Trained in Mediaeval history at New York’s Fordham University, a Jesuit institution, Sylvester has also been appointed a full professor in the St. Michael’s Mediaeval studies program. Photo courtesy of King's University College

Dr. David Sylvester appointed to head St. Michael’s College

  • March 1, 2018
St. Michael’s College has its man.

Canada’s largest Catholic university has scooped up University of Western Ontario, King’s College president Dr. David Sylvester to lead the institution through the next five years.

“St. Mike’s has a great history,” Sylvester told The Catholic Register shortly after his appointment was announced March 1. “It has been the centre in Canada, for 166 years now, of the Catholic intellectual tradition.

Half of the Catholic universities and colleges in Canada grew out ofSt. Michael’s…. I’m overjoyed to have the opportunity.”

Sylvester replaces David Mulroney as president and vice chancellor beginning Aug. 1. Mulroney announced last summer he would not be seeking an extension to his three-year term which began in July 2015. Mulroney had come to St. Michael’s after serving as Canada’s ambassador to China from 2009 to 2012.

Sylvester said he his looking forward to the challenges inherent in his new post.

“No (university) president in their right mind enters post-secondary education, especially Catholic post-secondary education, looking for retirement or calm,” he said. “They’re looking for a dynamic relationship with students and faculty and the board and the community. That’s what St. Mike’s is about and I can’t wait to get involved.”

Cardinal Thomas Collins, chancellor of St. Michael’s, said he is “delighted” Sylvester is joining the school as its eighth president.

“Dr. Sylvester is eminently qualified to fill this important role, given his already numerous contributions to Catholic higher education. I have no doubt that he will be committed to serving the students and faculty faithfully and diligently, drawing on his vast experience from King’s University College, Corpus Christi College and St. Mark’s College.”

Collins also paid tribute to outgoing president Mulroney, who, he said, “has provided inspiring leadership, weaving the thread of faith through his work and his presence on campus. His passion for Catholic higher education is evident and he has successfully introduced a number of initiatives that will bear fruit for years to come.”

Trained in Mediaeval history at New York’s Fordham University, a Jesuit institution, Sylvester has also been appointed a full professor in the St. Michael’s Mediaeval studies program. He doubts he will be able to teach during his first year, but hopes to be at the head of a classroom once he has settled into his new administrative role.

“I’ve been a teacher since 1984, both high school and university,” he said. “That’s what I am, first and foremost. So the opportunity to teach within the Mediaeval program — to be fair, I can’t wait to contribute whatever I can administratively or in scholarship or from an academic point of view to building up Mediaeval studies at St. Mike’s.”

Sylvester’s career in administration began as president of Vancouver’s Corpus Christi College in 1999. In 2005 he added St. Mark’s, the Vancouver Basilian theological college, to his duties as president. Since 2009 he’s been president of King’s University College where he helped raise $15 million for new buildings, programs and student aid.

He is the former chair of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities of Canada and the Canadian representative to the 200-member Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities based in Washington, D.C.

“I can speak for my colleagues in expressing my great excitement at Dr. Sylvester’s appointment,” Basilian Fr. Don McLeod, chair of the University of St. Michael’s College’s governing collegium, said in a press release.

St. Michael’s was founded in 1852 by four Basilian Fathers invited to Toronto by Bishop Armand-François-Marie de Charbonnel. It is home to nearly 4,000 undergraduates and about 250 graduate students. Its faculty of theology is part of the Toronto School of Theology.

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