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From the Provost

Michael Benarroch, Provost and Vice-President, Academic

From Polytechnical Institute to Leading Comprehensive University

The importance of maintaining access to education through evolution

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela shared this sentiment in an electrifying speech at Boston’s Madison Park High School nearly 30 years ago, and his message is as true today as it was then.

Education is the tool that fights oppression, that levels the playing field, that creates possibilities. Promoting access to education is, therefore, not an option, but an obligation. We owe it to the next generation of thinkers to create space for their learning and growth. We owe it to ourselves to ensure that our work continues to evolve to meet the needs of our changing world.

This, of course, requires intention and a certain degree of self awareness. As we celebrate World Access to Higher Education Day on November 26, 2019, I’m reminded of how far Ryerson has come from its roots as a polytechnical institute to one of Canada’s leading comprehensive universities.

As someone who joined Ryerson in 2017 and who watched the university closely for many years prior, I have found both the challenges and the opportunities that come with steady growth fascinating. One of the major considerations is ensuring that education remains accessible as admissions and academic programs become increasingly competitive.

Supportive of "the whole person"

I admire that Ryerson has always been supportive of “the whole person”, a notion that values all of the things that make a student capable, qualified and coveted. It’s why our application processes have become more holistic – a person’s experiences, goals, personality and potential are essential complements to their grades. It’s why we democratize academic planning – if everyone has a voice, the university’s vision will reflect the needs of its people. It’s why we uplift equity-seeking groups – when we are inclusive of diverse perspectives, our entire community is elevated.


It’s also why we cherish our many partnerships that make education more accessible to students from all walks of life. In addition to the vital financial support we receive in the form of scholarships and donations, a number of programs aim to increase our engagement with young people who may not otherwise consider attending post-secondary school. For instance:

As Ryerson grows, so will the need to support higher learning for all. The transformational power of postsecondary education cannot be understated and we’ll continue to ensure it’s within everyone’s reach.

Michael Benarroch
Provost and Vice-President, Academic