By Heidi Lee, Thea Gribilas and Edward Djan
The university’s new name will not honour a particular person according to an update from the University Renaming Advisory Committee.
During a virtual presentation on March 31, Tanya De Mello, the assistant dean for student programming, development and equity at the Lincoln Alexander School of Law, said, “it’s about one that unifies our committee and reflects our values and our aspirations.”
The university received over 2,200 new names from more than 30,000 responses to its 2021 community engagement survey. During the presentation, De Mello revealed that the university hired a firm to create an additional 400 names based on the values of the university.
The university is considering factors like a name’s ability to “represent a diversity of perspectives,” the legality of owning the new name and its ability to be abbreviated when shortlisting names.
A list of shortlisted names will be sent to president Mohamed Lachemi, with the Board of Governors (BoG) approving the new name.
De Mello also added that the public will not get the opportunity to view and vote on the list of names, adding that the name will not be decided by “popularity vote.”
“I want that name to be something that people feel they can touch”
Jennifer Simpson, provost and vice-president, academic, said the committee came up with the shortlist of names while considering whether the new name could reflect the school’s values.
“I want that name to be something that people feel they can touch,” she said. “It’s like something you put your hands on, that your heart can connect to, that your head can connect to.”
She added that the new name needs to be able to “encompass and feel a connection for many, many people and the diversity of this institution.”
Simpson also said there is a possibility that the university’s mascot, Eggy the Ram, may change, but a final decision has not been made. However, the blue and gold colours of Ryerson University will remain.
Ryerson alumni will also have the option to keep their existing degrees or have a reissued parchment with the new name.
Simpson said diplomas issued at the spring 2022 convocation will still state “Ryerson University,” though more information will be available to new graduates over the next few months.
“All legal documents must reflect our current legal name—they have to line up,” said Simpson. “And that includes legal documents, parchments and academic records of current students.”
“People have a connection to this institution that they’re proud of”
De Mello said the committee hopes that the renaming is not seen as an act of erasing history.
“There are many things in that history we’re incredibly proud of,” said De Mello.
“One of the things that came up for me…was that people have a connection to this institution that they’re proud of—their contribution and the things that happened here at the university has nothing to do with Egerton Ryerson.”
De Mello added that the committee wants community members at Ryerson to be able to “be proud” of the new name if they want to.
“It’s up to you what you feel comfortable with,” she said. “There will be many people in the community—I’m one of them—that isn’t likely to wear Ryerson on me because, for me, it can cause harm for some people.”
Once a new name is picked, the renaming will be implemented in phases due to legal and administrative hurdles.
A new name is expected to be revealed by the end of the winter 2022 semester.