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Olivia Chow has been appointed as a distinguished visiting professor for the Faculty of Arts for the next three years, Ryerson announced Sunday.
Her responsibilities will include teaching her own courses, organizing events and mentoring students.
“I am excited about joining a city-building university like Ryerson,” Chow said in a press release. “The opportunity to work with creative, dedicated, urban-oriented young people on the important challenges facing our next generation, our city and our society, is both humbling and thrilling.”
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Chow will join the faculty in which her late husband Jack Layton taught politics and public administration for 10 years. Layton went on to be leader of the federal New Democratic Party until his death in 2011 after being diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Jean-Paul Boudreau, dean of the Faculty of Arts, said they are excited to have Chow join the team.
“Olivia has always been a friend to the Faculty of Arts through her support of the Jack Layton Chair,” said Boudreau in an email. “Her new role grows from a natural connection and presents a perfect fit. We are simply thrilled to welcome Olivia to the faculty of arts that Jack Layton called home for so many years.”
Ryerson established the Jack Layton Chair in 2012. It aims to advance his legacy through events and initiatives such as internships, lectures and a book group based on Layton’s private library, which was donated to the university in 2011.
Chow will collaborate with the Jack Layton Chair on events to mobilize youth and the community. Chow will also work with the Social Ventures Zone, a hub at Ryerson which provides students with startup funding, coaching and mentoring to create social change through their ideas.
“Olivia perfectly embodies Ryerson’s commitment to being a change-maker university,” Boudreau said.
Chow will have her own office at Ryerson and will be on campus two to three times a week.
“Olivia is passionate about student mentorship and Ryerson students have much to gain from getting to know her as a mentor,” Boudreau said.
Chow has a long history in Canadian politics. In 1991, she was the first Asian-born woman elected to Toronto City Council and served there for 14 years.
In 2006, she represented her Trinity-Spadina riding as a member of parliament and was a mayoral candidate in the 2014 Toronto elections.
Chow’s appointment received positive attention from students on Twitter:
@oliviachow Welcome to Ryerson. We are really fortunate to have you with us
— Henry Parada (@HenryParada_Rye) February 23, 2015
— melissa (@_Mel_Turner) February 23, 2015
By Anuba Thiagarajah