York University launches a brand strategy to reflect its distinct identity in the higher education landscape

President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton issues the following message to the York University community: 

Dear Members of the York Community,

York University has a bold vision captured in our University Academic Plan, Strategic Research Plan and other foundational planning documents. I am pleased to announce that we now also have our first-ever brand strategy to capture the distinctive identity underpinning that vision. At Monday’s virtual town hall, I had the opportunity to share this important, forward-looking work that will help position the University for long-term success.

We spent considerable time last year understanding what our many different stakeholder audiences felt was special and unique about York University, and also what they felt was of the greatest importance to them in a university. Our evidence-based approach was critical to ensuring a clear, credible and differentiated articulation of our shared sense of purpose and identity.

I believe that by providing this clarity, both to those who are part of the York community and those external to York, the value we bring to students and to the world will be clear, enhancing our reputation, driving enrolment and attracting funding and strategic partnerships. Most importantly, it is an opportunity for us to recognize and celebrate our many achievements and contributions as a community as we look to strengthen our efforts to address the challenges ahead.

Our distinctive identity is very much aligned with the new University Academic Plan 2020-2025 (UAP). It reflects our shared commitment to driving positive change for our students, our communities and the world around us, through our research and its application, the development of curriculum to reflect the needs of the 21st-century global knowledge economy, implementing innovative student learning practices, and engagement with the communities we serve.

Solidifying our identity requires a collective commitment to continually strengthen how we take up the challenges outlined in the UAP. This commitment includes contributions to the global effort to meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and to tackle urgent issues like inequality, racism and climate change. York recently ranked 33rd out of 767 universities worldwide in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, but we can do better. Fully realizing our distinctive identity requires the engagement of the entire York community. Every one of us – students, faculty and staff – are York ambassadors. Together, we can deliver on our promise to drive positive change.

Over the coming weeks and months, members of the York community will see the brand come to life in many ways. In the meantime, I encourage you to learn more about York University’s new brand strategy by watching a short video (https://yulink-new.yorku.ca/) which captures our evidence-based process.


Rhonda L. Lenton
President and Vice-Chancellor

Article from the September 28, 2020 issue of Yfile