New housing chief heads ambitious expansion

Ian Crookshank loves his new home.

The new director of housing and residence life has settled into his new job and is ready to lead the way as Ryerson prepares to expand its residences over the next five years.

“In many ways it’s a return to home for me,” says Crookshank, former director of student community life at Ryerson and a former housing manager at both York University and University of Windsor.

The decision comes just as Ryerson begins a major expansion of on-campus student housing. The idea is to make space for 2,000 new beds on campus by 2020.

The administration’s plan to build so many new residence units in such a short period of time appears ambitious.

“To do so in downtown Toronto where there’s a space crunch, on a campus that is just as much a part of the community as it is a campus, adds just a unique flair to what it is that we’ll be doing here over the next five years,” says Crookshank. “It’s something I’ll be talking about for the rest of my career.”

In the past, housing and residence at Ryerson was bundled in with the student community life department. Ryerson administration and the Board of Governors voted to make housing a separate entity at the end of last year.

The new department’s first major order of business: a 29-storey high-rise with space for over 500 students is set to be built near Jarvis Street and Dundas Street E., on top of what is right now a parking lot. The residence is expected to be ready for students in September 2016.

A second housing development, this one on Church Street, has a projected completion date of spring 2018.

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to provide more of our students to what we know is a first class experience — residence life. Right now only 850 students get to experience that,” says Crookshank.

Crookshank says students living in residence take greater advantage of campus services and supports more than students who live off campus, and participate in more student programs because they are close by.

With thousands more students living on campus in the next five years, Crookshank expects to see higher attendance at Rams games at the Mattamy Athletic Centre, and at on-campus activities at night.

“There are no greater supporters of a university than those res students,” says Crookshank. “If you live there it’s your home and nobody wants to live in a place they don’t respect and don’t have pride in.”

By Danni Gresko

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