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. This is a great sign of hope for the University of St. Michael's College
, for University of St Michael's College Faculty of Theology
, for Catholic Higher Education in Canada and for the Canadian Church.
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.
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.
“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.
Congratulations, Dr. Sylvester! We look forward to working closely with you in the months and years to come! We need your intelligence, leadership, energy, vision, diplomacy and Catholic witness in Canada, in Toronto, at the University! You will be at home among us! We have much good work to do together!
(Photo of David Sylvester with Timothy Schmalz's sculpture of homeless man; courtesy of London Free Press)