The morning after: Stakeholder reflections on the sustainability of a community-campus engagement center in the changing environment


  • Michaela Hynie York University
  • Wanda MacNevin Jane/Finch Centre
  • Cheryl Prescod Black Creek Community Health Centre
  • Barry Rieder Jane-Finch Community Ministries
  • Lorna Schwartzentruber York University


Community-university partnerships, community engagement, engaged scholarship


Most analyses of the success and sustainability of community-university engagement initiatives focus on the university environment. We explore the impact of changes in the larger social and political systems on the community as well as those within the university on the meaning and use of a shared community space. The York University-TD Community Engagement Centre (CEC) is a storefront facility for research and teaching shared by York University and the Jane-Finch/Black Creek community, a richly diverse, suburban, underserved neighbourhood in Toronto, Canada. The physical space facilitates and sustains the community-university partnership in this region. As representatives of the community and/or university with strong ties to the engagement centre, we review changes in both the institution and the larger political context in which the university and community navigate their relationship. We also reflect on how these changes play a role in determining community and university priorities, the value of their relationship, and the availability of resources. Community-university initiatives emerge in environments that provide opportunities for shared activities and the development of a shared vision. However, the sustainability of a community-university initiative is strongly influenced by broad environmental changes, requiring self-reflection, trust, communication and innovation. 

Author Biographies

Michaela Hynie, York University

Michaela Hynie is a faculty member in the Psychology Department at York University and former co-chair of the York University-TD Community Engagement Centre Research and Knowledge Exchange Committee. She engages in community based teaching and research in the areas of social inclusion, migration and health. In 2007, Dr. Hynie founded the Program Evaluation Unit of the York Institute of Health Research to support community capacity in evaluation and strengthen university-community partnerships.

Wanda MacNevin, Jane/Finch Centre

Wanda MacNevin is the outgoing Director of Community Programs (retiring) for the Jane/Finch Centre.  She has worked in the Jane-Finch community for over 40 years as staff of the Jane/Finch Centre and for the Black Creek Community Health Centre, initiating multiple programs and services while maintaining a commitment to community development and resident engagement.  She is a long-time community activist/resident, author of two books, served on community Boards and received numerous awards in recognition of her work in the community.

Cheryl Prescod, Black Creek Community Health Centre

Cheryl Prescod is the Executive Director at the Black Creek Community Health Centre and has an academic background in health sciences. She is instrumental in developing partnerships between community residents, agencies and academic institutions that work to build individual and community capacity. Cheryl has a wide range of experience in community development and advocacy, working with diverse populations or children, youth and adults. 

Barry Rieder, Jane-Finch Community Ministries

Barry Rieder, B.S.W., M.T.S., Hon. D. S. Litt. has been the Community Minister at the Jane-Finch Community Ministry since 1995. Although his formal training is in social work and theology, much of his learning and education has come from years of work with various communities and organizations.  In 2006 Barry received City Hall for Outstanding Achievement award in the area of Social Justice. In 2009 he received a honourary Doctorate Degree of Sacred Letters from Huntington University for his years of community service

Lorna Schwartzentruber, York University

Lorna Schwartzentruber is the manager of the York U -TD Community Engagement Centre.  For over 20 years she has worked locally, nationally, and in the North on community building initiatives.  Her work has included the implementation of a community informed primary prevention project for children and families, work on issues of northern development and Indigenous Rights, training and facilitation, and coalition development.  She has been working on university and community engagement in particular for the past 4 years.


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