By Keith Capstick and Nicole Schmidt
Mohamed Lachemi — Ryerson’s interim president and former provost and vice-president academic — was named the university’s new president and vice-chancellor on Thursday.
Lachemi will take office officially on April 4.
Both the Ryerson board of governors and the presidential search committee were unanimous in supporting the decision.
“An internationally recognized researcher and accomplished academic administrator, Mohamed Lachemi has been a key contributor to the growth and development of Ryerson over a transformational time in the university’s history,” said Janice Fukakusa, chair of the Ryerson board of governors, in a statement released by the university.
Lachemi is the ninth president in Ryerson’s history. He took over for the now deputy minister of training colleges and universities in the provincial government, Sheldon Levy, on Dec. 1 and has since been serving as interim president.
“It’s a very special day for me and I’m happy and excited to lead a university that is really finding the role of education in the 21st century,” said Lachemi.
Prior to joining Ryerson’s administrative ranks, Lachemi served as the dean of the faculty of engineering and architectural science. He also held a Canada Research Chair from 2002 to 2010 and has been instrumental in the success of Ryerson’s top ranked incubator the Digital Media Zone (DMZ).
Looking forward, Lachemi emphasized the importance of integrating Ryerson into the downtown core through partnerships. During Levy’s term as president, he prioritized the expansion of the university’s footprint by acquiring spaces that are now trademarks of Ryerson — including the Ted Rogers School of Management, the Mattamy Athletic Centre and the new Student Learning Centre (SLC).
Lachemi spoke about Levy’s vision to bring Ryerson on Yonge Street. The SLC, he said, is just the first step.
“The best approach here is to look at our role in society … and how we can integrate Ryerson into this great city of Toronto,” said Lachemi.
“This was one of the great things Sheldon [Levy] did for Ryerson. I remember talking to Sheldon and one of his dreams was to bring Ryerson on Yonge Street. We are already there with the SLC. My dream for Ryerson is to define a corridor of innovation in downtown Toronto along Yonge.”
Last month, the university announced that they had leased lab space for the science faculty in the MaRS building on College Street. Finding a new location to house the Ryerson Theatre School (RTS) has also been at the forefront of the agenda. Plans have been made to temporarily move RTS students into the basement of the SLC. But Lachemi said he would love to see the theatre school in one of the theatres along Yonge Street to give them a broader opportunity to expose their work.
“My priority is to provide more space. The footprint on our campus is very limited and we need to give students more space,” said Lachemi, adding that plans have been discussed for more study space, as well as additional space for campus groups.
“I see Ryerson playing a bigger role as a global university,” he said. “We have a city that has a global reputation and I’d like to bring Ryerson to match that reputation and that perspective.”