By Edward Djan
As Ryerson University prepares to change its name, work is already underway to transition its digital assets after the renaming.
Ryerson’s chief information officer Brian Lesser said the goal of the university’s Computing and Communications Services (CCS) is “to provide a seamless transition for everyone” throughout the rebrand.
While few specific details were disclosed about the difference in digital experience students can expect after the rebrand, Lesser said CCS is currently working on ensuring continuity of work and learning during the process by keeping its current domain name even after the name change.
“We’re the ones who could be affected the most, we’re gonna be using the tech”
“All our systems that end in ‘ryerson.ca’ will have to continue working. The hostnames also exist in many databases and configuration files,” said Lesser. “We have to work through all of them to ensure that all our systems continue to work properly.”
Keeping the university’s current domain name after the name change also ensures that students, faculty and staff will still receive messages even after their email addresses change from ‘@ryerson.ca.’
“That’s a big part of what we are working on—managing the new domain name and still having old links and email addresses continue to work correctly,” Lesser said. “At some point, everyone should be able to use a new email address, but mail must also continue to be delivered to their ‘@ryerson.ca’ address.”
While Lesser did say the university plans to have “old email addresses continue to work for a long time,” he did not provide an end date to when messages sent to ‘@ryerson.ca’ will stop being redirected to new email addresses after the rebrand.
Lesser also did not say how much the rebranding will cost CCS, but added, “most of the ‘costs’ so far seem to be in staff hours.”
“The goal of CCS is to provide a seamless transition for everyone”
As previously reported by The Eyeopener, the university announced in late August that it had accepted the recommendations from the Standing Strong (Mash Koh Wee Kah Pooh Win) Task Force’s final report, an advisory group created in September 2020 to re-examine the school’s relationship with its namesake.
Among the 22 recommendations from the task force was a name change for the institution. The report cited colonial ties and the legacy of residential schools that the university’s name symbolizes. The university is named after Egerton Ryerson, who played an integral role in the shaping of residential schools in Canada.
While not for the same reasons, another university in Ontario has undergone a complete rebrand.
Ontario Tech University rebranded back in 2019 because people often confused the university with the University of Toronto (UofT), according to the school’s vice president of external relations and advancements Susan McGovern.
“The University of Ontario Institute of Technology was just a really long name and a lot of people got confused that we were UofT,” McGovern said. “Because we have a STEM focus and tech focus, Ontario Tech is much better for us—it’s snappier and people remember it.”
McGovern said Ontario Tech kept their old domain name to ensure external members were still able to contact people at the university.
“You can still email ‘Susan.McGovern@UOIT.ca’ and I will still get it. We didn’t want people to not get emails. It takes time to switch everybody over to ‘@ontariotechu.ca’ but we did do a domain switch.”
“The consultation, in my opinion, is the most important part”
Another important IT consideration for Ontario Tech during their rebrand was ensuring continuous access to their website and learning management system, McGovern added.
“Our students always had access to their courses, their fees and everything on the website. We never shut our website down,” McGovern said. “We worked on it behind the scenes, and then in March 2019 when you went on to the website and refreshed, the new brand was there.”
McGovern said if Ryerson wants a successful rebrand, it must hold broad consultations.
“You can’t get frustrated or irritated with people that don’t want it to change,” said McGovern. “The consultation, in my opinion, is the most important part.”
“They didn’t understand why we needed to change our name. Once we explained to people, that brought a lot of naysayers on board.”
Second-year international economics and finance student Srijan Sahu believes the university should be holding consultation sessions about IT changes and should use the rebrand as an opportunity to improve user experience.
“Every time you try to log in to (RAMSS), you’ve got to create a new session and sometimes the pop-up window doesn’t load properly,” Sahu said.
“It’s important to hold consultations regarding matters of the rebranding, because in the end, we’re the ones who could be affected the most, we’re gonna be using the tech.”