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John Shmuel

Biz & tech Editor

Sheldon Levy is looking to bring Ryerson into the big leagues. And you can’t get any bigger than boasting your campus plays host to a medical school.

Ultimately, it’s up to the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities to have the final say. And it’s definitely not an overnight process.

But some cogs have already started turning.

Last September, Ryerson’s VP of Research Tas Venetsanopoulos said that a medical school wasn’t out of the question. And President Sheldon Levy echoed that sentiment.

Sure, we’d need to get science its own faculty first. Which should be happening in the near future anyway with health sciences practically in the bag.

The big question would be: what does the school stand to gain and what does it stand to lose?

The gains would go beyond mere prestige. Getting a medical school here would probably be a huge boost to other programs, with Ryerson being seen as a more lucrative destination for science students.

A decade ago when the university shed its polytechnic label, the thought of ever investing in a med school would be more suited for a punch line than a realistic proposal. Not so much anymore.

With Ryerson’s costly property grabs earlier this year, Levy and the school’s administration have shown if they need the space, they’re more than willing to get it.

And this is a prime time to consider the idea. Venetsanopoulos’s appointment as the school’s research head has been a huge boon for research funding.

It’s increased 32% over the last two years — an integral number for any university that plans to be a contender in the sciences. In five years the hope is that current research funding will double.

The launch of a new med school in Toronto might also encourage more applicants to the medical field in general. After all, a lot of Canadian families out there are without a family doctor right now.

On the flip side, there’s always the risk. And with a venture like this there’s lots of them.

The school’s made a lot of costly property purchases this year and borrowing more money to fund a medical school would be a financial nightmare. Besides the money, Ryerson would need to have an established health sciences program up and running before it could be considered.

Then there’s the issue of space. For a university that’s already gasping for more breathing room, finding property to place a new medical school probably isn’t on anyone’s to-do list right now.

We’re unlikely to hear anything from the school for a few years about even considering the idea of a med school. Levy has said it’s an idea that hasn’t even been put on the table, and the school’s Academic Plan for 2008-2013 makes no mention of it.

But it’s good to see that the powers that be are considering it.

Hopefully with the establishment of a health sciences program, we can open up dialogue about the feasibility of a medical school.

For all the effort it would take, med school would be worth it.

Ryerson might be the last place you’d expect to see one, but it’s innovative ideas like this the school needs to put itself on the map. It’s what Levy wants after all.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating this is something we push for as soon as possible.

There needs to be a foundation for it first. I personally want to see it talked about. If there’s support for the idea then at least the admin can get together and plan a road map. Maybe put together some proposals and see what the costs and benefits would be.

If Ryerson plays its cards right, it could end up with a medical school on campus. That might be just what the school needs to put it ahead of the pack.

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