Dr. David Sylvester appointed President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of St. Michael’s College

Dr. David Sylvester has been appointed the 8th President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of St. Michael’s College (USMC) in the University of Toronto. The appointment was made by Very Rev. George Terence Smith, C.S.B., Superior General of the Congregation of St. Basil, upon the recommendation of the governing board of the university, the Collegium, following a Special Meeting held on February 15, 2018.

Dr. Sylvester comes to USMC as one of Canada’s most experienced leaders in Catholic higher education. Since 2009, he has served as the Principal of King’s University College at Western University, having been renewed for a second term in 2014. Before coming to King’s, Dr. Sylvester served for a decade as the founding President of Corpus Christi College and as the Principal of St. Mark’s College at the University of British Columbia.

Across these institutions, Dr. Sylvester has been praised for his strong commitment to answering the needs of students, fulfilling the Catholic mission of the institution, ensuring it has the financial and operational capacities required to succeed, and leading through example and through consensus-building and collaboration with faculty, staff, students, alumni, and members of the broader community. Upon his arrival at King’s, Dr. Sylvester led a record-breaking $15-million-dollar fundraising effort in support of new buildings, programs, and student aid; expanded and enhanced academic programming through ambitious hiring and new, dynamic local and international partnerships; and reinvigorated the university’s relationships with its alumni and community supporters.

“I have known David Sylvester personally for many years, and in my capacity as the Chair of Collegium, I believe I can speak for my colleagues in expressing my great excitement at Dr. Sylvester’s appointment. He has the vision, ambition, and creativity needed to ensure that the University of St. Michael’s College flourishes in the years to come, living out its historic and contemporary mission,” said Fr. Don McLeod, C.S.B., Chair of the USMC Collegium.

Alongside his presidential appointment at USMC, Dr. Sylvester has been appointed full Professor, Teaching Stream, in the renowned Mediaeval Studies program that USMC sponsors for the Faculty of Arts and Science at the University of Toronto. A social economic historian, Dr. Sylvester’s area of research focuses on the nature of community in the middle ages, with a particular interest in how the culture of medieval port towns was shaped by environment related to the activities of shipping, trade, fishing, and piracy. He holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. in medieval history from Fordham University, New York City, has taught in the departments of history at the University of British Columbia, Corpus Christi College, and Fordham University, and has been a tenured associate professor in the department of history at King’s since 2009. He continues to publish on the medieval English urban confederacy known as the Cinque Ports and is a member of the Medieval Academy of America, among other professional associations. He is the current Chair of the Governance Committee of Universities Canada and a member of the Boards of the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences and the Boston College Institute for Administrators in Catholic Higher Education. He is the past Chair of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities of Canada (ACCUC) and since 2012 he has been the Canadian elected representative to the Board of the two-hundred- member Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities based in Washington, D.C.

“I am very excited to be coming to St. Michael’s,” said Dr. Sylvester. “It’s an institution with a storied history and passionate and influential alumni and supporters. St. Michael’s is both an independent Catholic university and a federated partner of one of the world’s leading public research universities. It has a distinctive identity and position in North American higher education, and I have worked with many members of the USMC community throughout my career as both a university administrator and a scholar. Committed to educating the whole person, St. Michael’s provides an opportunity to teach, research and serve out of a 2000-year-old living tradition of inquiry and exploration. I can’t wait to meet my new colleagues and get to work!”

Dr. Sylvester and his wife Dr. Allyson Larkin, Associate Professor of Social Justice and Peace Studies at King’s, are parents to four children, and they will celebrate their 27th wedding anniversary this summer. He takes up his appointment, for an initial five-year term, on August 1, 2018.

For media inquiries, please contact Fr. Don McLeod, C.S.B., Chair, Collegium, at 780-492-9447 or dm47@ualberta.ca


About the University of St. Michael’s College:

Founded in 1852 by the Congregation of St. Basil at the invitation of the Bishop of Toronto, the University of St. Michael’s College provides an excellent undergraduate experience at the heart of Canada’s greatest research university. It offers a close-knit community out of its Catholic identity while welcoming people of all backgrounds.

The College’s historic and picturesque campus is located steps from the array of cultural, entertainment and sports attractions available in Toronto, one of the most diverse and vibrant cities in the world. St. Michael’s provides its community and the greater University of Toronto with the Kelly Library and with a wide range of student activities and services. Marshall McLuhan, Etienne Gilson, and Jacques Maritain are among the leading scholars who have taught at St. Michael’s, and the College’s alumni include the Rt. Hon. Paul Martin, M.P., P.C., Tony Comper, the former President and Chief Executive Officer of BMO Financial Group, Victor Dodig, President and Chief Executive Officer of the CIBC group of companies and Olympic gold medalist Lori Dupuis.

Fully federated with the University of Toronto, St. Michael’s is also a university in its own right. Its graduate Faculty of Theology is one of the largest theology schools in North America, and its Continuing Education Division offers an extensive selection of courses and certificate programs. St. Michael’s is also home to the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute and the world-renowned Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies.