Stepping In

by Rod Thornton

photography by Mike Ford

After a year-long search, York University has chosen Vice-President Academic and Provost Rhonda Lenton to become its new president and vice-chancellor, succeeding Mamdouh Shoukri, who will be retiring this summer after 10 years in the role.

“I am honoured and excited about this opportunity,” says Lenton. “I am deeply committed to York’s values and its vision as Canada’s leading engaged university, providing a diverse student population access to a high-quality, research-intensive institution. York is poised for strengthening its already consequential impact, both locally and globally; tremendous opportunities await us – from the best students, faculty, staff and alumni, our new Markham Centre campus and leveraging recent major research successes.”

Lenton, who will become the University’s eighth president, says she believes York’s planning documents set out a path that will enhance program quality, student success and community outreach and partnership. “We will achieve our goals by building on well-established programs in the liberal arts and professional studies, while continuing to expand newly emerging strengths in health and STEM areas, and intensifying our leadership in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary academic programs and scholarship,” she says.

Some of her main goals, once president, include fostering a sense of connectedness among York’s faculty, staff and students; enriching the faculty complement; and expanding outreach and partnerships to enhance experiential learning opportunities, as well as collaborative scholarship, research, and creative activities contributing to the economic, social and cultural well-being of Ontario and beyond.

Like many at York, Lenton is a first-generation university student. A highly respected sociologist, she has taught, researched, and published broadly in the areas of family violence, feminist movements in academia, Internet dating and, more recently, higher education. She has served as York’s vice-president academic and provost since 2012. Previously, she served as dean of York’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, and vice-provost academic.

Shoukri praises the Board of Governors’ choice: “I know that the future of York University is in excellent hands. Rhonda is a proven leader and someone who will continue to champion York’s commitment to achieving the highest levels of excellence as a leading comprehensive university with incredible learning opportunities for our students.”

Lenton will begin her five-year term on July 1.

The York University Magazine will include a feature story on President-Designate Lenton in our Fall 2017 issue.

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