Road to Congress: Presidents’ panel focuses on university and the city

A panel of three university presidents hosted by York President and Vice-Chancellor Lorna Marsden (right) will discuss the university as urban institution May 31 in keeping with the city theme at the upcoming Congress.

The three — Edward Hundert of Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University, Khunying Suchada Kiranandana of Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University, and Sheldon Levy of Toronto’s Ryerson University — will explore a university’s responsibility to, and its intellectual and artistic role in, the broader community, and a university president’s role in community leadership.

The panel takes place Wednesday, May 31 from 12:15 to 1:45pm in the Senate Chamber, Ross North. Bill Fisch, Chair and chief executive officer of York Region, will be panel commentator, and Adrian Shubert, York’s associate vice-president international, will act as moderator.

Panel participants

Edward Hundert
President, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland

For the past four years, Edward Hundert (left) has been president of Case, a private research university with 3,500 students in University Circle, a cultural hub of the Ohio city. Hundert spent five years at the University of Rochester, where he was professor of psychiatry and medical humanities and dean of the school of medicine and dentistry, and 13 years at Harvard Medical School, where he held appointments in psychiatry and medical ethics.

In a farewell letter to Case, which he is leaving in September, Hundert talks about the relationship between the university and Greater Cleveland. Here is an excerpt:

“It is clear that the future of Case Western Reserve University and Greater Cleveland are inextricably linked. That means we can never lose sight of the mutual commitment the community and the university must make to one another. It is the world-class discoveries of our faculty that ultimately set us apart as a research university—from new galaxies to new international legal statutes, from new art forms to new ways to reap the social benefits of business, from nanoscale therapeutics to innovations in flight nursing.

“But we must never forget our social responsibility to our community. This can manifest itself through curricular initiatives, such as the direct service provided by our novel social work curriculum or our dental school’s outreach programs in the Cleveland school district. It can also be demonstrated in our business practices, such as our supplier diversity initiative or our homebuyer assistance program. In the end, I am confident that the linking of collaborative research programs across all of this region’s healthcare institutions will have the most transformative impact on the university and Northeast Ohio.”

Khunying Suchada Kiranandana
President, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok

Khunying Suchada Kiranandana (right) is the first female president of Thailand’s oldest university. The Harvard-educated statistician, who earned her undergraduate degree at Chulalongkorn, was dean of the university’s graduate school and its faculty of commerce and accountancy before taking over the helm. The university, founded by the king in 1917 and located in the heart of Bangkok, has 27,000 undergraduate and graduate students in 19 faculties.

Under Suchada’s watch, the university played a vital role in responding to the tsunami disaster of December 2004. Within a day, it was dispatching medical teams, organizing a press conference to explain the phenomenon, mobilizing university students, dispatching a forensic physician team, offering a telephone inquiry service and setting up competent teams to assess the damages and prepare the rehabilitation. The university also provided a proposal on social and economic restoration and rehabilitation of the tsunami-ravaged communities in Phang-gna province.

Sheldon Levy
President, Ryerson University, Toronto

Sheldon Levy (left), who has served as vice-president at three universities and president of one college in the Toronto area, is now president of Ryerson, the city’s most newly designated university. Located downtown, the former polytechnic has 21,000 full-time students and is currently planning a $210-million campus expansion in the already densely developed heart of the metropolis.

Levy earned two degrees and started his teaching and administrative career at York. The mathematician and computer scientist was York’s VP for institutional affairs for nine years before becoming president of Sheridan College; University of Toronto’s first VP of government and institutional relations; VP at the fledgling University of Ontario Institute of Technology; and finally president of Ryerson.

In March, he outlined Ryerson’s plans for expansion in downtown Toronto in a speech to the Canadian Club, titled “The University as City Builder.” He said his master plan “recognizes there is no boundary in the traditional sense” between the university and its downtown neighbourhood. “That’s what ‘University as City Builder’ means to me: a well-known university footprint in the city…giving people reasons to visit and to live nearby. Because what is good for Ryerson University – is also good for Toronto.” He said: “Our vision includes partners who look at neighbourhood spaces as opportunities for coffee shops and stores that are clean and bright, imaginative and attractive. We will find ways to make this most historic, heritage part of Toronto a magnet for quality redevelopment.” In conclusion, Levy said: “Our goals will be consistent with civic pride and renewal.”