Ryerson University officially changes its name to Toronto Metropolitan University — University Affairs (2023)

News

The move signals ‘a new chapter,’ after years of grassroots advocacy, consultation and committee work.

BY MICHAEL RANCIC | MAY 11 2022

Following a years-long process, Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) announced its name change from Ryerson University in late April. The new name was unanimously approved by the institution’s board of governors and put into effect immediately.

This change is the first of many steps for TMU to imagine a future beyond the legacy of its previous namesake, Egerton Ryerson, who was instrumental in the design of Canada’s residential school system. As of the publishing of this article, there are thousands of suspected unmarked graves identified across the country at former residential school sites.

“We really have to ask ourselves if we want to be an institution that focuses on commemorating 19th century colonial administrators,” said Catherine Ellis, an associate professor at TMU’s department of history. “The new name looks ahead to the future. In more Indigenous terms, it looks ahead to the next seven generations. And it’s a name that answers the question, ‘What kind of ancestors do we want to be?’”

Eva Jewell, an Anishinaabe scholar (Deshkan Ziibiing), assistant professor of sociology at TMU and research director at Yellowhead Institute, said she also appreciates the name change. “I think it signals a willingness to listen and an attentiveness to the issues of our time of settler colonialism, and the legacy of settler colonialism and figures who have advanced settler colonial violence and dispossession of Indigenous people.”

Concerns about the university’s association with and commemoration of Ryerson had been voiced by its Indigenous students, staff and faculty for years. How the university addressed those concerns with statements on its website or revised plaques placed next to Egerton Ryerson’s statue fell short of the steps necessary to speak to his legacy or the continued harm it was causing, explained Dr. Ellis.

In the fall of 2020, TMU President Mohamed Lachemi established the Standing Strong (Mash Koh Wee Kah Pooh Win) Task Force to respond to Egerton Ryerson’s legacy. Dr. Ellis co-chaired the task force along with the university’s elder, Joanne Dallaire. They arrived at 22 recommendations in August 2021 that were adopted by the school’s board of governors, including the endorsement of a name change. Subsequently a renaming advisory committee was formed to develop criteria and suggest a shortlist of possible names. The committee reached out to the public for consultation through a survey that received over 30,000 responses and over 2,000 unique name suggestions. “We had a lot of guidance from that survey,” Dr. Ellis said. “People wanted to see the new name reflect the location and secondly, to reflect the mission and values and the vision of the university.”

In the interim, an initiative led by Indigenous students temporarily and unofficially rebranded the school as “X University,” in an open letter published by Yellowhead Institute. “For people who were very attached to the name, for whatever reasons they were attached to their pride in a white supremacist figure, to remove the power of that name and to provide a placeholder, gave a space of transition,” explained Dr. Jewell. “For those of us who were denouncing the continuation of the commemoration of a man who structured and proposed residential schools, it gave us a space to think through and to imagine the future where we don’t commemorate colonizers.”

In many ways, the work of both the renaming committee and Standing Strong Task Force built on the efforts of the school’s Indigenous population. “We’re really building on and trying to support and compliment the work that others have been doing for a very long time, often Black and Indigenous and other marginalized and racialized people,” Dr. Ellis explained.

(Video) Ryerson University renamed Toronto Metropolitan University

Beyond the name, Dr. Ellis and Dr. Jewell both agreed that there’s still much work to be done. Dr. Ellis said that work on many of the other 22 recommendations is underway. That includes a change to the university’s mascot Eggy the Ram (named for Ryerson and chosen because of his zodiac sign), a new minor in Black studies, and further updates on fulfilling commitments to anti-Black racism and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“It’s all still to come, because the slogan that they’re using now is ‘a new chapter’. That signals to me a willingness to change and to shift the culture, which I think is really positive,” said Dr. Jewell. “But these institutions do not change on their own volition, on their own morality. They change because marginalized communities, racialized Black, Indigenous communities, two-spirit communities enforce them.”

COMMENTS

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6 Comments

  1. Gavin F Moodie/May 11, 2022 at 16:48

    (Video) Ryerson is cancelled, Toronto Metropolitan University is born: Students react

    I support this change. But as others have pointed out, it would have been better had TMU chosen Tkaronto Metropolitan University. The reason given by the president shows that he still has a lot of learning to do about reconciliation:

    ‘Lachemi also explainedthe committee didn’t choose an Indigenous namebecause the university needs a name“that will unite all of us and not really represent a small group of people or communities within our community.”‘

    CBC News (2022, April 26) Toronto university changes name amid controversy over Canadian educator’s legacy,

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ryerson-toronto-metropolitan-university-1.6431360

    Reply

    • Nab/June 17, 2022 at 00:58

      No offense but suggestion is not practical at all. Firstly because it’s one thing to disassociate from a man who initiated a racist and vile colonialism policy, its another thing to give it a name that 90% of the people will not recognize or will be able to place. Yes Tkronto is a Mohawk name, but if Toronto is not going to change its name then what use is it to change the name from Toronto Met to Tkoronto met. It would confuse people of the schools location and would be at best not particularly helpful. Is the school going to teach in Mohawk? No. It’s fine to recognize how modern English words and place names have an etymological root in certain languages wheter it be indiginous, or the large amount of loan words from French etc. But it becomes impractical to start changing every name on this basis. Nobody’s saying change Canada to Kanata.

      Reply

      (Video) UOFT vs RYERSON | WHICH SCHOOL IS BETTER? (Toronto Metropolitan University | TMU)
    • Nab/June 17, 2022 at 00:59

      And no he’s not wrong a name everyone can partake in is what we need, a common name for Canada’s multicultural reality.

      Reply

  2. Cassandra Jones/July 13, 2022 at 15:50

    As a Ryerson grad, I think the name change shows an utter lack of historical knowledge and gratitude for Ryerson’s legacy. In fact, under what education system would we all be beneficiaries if it wasn’t for Ryerson? To vilify and erase what he accomplished is just more payback from those who haven’t set up anything.

    Reply

    (Video) Interviewing Ryerson Students (Toronto Metropolitan University)

    • Carina/September 1, 2022 at 02:01

      Imagine the same person who discovered insulin also helped someone sexually harass you and all of your family. They did great things and terrible things. We can name our Educational Institutions after someone who isn’t vehemently offensive to you and your family.

      I support the name change.

      Reply

  3. academic journal/October 3, 2022 at 14:51

    The change of a university name is ridiculous. It brings a lot of chaos and confusions to students, the graduates, and academics. History is history. Looking back the academic history, usually prestigious universities merely change names.

    Reply

    (Video) Things You Need to Know About Toronto Metropolitan University (Ryerson University) | Advice with My

More Comments »

FAQs

Will Ryerson be called Toronto Metropolitan University after Board approves name change? ›

Following a years-long process, Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) announced its name change from Ryerson University in late April. The new name was unanimously approved by the institution's board of governors and put into effect immediately.

Why did Ryerson change to TMU? ›

TMU announced that it would change its name from Ryerson University in the wake of grisly discoveries on former residential school sites in 2021.

Is Ryerson still changing their name? ›

The former Ryerson University has a new name: Toronto Metropolitan University. Officials had faced calls to change the university's name for years because of the legacy of the school's namesake — Egerton Ryerson — and his links to residential schools in Canada.

How much did Ryerson name change cost? ›

To drop “Ontario” from their title cost the school $200,000. Similar to Ryerson's 2015 text change, this only applied to online branding, signage and official document fees.

What exactly did Ryerson do? ›

A renowned advocate against Christian sectarianism and control of Upper Canada by the wealthy Anglican elite, Ryerson staunchly opposed Clergy Reserves and promoted a system of free public education in Canada.

What did Ryerson do that was good? ›

Ryerson introduced a government-supervised standardized elementary school system throughout the province. According to Ryerson, the basis of a true system of universal education was that all students would become useful, law-abiding citizens, as well as contributors to public institutions.

Why Ryerson changing name? ›

Ryerson University officially changed its name to the Toronto Metropolitan University on Tuesday after years of facing backlash for its connection to its former namesake, Egerton Ryerson, who is responsible in part for the country's residential school system.

What is Ryerson called now? ›

Toronto, ON - April 26, 2022: Earlier today, Ryerson University's Board of Governors unanimously approved a motion to rename our institution “Toronto Metropolitan University” effective immediately.

When did Ryerson become Toronto Metropolitan University? ›

In 2022, the university was renamed Toronto Metropolitan University, in recognition of Egerton Ryerson's involvement in the residential school system, and the latter's adverse effects on indigenous cultures.

What is the shortlist for Ryerson name change? ›

Toronto Metropolitan University enters the second phase of renaming its sports teams and choosing a new mascot. A short list of names chosen by the community were announced this month to replace the previous name, Ryerson Rams. The shortlisted names are the Bold, The Meteors, the Towers and the Metropolitan Towers.

What was Ryerson accused of? ›

Egerton Ryerson (1803-1882), the Methodist minister who has long been celebrated as the founder of the Ontario public school system, stands accused of creating a residential school system designed to stamp out Indigenous culture. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Is Ryerson a top university in Canada? ›

In 2022, Ryerson University has been placed at the #501-600th position, whereas, in 2020 and 2021, the university was placed at the #401-500th position.

What major is Ryerson known for? ›

Ryerson offers seven academic faculties and has various degrees for undergraduate and specialized minor programs. The most popular majors students opt for at RU are Computer Science, Social Sciences & Public Health, Arts & Humanities, Business & Economics, Psychology, and Electrical & Electronic Engineering.

What is Ryerson ranked in the world? ›

Ryerson University 2021-2022 Ranking
Institution NameRyerson University
CountryCanada
World Rank829
National Rank25
Quality of Education Rank-
5 more rows

Does Ryerson have a good reputation? ›

Ryerson isn't a particularly prestigious university, but they do have some programs that are prestigious, such as their Media Production program. They're also known for their creative, engineering, business, and nursing programs.

What was Ryerson called when it was a college? ›

Originally named after Ontario's first Superintendent of Education and leading public school advocate, Egerton Ryerson, now Toronto Metropolitan University, is a postsecondary institute designed to combine technical education with academic theory for the first time.

What is the most competitive program at Ryerson? ›

Nursing, Ryerson University

“Nursing is probably the most academically competitive program across Ontario,” says Marisa Modeski, Ryerson's assistant director of student recruitment.

What is the legal name of Toronto Metropolitan University? ›

The university is pleased to announce that the amendment to the Ryerson University Act, 1977 to legally change our name to Toronto Metropolitan University, was introduced and passed its first reading by the Ontario Legislature on October 27, 2022.

What names are being considered for Ryerson University? ›

Ryerson president Mohamed Lachemi had recommended the Toronto Metropolitan option from a shortlist developed by a committee of professors, administrators, students and alumni.

When did Ryerson Announce name change? ›

Toronto, ON - April 26, 2022: Earlier today, Ryerson University's Board of Governors unanimously approved a motion to rename our institution “Toronto Metropolitan University” effective immediately.

What is the new name for Ryerson University? ›

Ryerson University, named after an architect of Canada's residential school system, will now be called Toronto Metropolitan University, the school announced Tuesday.

Is Ryerson University and Toronto Metropolitan University same? ›

In 2022, the university was renamed Toronto Metropolitan University, in recognition of Egerton Ryerson's involvement in the residential school system, and the latter's adverse effects on indigenous cultures.

Who owns Ryerson University? ›

The Ryerson Institute of Technology, with some 250 students, was established in 1948 by the Government of Ontario as an experiment in post-secondary technical education.

What does the name Ryerson mean? ›

Ryerson is an English surname. It can also be an anglicized spelling of Scandinavian surnames. Originating from Dutch meaning "the son of Ryerse(n), Reyer or Reijer (rider)", the Swedish "Reierson", or Norwegian and Danish's "Reiersen". Notable people with the surname include: Ali Ryerson (born 1952), flutist.

Videos

1. What does name change mean for Ryerson Univeristy?
(CP24)
2. Ryerson University announces name change
(CityNews)
3. The former Ryerson University has officially changed its name to Toronto Metropolitan University.
(ryanmost)
4. Toronto Metropolitan University Formerly known as RYERSON UNIVERSITY
(Canadian Explorer)
5. Mixed reactions to Ryerson University's name change
(CTV News)
6. Toronto university changes name over namesake's link to residential schools
(CBC News: The National)

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