Annual Report of the President to the Collegium 2022-23

In December 2020, Collegium formally endorsed our new university plan, St. Mike’s 180: Rooted in the Future. Almost three years on, every corner of our community has been shaped by this plan as we have taken concrete bold steps to implement this new vision to build a vibrant and inclusive faith and learning community, to expand opportunities for transformational education, and to advance comprehensive sustainability that will ensure St. Michael’s will continue to flourish for generations to come.

This Report, like the annual reports that preceded it, captures just a few of the important initiatives that demonstrate the institutional renewal that is well underway as we journey towards our 180th anniversary in 2032. They are not cumulative developments, but proof points from the last year that illustrate recent progress, how we have ‘moved the dial’. And, as always, these initiatives represent the collective efforts across our community: the undertakings of students, faculty, staff, administration, trustees, and alumni working to live into St. Michael’s historic commitment to be, and be recognized, as Canada’s leading Catholic university.  

USMC Commits to Fully Divest from Fossil Fuels

On June 14, 2023, the Collegium of the University of St. Michael’s College committed to fully divest from fossil fuels by 2030. While USMC has held no direct investments in fossil fuels since 2013, the board’s decision this year removes fossil fuels from the university’s indirect investments. 

By Protecting Water, USMC Protects the Human Family and Our Common Home

On April 19, 2023, just ahead of Earth Day, St. Mike’s became a Blue Community—pledging to protect water as a human right and a public good. St. Michael’s joins Regis College and the Sisters of St. Joseph in adopting a seven-commitment pledge. Water justice activist Maude Barlow joined other members of the Council of Canadians in formally recognizing the designation.

President David Sylvester noted that becoming a Blue Community is “in keeping with the university’s long-standing commitment to social justice,” as outlined in the St. Mike’s 180 strategic plan.

“And we are also pledging to encourage our peer institutions across Canada to take the Blue Community Commitment.”

An Interdisciplinary Approach to Sustainability, Social Responsibility and ESG

The Graduate Diploma in Social Responsibility and Sustainability’s unique value proposition lies in its interdisciplinary approach to sustainability, social responsibility and ESG; taking a systems perspective from business, law, ethics, social sciences, theology and environmental studies. Students receive Mentorship on a real-world capstone project of their choosing and apply thought leadership and tools to simulations, case studies and their organizations.

In November 2022, forty-eight students graduated having completed their capstone projects, 11 of whom were nominated for the President’s Capstone Award. Final Award Winners included: 

•Heather McKelvey, Chief Executive Officer, Ripple (Ontario) for her project: “Integrating ESG into Small to Medium-Sized Enterprises”. 

•Amanda Baron, Legal Counsel, Metro Vancouver Regional District (British Columbia) for her project: “A Review of Climate Risk and Resilience Management at Metro Vancouver Regional District”. 

•Patricia Escobar, Sustainability Manager, University of Toronto Scarborough (Ontario) for her project: “Assessing the Sustainability of Operations at the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC)” 

•Rosalind Share, Principal, Canadian Sustainability Standards Board (Ontario) for her project: “Rubric to Evaluate an Asset Manager’s Net Zero Emissions Strategy”.

Preserving and Digitizing Canada’s Catholic Legacies

The John M. Kelly library has recently acquired the archives of the Scarboro Missions, the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities of Canada, and the Sisters of Service, whose legacies and histories will be expertly preserved and maintained alongside the special collections and archives of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities of Canada, Henri Nouwen, and the University itself.

The recent hire of a new digital archivist will support the long-term accessibility of digitized and born-digital records in the Kelly’s Special Collections. The new Digital Preservation Studio space will support the Kelly’s strategic objective of ensuring the long-term and continued accessibility of USMC’s digital archival collections, as well as the conversion of analog media into digital formats.

A New (Main) Course for Campus Dining

On June 1, 2023, Dana Hospitality took over food operations across USMC, promising a wider range of food options for students, faculty, staff and guests drawn from local and sustainable sources.

The decision to change food service providers came after careful consideration and extensive consultations within the university, including focus groups and surveys. A student representative was also included on the evaluation committee to ensure that student needs were being met.

Tending St. Mike’s Irish Roots

In May 2023, President Sylvester joined students in embarking on an international learning experience in Ireland as part of the Boyle Seminar, offered to first-years interested in the transmission of knowledge and preservation of intellectual culture during the medieval era.

During this trip, USMC signed an MoU with Maynooth University in Maynooth, Ireland. The MoU aims to create new opportunities for students and professors at both universities – such as the implementation of joint research projects, and the exchange of faculty and research staff members, and the possibility of establishing a new research institute led by Professor Mark McGowan. 

The signing of the MoU is an important step in strengthening USMC’s existing relationship with Ireland. USMC has close ties with Ambassador Eamonn McKee (current ambassador to Canada) and Janice McGann (Consul General to Canada), both of whom have been part of lectures and panels held at St. Mike’s on Irish culture, heritage and history.

President Sylvester also met with Canadian Ambassador to Ireland, Nancy Smyth, in Dublin to discuss USMC’s programs in Toronto and Ireland, and to discuss future cooperative opportunities.

Principal Morra also joined President Sylvester in touring the new Irish Cultural Centre in Toronto.

Loretto College: A New Chapter in its History with St. Mike’s

On May 1, 2023, USMC assumed management and operations of the Loretto College Residence, located  at 70 St. Mary Street. This agreement with the Loretto Sisters will allow USMC to preserve the Sisters’ legacy by continuing to offer a women’s-only residence on its campus under the Loretto Sisters’ name. St. Michael’s will now manage over 100 additional residence beds at Loretto and strengthen its partnership with the Mary Ward Centre for Education Spirituality and Justice, which hosts educational social justice programming in the building. The partnership also allows for the future expansion of student housing at St. Mike’s, helping to address the ongoing challenge of providing quality housing for university students.

A New Consolidated Budget Model and Strengthened Financial Sustainability

At the recommendation of the USMC Finance Office and the Collegium’s Finance & Audit Committee, the Collegium approved a balanced budget for USMC for the 2023-2024 Fiscal Year that has no reliance on investment income to fund its operations. This approach to USMC’s budget enhances the University’s financial sustainability by relating its costs with predictable and reliable sources of income instead of returns on its investments, upon which USMC has traditionally relied to balance its budget.

The Collegium also approved substantial changes to the University’s Endowment policies. These changes have made the endowment administration simpler, which will lead to easier reporting, greater transparency, and better communication with donors. 

St. Mike’s Welcomes a New Chancellor 

On June 12, 2023, Toronto Archbishop Francis Leo was installed as the newest Chancellor of the University of St. Michael’s College following his election to the role by the Collegium.  

Archbishop Leo has served in several roles within the Roman Catholic Church in Canada, the United States, and Australia. Prior to being named Archbishop of Toronto in February 2023, Archbishop Leo served as Auxiliary Bishop of Montreal.  

Archbishop Leo is the sixth individual to serve as Chancellor of the University. 

Campus Ministry and the Heart of St. Mike’s

The Continued Renewal of USMC Campus Ministry

Recently, the Office of Campus Ministry created a Student Campus Ministry Team which is a team of seven undergraduate and graduate students, including Jesuit scholastics. This team is trained and supported to provide holistic programming in line with St. Mike’s 180.

These past few months saw the opening of the new Campus Ministry Lounge, staffed by Campus Ministry student leaders. The lounge was developed with the intention of being a welcoming space for students, drawing in visitors with stimulating conversations and programming, games, and extensive peer support.

The Saturday evening University Mass was also reinstated this past academic year, welcoming students and community members into the liturgical life of St. Basil’s Church. 

A New Model for Student Leadership and Spirituality

Campus Ministry organized two successful retreats this past year.

In November 2022, students were taken on a spiritual retreat at MaryLake Shrine that equipped them with resources and tools for a deeper prayer life.

In April 2023, Campus Ministry collaborated with Campus Life to organize a retreat at Lake St. George Field Centre that focused on values- based leadership for senior student leaders. The 30 retreatants included student Campus Ministers, Orientation Leaders, Mentorship Coordinators, Commuter Coordinators, SMCSU, and Residence Council, and integrated the Mission, Vision, and Values of USMC into their goals, preparation, and programming for the coming year. 

Collaboration with Neighbourhood Religious Partners to Advance Education, Spirituality, Social Justice, and Reconciliation

In early 2022, a number of Catholic communities who are historically rooted or located in Toronto’s Cloverhill neighbourhood began discussing how they could collaborate on initiatives that arise from their shared missions. Today, The Cloverhill Collaborative: A Catholic Partnership Advancing Education, Spirituality, and Social Justice consists of: The Loretto Sisters, The Mary Ward Centre, Regis College, The Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto,  The University of St. Michael’s College, and the Basilian Fathers.

As a result of the Collaborative’s work, USMC’s Campus Ministry, working with the Sisters of Loretto and St. Joseph, organized a half-day Women and Girls’ Festival event in January 2023. The family-friendly event honoured women’s voices, created awareness of different local associations, and promoted the Catholic sisters’ contributions to Church and Society.

Campus Ministry also spearheaded the Listening to Indigenous Voices series, a monthly listening and learning series organized by the Cloverhill Collaborative. This four-part series uses the Jesuit Forum’s eponymous workbook drawing from the words and experiences of Indigenous peoples in the Canadian context. It began in January 2023, with an excellent turnout of 55 participants. The first run ended in April 2023. 

Thanks to the Friends of the Kelly Library, a New Space to Gather and Celebrate

In March 2023, the Kelly Library opened a newly- renovated multipurpose space (KL105), courtesy of the Friends of the Kelly Library, who contributed $130,000 toward the project.

The opening also included the launch of the Kelly Print Studio’s newest imprint, Judith. Celebrations included a lecture and reception in the library.

Judith is a limited-edition hand-sewn letterpress chapbook containing an excerpt selected, edited and adapted by Sheril Hook, Dr. Alison More, and Dr. Iris J. Gildea. Judith and Feminism: Contemporary Reflections addressed the place of feminism in the story of Judith and its modern-day links in the context of the #MeToo movement. 

Investing in Student Wellness Services and Supports

As a result of the Being Well at St. Mike’s campaign, a second wellness position – Manager of Community Wellness — was created in May 2023. The funds from the campaign aim to support students’ physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual well-being. The Being Well campaign has garnered $132,224.14 in donations and pledges. The creation of this second wellness role will allow USMC to support a larger number of students who are experiencing distress.

The new manager was hired with the goal of supporting the Wellness Counsellor, assisting students in navigating mental health services, and expanding current wellness programming and offerings.

Launch of the Alumnae Initiative for Women

U of T Alumni Reunion 2023 saw the launch of the Alumnae Initiative for Women (AI4W) with its Day of Learning Lecture Event  ‘St. Mike’s Women Talking About The Writer’s Life’, in conversation with Natalie Jenner (9T0), Laura Rock Gaughan (8T6), and Katie Marshall Flaherty (8T5).

AI4W is a group associated with USMC Alumni Affairs, and was created with the intent of creating spaces for women’s voices and opportunities at St. Mike’s. AI4W aims to engage, support, and bring together alumnae and promises to help shape the future of women at St. Mike’s.

St. Mike’s Shares Dante with the City

On May 25th, 2023, a donor appreciation reception was held to celebrate the opening of the Dante Garden – a significant landmark that has been installed at St. Mike’s depicting poet Dante Alighieri’s poem The Divine Comedy.

The ambitious installation, created by sculptor Timothy Schmalz, consists of 100 bronze panels, depicting each of the 100 cantos of the poem, as well as a bust of Dante with the poem’s first canto. Generous donations from Maurizio Bevilacqua and Tony and Lina Gagliano made acquiring the sculptures possible. 

Solidarity with Ukraine

In February 2023, one year after Russia invaded Ukraine, the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies co-sponsored, along with Lumen Christi, a “War in Ukraine” lecture by students which included 120 attendees. A “War in Ukraine” panel discussion co-sponsored with Lumen Christi and Fordham Orthodox Studies was also held, and included 61 in-person participants and 275 online.

The 2023 Service Awards Organized by Human Resources

On June 19, 2023, Human Resources organized the annual Staff Service Awards. A total of 16 individuals were recognized for years of service, and 5 received retirement awards.

Regis St. Michael’s Faculty of Theology Update

This past year was a historic year for both Regis College and St. Michael’s College, in that it was the first year of the existence of the Regis St. Michael’s (RSM) Faculty of Theology. The USMC Faculty of Theology and Regis federated in order to create a single centre of excellence in Catholic theological studies and formation. With that also came the appointment of a single academic dean, Prof. Jaroslav Skira and the integration of the students services teams into one unit geared to fostering a great student experience. 

This inaugural year began with the first ever joint student orientation. It was hosted at two locations, with the opening ceremonies and worship at Regis College followed by a social and meal at St. Michael’s College. This sharing of spaces became a way to celebrate the unique riches of each’s institutional cultures. Such respect for each other’s traditions saw weekly liturgies and student socials alternate between the chapels of both institutions. RSM academic meetings followed a similar pattern, where the faculty approved a common mission statement, while working together to harmonize degree and course offerings, as well as recruitment efforts. Changes to curriculum included common courses, cross-listing of courses to USMC’s undergraduate divisions, and increases in on-line courses and local and international experiential learning opportunities. 

The academic year saw a number of public lectures and events, from a panel of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development reflecting on how those on the margins could contribute to the Catholic Church’s synodal process; to a panel on the recent papal visit and processes of truth and reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous peoples. Similar theological commitments to social justice were reflected in lectures on racism, colonialism and the care of creation.

St. Michael’s College Update

This past academic year saw students and faculty returning to in-person learning on campus with their characteristic dedication and success. Over 5,300 of UofT’s Faculty of Arts & Science students had St. Mike’s as their home college last year. More than 2,200 students enrolled in St. Michael’s College courses in the 2022-23 academic year, and nearly 700 enrolled in one of our sponsored programs. The strength of these figures demonstrates our ability to provide uniquely interdisciplinary and engaging learning experiences to a diverse study body.
In keeping with the strategic mission of St. Mike’s 180, we continue to build upon our strengths as well as to seek out new areas for curricular development. In the coming academic year, we are expanding our course offerings to more than a hundred, eight of which are brand new. These new courses will enhance the opportunities of our students from across the disciplines to come together to explore and develop academically and to carry that learning into their lives and society.

“Theology from the Existential Peripheries” event hosted at USMC

USMC hosted a public panel entitled Doing Theology from the Existential Peripheries, on November 10, 2022, which presented research findings from a project created and overseen by the Dicastery on Promoting Integral Human Development. The event was well-attended, with over 300 participants gathering in-person and online. The project aims to deepen the teachings of Pope Francis, as well as renew Catholic theology, by listening to those on the margins of the church and society. An online recording of the event is available on YouTube

Reflecting on Pope Francis’ Visit to Canada and Reconciliation

In March 2023, the Fraser Centre at Regis St. Michael’s Faculty of Theology hosted a panel reflecting on Pope Francis’ visit to Canada in the summer of 2022. The event included indigenous representatives from the Michipicoten First Nation and Ojibway First Nation, and discussed next steps towards truth and reconciliation.  

Exhibitions in the Kelly Library

The 2017 exhibition, Dante’s Journey Through the Visual Arts, was remounted in September 2022 and will be in place until December 2022. This exhibition supported the 2022 Dante Lecture and opening of the Dante Gardens. This exhibition is curated by Theology Librarian Noel McFerran, with conservation support from Processing Technician Gosia Zajkowska.


In January 2023, an exhibition showcasing and celebrating unique and rare items donated to the Kelly Library by the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute (MASI) opened in January 2023 and ran through April 2023.

In May 2023, an exhibition highlighting the 170th anniversary of USMC opened in the library in support of Reunion Weekend. This new exhibition is curated by USMC Archivist Jessica Barr.


Annual Report of the President to the Collegium 2022-23