On Thursday, August 24th, The Faculty of Education hosted an event to officially re-launch the Jean Augustine Chair in Education and to introduce the new Chair, Dr. Carl James. The Faculty was excited to welcome over 100 guests including past donors, faculty members, friends and members of the community to the rotunda at Osgoode Hall Law School on York’s Keele campus. The event featured live music and remarks by Vice-Provost Alice Pitt, Dean Lyndon Martin, the Honourable Jean Augustine, Dr. Carl James and others.
Named after Jean Augustine, the first black woman elected to the Canadian Parliament, the Chair was established in 2008 at a time when many stakeholders were pondering the state of education for marginalized students. Dr. Nombuso Dlamini was the inaugural Chair (2009-2014) and Dr. Jennifer Kelly served as the Visiting Chair this past academic year.
“I am extremely happy and pleased that Dr. James has been appointed to the role of Chair,” said Augustine. “His ability to lead, guide and role-model a number of our young people as well as his ability to critique without being critical puts him in a position to continue the legacy of success of past Chair holders.” She went on to speak of “York’s commitment to the community and how over the years it has come to recognize its place as a university in the midst of our community.”
As new Chair, Dr. James indicated that he will focus on addressing community issues and concerns within a framework of equity, inclusivity, and social justice. The work of the Chair will also consider the current context, building on its past accomplishments, and initiating a structure and activities that will serve to advance the principles of educational access and opportunities, cultural understanding, and community engagement.
“Given this opportunity, I expect to build on the vision of the Chair and enable, support and promote the education of young people in schools, university and community,” said James. “The success of any education program for today’s youth involves a partnership or collaborative relationship with the community, parents, teachers, university professors, government leaders and many others.”
During his remarks, James announced that Environics and its partners the United Way, YMCA and the Diversity Institute at Ryerson, have decided to give the data from the Black Experience Project – a research project conducted by Environincs – to the Jean Augustine Chair. Speaking to their decision, Michael Adams, President of Environics, said “I am pleased that the data will be housed at York University where it will be easily available to the community, particularly through reports that professors, scholars, graduate students and community researchers will produce to tell of the concerns and interests of the community.”
“My vision is that the Chair will be a main source of research for and about the community to inform policies, practices, programs and advocacy,” said James.
“We are thrilled to welcome Carl to the position of Chair and thank the Honourable Jean Augustine for her ongoing support, as well as past and present donors,” said Lyndon Martin, Dean of the Faculty of Education. “A commitment to social justice and equity remains a central part of the Faculty’s research, teaching and community engagement. The Jean Augustine Chair is one way in which we are demonstrating this commitment through meaningful action."
The event came to a close with a call to action by Augustine to continue to support the Chair through donations. For more information or to donate, visit giving.yorku.ca/jean.