Drake and a Logo: How Ryerson University Is Creating Its Own Identity

By Emma Kimmerly

When you hear the name of any Ontario public university, distinct words and stigmas come to mind.

For example, when Harman Singh, RSU Vice-President Student Life & Events, talked about University of Toronto, he mentioned “academia” and “platforms for research.”

Or for Evan Romano, fourth-year Queen’s Smith School of Business student, it was Queen’s “strong reputation of developing and attracting high-end students,” that influenced him to study there.

As of 2016, University of Toronto is 189 years-old, and Queen’s University is 175 years-old.

As for 68 year-old Ryerson University? That identity is still forming, but it has started to take the shape of a young and urban place to learn.

Ryerson started as a technology institute, which was founded in 1948. In 1993 it was granted full university status, and in 2002 it became Ryerson University (read more about Ryerson’s history here). Since then, Ryerson has grown to offer more than 100 undergraduate and graduate programs with 38,950 students, according to their website.

Brandi Park, a part-time public administration and governance student, says it’s the location that makes Ryerson different from some of its older counterparts.

“I feel like Ryerson isn’t as established as some other universities in Ontario. That being said, because the main campus is downtown Toronto, I think Ryerson is seen as an urban, creative, diverse university,” Park said.

As seen in the timeline above, in the past year the university has embraced the urban atmosphere, through re-branding, planning the Public Realm Plan, and building modern spaces like the Student Learning Centre (SLC) throughout the downtown core. And the RSU has been supporting that image along the way, with events like the 6 Cent concert (looking at you, Drake) and the two-day music festival 6 Fest.

“As much as Ryerson University is jumping on us saying they want to be a part of it, we are jumping on them to be a part of it too … we’re working together to bring the overall brand up, ” Singh said.

For current students and faculty, the university’s brand and reputation ultimately reflects on their academic and professional reputation through resumes and degrees.

‎ “I think that having an artist such as Drake perform really gets Ryerson’s name (and) image out there. The new SLC is a really amazing space, being right downtown I think it’s important to have a modern campus that stands out. I hope these kind of initiatives continue,” Park said.

As for new students, the urban theme seems to be attractive. Last year, it was reported that Ryerson had an increase in total applications despite an overall decrease in university applications.

“We’re a young and upcoming university you could say,” Singh said.

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