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Q&A with Mitch Frazer on what brought him to Ryerson and what keeps him here

Board chair has been integral in establishing Ryerson’s law school
By: Wendy Glauser
August 09, 2019
Mitch Frazer

Board chair Mitch Frazer in the dressing room at the Mattamy Athletic Centre. Photo: Laurence Butet-Roch.

Mitch Frazer, the chair of the pensions and employment practice at Torys LLP, was appointed chair of the Ryerson University Board of Governors in 2018. A legal and government policy expert, he’s been integral in establishing Ryerson’s law school, which takes an innovative approach to legal education.

Ryerson University Magazine sat down with Frazer to talk about why he chose Ryerson, and his favourite spot on campus.

You joined the board in 2012. What interested you in Ryerson at the time?

I heard that it was a really exciting time, that Ryerson was becoming a great agent of change. The more I got onto campus and met students and faculty, the more I realized that Ryerson is in many ways Toronto. It is a multicultural, multidisciplinary, multilingual hub of activity and change and I just wanted to be a part of it.

Since you’ve been on the board, what’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned about Ryerson?

I grew up in Toronto and Ryerson was a place you went to if you wanted to gain technical skills or do more alternative programs. I knew Ryerson changed, but it’s amazing how strong the core academics and research have become. We’re at the centre of transformational issues, such as aging, technology and cybersecurity. If it’s really interesting and topical, Ryerson is doing it.

What Ryerson accomplishment are you most proud of?

There are many, but among the top would be the establishment of the first new law school in Toronto in 71 years. This school will fundamentally change the way legal education is taught. Every course will be co-taught by a professor and a practitioner. Graduates will have the option of practicing law, or taking their legal degree and helping transform how business is done, how social work is done, how health is done. A law degree can help in so many different sectors, because it teaches you how to problem-solve, and how to look at things from different angles before coming up with a prospective solution.

What one piece of advice would you pass on to a new Ryerson grad?

Have a personal philosophy. In my case, that’s, “Make a difference.” I try to help others. You don’t know if life is going to be long or short, but every day you can open a door for someone, figuratively or literally.

Do you have a vivid memory from your time in university?

My most vivid memories are all the social stuff, the student pubs, and meeting friends who are my friends to this day.

What is your favourite part of the Ryerson campus?

Oh, the Mattamy Athletic Centre. I’m a sports nut. I get goosebumps going into the MAC. Growing up, my dad would take me to one Leafs game every year. I’d always be so excited. Now I take my 10-year-old and my seven-year-old to the MAC and it will be part of their childhood memories.

Favourite film

When Harry met Sally, Casablanca, Harry Potter. I love the epics.”

Favourite destination

“Paris—it’s a new vacation every time.”

Favourite way to relax

“A long run always clears the head.”

In August 2019, Ryerson will begin accepting applications for fall 2020 enrolment in Ryerson’s law school. The first class of law students will embark on a leading-edge, future-focused legal education examining contemporary issues, such as technology, access to justice, and social innovation.

This story appears in the June edition of the Ryerson University Magazine. Read the whole issue online, external link. It's also available as an accessible edition, external link.

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