By Vanessa Thomas
President Claude Lajeunesse will leave his Ryerson empire Thursday to address another realm — The Empire Club of Canada.
Lajeunesse will speak at the club’s luncheon about the challenges of post-secondary education and making universities accountable.
The Empire Club of Canada, established in 1903, is a speakers’ forum which includes 1,500 members from business, labour and government.
Ryerson’s president will join a notable list of 2,500 Canadians and international leaders who have addressed the group, including Pierre Trudeau, Brian Mulroney, Ronald Reagan, Bill Gates, Margaret Thatcher, Winston Churchill and Indira Ghandi.
Lajeunesse, who is in his fourth year of a five-year contract as president, was asked to make a speech by the Empire Club in March.
About 550 invited guests — 50 of whom are Ryerson staff and student representatives — are expected to attend the sold-out luncheon at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel.
Other invited guests include top employers of Ryerson graduates, significant donors and businesses affiliated with the university.
“This will benefit students because more potential employers will know Ryerson,” said Ian Marlatt, director of communications at Ryerson’s Office of University Advancement. “Employers will know the quality of our grads and the type of education we offer.”
Ryerson invited about 20 students from residence and student groups.
“This is an opportunity to sell Ryerson and its public image to the general public,” said RyeSAC’s president David Steele, who will not be attending because of other engagements.
Lajeunesse was unavailable for comment. His speech will be televised live on Rogers Cable channel 10 at 1 p.m. Thursday.