By Emma Prestwich
George Smitherman sees himself as a non-student alumnus of Ryerson.
The former politician has been approached by Ryerson President Sheldon Levy to boost the profile of the Digital Media Zone, one of Ryerson’s most media-savvy projects.
“I look forward to being more involved on Ryerson campus,” Smitherman said.
Levy phoned Smitherman after his mayoral run to ask him if there was any chance of them developing a partnership, which is still in the planning stages and which Levy expects will consist of part-time support.
“George has so much experience with so many connections that I thought he could also introduce us to individuals,” Levy said.
He said he thinks the DMZ is a way to attract new business people to Canada and Ontario, and thinks that the former politician can link the start-up projects to people in the industry.
The DMZ hosted a tour for several federal ministers and business organization Tuesday to promote the facility’s focus on entrepreneurship and small business.
Valerie Fox, the director of the DMZ, said that Smitherman’s involvement is very recent and she only met with him and Levy a few weeks ago.
However, she thinks he brings his own background and connections. She said that his involvement, and that of any public figure, is positive for the profile of the DMZ, which is looking to expand its profile.
Smitherman said he thinks the DMZ has “done all the work for itself”, but that he could make the business sector aware of the projects.
“I could see the ideas visualized,” he said.
He and Levy have been friends since Levy first became president in 2005 and Smitherman was the local MPP.
Smitherman said he wants to insert himself into campus life by working with the vice-provost academic and the heads of departments to tailor classroom talks to students about his work in government and public life.
“I have unique experiences about a period of time in public life,” he said.