Celebrate four decades of Concordia’s School of Community and Public Affairs
Forty years of interdisciplinary education and community engagement should be celebrated in person. That’s the sentiment shared by staff, alumni and supporters of Concordia’s School of Community and Public Affairs (SCPA) as it prepares to commemorate the anniversary on May 7.
The special cocktail reception and dinner event — postponed since 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic — will be held at Montreal’s Cabaret Lion d’Or with remarks from Concordia President Graham Carr, Distinguished Professor Emeritus Marguerite Mendell, BA 72, and more.
The event could only have taken place in person, says the school’s longest tenured staff member.
“Our current and former students are very attached to the program,” says Perry Calce, BA 83, GrDip 90, who has served as coordinator, Academic Programs and Curriculum Development for the SCPA since 1984. “We are thrilled to finally be able to mark this auspicious milestone.”
Graduates of the SCPA go on to work in a wide range of careers. Notable alumni include author, historian and educator Dorothy Williams, BA 84, MA 99; Geneviève Morin, BA 85, MBA 96, president and CEO of Fondaction; Mario Dumont, BA 93, broadcaster and former politician; and politician Rebecca Blaikie, GrDip 06, president of the New Democratic Party (NDP) from 2011 to 2016.
The May 7 event will offer an opportunity for these and other graduates to catch up and, what’s more, meet the SCPA’s new principal for the first time.
“The school unites people from different disciplines and backgrounds around research, education and practice focused on social change,” says Anna Sheftel, BA 03, who assumed her post last summer.
“The challenge for me, as I think about the future, is to imagine how we can grow and evolve and still preserve the particular spirit that comes from our small size.”
The 40th anniversary will be emceed by broadcaster John Moore, BA 88, host of Moore in the Morning on NewsTalk 1010. The Toronto-based journalist says he embraces every opportunity to give back to his alma mater.
“It stems from my sheer appreciation for the school and the professors I had. I honestly look forward to these events. Concordia has been good to a lot of people — including my father [James Moore].
“I’m still in touch with quite a few of the people who I graduated with,” adds Moore. “The SCPA has a close-knit vibe that’s very special.”
Calce says that the celebration will serve as an apt tribute for “one of Concordia’s hidden treasures.”
“Now that the university has more than 51,000 students, I think the school’s mission — to sensitize students to the impacts of policy and how policy affects different groups in society — is more important than ever. We want to attract students who want to become social actors, not just spectators.”
For graduate Theodora Samiotis, BA 90, a critical strength of the SCPA is the solutions-oriented approach it offers students. The co-founder of Voria Public Affairs Management teaches a prerequisite course on public affairs strategy and is a member of the SCPA advisory board.
“My time at the school was very formative in my career, preparing me for my work as a parliamentary assistant in Ottawa, as a director of communications for a major pharma company and more community-based roles, such as a muncipal councillor,” she says.
To this day, Samiotis adds, some of her closest friends are fellow SCPA graduates.
“Aside from my family, the people I communicated with the most throughout the pandemic were three classmates I met in my first days at the SCPA. We’ve always stayed in touch.”
The school’s legacy now lives on through current students like Yasmine Yahiaoui. The undergraduate wants to use her SCPA experience to cultivate a career focused on immigration policy.
“There are so many options for graduates of the SCPA,” says Yahiaoui. “Public affairs, community affairs, activist groups, local or international organizations — I love the flexibility that the school provides.
“If you have a cause that you want to advance — whether it’s sustainability, women’s rights, Indigenous rights — this program is for you. It feels really good to be part of something that’s helping the next generation advocate for what’s right.”
Register now for the School of Community and Public Affairs 40th anniversary event:
Saturday, May 7, 2022, 6 p.m. at Cabaret Lion D’Or, Montreal.