By Sherina Harris
Ryerson University’s president said he found out about the provincial government’s cancellation of the Brampton campus expansion and law school just 40 minutes and two hours, respectively, before the government made the announcement public.
“It’s a short notice and of course the first thing I [did was] to share it with my team, administration team and communication team to make sure we [had] a plan in place to inform our community to the breaking news,” said Ryerson president Mohamed Lachemi on the news.
In the case of the Brampton campus, Lachemi said he got a call from the deputy minister of training, colleges and universities 40 minutes before the public cancellation on Oct. 23. He also was sent a draft press release via email.
“I was anticipating the news and appreciated the personal heads up I received,” Lachemi wrote in an email to an undisclosed mailing list that night, Freedom of Information (FOI) results obtained by The Eye show.
He said Ryerson would focus on developing plans for the projects under construction in Brampton. These included an Innovation Hub, cybersecurity programming and Chang School courses.
Presently, Ryerson is offering two Chang School courses at Brampton’s City Hall. Ryerson will also be holding a seminar about cybersecurity this spring, Lachemi said.
“[I] appreciated the personal heads up”
Ryerson is also poised to be in a competition for federal funding for their Cyber Secure Catalyst. The federal budget, released March 19, said three post-secondary affiliated cybersecurity centres will receive $80 million starting in 2020-21.
Lachemi said it was significant to be named in the budget.
He also said Ryerson is looking to external partnerships—not just with the federal government, but also from the private sector—to fund the projects.
Lachemi found out about the province’s decision to not make Ryerson’s law school eligible for the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) on Nov. 20 while in Europe.
In a statement to The Eye the afternoon after the news about the law school broke on Nov. 21, Ryerson said they were “very disappointed to learn about the ministry’s decision.”
An email was sent to students on Nov. 22 with a statement from the president. The email explained that the law school did not need government funding to proceed, as it had already been approved by three accreditation bodies.
“Ryerson will continue to work in good faith with the provincial government in an effort to offer OSAP-eligible legal education,” the email statement read.
On Nov. 26, days after the initial news broke, Lachemi told The Eye Ryerson was “not giving up on the philosophy behind the law school.”
Ryerson provost Michael Benarroch previously told The Eye the law school hoped to have 30-50 out of the 150 student class whose tuition was highly subsidized by scholarships.
He also said Ryerson had already received one private donation for the law school. It is expected to open with its first class of students in fall 2020.
With files from Alexandra Holyk and Mina Alam