Graduate degrees proposed for Rye

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By Ian Ferguson

After years of putting up with “Rye High” jokes, Ryerson is out to prove it’s a real university by introducing its first graduate programs.

Degrees in communication and culture, spatial analysis and environmental management are in the approval and planning stages.  The first two grad programs will be run with York University and the University of Toronto.

If Ryerson’s first masters and doctoral degrees are approved, they will “put us on the map as a full-fledged university,” said Ryerson’s associate v.p. academic Rena Mendelson.

The university also hopes to receive more grant funding for research from government and business.  “We’re hoping ot get more money from all over,” said Mendelson.

Ryerson gained the right to create graduate programs when it became a university in 1993.  A school of graduate studies will be established by July 1999, to develop new degrees and oversee programs being offered, Mendelson said.

Ryerson’s first three graduate degrees are in different stages of a lengthy approval process.  Final approval comes from the Ontario Council on Graduate Studies.

Culture and communication and spatial analysis also had to be approved at York and U of T, respectively.

Communication and culture will offer classes in politics, media, policy and culture.  Ryerson schools who will participate include administration and information management (AIM), image arts, politics and public administration and radio and television arts (RTA).

“The focus is on the creation of culture, with a great degree of emphasis on how it is communicated,” said AIM professor Wendy Cukier.

The program would accept 20 to 30 masters and five to 20 doctoral students, who would attend courses at both Ryerson and York.

“You would take the strengths of both universities and combine them,” said RTA chair Robert Gardner.  The aim is to start with the “applied background” of a Ryerson education and “enrich it in certain theoretical ways” with classes at York, Gardner said.

“There are a number of career paths that this degree will be relevant for said David Layton-Brown, dean of graduate studies at York.

For the spatial analysis degree, Ryerson and U of T’s geography departments are hooking up to offer students courses in interpreting and managing geographic information.  If the program is approved at U o T, 30 students could be entering it next year.

Philip Coppack, Ryerson’s applied geography chair, said the program “was a natural extension for us.”

“We’ve always had strong connections with the geography department of U of T.

Coppack said many universities are trying to create applied programs that will get students jobs when they graduate.  “Everyone’s looking to get their fingers into the applied side,” he said.  “We’re trying to cater to a future need for information specialists.”

Environmental management is in the early approval stages at Ryerson.  If given the go-ahead, it will be the first post-graduate degree run solely by the school.

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