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Ryerson University appoints Dr. Mohamed Lachemi as president and vice-chancellor.Jessica Blaine Smith

Dr. Mohamed Lachemi was officially appointed as president and vice-chancellor of Toronto's Ryerson University Thursday, ending roughly 18 months of searching for the right candidate.

"It's a very special feeling," he said. "I know the community and place very well."

Dr. Lachemi is already familiar with the position, though: For the past four months he served as interim president after Sheldon Levy left to pursue ambitions as deputy minister at Ontario's Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

His career at the university spans 18 comprehensive years, involving a position as a highly acclaimed professor of civil engineering and dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science. He also held a Canada Research Chair for eight years. Some of his research involves the study of superior technologies.

Ryerson has experienced significant development over the past 10 years – you can't miss its presence walking down Yonge Street – and it's that legacy of growth that Dr. Lachemi's wants to carry forward.

"We are going to continue the momentum," he said. "It's important the trajectory continues upwards."

Innovation, as a result, is at the top of his priority list as president, he said.

"The agenda for innovation is expanding. And this is one area where we can play a bigger role in making sure we give our students, but also our city, the opportunity to be a hub for innovation."

Dr. Lachemi was incremental to the school's Digital Media Zone, a "business incubator" linking the next crop of innovators to opportunities across the country.

He recently helped establish a biomedical partnership with St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto to "tackle issues related to the health care sector," he said.

Dr. Lachemi will assume his presidency on April 4.