York U honours latest major gift at Markham Campus construction milestone celebration
The York University community is celebrating an important phase in the construction of its new Markham Campus, as the final structural I-beam was placed – completing the building’s frame.
The recent ceremony was marked by the announcement of a $5-million donation from Metropia, presented by Metropia founder and CEO Howard Sokolowski, a York alumnus. In honour of this generous gift, which will go toward the capital construction costs of the campus, York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton announced that the student life centre will be named the Metropia Student Success Centre.
“I was a student at York University 50 years ago, when it was an emerging institution in North York,” shares Sokolowski. “Since then, York has grown into an internationally recognized university, and I am so proud to be a part of York’s further expansion with a campus in the heart of Markham.”
Located on the first and second floors of the new building, the Metropia Student Success Centre will be a dynamic and central hub for all student supports and services at Markham Campus. The suite will include the student success and academic advising office, an interfaith centre, multipurpose wellness studio and spaces for academic success, mentoring, counselling and student life. It will also feature areas for student organizations, including student government and clubs, to collaborate and plan events on campus and within the community.
“Howard is a proud alumnus, and long-time friend and supporter of York University, who has been involved in various capacities throughout the years," Lenton says. "I want to thank Howard for his continued friendship and support of the University, his family and Metropia for this generous donation to support our Markham Campus.”
In addition to honouring Metropia’s gift, President Lenton thanked partners, including the Government of Ontario, the City of Markham, York Region, the R.P. Bratty Family Foundation, as well as valued donors and business partners who are helping to transform this vision into reality.
Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti echoed Lenton’s thanks, and praised Sokolowski for his passion, drive and commitment to York and Markham. “There is a responsibility Howard recognizes,” Scarpitti says, “to make sure that good things happen in our community.”
Sokolowski sees Markham’s thriving city centre and growing neighbourhood as a perfect match for York’s entrepreneurial spirit and curriculum. “I care deeply about this community and institution and am so excited to see this project progressing towards opening day,” he concludes.
Gordon Binsted, York’s Deputy Provost for Markham Campus, underscores the new campus’s wide-reaching potential. “This gift goes beyond financial support for capital construction of the campus," Binstead says. "It represents the commitment and confidence of our alumni and friends in its success. Markham students will know that their campus was built with community buy in and vested interest in the future.”
The high-tech, research-intensive campus will embed York in the heart of one of the most diverse and dynamic urban communities in the province and country, while supporting research and academic programs that reflect the local economy – offering opportunities for students, faculty and staff to collaborate directly with employers, startups and community partners with a shared commitment to right the future.
Scarpitti shares his optimism for the positive change Markham Campus students will be inspired to create. “We know that our world needs to change, progress, evolve and get better,” he remarks. He adds that as far as he’s concerned, the real celebration will be when the first cohort of Markham Campus students crosses the convocation stage, before going out in the world and making a difference – righting the future.
Claire Del Zotto, third-year biology student who resides in York Region while studying at York’s Keele Campus, reflects on how the University’s science programs available at the new campus will enhance the student experience. “I personally found the greatest value in the endless research experiences available to students,” Del Zotto explains. “Once the Markham Campus is open in 2024, experiential learning opportunities will be increasingly accessible to students in the sciences and beyond.”
While building of the new campus is well underway, the University is still accepting donations toward the capital construction costs. “Once completed,” Del Zotto concludes, “Markham Campus will fortify the one-of-a-kind student experience that York University has worked to build, and ultimately guide thousands of the world’s future leaders, innovators and visionaries to success.”