As I sat writing my blog, I realized that there is so much about this month that warrants mentioning. June is the month in which we usher in summer, it has both the longest and the shortest days of the year— depending on where you’re standing! If you’re in the northern hemisphere, like we are, then June 21, is the longest day of the year. If you were in the southern hemisphere, then the 21st would be the shortest day of the year. June brings beautiful bouquets, delicious fruits and vegetables, and an urge to get out there and enjoy the sunshine.
Summer tends to be a light and carefree time of the year, however, this year our celebration of summer might be tempered. The discovery of 751 unmarked graves on Cowessess First Nation in southeast Saskatchewan is a stark reminder of the work that we must do, and how very important it is for each of us to commit to reconciliation. So, while we celebrate National Aboriginal History Month and National Indigenous Peoples Day in June — a time for learning about, appreciating and acknowledging the contributions that First Nations, Inuit and Métis people and all that they have done in shaping Canada, we also grieve with them. I encourage you to take the time to reflect on the injustices and suffering inflicted and to get acquainted with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Reports and its 94 Calls to Action and learn how you can play a part towards reconciliation.
I would also like to ask if we can all bring to mind the tragic workplace incident that happened on our Keele campus on Monday, 28, June. Our hearts go out to the victim's family, friends, co-workers and to the York community. This is a keen reminder that workplace safety is everyone’s responsibility and that safety in the workplace has a significant impact on all of us. Resources are available through the Employee and Family Assistance Program to help you through this traumatic experience.
At our last town hall, I mentioned that June is a month in which we celebrate with, and show our support for, members of the 2SLGBTQIA communities in their historic and current struggles for equality. But more than that, it is a demonstration of our unwavering commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion.
This month also brings us to the mid-year point, a time for me to reflect on the year so far, to look at the exciting things that have happened, not just in my life but in our division, and to look forward with great anticipation of what’s to come.
This past year, 116 colleagues from the Community Safety Department have continued to come on campus to ensure a safe community for all. Our colleagues responded to 11,922 calls for service, conducted almost 5,986 check-ins at campus buildings and offices, and processed 2,324 requests for access to campus. And even though far less people have been on campus, this dedicated team has responded to 133 Emergency Medical Service calls. Always prepared and focused on the safety of the York community, this team has maintained regular checks on the exterior lighting, emergency phones and all the fire safety equipment on our campuses.
Before the pandemic, UIT provided expert service and support to the community. Throughout the pandemic, the team has continued to demonstrate that they can rise to any challenge and exceed expectations. They have enhanced services and added layers of security to ensure students, faculty and staff can study, teach, conduct research and work, with peace of mind knowing that UIT is working on their behalf. They have improved the performance and resilience of eClass resulting in a glitch-free winter exam period. They’ve added Ada—a virtual assistant for IT support, a complement to the award winning, highly successful student virtual assistant, SAVY. They are moving full steam ahead with the University’s largest digital transformation project, the Student Systems Renewal Program (SSRP). With a focus on delivering superior services to students, faculty and staff, SSRP will streamline processes and technology platforms to allow students to plan and better manage their learning experiences.
On June 14 the University Services Centre (USC) was officially launched. Colleagues from the Pension and Benefits Office from the Human Resources Department have joined colleagues from the General Accounting team, Expense Desk, Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable, from the Financial Services Department, to become the first members of the USC. These two teams will be joined in late summer by members of the Procurement Operations team, also from the Financial Services Department. Together, these teams will become part of a one-stop-shop in which administrative services to faculty, instructors and staff will be delivered in a consistent and simple manner, with ease of access and enabled through technology.
The design and implementation of the USC is part of the Service Excellence Program (SEP). SEP is a three-year initiative focused on improving processes, structures, systems and culture and is guided by York’s vision for service excellence. The program seeks to collaboratively create solutions with the community; solutions that are user-focused and aimed at making York a better place to work and learn.
If I have learned anything over this past year, it is that colleagues in DFA are extraordinary. They are committed to the division and the University. They are resilient as demonstrated in the extraordinary successes achieved during the most challenging of times, and I am humbled, and tremendously grateful to each team member.
It is my hope, that over the next few months, you can take some much-deserved vacation time and enjoy the sights and sounds of summer. Summer is really starting to get into full swing, every day lasts just that little bit longer, making breezy summer evenings a real treat. Whatever you do, I encourage you to take a moment to reflect on the year so far, as it’s halfway gone already!
All the best,
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