Category Archives: News

Division of Students Recruitment Officer Wins Bryden Alumni Award

This year’s Bryden Alumni Award presentation was held on Thursday, November 20 at the Royal Ontario Museum with more than 300 guests in attendance. The annual event honours the extraordinary achievements and contributions of York alumni. This year, a member of the Division of Students, Sonia Cianfarani (BA ’96), received the Local Hero award that recognizes her knowledge, passion and devotion to York.

Cianfarani considers herself more than a York representative; she is an integral member of the York University community. She shared that she considered herself privileged to be in a position where she can support and inspire current and future students in their journey at York. “I think I am a good representative to help students create the link between applying and then going on their way and leading to them to success,” says Cianfarani.

She began her work as a full-time employee in the Admissions Office in 1996, after previously working in the department as a work-study student. In 2001, she transitioned to the Recruitment team and began the critical role as a student recruitment officer. For the past 16 years, Sonia has built upon her experience as a York grad. “York has been my lifeline. York has been a big part of my life,” she revealed.

Cianfarani provides guidance and encouragement to mature, transfer and high-school students. She also ensures that these students have a successful educational pathway while at York. Sonia remains active in the York community as a member of four college committees and presents at the major recruitment events including Spring Open House and the Ontario Universities Fair. “For me it’s an easy job, I love what I do. I just feel like my job is very meaningful.”

For more news on the 2014 Bryden Awards, check out the story on YFile.

Join York’s Random Acts of Kindness Project

Random Acts of Kindness Project logoHave you ever thought about getting involved on campus? There’s a whole lot more to York University than just going to classes and I’d like to tell you about one of my most recent discoveries.

Hi everyone! My name is Vanessa Pichelli and I am thrilled by this opportunity to be a guest blogger on the VPS Blog. About me: I am a second year student in the Administrative Studies program, specializing in Marketing. I’m also the Vice President Operations for New College Council and one of the Media & Communication Ambassadors at SCLD. I have a huge passion for getting involved and serving the community.

During the summer, a close friend informed me about a club he was starting at York and that he thought it would be a perfect fit for me. That club was called The Random Acts of Kindness Project, or RAK for short. When I checked it out in September I learned that the club’s goal is to improve the social culture at York and help to inspire greater student involvement. That totally had my name all over it, so I joined right away!

Picture of club founder and president, Yaakov Green
Club founder and president, Yaakov Green, giving water to a fellow student.

Club founder and president, Yaakov Green, along with his team, planned some great initiatives that I was able to partake in this year. For Halloween we surprised York students in their lectures with thousands of Halloween treats. The energy and excitement in the classrooms we visited was electric and really brought a lot of awareness to our club. We also held a “Kindness Campaign” where club members toured the campus looking for small ways to help fellow students such as giving a water bottle to someone who needed it, holding doors for others, and helping fellow students carry their heavy loads of books. Future events include giving out coffee and hot cocoa to students arriving to York in the morning, study packs to those studying in the library before exams, and hand warmers for students waiting in the cold for the bus. These Random Acts of Kindness go a long way to show how a small group of people doing thoughtful, little acts can make a big difference in the community and help to brighten someone’s day.

RAK now boasts 130 members and counting. I am so delighted to have gotten in on the ground floor and shared in so many amazing and heart-warming experiences so far. If you’d like to become a member, please check us out on Facebook and Twitter. And be sure to check out our new video on YouTube!

Otherwise, be sure to explore Student Clubs & Organizations at Student Community & Leadership Development. There are more than 400 different student clubs. You’re sure to find something that interests you and that could completely change your university experience.

A fresh start to a new academic year at York

This week marks the start of a brand new year for thousands of new York Lions, as they move away from home and into residence. Yesterday was Move-In Day on York campuses, which marks the official kick-off to Orientation Week at York University.

Global News was on campus yesterday to take in the excitement, and to hear from parents, students and student leaders about this momentous time of year. Global also spoke with Dr. Janet Morrison, vice-provost, students about how O-week has evolved at York.

Orientation Week continues today, Tuesday, September 2, with a university-wide orientation day, including the anticipated Making Connections event. Visit the Orientation website for a complete list of Orientation Week activities for students and their families.

Fresh take on frosh week   Watch News Videos Online

Click the picture above to watch the video on the Global News website.

The Division of Students rises to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

In the true spirit of “living our values”, Vice-Provost Morrison, Director of Sport York Jennifer Myers, members of the York Lions football team and York Lions staff have risen to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge!

The challenge involves people getting doused with buckets of ice water on video, posting that video to social media, then nominating others to do the same, all in an effort to raise ALS awareness. People can either accept the challenge or make a donation to an ALS Charity of their choice, or do both.

Watch the videos here:

Janet Morrison takes on the ALS #IceBucketChallenge!

York Lions | 2014 Football team does the ALS #IceBucketChallenge!

The York Lions Staff ALS #IceBucketChallenge!

The York Women’s Soccer team takes on the Ice Bucket Challenge

The York Men’s Soccer team responds to the Women’s Soccer team nomination

York Lions’ Syd Brown takes the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

York Men’s hockey family takes the ALS #IceBucketChallenge for Kyle Ruppe

York University Residence Life team’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Assistant Registrar, Graduate Assessment & Transfer Credit, Andrew Wilson takes the Ice Bucket Challenge

Senior Leadership from the Division take the Challenge!

Visit the ALS Association website to learn more about Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Follow #IceBucketChallenge on Twitter and Instagram for more news about the campaign.

Updated October 16, 2014

Recruitment social media efforts pick up two awards

The Fall Campus Day photo booth

A new way of engaging prospective students in on-campus events through social media has garnered the University two prestigious awards. The Fall Campus Day Insta-Print Photo Booth was awarded a Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education (CCAE) Prix D’Excellence and a Council for the Advancement & Support of Education (CASE) Circle of Excellence Award.

The Fall Campus Day Insta-Print Photo Booth engaged prospective students visiting the annual Fall Campus Day last November. The Insta-Print Photo Booth collected photos from Instagram and Twitter during the event using a particular hashtag. Photos were then instantly printed out on a York U branded template for students to pick up throughout the day. Photos were also promoted and/or retweeted online and on screens in presentation rooms and common areas. Fall Campus Day took place on Nov. 9, 2013, and attracted 3,000 attendees.


The Insta-Print Photo Booth was a joint effort by the Recruitment team and the Division of Students (VPS) Communications unit to increase prospective student engagement with the University. The program cost less than traditional giveaways and adoption of the social media campaign was tremendous with more than 600 photos posted during the event, averaging five photos per minute. Students got to take home a keepsake and those not able to attend the event could follow online.

The social media effort was awarded a Bronze for “Best Use of Social Media.” The Prix D’Excellence is the annual awards program of the CCAE, recognizing outstanding achievements in alumni affairs, public affairs, communications, marketing, development, advancement services, stewardship, student recruitment and overall institutional advancement. This is the second year in a row that a joint Recruitment and VPS Communications project has won a CCAE award.

The social media event also won a Bronze CASE Circle of Excellence Award also for “Best Use of Social Media.” The Circle of Excellence is advancement’s premier international awards program that recognizes the work of CASE members, acknowledging superior accomplishments that have a lasting impact, demonstrate the highest level of professionalism and deliver exceptional results. Winning programs epitomize the profession’s best practices, raise standards and contribute to a growing body of knowledge about advancement.

“We’re thrilled to work within teams that embrace trying new ways to reach out to students and stay on the cutting edge of recruitment tactics,” says Donna Cope, director, Communications, Division of Students. “We’ve already rolled what we learned from Fall Campus Day into our Spring Open House event, which got us even better results, and we’re looking forward to topping it during Fall Campus Day 2014.”

What does the Fall Campus Day Insta-Print Photo Booth look like? See some of the photos that were submitted in 2013 on the Fall Campus Day website.

York International welcomes a delegation of counsellors from overseas

International High School Counsellors from various parts of the world paid a visit to York International on June 3.
International high school counsellors from various parts of the world paid a visit to York International on June 3

This post was originally published in YFile.

A group of high school counsellors from overseas schools in Ecuador, India, Mexico, Trinidad and Turkey visited York International on June 3. The meeting was part of a five-day visit organized by the International Recruitment Office. The counsellors met with staff members from York International and learned about the crucial services and support the University provides to international students, including student advising, transition support, health insurance and the peer program.

The delegation expressed an interest in about the multiple global learning opportunities York International facilitates for both domestic and international students in the form of exchanges, internships and summer courses abroad. Some York students were on hand to meet with the international visitors.

“As an international student coming from El Salvador, I felt very welcomed at this university when days after my arrival in Toronto I went to York International’s orientation,” said Astrid Hasfura, an international student from El Salvador studying global politics at York University. Hasfura spoke with the delegation about her experiences at York University. “Even though I came in the winter period and did not receive the traditional fall welcome I still felt that it helped me get accustomed to my new environment and made me want to be engaged with international students at York.” One of her favourite things about York is the wide variety of services and resources available for students such as different student clubs for students. For his part, Alec Shaw, a linguistics student, spoke to the counsellors about his experience on an international exchange during his final year of undergraduate studies at York University. “My experience as an exchange student at Peking University was an opportunity that shaped the course of my professional and personal

From left: Francine Mohammed, counselor from St. Joseph’s Convent in Trinidad, Esperanza Borrero-Large from Liceo Internacional in Ecuador and Maria Arrieta, a Glendon student from Colombia.development in numerous ways,” said Shaw. “In the space of the year abroad I was confronted with various challenges and I grew to be able to address any situation.”As a linguist interested in Chinese minority languages, dialectology, as well as language and identity, studying overseas made available various communities to Shaw so that he could develop these interests. He is now beginning a master’s program in linguistics. He said the direction of his upcoming research and future work is markedly different from what he would have expected two years ago and changed because of the benefit of the exchange experience he had overseas. To learn more about York University’s international programs, visit the York International website.

Launch of an integrated voice response system shows stellar results

A representative from Student Client Services assists two students from York University
A representative from Student Client Services assists two students from York University

The new integrated voice response (IVR) system launched by the York University Call Centre shows how simple innovation can go a long way. The IVR innovation was implemented in support of the Division of Students Strategic Plan and the Call Centre’s commitment to service excellence.

IVR has proven to be well used by students since it was rolled out last August. The phone system had been identified as being a “pain point” for students, both prospective and current, during a Process Re-engineering and Service Enhancement (PRASE) review. It required upgrades to stay abreast of advances in telephony and to reduce busy signals (which caused a high number of complaints).

With the introduction of IVR, students can dial in to the telephone service and quickly access automated and detailed messages, while those requiring specialized one-on-one assistance are directed to a Student Client Services (SCS) or Admissions Client Services representative. Operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, IVR is designed to effectively manage call volume and convey important information, even after hours when staff members are unavailable. For example, the 4,300 callers on weekends are now able to access information through the IVR instead of encountering a non-interactive after-hours message. As well, IVR guides and directs calls about routine questions to websites via short, unique, trackable URLs.

“IVR allows staff to focus on the students who need in-depth, one-on-one advice – to concentrate on detailed issues,” says Lillian Nasello, director, Student Client Services (SCS) and Admissions Client Services.

When students phone in, they can listen to voice messages and select the options relevant to them by pressing the corresponding numbers on their dial pad. They can then navigate through the system to reach increasingly detailed information. In some instances, the responses recommend specific pages on the York website. The trackable URLs enable the team to assess the webpages students are using and whether they navigate to other areas of the website. If no adequate answer to a student’s query is available, the caller is redirected to a representative. From IVR system data, client services staff know that of the more than 200,000 calls to the system since August 2013, fewer than 100,000 calls reached a representative, indicating that a significant number of callers are being provided with the information they are seeking by the IVR.

George Grigoriadis

George Grigoriadis

“We try to provide as much information up front as we can, so we can provide better service. The expectation is that the system offers enough information for most callers to make decisions without relying on staff for assistance,” says George Grigoriadis, manager, SCS.

For those students who do choose to speak to a representative, the average wait time for the more than 100,000 calls answered has reduced to less than four minutes from an average of seven minutes. The most frequent topics of questions at this time are: How many transfer credits will I receive? What’s the status of my application? What’s up with my OSAP? I have questions about my student account in general and what is the status of the documents I submitted (such as petitions)?

The IVR system is self-prompting and features international menus for students located abroad, ensuring that international students receive answers from the system regardless of their time zone. IVR is also fully accessible for callers with disabilities. In addition to telephone access, the system features email and fax capabilities, and an online chat feature may also be made available in the future.

The IVR system was created in partnership with University Information Technology, the PRASE office and the Office of the Vice-Provost Students. The groups worked with the call centre staff to develop the system and provide content. Feedback during development was gathered from students, who helped identify areas for improvement based on their needs and experiences. The York University Call Centre opened in 2003.

Spring Open House event sees new successes in person and online

Spring Open House tweet

At the annual Spring Open House, the largest on-campus event of the year, the University welcomed more than 4,000 visitors to the Keele campus April 5. It was an opportunity for prospective students and their families to explore life as a York student – from academics to campus life.

The Spring Open House is a key touch point in the University’s recruitment strategy. “The Spring Open House allows us to have one-on-one conversations with future students and their families,” says Amber Holliday, manager of Canadian recruitment and on-campus events. “Many students come with an offer in-hand, some are waiting for an offer decision – but most everyone is deciding whether York is the right fit for them.”

The agenda was packed with mock lectures, tours, specialized sessions, Faculty zones, a student services fair and more. The event saw several highlights this year, including the bus tour which showcased construction on campus. The 30-minute guided bus tour demonstrated all of the ways York is growing and changing – from the arrival of the subway on campus in 2016, to the Pan Am Stadium, to the future site of the Lassonde School of Engineering building.

“The bus tours were at capacity and a particular hit with students and their families,” says Holliday. The Admissions Zone was also busy all day, providing one-on-one admissions guidance. Experts answered questions, received documents and admitted more than 10 students on-the-spot.

A re-vamped social media strategy to increase traffic to the York website and online conversations about the event was a highlight this year. The campaign was highly visual, using photos and video to engage students on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram. Social media traffic increased by 52 per cent this year. This increase, combined with the print invitation to applicants in the L and M postal codes, contributed to an eight per cent increase in pre-event registration.

Continue reading Spring Open House event sees new successes in person and online

Eight outstanding York students receive Robert Tiffin Student Leadership Awards

Front row from left, Danielle Tucker, Manjeet Kuar, Zabeda Oumer-Hiji, Mikhaela Gray, Mohamed Shek Salah, Christmari Fernando and Nickan Motamedi
Front row from left, Danielle Tucker, Manjeet Kuar, Zabeda Oumer-Haji, Mikhaela Gray, Mohamed Shek Salah, Christmari Fernando and Nickan Motamedi. Missing is Anam Qudrat

This post was originally published in YFile.

Eight students were recognized recently for their exceptional leadership at York University during a celebration for the Robert Tiffin Student Leadership Awards. Students and faculty gathered in a private dining room in the Schulich School of Business for a reception April 2 to honour and celebrate the winners.

The Robert Tiffin Student Leadership Awards distinguish those students who have made the greatest contributions to the development, growth and vitality of the University.

The eight winners of this year’s Robert Tiffin Leadership Awards are as follows: Fourth-year students Christmari Fernando in the Human Resource Management Program; Mikhaela Gray in English; Manjeet Kaur in computer engineering; Anam Qudrat in biology; and Mohamed Shek Salah in kinesiology and health science; and third-year students Nickan Motamedi in kinesiology and health science; Zabeda Oumer-Haji in health studies; and Danielle Tucker, a master’s student in critical disability studies.

Established in 2012, the awards are named after Robert Tiffin, who served as York University’s vice-president students for nine years. Through his dedication, integrity and strong leadership, Tiffin transformed his operation into one of the most professional student service organizations in Canada, serving one of the country’s biggest student populations.

Continue reading Eight outstanding York students receive Robert Tiffin Student Leadership Awards

Friendly competition fosters York U and residence life pride

The Stong Residence spirit team with their trophy
The Stong Residence spirit team with their trophy

This post was originally published in YFile.

Over the past academic year, students living in York University’s residences have been competing for the inaugural Residence Spirit Cup and the bragging rights that come with having the best spirit on campus.

The winner of the inaugural Residence Spirit Cup is the Stong Residence on York’s Keele campus. Second place went to Pond Residence and third place went to Vanier Residence. The announcement was made at the Student Community and Leadership Development Banquet on April 7. Stong Residence Life staff accepted the cup on behalf of the residence. Students living in the Stong Residence celebrated their victory with an end of term event hosted by Residence Life staff.

Competition began in September when teams drawn from each of York U’s residences competed for spirit points at the Homecoming football game. They attended the men’s and women’s volleyball home openers, and decorated the residence lobbies for the Red and White Spirit Day in November and the March spirit celebration for York U’s birthday in March. They also encouraged other students to complete the Residence Life and Housing Survey that was conducted in March.

The Pond Road Residence spirit team

The Pond Road Residence spirit team

The spirit competitions gave the student teams a chance to work closely with a number of campus partners, including York University Athletics, Sport and Recreation, York is U, Housing Services and Campus Services & Business Operations.

The Vanier Residence spirit team

The Vanier Residence spirit team

After the spring 2013 launch of the Division of Students’ Five Year Strategic Plan, Residence Life at Keele campus worked to incorporate student engagement into its programing model for the year. This led to the launch of the Residence Spirit Cup – an opportunity for residents to participate in friendly competitions beginning in Orientation Week  and culminating at York’s birthday on March 26.

The Residence Spirit Cup aims to:

  • build campus-wide residence pride and promote community building;
  • promote spirit and friendly competition between residences;
  • encourage communities to work together to complete a common goal; and
  • promote programs that foster pride in York University.

Find out more about Residence Life by visiting the Residence Life website.