Membership as a Fellow in Senior College

Senior College was organized on May 14, 2009 and the first Council met on June 18, 2009 with Peter Russell as the Founding Principal. According to the detailed records of our Bursar, Charles Chaffey, the first fees were deposited in a bank account on June 19, 2009 and 66 individuals became Fellows between June 19 and December 26, 2009.  Of these 66 Founding Fellows, there are 28 who have been able to keep participating into Senior College’s second decade, paying their 2020 Fellow’s fee by July 1, 2020.  The continued support of the active Founding Fellows is greatly appreciated.

Like other organizations, including our usual venue the Faculty Club, Senior College has had to adapt to the challenging times created by the Covid-19 pandemic. While many other organizations and businesses have had to close doors or greatly reduce their activities, Senior College has actually broadened and extended activity offerings into the summer months. What we tend to forget is that we usually complete our program of talks, colloquia, book club, symposium, and excursions by the end of March or early April.  In the past, the primary summer activity has been informal, lunch get-togethers for discussion. Instead this year, our group of volunteer programmers have continued our talks, colloquia, and book club and virtual coffee gatherings throughout June and July, with plans for August, using Zoom.

In my new duty as Registrar, I have been reminding some of our 2019 Fellows through email that their 2020 fee was requested last January, and if they wish to remain as a Fellow, External Fellow or Spousal member of Senior College and retain their Faculty Club membership, to deal with this request. I am sorry to say that some individuals used the excuse that they did not like our temporary Zoom option and wished to resign as Fellows until times are better and live attendance is once again available.  I am pleased to say, however, that the huge majority remembered that we were usually semi-inactive in the summer months and really appreciated the initiative shown by our Program group since the Covid-19 lockdown began at the University of Toronto. Even though some find the Zoom get-togethers not to their liking, and crave the personal interaction, they want to support the future of Senior College through continuing as Fellows.

Despite the few resignations and the lack of response by some to at least 4 reminders of their remiss on fee payment, I am pleased to say that we have 143 fee-paying Fellows of Senior College, as I update my note on September 16, 2020. Of this total, 101 are Fellows (Professorial or Librarian retirees of U. of T.), 21 are External Fellows (retired U. of T. Senior Administrators; Academic retirees from other Universities and Colleges, and special educators), and 21 are Spouses (External Fellows who are spouses of retired U. of T. Professors or Librarians either living or deceased). Since there are another 5 individuals still on our membership list whose future intentions are not firm, but our expectations from their communications is that renewal is imminent, this brings our potential number of Fellows to 148. At the Membership Committee meeting in September, 2019 the goal was set for 150 fee-paying Fellows of Senior College based on what we felt our Faculty Club venue could handle. Even though we were not able to initiate any new U. of T. membership drives this past Spring, due to the university lockdown, our membership remains strong. We have lost a number of long-time Fellows due to death or to health issues that limit mobility and to resignations referenced above. These losses have been compensated by 22 new faces that have joined our ranks since July 1, 2019. Given our annual attrition rate, however, retention and recruitment of Fellows is a priority for Senior College.  

I understand that this note is to go first to our committed membership and then to all those on the Listserv including all Professorial and Librarian retirees of the University of Toronto. I ask all committed Fellows to solicit their retired university colleagues to become Fellows, for personal invitation as a guest has been our best method of recruitment.  The message to new retirees is to consider the intellectual and social stimulation provided by being a Fellow of Senior College. For further details of our offerings please go to the Senior College website: For the process of application to become a Fellow or External Fellow please click on this link:

John H. Youson
Senior College
September 16, 2020