Glendon - English

Volume 7 - Issue 1 - Spring 2011

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A VACUUM IN CANADA GEORGE VARI (1923-2010), PHILANTHROPIST article by: Michel Héroux Glendon College will hold a commemorative ceremony to honour philanthropist George Vari, who passed away in December. Born in Hungary in 1923, The Honou - rable George Vari immigrated to Canada after the Hungarian Revolution in 1956. As a developer, he oversaw a number of projects worldwide, including the Montparnasse Tower in Paris and Moscow’s Hotel Cosmos. Together with his wife Helen (Hon. LLD’03), he was a major philanthropist of York University, which honoured him with an honorary doctorate in 1992. His generosity also led to the support of francophonie and public affairs at Glendon. “The memory of Mr. George Vari will be long lasting with the Vari Hall located in the middle of our [Keele] campus,” said York University President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri. Glendon Principal Kenneth McRoberts echoes this sentiment, confirming that Mr. George Vari will remain “a great source of inspiration for current and future generations of students.” The Honorable George Vari A VACUUM IN CANADA (continued) Second is the impact of demography on our social and health architecture. The third area we’re looking at is pluralism and particularly the role of religion in public life. How, for example, do you reconcile religious freedom and social cohesion/common citizenship? We’re going to examine this issue this winter at our next confe - rence in Quebec City in partnership with the Trudeau Founda - tion and the University of Quebec. The fourth issue is public institutions – how do we ensure public institutions are relevant and up to addressing the afore - mentioned challenges? Those are the broad themes. They’re huge, obviously, and we will develop priorities within those but we do want to make the work cumulative and we want to develop networks of interes - ted players who continue to discuss and address these issues. Q: How do you foresee the CGC contributing to the reso - lution of these issues? A: I think that encouraging civil debate and bringing know - ledge to bear on these moral issues is going to be the big contribution. We’re also linking in to any organizations willing to partner to see how we can take these issues forward and extend our reach. Our hope is to develop networks that cut across the barriers that divide us and inhibit innovation in our policy thinking. Every single event we’ve done so far has been with partners, including other universities, the Canadian Insti - tute for Advanced Research, the Trudeau Foundation and Canada 2020. Q: You’ve had a long and distinguished career in public service, serving three prime ministers in a number of posts over 28 years. What drew you back to academia at Glendon? A: Some of it was personal – I grew up around Glendon and was always familiar with the campus. A lot of it was meeting Glendon Principal Kenneth McRoberts when he was trying to build the School of Public & International Affairs. We found we shared a commitment, a view that building a generation devo - ted to and skilled at public policy was absolutely crucial. We agreed that Glendon’s progressive and bilingual traditions, its liberal arts and interdisciplinary roots were ideally suited to doing that. I had been an academic for a decade before joining the public service so bringing together theory and practice seemed natural. Q: What role can private funding play in achieving your goals for the CGC? A: Everything we have done up to now has been possible because of the generosity of donors who see the importance of strengthening our democratic discourse and the particular role our Centre might play. How far and how fast we move will depend largely on such donations. Glendon Magazine 2011 ] 12 [ La Revue de Glendon 2011

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