ryerson new name

Ryerson is officially changing its name to 'Toronto Metropolitan University'

The Board of Directors at Ryerson University have approved a new name for the 73-year-old academic institution — one that pays homage to its location in downtown Toronto, as opposed to a long-dead old white guy with ties to Canada's residential school system.

Bye bye, Rye High. Hello, Toronto Metropolitan University.

"Today marks the first page of a new chapter in our university's history," said president Mohamed Lachemi on Tuesday when announcing the results of the board's vote.

"Our new name Toronto Metropolitan University embodies so many things about our university, our community, our students, faculty, staff and alumni. Located in the heart of our country's biggest and most diverse city - we represent all that it is to be metropolitan."

Lachemi, who conspicuously signed his announcement letter with his new title ("President and Vice-Chancellor, Toronto Metropolitan University,") thanked the University Renaming Advisory Committee, the Standing Strong Task Force and members of the local community for their "dedication and determination in finding a name that will unify us for decades to come."

He also pointed out that the name fits his institution's aspirations to expand its international reach, referring to Ryerson's (sorry, the university formetly known as Ryerson's) brand new Lincoln Alexander School of Law in Cairo, Egypt.

"From its earliest days, the city of Toronto - our home - has been a gathering place. Toronto comes from the Mohawk word 'Tkaronto,' meaning 'the place in the water where the trees are standing' - a place where people came together," said Lachemi.

"I know our new name will continue to invite people from all over the world to gather - to learn, to teach, to share, to undertake scholarly research and creative activities, and to engage in new ways of thinking and doing."

Graduates, staff and students seem divided on the name, based on Twitter activity. Some find it boring, others like the sharp, professional sound of it.

Many, however, are wondering how, exactly, this name change will work on a practical level. The school's website, which still lives at ryerson.ca, says that the transition to a new name will happen in phases.

"Some university materials will change immediately, while other initiatives will take more time. For example, changes to webpages and social media handles can happen relatively quickly, while other changes, such as external signage on-campus buildings and amendments to legal documents, including degrees, will take longer," it reads.

"While the university will immediately register the new name, allowing us to operate under it, the Ryerson University Act will need to be amended by the Government of Ontario (a timeline that is out of the university's control) before the new name can be reflected on legal documents issued by the university, including degrees."

As for how much Toronto Metropolitan University sounds like the University of Toronto, Lachemi isn't concerned, stating to the Globe and Mail that "there's a distinctive niche for the Toronto Metropolitan University."

After all, The University of London succesfully co-exists in the same city as London Metropolitan University. The same can be said for The University of Tokyo and Tokyo Metropolitan University.

A full action plan for the renaming of the school can be found on a "Next Chapter" microsite, as well as other measures taken in response to widespread recent backlash against the university's former namesake, Egerton Ryerson.

There had long been demands for the university to change its name and remove a now-destroyed statue of Ryerson — a historical Canadian teacher and minister — from its campus, but they were reignited in a huge way after the discovery of the remains of 215 children at a former Indigenous Residential School in Kamloops last year.

"As we start the next chapter as Toronto Metropolitan University, I want to assure everyone that our new name is not about erasing our history," noted Lachemi in his announcement.

"As a university, our values have long defined who we are and they will always guide where we are going. Our values are the basis upon which we have built our uniquely vibrant, diverse and intentionally inclusive culture."

The post-secondary school president stressed that the new name builds upon existing values and some 73 years of past achievements.

"Our new name is a cause for celebration, to celebrate all that makes us who we are and to welcome all the ways we can make a positive impact on the people and communities around us - here in Toronto, across Canada and around the world," he said.

"I hope you will join me in embracing our new name of Toronto Metropolitan University, in continuing to challenge the status quo, and in knowing that you belong here."

Lead photo by

Richard Eriksson

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