March 26, 1999 marked the 40th anniversary of the York University Charter. This Chronology which was commissioned as a 40th anniversary project, looks back to the early years at York. It provides an outline of the actions and decisions that were taken to found and establish Toronto’s second university from 1955 through June 1970. It chronicles the buildings that were constructed, the administration of the university, York’s academic development, and notable aspects of York’s community life including conferences, special lectures, athletics, and fine arts events.
The original impetus for founding a new university came from a group of people affiliated with the North Toronto YMCA. Later, the University of Toronto helped to establish York by making it an affiliated university from 1959 through June 1965. The affiliation brought with it a grant of land (first the loan of Falconer Hall, then the transfer of the Glendon Hall campus for $1.00), operating grants, an established curriculum, the credibility to attract excellent faculty members and a committed Board of Governors.
York University’s first decade under President Murray G. Ross was a period of rapid growth and expansion. The 1960s were heady days of optimism and experimentation. President Ross drew up a Master Plan which stated that the University would be made up of three separate projects: a large university campus for Arts and Science, Graduate studies and a group of professional faculties; a second campus with a small liberal arts residential college; and an evening college for adult students.
York was to be a new and exciting adventure. As President Ross wrote in The New University (1961):
|Since York University is new, it is called, then, to use its inheritance creatively and effectively in a new situation. It must be a university in the traditional sense, and yet be sensitive to the peculiar needs of modern man. Hence we at York must give special emphasis to the humanizing of man, to freeing him from those pressures which mechanize the mind, which make for routine thinking, which divorce thinking and feeling, which permit custom to dominate intelligence, which freeze awareness of the human spirit and its potentialities. … To free man to use all his creative powers is the fundamental purpose of liberal education. This is also the great need of the world today. And this is the first aim of York.|
This Chronology is a salute to York’s founders, the early Board of Governors, the early faculty members, the founding staff members and York’s first students. Each group was committed to its role in building a new and great university. Tentanda Via -the way must be tried – is, appropriately, York’s motto.
This Chronology was initiated by President Marsden in August 1998 and I wish to acknowledge her support of it. I would like to acknowledge and thank the staff members of Archives and Special Collections, York University Library, for their kind assistance with this project. Kent Haworth, the University Archivist, deserves special credit for helping steer the course, and offering wise counsel.