In conversation: Randy Boyagoda

The Varsity sits down with the new principal of St. Michael’s College
The new principal of SMC. NATHAN CHAN/THE VARSITY
The new principal of SMC. NATHAN CHAN/THE VARSITY

St. Michael’s College will soon welcome a new principal.

The college announced that Randy Boyagoda will be stepping into the role of principal and vice-president of the University of St. Michael’s College effective July 1.

Boyagoda has had a lengthy career in education, including work as a postdoctoral fellow and assistant professor of English at the University of Notre Dame, as a professor of American Studies at Ryerson University, as the chair of the English department at Ryerson, and most recently as the Director of Zone Learning at Ryerson.

The Zone Learning program at Ryerson University is a new take on education; it inserts startup culture and methodology into a classroom setting, allowing students from different fields to come together and create something new and exciting.

“My job for the past three years has been to help grow this program to create opportunities for students basically to live out the mission of the university beyond the classroom. In year one we had thirteen students in one zone, three years later we have 650 students in ten zones,” he explained. “I’m an English professor. It isn’t because I’m a tech guy or a business guy, it’s because we saw the energy and creativity involved with startup culture an opportunity to take Ryerson’s kind of mission to provide career relevant, professionally-engaged education and reimagine it for the 21st century.”

Standing by the welcome sign. NATHAN CHAN/THE VARSITY

Standing by the welcome sign. NATHAN CHAN/THE VARSITY

Boyagoda thinks of Ryerson University as a school that is constantly trying to improve and wants to bring this spirit of self-improvement to St. Michael’s College.

“How can we ever better a place when [mass communications theorist Marshall] McLuhan was here and [French philosopher] Etienne Gilson was here? You know, I think instead the idea here is to be inspired by that history and to believe and to work to make sure the best years are ahead for our students, our faculty, and our staff,” he said.

Having completed his undergraduate degree at U of T in 1999, Boyagoda is no stranger to the campus, and reminisces about his personal experience while attending U of T as an undergrad.

“I think what I enjoyed about being here is, it’s sort of like pitching from Yankee stadium, right? I mean, this is a school like no other in Canada and like a few in the world and the range of educational experiences and intellectual opportunities at U of T are amazing.”

Boyagoda also noted that the college system at U of T is important for offering different types of communities and compensates for the school’s large size.

“In that mix, St. Mike’s has a really important role to play, I think. Providing what I would describe as an inclusive and demanding place, we want the very best of you, we believe in you, we believe in what you want to do and that means living out the fullness of your aspirations as a student and a person.”

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