By: Mark Dettweiler, Executive Director of Campus Development
Having been at Ryerson for a year now following many years in the post-secondary sector, one of the most common things people remark on is the rapid growth of our university. This growth has happened in many ways—through our student, faculty and staff population, our offerings and our reputation. As the executive director of campus development for Facilities Management and Development (FMD), my team and I are focused on how to best provide physical spaces that meet the needs of the entire Ryerson community and the broad spectrum of their activities on campus. We strive for this while keeping sustainability, accessibility and inclusion fundamental to our work.
This has two key components:
Embedded in each of these components is a key focus and attention to our university's sustainability, ensuring that each new initiative improves energy performance and reduces the carbon footprint of our campus facilities.
Ryerson is at a critical point in our campus journey. As my colleague Alp Amasya outlined last year, over the past few years FMD has done extensive work planning for 10 years of campus maintenance and operations. Especially knowing that we have limited resources, we need to make sure our capital development meshes intelligently with ongoing deferred maintenance.
As part of this, it’s important to know where our strengths are and where opportunities exist. What research initiatives are happening on campus and what type of facilities are needed to support them? Are there existing spaces or facilities that can be renovated or enhanced? How are we thinking forward to the type of classrooms and labs the campus will need in two, three, five or 10 years to enable hands-on learning opportunities? How do we build in a way that is flexible to adapt to changes and developments in teaching and research methods?
For example, with the School of Nursing now moved into the Daphne Cockwell Health Sciences Complex, their previous home on the fourth floor of Podium is being transformed into a home for the Faculty of Law. The new space will include a reading room, classrooms, open space and more. This project is now underway and we’re looking forward to welcoming new students to the space in the coming year.
Over the past year, Molly Anthony and her team have worked with our community of students, faculty and staff to ask what the key needs for our campus might be and what it should look like going forward. These community consultations have been in support of updating our Campus Master Plan so that we have a clear vision, goals and principles for continued campus development.
So far, much of the feedback has indicated rather firmly that Ryerson wants to stay compact—we need to grow, but feedback is telling us we don’t want to grow through sprawl. Now that we know the “what”, it’s exciting to work with our community to determine the “how”.
As the Campus Master Plan project continues, we’re intentionally and regularly checking in with our community, which is key, as we’ll need bold, innovative ideas on how we move forward.
In Campus Development, many of our projects require disrupting the day-to-day movement of our community, such as the Campus Core Revitalization construction—it’s an unfortunate but necessary part of making changes. Striking a balance between improvement and minimizing community impact is important to us, and our team of experts include those in real estate, urban planning, project management, sustainability and more. Our mission is to execute campus growth and change that is well-planned, accommodates the diverse needs of our community, makes good use of resources, minimizes disruption and prioritizes accessibility and sustainability.
As we look toward the year ahead, our core goal is to prioritize our academic, research and employee experience, while also remaining focused on the future of where our campus needs to go and how we can get there.