By John Shmuel
A $1 million donation from a retail icon’s family has raised questions over whether some faculties at Ryerson are benefiting disproportionately from private sector donations.
Harry Rosen’s son made the donation to the business school in honour of his father’s contribution to Ryerson, leading the school to name a lecture theatre after the suit magnate.
“I’ve had a fairly lengthy association with the school. I feel a part of it,” Harry Rosen said.
“I’ve reached a state of life where I want to give back.”
Rosen’s contribution is the latest high-profile donation to the business school, following on the heels of Ted Rogers’s $15 million donation last May.
But while some faculties, such as the business school, have been successful in attracting money from the corporate sector, others aren’t so lucky. Ryerson’s second-largest faculty, community service, accounts for just six per cent of all funds raised.
Meanwhile arts accounts for one per cent, said Bob Baker, executive director of University Advancement. He said that donors ultimately decide where their donations go.
“While we guide donors to our highest priorities, they decide where they would like their donations to go. Alumni donors generally designate funds to the schools they attended.”
Out of five faculties at Ryerson, communications and design ranked the highest for being able to raise donations, with about 30 per cent of total funds raised. Engineering, architecture and science came second, raising about 21 per cent of total funds, while the largest faculty at Ryerson, the Ted Rogers School of Management, came third at 15 per cent.
Carla Cassidy, dean of the faculty of arts at Ryerson, said that industry-related programs such as business and retail usually have a much easier time raising funds.
“The faculty of arts would obviously benefit from more donations,” she said. She added that some programs were fairly new and didn’t have a large alumni pool to draw on.
Dave Molenhuis, national executive representative for CFS Ontario, said the discrepancies in private sector donations to university faculties tend to benefit business and science programs.
“The private sector is largely science, engineering and business based, and they certainly have the largest amount of money to donate to universities,” he said.
“There’s been a fundamental shift recently of our public post-secondary institutions moving away from supporting the liberal arts.”
Ryerson President Sheldon Levy sees nothing wrong with private sector donations going overwhelmingly into certain faculties.
“All faculties have a long way to go in growing their endowments,” he said. “Some might grow them faster than others.”