A $2 million donation from the Jarislowsky Foundation will create a new research chair in the study and advancement of democracy at Ryerson University.

The donation, which will be matched by Ryerson, is “particularly timely, in keeping with the socially relevant and engaged activity in the Faculty of Arts, and of exceptional potential for research and student engagement,” according to University Advancement.

The search for someone to fill the position is currently underway. The appointed person will be “an international leader who will foster collaborations beyond the academic community, building connections with public and community organizations,” said dean of the Faculty of Arts, Pam Sugiman.

Stephen A. Jarislowky, founder and president of the Jarislowsky Foundation. His donations have created 31 chairs across Canadian universities to date. (Courtesy Ryerson University)

“The donation is endowed, and will be used to support the organization of interdisciplinary panels and town halls, and to support the creative activities and engagement associated with democracy under the leadership of the chair,” said Sugiman. “All of this activity will involve students in a variety of ways, and invite meaningful participation across the university. The donation will also provide direct student financial support through a graduate research assistant or post-doctorate fellow.”

The chair will also be in charge of developing the new curriculum and hosting public panels with community groups particularly focused on citizen engagement.

Stephen A. Jarislowsky, founder and president of the Jarislowsky Foundation, told the university he believes Ryerson is the right institution to lead the study of democracy.

“Ryerson University’s reputation for innovation and its deep commitment to an engaged citizenship in Toronto and beyond make it a strategic choice for this impactful position.”

Jarislowsky, a Canadian businessman, founded the Jarislowsky Foundation in 1991. The foundation has since created 32 chairs across a number of Canadian universities in the fields of medicine, business, governance and arts and humanities.

Executive director of The Jarislowsky Foundation, Eve Beauchamp, said the foundation often donates to universities to attract and keep excellence in Canada.

“Higher education is very important for Mr. Jarislowsky,” said Beauchamp. “He himself had great mentors that were university professors, so he had very transformative experiences which is what he wants to recreate with this chair.”

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