Ryerson University releases action plan to implement recommendations of Standing Strong Task Force Report
In August 2021, the University’s Board of Governors committed to the implementation of all recommendations from the Standing Strong Task Force to address the legacy of Egerton Ryerson and establish principles to guide commemoration across campus.
The (PDF file) Task Force recommendations were informed by broad participation from Ryerson University community members, guest speakers, an extensive review of historical research and other (PDF file) learning materials, as well as the committee’s own substantial expertise. The work of the Task Force and the resulting recommendations build upon the considerable resources and effort that our university has committed to the work of anti-colonialism, anti-racism, and reconciliation.
One of the Task Force recommendations was to develop an action plan by January 31, 2022, to address the implementation of all Task Force recommendations. I am pleased to share the university’s action plan with our community. The plan is firmly centred on our university’s values, which will guide us in implementing the recommendations. Our values provide a solid framework for change while allowing us to adjust, strengthen and respond to the evolving needs of our community over time.
Progress made to date
While the action plan provides a framework on how to address the recommendations collectively, each of the recommendations will be carried out on their own timelines - taking into account the resources, communities and complexities involved. Some of the recommendations, such as the renaming, will be completed shortly while others are ongoing commitments that will take time. In implementing the recommendations, the university will make decisions in keeping with our existing governance models and processes, including Senate and the Board of Governors.
Thoughtful discussion and considerable work has been devoted to developing plans and approaches for all recommendations, some examples of progress made to date include:
Over the past five months, senior leaders across the university have engaged in and led conversations about the opportunities and responsibilities ahead of us. I know that many community members have also taken the time to absorb the findings and recommendations of the Task Force to consider how this work could be approached in ways that prioritize critical conversations, best practices, and meaningful, substantial and long-term systemic change.
Principles of commemoration
A working group is proceeding with the development of a policy that operationalizes the principles of commemoration put forward by the Standing Strong Task Force. This policy will apply to all forms of commemoration, including the display and preservation of commemorative memorabilia and naming. It will establish the process by which new forms of commemoration are decided on, and how existing commemoration is reviewed.
Following the decision to rename the university, which was informed by an understanding that centering a colonial figure does not align with our institutional values, the university took swift action to appoint The University Renaming Advisory Committee (URAC). The Committee has been tasked with determining a new name that can represent our institution. This work includes conversations about renaming at all levels of the university, engagement with an external research firm, and with a renaming firm. Recently, over 30,000 community members provided input on renaming during a public engagement period. The findings and ideas generated by the community will help inform the committee as they develop a short-list of possible names, which they will present to my office this spring.
Responsibility to educate
Along with the final report and recommendations produced by the Standing Strong Task Force, the group oversaw an extensive historical research project resulting in (PDF file) Appendix D: Life and legacy of Egerton Ryerson. This research draws from and builds upon previous scholarly work regarding the life and contributions of Egerton Ryerson. While our name will no longer be Ryerson University, we will continue to share Egerton Ryerson’s story through physical and digital installations with content from our university archives. This commitment to education includes both addressing misconceptions and contextualizing Ryerson’s contributions to present-day institutions and policies.
Community members play a vital role in the implementation of the task force recommendations. In addition to sharing your thoughts and ideas with us through email to firstname.lastname@example.org, community conversations will be hosted over the remainder of the winter term to generate ideas, guidance and knowledge that will help shape the initiatives ahead. Events, opportunities and updates will be shared on a regular basis through the Next Chapter website.
Thank you for your interest and participation in the important work of the Standing Strong Task Force and the resulting implementation that we have committed to as a university community. If you have not yet read the (PDF file) Task Force report, I strongly encourage you to do so. Likewise, I hope you take time to review the action plan and find ways to contribute to the important work of acknowledging the history and impact of colonialism and racism, so that we may chart a new path forward together.
President and Vice-Chancellor