By Jackie Hong
Ryerson President Sheldon Levy will be serving for up to two more years, according to a press release Friday.
The announcement comes after a 13-month-long search to find a successor for Levy, but the release said that no successful candidate has been brought forward yet.
“We had sincerely hoped that at this time we would be announcing the completion of our search. However no candidate for the position is being brought forward to the community,” BoG and Presidential Search Committee Chair Janice Fukakusa said in the press release.
“I am pleased to let you know that President Sheldon Levy has agreed to continue for up to two years. We know that President Levy was making plans for the next phase in his life, and we are very grateful for his support and dedication to the university, and for agreeing to continue in his role.”
Levy said in an interview that the BoG officially asked him to stay on after a meeting yesterday evening and that the decision was “very unusual” and that he agreed to stay on because “you never want to let people down.”
“No one ever expected to get to this decision,” he said.
“There was going to be a party. Good God, a going away party. This is weird now, you know? Can we concoct this into a different kind of party? So there’s stuff that was in motion that’s just not in motion anymore. Like there was a campaign like ‘give money because he was a nice guy and give to this’ and people were giving. Oh goodness, what do you do now? Do you give back the money?” he said.
“There was going to be a party. Good God, a going away party. This is weird now, you know?”
As of Friday morning, a new contract for Levy had not been drafted up yet and it is unclear how the BoG will deal with by-laws that surround incoming and outgoing presidents. It is also unclear exactly how long Levy will stay at Ryerson. He said he doesn’t expect to exceed the two years requested by the BoG but that “there is no clear route at the moment” on how the university will find or put a new president in place.
Levy has served two five-year terms at Ryerson but said in December 2013 he would not be returning for a third, even though Ryerson’s Board of Governors (BoG) quietly changed a by-law on presidential term limits that would have allowed it.
The BoG and Senate started putting together a committee in December 2013 to find the best candidate to take over for Levy.
Fukakusa said in the release that the committee “has finished its work and for practical reasons will not be continuing” because a number of members will no longer be available, either because of other commitments or because they will no longer be members of the BoG or Senate. However, the BoG and Senate will continue working together “as we move ahead.”
“While it is unfortunate that we are not as far along as we would have expected, be assured that we are seeking the best possible president for our great university … I will keep you informed of developments,” Fukakusa said in the release.
The failure of the presidential committee to nominate a candidate was not for the lack of trying or a fault of anyone on the committee, Levy said. “People did everything. People were great. Candidates were great, it just didn’t work out … The dominos just didn’t fall in the right way.” He said he could not elaborate on what exactly caused the committee to not have a candidate due to confidentiality.
“People were great. Candidates were great, it just didn’t work out … The dominos just didn’t fall in the right way.”
Although he didn’t expect to be staying for up to two more years, Levy said there “will be no slowing down” in his role as president.
“In the last six months or whatever, you know, you honestly say, ‘Well, I can’t finish that, throw it over the fence so it lands over here to person unknown,’ … Then all of a sudden, I find myself, ‘God, I’m on that side of the fence,’” he said. Among the projects he plans to continue working on are the Church Street Development and other building projects.
The decision to stay on has also had an impact on Levy’s personal life. He said that although his daughter was upset, his wife was supportive of his decision.
“Tracy also [Levy’s wife] said, ‘Well, if you say yes, you better not be moody and you better get on with it and come out like you did Day One of Year One and get things done, because otherwise you’ll let everyone down,'” Levy said.
Levy had also planned on riding his motorcycle more and to help at Cape Breton University “as a visitor” after leaving Ryerson but now will be doing that at a smaller capacity.
He added that deciding to stay, although a hurried decision, was not done begrudgingly.
“It’s not like I’m going into hard labour. I’m going back to something I love doing … I’ve always said, it’s the best job in the world.”
With files from Jake Scott.
More to come.