York University announces inaugural Chief Sustainability Officer

Toronto, March 14, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- York University is committed to purposeful words and deeds that demonstrate its longstanding values. Today, President Rhonda Lenton announced that Mike Layton will join York as its first Chief Sustainability Officer, a key role in advancing the University’s commitment to sustainability and building capacity to implement bold new actions and initiatives.

Focused squarely on delivering York’s ambitious academic plan, the University has been bolstering its position as a leader in creating a more sustainable and inclusive world in recent years, ranking at 33rd in the world on the 2022 Times Higher Education Impact Rankings for contributions towards the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs).

A former Toronto City Councillor, York alum, and long-time champion of sustainability, Layton brings two decades of professional experience – and a lifetime of lived experience in advancing positive changes that contribute to a more equitable and sustainable world. In this new role, Layton will lead York’s Office of Sustainability, building on York’s strong track record. He will play a pivotal role in developing the University’s new Sustainability Strategy building on existing strengths and driving new initiatives through the University’s million-dollar Sustainability Innovation Fund.

 "There is no more pressing global priority than the need to embrace a more sustainable way of living, and Mike Layton has spent his career focused on initiatives that do just that. He is an excellent fit to lead this critical work, and I am pleased to extend a warm welcome to Mike as he steps into this new leadership role,” said Rhonda Lenton, President and Vice-Chancellor.

“York has a strong record of leading sustainability on campus, in its teaching and research, and in the work of their faculty, staff, students and alumni,” said Mike Layton. “There has never been a more urgent time for us to take action on environmental, economical and social sustainability and I’m excited to join the York University community to advance our shared values and vision.”

“Through our teaching, our research and our own practices, York is contributing to our understanding of sustainability best practices which are as much about what we do as what we are purposely choosing not to do. At the same time, we know that more needs to be done, so adding sustainability capacity within the University is a big step in that direction,” Lenton said.

The University continues to strengthen its contributions to a sustainable future through innovative academic programs and research including York as Living Lab projects, our Decolonization, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy, our commitment to carbon net zero and our Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Investment Strategy that is achieving increasingly more sustainable investments.


York University is a modern, multi-campus, urban university located in Toronto, Ontario. Backed by a diverse group of students, faculty, staff, alumni and partners, we bring a uniquely global perspective to help solve societal challenges, drive positive change and prepare our students for success. York's fully bilingual Glendon Campus is home to Southern Ontario's Centre of Excellence for French Language and Bilingual Postsecondary Education. York’s campuses in Costa Rica and India offer students exceptional transnational learning opportunities and innovative programs. Together, we can make things right for our communities, our planet, and our future.