Winters College hits the Big 5-0
Perhaps we’re biased, but it feels obvious that Winters is York University’s most fun college. When incoming students get sorted into college communities – a York U tradition that makes this massive campus feel like a smaller, welcoming community – Winters frosh hit a jack pot of new friends who become like a tight-knit family. They join a like-minded creative tribe with a deep spirit of inclusivity and an appetite for community, togetherness and fun times.
On Wednesday, March 21 that spirit and community was raised, along with the Winters flag, for a celebration of the college’s 50th anniversary. Students, staff and alumni came together in the Winters Dining Hall for good food, good times and great home grown AMPD entertainment
The evening included everything from salsa and jazz performances, to bubble busking and a range of music performances, including a set by award winning jazz singer songwriter and man-about town Ori Dagan (BFA ‘07). Dagan recently released Nathaniel: A Tribute to Nat King Cole, the first ever jazz visual album featuring 7 fresh covers and 5 original songs about Cole, all of which have unique videos which are racking up loads of YouTube views and accolades at film fests around the world.
“My greatest experience at York was bringing jazz legend Anita O’Day to campus,” Dagan said. “People told me it couldn’t be done. I was the VP of programs for CASA [the Creative Arts Student Association] at the time and making it happen was a crash course in producing events.” In typical Winter’s fashion, students from across AMPD approached her visit through their multifaceted perspectives and interests. “A visual art student painted her portrait, dance students choreographed new works to her music and she performed, backed by York faculty and joined on stage by local jazz singers. It was a huge success and Anita loved it.”
“I will be forever grateful to [former] Winters Master Marie Rickard (pictured above with Dagan and former Dean Phillip Silver) for encouraging me to make it happen and helping me find funds,” Dagan said. “Marie was also the first person to encourage me to lead workshops on scat singing and teaching is now an important part of my career.”
Like many first year students, theatre student Gloria Mampuya’s introduction to Winters was orientation week. Her favourite frosh moment: dancing at the Quad parties. “Everyone was so welcoming,” Mampuya said. “The Winters vibe is so non-judgmental – it’s like you can do whatever you want and people will be supportive.” Mampuya hopes to get more involved and run for a position on Winters Council next year.
Winters 50th was a welcome opportunity for generations of Alumni to rekindle friendships and share memories. Judy Simpson (BA ’69) brought photos from her Winters days including the view from her dorm room (photo below, spoiler, the campus has grown up over the years too). She reminisced about Winters being festooned with political banners supporting Pierre Elliot Trudeau for Prime Minister.
Her favorite Winters moment was dancing with Neil Diamond on the stage of Burton Auditorium. “I was the head usherette for Burton that year,” Simpson said. “He wasn’t famous then, in fact the place was practically empty. He invited us all to come down and dance with him as he sang. I remember making eye contact with him on stage. It’s still one of my best York stories.”
The occasion brought out numerous VIPs, among them founding Master of Winters College, Donald S. Rickerd (pictured below, far left), then a professor in the Faculty of Administrative Studies, who went on to become the president of Queen’s University.
“I’m happy such a range of Winters folks came together for this celebration,” said John Mayberry, the current Head of Winters College. “College life is an important part of the York experience and I’m very proud of the work that the staff team does to support students. Thank you to the Winters Events Assistant Nerina Femia for her fine work planning tonight.” (Staff photo on the right, L to R Angie Zannella, Emily Fiorini, John Mayberry and Nerina Femia).