"Tell us another story, Papa Claude," students plead at last Tuesday's fireside gathering at Oakham Cafe. PHOTO: JONATHAN BJERG MOLLER

Fireside chats leave president feeling warm

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By Adam Eisner

As Ryerson president Claude Lajeunesse kicked back for the last of his fireside chats last week, he reflected on his time spent listening to students’ kudos and concerns.

Lajeunesse, dressed in a suit and tie, sat with students informally gathered around a table at the Oakham House Cafe for the last of five fireside chats. The chats, which began in September, gave students a chance to speak with their university’s president.

Lajeunesse said he welcomed the opportunity to learn about individual students. “I think it’s been very effective.”

Last Thursday’s event, for applied arts students, attracted only two computer science students.

They ate cookies while chewing the fat with Lajeunesse.

“How’s the equipment?” he asked the two fourth-year students. They told him the computers they use are good, but some printers need to be fixed or replaced.

“Do you have a job lined up after you graduate?” he asked one of them. The student said he didn’t because he was busy concentrating on school.

Attendance at the final fireside chat was a far cry from the president’s first fireside chat at Pitman Hall, which attracted almost 50 students.

Lajeunesse credits Frank Cappadocia of Ryerson’s Student Services with the idea for the chats, held with Ryerson’s faculties of business, engineering, community services, applied arts and residence students.

Cappadocia said he felt the discussions would enable the president to inform students of Ryerson’s vision and objectives.

They also gave the president a good opportunity to meet students, he said. “I know a lot of concerns were put forward to him”

While Lajeunesse said he doesn’t know if he will continue the chats next year, he said he finds it good to talk with students “without a specific event surrounding it.”

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