The Presidential Selection Committee at Ryerson failed to find a new president and many are wondering if it has to do with the large shoes the next president will have to fill.
Not only did Levy bring a vision to Ryerson University, he brought results.
Since taking on the role of president 10 years ago, Levy has redefined the Ryerson ethos and brought a new, city-building status to the university. Innovation, entrepreneurship and hands-on education are pillars of Levy’s forward-looking vision for Ryerson, and it’s crucial that our next president continues with this sentiment.
We have this globally-renowned business incubator called the Digital Media Zone (DMZ), an environment buzzing with young students, turned entrepreneurs. Walking into the DMZ is how I imagine it might feel to walk into Google headquarters; a young, tech-savvy startup culture has been born. How 2015 of us. Ryerson was quick to move on this emerging trend of digital innovation and entrepreneurship, and guess who brought that to campus? It was Levy.
The brightly lit, wonderfully designed new study building, the Student Learning Centre, is another source of pride for the school that has officially rid itself of the tragic Rye High nickname. Having a face on Yonge St. was a strategic move; it gives the university a more dominant presence within the dense, downtown core, shows off some modern design chops and will help bring new life to that part of the street. This building project, as well as the Mattamy Athletic Centre and Image Arts Building, are all laid out in a grand Master Plan. Guess who created and is executing projects laid out in that development plan? It was Levy.
Our next president needs to follow suite with the strategies outlined in the Master Plan, if Ryerson is to continue expanding at its current rate. Levy introduced the idea of private/public partnerships, allowing the university to form relationships with other stakeholders, helping to fund and partner certain projects. We need to continue this momentum.
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Levy can be seen cheering in the crowd at a varsity game, or walking through campus wearing his Ryerson sweater. Each week, he makes himself available for comment to the two campus newspapers. He has represented Ryerson at renowned industry events, and pushed the city-building/innovation initiative at speeches for both the Economics Club of Canada and the Empire Club of Canada. He put himself out there, and with each appearance, greatly improved Ryerson’s reputation.
Sure, he hasn’t been without his faults, but they are pretty few and far between. We’re still not over the Sam the Record Man sign disaster. That was an iconic piece of history, and it’s pretty clear that Ryerson said what everyone wanted to hear, just to obtain the property. They went back on their word, and that was shameful. Oh, and that nonsense of painting the road blue was awful and a complete waste of money. In terms of addressing his shortcomings, those are the only two that come to mind.
With news that Levy is staying on for at least another two years, many of us see this as a good thing. At the same time, the search committee can’t fail in the next search. They need to find a president and they need to find one that matches up to the standards of the current one.
The next president needs to continue responsible development, benefiting both the campus and the city. They need to add to the culture of young professionals with innovation and entrepreneurship opportunities. They need to be a cherished ambassador for a university that is fast-moving and has its eye on the future.