December 14, 2020

RED FM Interview Transcript


RED FM Host:

So joining us, Sarah Bay-Cheng, Dean of the AMPD program at York university. Good morning. And thanks for joining.


Sarah Bay-Cheng :

Good morning. Thank you for having me,


RED FM Host:

Sarah, can you first talk about some, some major challenges that Canadian universities are facing due to the pandemic?


Sarah Bay-Cheng:

Well, I think everyone has been primarily concerned with how do we keep our students safe, and secondarily, how do we continue to help them advance and continue in their programs? And at York, we made the decision very early that we would move most of our courses, to online and remote instructions, for the summer of 2020, and continuing into the fall of 2020. And this allowed us as much time as possible to prepare for the best possible online experience. In my faculty, the school of the arts media performance and design, this is a particular challenge because our students get a lot out of their experiential education and hands-on learning in the classrooms side-by-side with, you know, internationally renowned faculty. So it was, it was a, it’s been a real challenge to figure out how to still deliver excellent education in these new circumstances.


RED FM Host:

And what, what impact did you see in enrollment at York?


Sarah Bay-Cheng:

Well, across the university, we were thinking that we might see really significant enrollment decreases. but in fact it was much less than we were anticipating, in AMPD. we actually were relatively consistent with last year. We saw a little bit of a dip. but we’re encouraged by the number of applications that we’re seeing for next year, as well as seeing even more students continuing. So I’m really encouraged by the fact that the students who had already begun programs were able to continue, were able to get the support that they needed to advance. And so that’s been that’s I think been a really positive sign of everything that’s going on.


RED FM Host:

so, as we say that every crisis is also an opportunity to innovate or to be creative. So what, what creative strategies you have developed at the York to continue your teaching or your research work?


Sarah Bay-Cheng:

well, that’s, that’s a great question. One of the things that we’ve been able to do is to tap into a really amazing alumni network. So students who had previously gone through York and are now engaged in any number of creative and professional programs around the world have been incredibly generous. One of those is, a sculptor by the name of Brendan McNaughton, and he has created a technology startup called Art Gate VR, which allows for, exhibitions to happen in virtual reality. And very early on, he reached out and offered virtual space in his galleries to our current students and faculty, to be able to continue to exhibit work like you would see in a gallery, but exclusively through an online digital platform. We also had a faculty member, Dr. Shital Desai in the department of design, who, when her students could not access the fabrication labs for their projects, reached out and really used the fact that we’re in a mostly online moment to create a collaboration with colleagues in Australia and Germany to create a project for her students to craft, and design CPR, dummies to teach, CPR to, primary school children.


Sarah Bay-Cheng:

And to, because it was an online, mostly online experience, the information was able to be shared among those three countries and to form an international, truly international collaboration and partnership that would have been, perhaps not, not imagined in the same way previously when people were expected to be in class. So we’ve seen some really exciting innovations and new opportunities that the current moment offers us


RED FM Host:

And York has also launched a new branding campaign where students are offered free tuition fee and a few other things. Can you also tell us about that program?


Sarah Bay-Cheng:

Yeah. So this is, this is part of a really exciting new venture. So it’s a, it’s a program called Right the Future. And this is really, helping people understand that York’s commitment to driving and creating positive change in our communities for our students, for the communities that they represent, and then for the people that they affect around the world. And so as part of this, as part of this campaign, the power to make things right, students who apply for application and for enrollment at York are qualified to receive, and are entered into a competition to win free tuition. And in fact, two years ago that that student who, who received free tuition, was in fact, in the department of design.


RED FM Host:

And anything else that you would like to add at the end?


Sarah Bay-Cheng:

Nothing just to, to really thank our community and the York region and everywhere around York university. It’s been, a really challenging time for all of us. I know, but I’ve been really encouraged by our alumni, our colleagues, our community partners, near to the university and throughout the North York region, and really the whole, you know, Greater Toronto Area, who have been so supportive of our students and their families and helping us move forward. So I’m really grateful for all of your support. And thank you for the opportunity to talk with you this morning. Thank you.