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Best of YU: Top Division of Advancement moments of 2023

Best of YU: Top Division of Advancement moments of 2023

From recognizing the achievements of our alumni to engaging our diverse community of changemakers around the world and enhancing our alumni programs and events, here are our top stories, highlights and moments from 2023:

Kathleen Taylor Installed as York's 14th Chancellor

In May, York alumna Kathleen Taylor was officially installed as the university’s first woman chancellor. 

A graduate of the JD/MBA program offered by Osgoode Hall Law School and the Schulich School of Business, she became the first woman to Chair the board of one of Canada’s big five banks and served as the first president and CEO of the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts chain. 

Kathleen’s first public act as chancellor started in June conferring degrees on thousands of new graduates at spring convocation. 

Learn more about our newest chancellor.


This year’s convocation ceremonies were modified to embed some of the principles of Decolonization, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion within our events, and to ensure alignment with our institutional values. 

The modifications included:

  • The order of ceremony
  • The position of the mace
  • Student performers
  • Professional name readers
  • Alumni speakers to welcome graduates

Watch the Convocation 2023 highlights.

Jean Augustine Chair funding announcement

In November, community members joined the Honourable Jean Augustine to celebrate an announcement of funding from the federal government to support the endowed university Chair in her name. 

The $1.5 million federal contribution represents a major milestone for the endowed Chair – now fully funded with more than $3 million, thanks to the years of grassroots fundraising efforts led by Augustine. 

Learn more about the fundraising efforts led by Jean Augustine.

First Black and rainbow grad celebrations

In June, York University’s Black Alumni Network (YUBAN) and Sexuality and Gender Advocacy Alumni Network (SAGA) held the inaugural Black and rainbow graduation celebrations. The celebrations provided an opportunity to network in a safe space and share words of encouragement and advice for future grads. 

Along with YUBAN and SAGA, these two inaugural events were supported by the Division of Advancement, the Division of Students and the Office of the VP Equity, People and Culture. 

Learn more about the Black and rainbow grad celebrations. 

Desjardins gift to Innovation York

A new gift from Desjardins to York University’s Innovation York was announced in September. The gift will expand two critical accelerator programs that provide training and support in entrepreneurship and help promote innovation. The funding will continue both Desjardins and York’s commitment to fostering positive change for diverse local communities and uniquely global perspectives.

Following the announcement, Guy Cormier, President and CEO of Desjardins Group visited Keele campus to share his personal and professional journey with students, aspiring entrepreneurs and members of the York University community.

Learn more about York's entrepreneurial programs.

Markham Campus Construction milestone and gift from alumnus Howard Sokolowski 

In February, York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton, together with dignitaries, University leadership, local community members and philanthropists, marked an important phase in the building of its new Markham Campus with a topping-off ceremony. 

The event also celebrated a $5-million donation toward capital construction costs from Metropia and Howard Sokolowski, a York alumnus and the company’s founder and CEO. 

Learn more about Markham campus.

Top 30 Alumni Under 30 networking event

In May we held our Top 30 Alumni Under 30 networking event to celebrate York's inspiring group of changemakers. Top 30 Alumni Under 30 recipients from previous years joined the 2023 cohort for an evening of celebration, recognition, and networking.

Meet the Top 30 Alumni Under 30.

Alumni and Career Lounge opens in York Lanes

The Alumni and Career Lounge, a collaboration between Alumni Engagement, the York University Career Centre and YSpace, opened this year. Students, alumni and friends had the opportunity to ask questions, access career services and learn more about alumni programs and benefits. 

Learn more about the Alumni and Career Lounge.

Public launch of Connecting YU platform

Connecting YU, our virtual mentoring and networking platform, officially launched to the public in June. Students and alumni of York can leverage our virtual network to establish meaningful relationships, find valuable mentoring opportunities and cultivate professional and personal relationships that will enhance their learning and development.  

Join Connecting YU. 

Record number of regional events and outreach

With a vast network of approximately 370,000 York alumni making significant contributions around the globe, the Division of Advancement hosted a series of socials and receptions engaging esteemed alumni across five continents, eight countries and 14 cities. 

View upcoming regional events.