On March 8, 2012 over 150 people filled Graham House to celebrate Green College's 19th annual Founders' Dinner to honour Lily Lefevre and her family. Lily Lefevre (1853-1938) was the original owner of the house we now call Graham House (named for the family that lived here after she did). Ellis Ripley Trafford, a special guest to the Founders' Dinner and great-niece to Lily Lefevre, recently donated a portrait of her great-aunt to the College that is currently displayed over the steps to the Great Hall.
Ellis Ripley Trafford and family
The evening began with a number of performances in the Piano Lounge showcasing the talent of the college and the passions of the residents who live here. Anita Prest and Alex Martin performed a wonderful piece by Mozart Clarinet Concerto. Thereafter, we had the fortune of hearing Celia Culley recite one of Lily Lefevre's poems with great enthusiasm and character. The musical performances that followed included our very own Green College Choir who sang Scarborough Fair and pianist Janny Ke playing Chopin Ballade #4.
Celia Culley as Lily Lefevre
Anita Prest playing Mozart Clarinet Concerto
Green College Choir, Scarborough Fair
Janny Ke playing Chopin Ballade #4
Jessi Saunders, our Mistress of Ceremonies for the evening, was professional and magnanimous in her remarks. Her short speech spoke largely to the three values in which she thinks define Green College residents; these included compassion, creativity and courage. On courage, she exclaimed that residents who live in this interdisciplinary community by and large take the time to learn from their peers about new knowledge and new practices to which they integrate into their lives. They take the courage to live in a community and share their research and passions with others and demonstrate a receptivity to change.
One unexpected and highly entertaining performance that followed was led by the much loved dining society staff, Darcy Murdoch, who sang “The Weight” along with the Green College Choir. Darcy's presence is always a treat and surely added tremendous amusement tothe evening's festivities. Ellis Ripley Trafford's speech that followed, offered all us more context and history about the Lefevre family and their contributions to this space.
Mistress of Ceremonies, Jessi Saunders
As a natural progression and tradition to all of our Welcome and Founders Dinners, we heard from our esteemed Principal, Dr. Mark Vessey, who as always, maintains an animated, eloquent and humorous presence at the podium. Mark, like Jessi before him, reminded us about the special place that we live in and its uniqueness to our university. Residents of the college contribute to this place in multiple ways and some have been particularly profound. Indeed, the William C. Gibson Citations, given to residents who have made a significant contribution to residence life as judged by their peers, were announced by Mark . This year's recipients included Michelle Turner, Marc Schutzbank, and Sule Yaylaci.
The Founders' Dinner also marked another round of awards through the inaugural N.H. Benson International Graduate Award. This award is funded by an endowment set up by Dr. Keith Benson, second Principal of Green College (2004-6), in memory of his father, Norman Harold Benson (1916-2011). The award is given to international students residing at Green College who have made an outstanding contribution. The recipients included Ran (Eva) Lu, Alicia LaValle and Sule Yaylaci.
Mark's words about the true uniqueness of our college was an excellent stepping stone for the 2012 Founders’ Dinner guest speaker, John Fraser, Master of Massey College. John's speech was as entertaining in delivery as it was inspiring in content. A brilliant story-teller with great enthusiasm, John discussed the importance and unusualness of places such as Massey and Green in university environments. One story he shared was about a new non-resident Junior Fellow at Massey named Saeed Selvam, who tutors in Massey College's Student Tutoring and Mentoring Program. Saeed was a former high school student who tutored himself by a Massey Fellow . Now approaching its 10th anniversary, the tutoring program continues to pair Junior Fellows with high school students who show promise despite poor academic showing because of language and other problems. Such a program is testament to the salient role universities could have on communities.
John Diggens, Chair of the Green College Advisory Board (left) and John Fraser
Massey's impact on the City of Toronto have been extensive and offers many lessons for the younger Green College to follow suit, not least in an effort to strengthen our outreach efforts, but to develop a presence in Vancouver and British Columbia at large. What I can say with confidence after being here for two years is that Green College helps foster special friendships and academic synergy that not only breaks down the departmental silos across universities such as ours, but creates an environment where we learn from each other to grow in academic, social and personal ways. We are open to the community and provide a space for inclusive learning—qualities that ought to be cherished and celebrated for a research university. On outreach, we have a number of promising initiatives underway including discussions about how to accommodate a graduate refugee student at the college in the coming years.
The 2012 Founders' Dinner was an evening of stories, laughs, delightful food and wonderful performances from our very own residents, thoughtful remarks from Mark Vessey, and a profoundly inspiring speech by John Fraser. A big thank you again to the Arts and Social Committees for their planning efforts, Green College administrative staff for continuing to make the Founders' Dinner possible and to the Green College Dining Society for top notch food that was enjoyed by over 150 people.