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$2-million donation establishes Jarislowsky Chair in Democracy at Ryerson

March 07, 2017

TORONTO, March 7, 2017 – Ryerson University is pleased to announce the creation of a new research chair in the study and advancement of democracy thanks to a generous donation from The Jarislowsky Foundation. The $2 million gift, which will be matched by Ryerson University, will endow a Chair in the Faculty of Arts that will position Ryerson at the forefront of teaching, research and knowledge exchange on democracy, and provide a public forum for discussion and debate about democracy at this critical moment in its evolution.

The Chair will be tasked with bringing thought leadership and public profile to pressing issues around democracy, and initiating and leading collaborations to analyze high-functioning democratic models as the basis of potential alternatives or reforms. The Chair will also lead the development of new curricula, and host public panels in partnership with community groups focused on citizen engagement. The search process will begin immediately.

Stephen A. Jarislowsky, president of The Jarislowsky Foundation, says, “now is the right time and Ryerson is the right place for a Chair to lead the study of democracy and propose new structures and reforms to meet the emerging challenges of society. Ryerson University’s reputation for innovation and its deep commitment to an engaged citizenship in Toronto and beyond make it a strategic choice for this impactful position.”

“We are most grateful to the Jarislowsky Foundation for this extraordinary gift,” says Mohamed Lachemi, president and vice-chancellor, Ryerson University. “This foresight and generosity will enable Ryerson to attract and retain an internationally recognized leader who will spark domestic and international collaborations, and be an advocate and activist toward a stronger and more inclusive participatory democracy.”

Pamela Sugiman, dean, Faculty of Arts, says “we are delighted to foster this concentration of socially relevant and engaged activity in our Faculty. The Jarislowsky Democracy Chair will lead an innovative research agenda and both raise and enrich the volume of debate addressing longstanding and more recent challenges to democratic structures and the engagement of diverse groups of citizens in the democratic process.”

The Jarislowsky Foundation was founded by Canadian businessman and philanthropist Stephen A. Jarislowsky in 1991. Since then, it has established 31 chairs in Canada in a variety of fields including medicine, business, governance, and arts and humanities. They include research leaders related to the Ryerson chair, including the Harold and Dorrie Merilees Chair for the Study of Democracy at the University of British Columbia and the Jarislowsky Chair in Public Sector Management at the University of Ottawa. Mr. Jarislowsky is also the co-founder of the Canadian Coalition for Good Governance.

About Ryerson University
Ryerson University is Canada’s leader in innovative, career-oriented education. Urban, culturally diverse and inclusive, the university is home to more than 44,500 students, including 2,400 Master’s and PhD students, 3,200 faculty and staff, and nearly 170,000 alumni worldwide. For more information, visit  


Dasha Pasiy
Public Affairs
Ryerson University
416.979.5000 x 2126