November 21st marked the official inauguration of the Spanish Resource Centre on the Glendon campus, attended by many prominent members of Toronto’s Hispanic community. In addition to faculty members of York’s Spanish Departments on both campuses, many students and alumni of Hispanic Studies also made the trip to celebrate this important event.
Right: The new Spanish Resource Centre
In existence at Vanier College on the Keele campus since 2001, the Spanish Resource Centre (SRC) is generously supported by Spain’s Ministry of Education, Social Policy & Sports, in collaboration with York University and its Glendon campus. The Centre’s mandate is to organize seminars and workshops related to teaching and research of the Spanish language and culture. In its beautiful, brand new location, it is a welcoming space brimming with books, guides, pamphlets, as well as audiovisual resources, all of which can be borrowed. These resources touch on a multitude of topics concerning the language, culture, art, literature and history of the Spanish-speaking world. The Centre also provides quiet spaces equipped with the latest technology. It is hoped that it will be a gathering place where people come to discuss, attend lectures, watch movies or just enjoy using the Spanish language.
Chair of Glendon’s Hispanic Studies department Jerzy Kowal hosted the evening, with the list of participating officials reading like a ‘who is who’ of Toronto’s Spanish community and York University’s administration. Among them Spanish ambassador to Canada Mariano Alonso Burón; Spain’s education and science attaché to Canada Jacobo Gutiérrez; Jorge Luengo, director of the Spanish Resource Centre at the Embassy of Spain; York University vice-president (academic) Sheila Embleton; York associate vice-president (international) Adrian Shubert; and Glendon principal Kenneth McRoberts.
L-r: Jorge Luengo, director of the Spanish Resource Centre, Embassy of Spain; Glendon principal Kenneth McRoberts; York vice-president (academic) Sheila Embleton; Spanish ambassador Mariano Alonso Burón; York associate vice-president (international) Adrian Shubert; and Jacobo Gutiérrez, education and science attaché, Embassy of Spain
Luengo outlined the many activities planned for the support of students, teachers and other interested individuals. “We invite everyone to take part in our activities,” he said, “and we are very grateful to the Glendon administration for creating such a pleasant and welcoming environment.”
Associate vice-president Shubert praised the steadfast support of ambassador Burón for this project over the past 10 years. “Locating this Centre at Glendon recognizes the broad-based interest in Spanish language and culture on both campuses of York University”, said Shubert. Some examples of York’s ongoing activities supporting the SRC’s mandate include Osgoode Hall law school’s courses on international law; the International MBA program at the Schulich School of Business, which includes an exchange agreement with ESADE (Escuela Superior de Administración y Dirección de Empresas) in Barcelona; the continued scholarly work of Glendon principal Kenneth McRoberts, a renowned political scientist, who is a specialist in Catalan politics; Glendon’s new Graduate School of Public and International Affairs; Glendon’s new International Bachelor of Arts (iBA); and not least, the work of Glendon’s Hispanic Studies Department.
Much of the background preparation and negotiations for the Centre’s transfer to Glendon owe their success to the ongoing working relationship of ambassador Burón and Glendon’s Esther Raventós Pons – until recently chair of the Hispanic Studies department - who has just been named Comendadora de la Orden del Mérito Civil by the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Left: L-r: Spanish ambassador to Canada Mariano Alonso Burón; professor Esther Raventós Pons of Glendon's Hispanic Studies Department; and the keynote speaker: professor Pere Salabert of the University of Barcelona
“I am very excited about the Spanish Resource Centre’s presence here at Glendon”, commented Raventós Pons, “as it offers so many educational and recreational opportunities for Glendon and York students. The conferences, symposia and workshops presented [by the Centre] will enhance and develop their knowledge of Spanish life, language and cultures.”
A first in this series of programs was the keynote lecture at the official opening, given by Pere Salabert, prominent professor of art, aesthetics and theory from the University of Barcelona. His provocative presentation, Notes on Spanish Contemporary Art: From Metaphysical Aesthetics to Sarcology, offered an insight into the current production of Spanish art, against the background of a comprehensive overview of representative art works of Western culture, from Renaissance painters Sandro Botticelli and Leonardo da Vinci, to 20th Century Catalan painter and sculptor Joan Miró, and beyond. “This is only the beginning”, commented Raventós Pons with enthusiasm. “Teachers, professionals, students and the community at large will gather here to exchange ideas and gain enrichment for many years to come, thanks to the presence of the Spanish Resource Centre.”
The evening culminated in the official signing of the Letter of Understanding between the government of Spain and York University, a document outlining the support for and functioning of this very important Centre. This moment was reminiscent of international documents being signed at the U.N., with cameras flashing and video-recording, while ambassador Burón, vice-president Embleton, and Glendon principal McRoberts signed numerous copies of the agreement, with director Luengo and education attaché Gutiérrez in attendance.
Signing the Letter of Understanding, from left to right: Glendon principal Kenneth McRoberts, York vice-president (academic) Sheila Embleton, and Spanish ambassador Mariano Alonso Burón
Embleton thanked ambassador Burón and his government for their continued support and dedication to this project. “We welcome new opportunities to build partnerships with Spain”, she declared. “York University continues to demonstrate its deep commitment to international partnerships, internships and opportunities for our students to study abroad. Our agreements with Seville, Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona demonstrate this. York is also the site for administering Spanish-language proficiency tests across the city.”
“Glendon’s unique role as a campus of fully integrated bilingualism and a Francophone Centre of Excellence makes it an ideal location for a centre of Spanish studies as well”, commented Glendon principal McRoberts. “We are honoured to welcome this [Spanish Resource] Centre on our campus and are grateful to vice-president Embleton and associate vice-president Shubert for facilitating its transfer to Glendon.”
“We believe that a Centre such as this is the beginning of the expansion of Spanish culture across Canada”, said ambassador Burón. “Cultures thrive in their connection with others. While during Franco’s time Spain was an island, today we make every effort to reach out across the world. It is our hope that the Centre will be a meeting place for different people and different cultures.”
Article submitted by Glendon communications officer Marika Kemeny