By Kiernan Green
Ryerson University made it to the second round of applying for a Canadian Excellence Research Chair (CERC), a federal government challenge that rewards up to $10 million to successful universities.
Ryerson is one of nine post-secondary institutions in the challenge’s second phase.
The university nominated a researcher globally recognized as being at the top, or rising to the top, of their field in immigration and settlement.
“The idea is to have a competition among all [Canadian] universities to attract the best in the world,” president Mohamed Lachemi said.
Ryerson is “playing in the big league,” he said.
Lachemi told The Eye that Ryerson’s nominee is a woman.
Of the 26 previously awarded chairs, McGill University’s Luda Diatchenko is the only woman.
“The idea is to bring a world-class person to lead all of this”
“The evaluation process is at a very sensitive point as we wait to hear back,” said John Shields, interim director of Ryerson Centre for Immigration and Settlement and member of the CERC nominee selection committee.
He said he can’t yet identify Ryerson’s nominee.
If Ryerson’s nominee meets the government’s standards, the university will be awarded $10 million over the course of seven years, according to CERC’s website. The money can only be used to fund the chair and their research.
Out of all of the competing universities, Ryerson is the only one not focusing on the field of science, technology, engineering or math, Lachemi said.
Other research topics include sustainability, health science, natural resources, information and communications technology, manufacturing and social inclusion. These are topics of “strategic importance” to Canada, according to CERC’s website.
Canada accepted over 300,000 immigrants last year, according to Statista, an online portal for statistics. On average, 200,000 immigrants and refugees have been accepted annually over the last decade, according to the Council on Foreign Relations think tank.
Immigration and settlement is an “area that is important for our country,” said Lachemi.
Immigrants also account for 70 per cent of Canada’s population growth and 90 per cent of growth in the workforce, according to a report from the Canadian Immigration Summit in May 2018.
Areas where research might improve immigrant life were also included in the report.
“A competition among all Canadian universities to attract the best”
Finding more effective ways to measure immigrant success, streamlining Canada’s complex system of immigration policies and better accounting for how factors such as race, disability or gender directly affect immigrant life were each mentioned.
Lachemi said Ryerson has many professors who are already studying these issues.
All previous chairholders have researched STEM subjects.
“The idea is to bring a world-class person to lead all of this,” he said.