By William Brown
The search for Ryerson’s next president is now officially on as the Presidential Search Committee hosted its first Town Hall Meeting where they discussed what traits were most important in a potential new president on Tuesday, April 1. Speakers at the meeting included representatives of different Ryerson faculties, such as the Ryerson Engineering Student Society (RESS), Ryerson Communication and Design Society (RCDS) and Ryerson Commerce Society (RCS).
“It’s pretty clear what we have to do,” said Phyllis Yaffe, a committee member, who served as the moderator for the discussions. “We have had a very successful president for the past nine years, and Ryerson has changed a lot in his term. So we know this is a difficult task.”
Long-time Ryerson President Sheldon Levy announced his intention not to return to the helm of the university for a third term in December.
Tuesday’s meeting focused on four talking points: Ryerson’s strengths, Ryerson’s weaknesses, the next president’s key priorities and the next president’s experience and attributes.
Opinions on what Ryerson’s strengths are were debated slightly, but it was widely agreed that Ryerson’s location and tendency to be progressive and innovative were among its best characteristics. Tyler Webb, president of the RCDS, pointed toward new, untraditional programs such as Creative Industries as an example of Levy’s Ryerson challenging the status quo.
“We have the most innovative students in Canada, while being arguably the most diverse campus in the nation,” said RCS president Amir Ali Golbazi. “We have unlimited support from our staff and administration, which allows us to build and grow our ideas as high as the sky.”
In terms of Ryerson’s weaknesses, RESS President Rose Ghamari asked that Ryerson build more space for students to meet and work, arguing that it will help build the school’s community. Ryerson students’ involvement in school affairs was also contested, as speakers and attendants criticized students’ lack of involvement in the campus, but acknowledged that a large part of it was due to Ryerson’s ‘commuter school’ status.
Speakers, students and committee members were open about their support of Levy, and used some of his key and most appreciative qualities as the foundation for what they want in a new president.
“I think that one of President Levy’s best traits is that he’s personable and relatable,” said Ryerson Student Union (RSU) president, Melissa Palermo. “So I think that this is a really important trait that we want to see in Ryerson’s new president, that they’re relatable and accountable when students have questions or issues.”
Though the meeting was sparsely attended (only a dozen or so students attended), Yaffe said she was “not concerned at all” about attendance numbers.
“We’re very pleased,” said another committee member, Janice Fukakusa. “All the student leaders came; they made their presentations. We’re very pleased.”
Though Thursday’s meeting was a students-only meeting, there will be community meetings on Monday, April 7 and Wednesday, April 9, which will give all members of the Ryerson community an opportunity to voice their opinions.