept up to date via e-mail, Alumni Matters and the Alumni website.

1.6 Donors

How will previous donations directed to either Arts or Atkinson be treated?
Programs are continuing, so it is anticipated that gifts made previously will continue to be directed to the originally designated program (if applicable). General gifts to either Arts or Atkinson (for instance, to general student support) will be reviewed and considered in consultation with the new Faculty.

I have established a named endowed fund in either Arts or Atkinson - what will happen to it?
The York University Foundation will be communicating with individual donors on funds that are directly affected.

I have more questions. Who can I contact for information?

You may e-mail your questions to