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Another Year of Excellence in Graduate Education: FGS Reflects on 2023!

Another Year of Excellence in Graduate Education: FGS Reflects on 2023!

As the year comes to an end, the Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) reflects on all the transformative work undertaken by our inspiring community. Our faculty, staff and students have exemplified all the values portrayed in York University’s mission to incorporate the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into our daily practices. The SDGs are a framework that calls on member countries to take urgent action in seventeen areas that are critical to ensure peace and prosperity for people and the planet, to which York is ideally placed to contribute. Here are some memorable moments we are proud to reflect back on.

computer on a desk with the words "FGS reflects on 2023" on the computer screen

Announcement of appointment of new vice-provost & dean, and associate dean students: FGS welcomed two new members to our community. The Board of Governors appointed Dr. Alice MacLachlan to the position of Vice-Provost & Dean, Graduate Studies, and Dr. Tokunbo Ojo joined as the new Associate Dean, Students. Both MacLachlan and Ojo bring their diverse and expansive perspectives, which help them work together with various stakeholders within the Faculty and across campus to advance the UN SDGs and the University Academic Plan (UAP).

Faculty of Graduate Studies Council undergoes major revisioning: FGS Council’s mandate and membership were revised to represent more fully, effectively and efficiently the range of stakeholders in graduate and postdoctoral educational development to facilitate positive change for the campus community.

New record set for graduate student registration for our Personal Wellness & Learning Skills certificate program: FGS partners with Learning Skills Services (LSS) to arm graduate students with proactive tools to protect and improve their personal wellness. This year, there was a 73% increase in graduate student registrations for the fall 2023 cohort. Thank you to our FGS partners for promoting the Certificate in Personal Wellness & Learning Skills to graduate students.  

C4: Cross-Campus Capstone Classroom welcomes graduate students in pilot opportunity: The Graduate Studies Pilot is an award-winning, immersive, experiential and interdisciplinary initiative that provides graduate students with the opportunity to take C4 for academic credit. It is a unique space where students actively work on real-world, research-design projects with community and industry partners - all of which are linked directly to the UN SDGs.

The Updating of Offer Letters for graduate admission: Offer letters were revamped for all graduate programs to provide applicants with more details about offers of admission, including awards and funding, creating a more comprehensive application process.

The Inclusion of an EDI Question on the central application: Graduate applicants can optionally identify themselves as a member of an equity-seeking group on their application. Graduate programs have received resources and training on how to use this information in practices of holistic admission, with the aim of increasing admission of applicants with disabilities as well as Black, Indigenous, racialized and 2SLGBTQI+ peoples.

Fall 2023 cohort completes Academic Integrity Educational Modules: All incoming graduate students are required to complete The FGS Academic Integrity Module to have a better understanding of what constitutes a scholastic offence, as well as their responsibilities in relation to a variety of academic principles. Through this initiative, community members are able to maintain the highest standards of academic honesty throughout their studies in accordance with the Senate Policy on Academic Honesty.

Ontario Graduate Scholarships: The Faculty of Graduate Studies has earmarked 10% of our central Ontario Graduate Scholarship quota to support black scholars who exemplify excellence. Graduate Programs nominated eligible meritorious incoming black students to receive $15,000 for the 2023-2024 academic year.

Academic Excellence Fund (AEF) expansion: Launched in the Fall of 2021, the AEF continues expanding. Additional funding is now available to students who identify as having a disability to supplement the costs of assistive devices, accessibility software and communication support while participating in an eligible AEF research activity. Additionally, AEF supported our graduate students to register and attend Congress 2023, which helped over 250 scholars disseminate their cutting-edge research to the broader academic community.

The Bennett Family Graduate Scholarship for Black & Indigenous Students: The Bennett Family Foundation has created an endowment to support meritorious Black and Indigenous scholars. The scholarship is open to graduate students who identify as Black and/or Indigenous. Master’s students are eligible to receive up to $40,000 for the duration of their degree and Doctoral students are eligible to receive up to $60,000 for the duration of their degree.

Seven students awarded Vanier Canada Scholarships: The award, presented by the Government of Canada, aims to support first-rate doctoral students who undertake graduate studies in the fields of social sciences and humanities, natural sciences and/or engineering and health. Candidates are evaluated based on three equally weighted selection criteria: academic excellence, research potential, and leadership. All seven recipients from York will be awarded $50,000 annually for up to three years to support their research projects.

Recipients for the 2023 Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellowships for Black & Indigenous Scholars announced: Doug Anderson and Jean de Dieu Uwisengeyimana have been named recipients of the 2023 Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellowships for Black and Indigenous Scholars. The Fellowship program seeks to attract outstanding scholars who will push the boundaries of knowledge in necessary ways. With a salary of $70,000 provided each year for a two-year term, award recipients will be able to dedicate their time to pursuing a proposed project, working alongside a supervisor and other mentors.

Six graduates have been awarded thesis and dissertation prizes by FGS for their outstanding scholarly work: The prizes are bestowed to celebrate exceptional master’s and doctoral research work from the recent academic calendar year. From creating the world’s largest dataset on honeybee genomics to demystifying the function of consciousness, the winners of this year’s award are breaking new ground with their research. The value of the awards is $2,000 for doctoral dissertations and $1,000 for master’s theses.

Three graduate students earn Governor General's Gold Medal: The Governor General's awards are considered the highest honour earned by exemplary Canadian scholars throughout every level of academia. Three graduates from York received this year’s Governor General's Gold Medals: Lawrence Garcia, Kathleen Dogantzis and Aaron Tucker. Through their commitment to innovation through their research, the winners are contributing to the advancement of SDG goals.

Ramesh Venkatesa Perumal becomes York’s first School of Nursing doctoral graduate: A sessional assistant professor in the Faculty of Health became the first doctoral graduate of York’s School of Nursing program in February of 2023, when he successfully defended his dissertation, “Impact of Social Support and mentoring on the career advancement of internationally educated nurses.” He began his doctoral work in September 2018 and was one among several others positioned to be the inaugural doctoral candidate of the new PhD in Nursing program.

York Postdoctoral Fellow is Holland Bloorview’s first EMBARK (Empowering Black Academics, Researchers and Knowledge Creators) scientist: Recognized for his exceptional contributions to pediatric health care, York postdoctoral Fellow De-Lawrence Lamptey has been named Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital’s inaugural EMBARK scientist. The first program of its kind in Canada, EMBARK fills an important gap in amplifying diverse Black voices in disability research.

The FGS community have come together this year to make a difference on compelling issues of our times. York’s contribution to the SDG challenge was at the forefront of a number of these initiatives from creating funding opportunities for students to attend university (SDG 1: No Poverty; SDG 4: Quality Education) to updating admission applications (SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities) to securing grants that foster innovation in our community (SDG 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure). Thank you to all the staff, faculty and students who made 2023 a memorable one.