Boundless Milestone

November 10, 2014

Welcome, everyone. Thank you for joining us. I would like to join George in thanking the members of the Campaign Executive, and in acknowledging the campaign’s Honorary Chairs, for their guidance and dedication.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is an exciting time to be a part of the U of T community. And tonight we celebrate a new milestone in the Boundless impact of the University of Toronto as a force for good in our world.

The Boundless campaign, launched officially just three years ago, is helping to open new horizons of exploration for our researchers. And it is boosting our ability to provide an excellent and accessible education for our students.

Because of your vision, generosity, and commitment – and that of many thousands of our alumni and friends – the University of Toronto is looking to the future with great confidence, as Canada’s leading institution of advanced research and research-intensive education, and as a truly global hub of learning and discovery.

This evening, we have assembled a tremendous panel of U of T students, faculty, and alumni – individuals who exemplify the remarkable culture of innovation and entrepreneurship that has blossomed on our three campuses in recent years. But to place this panel in its broader context, I would like to reflect on some of the ways the campaign is strengthening the University.

In particular, I would like to offer some great examples of how our supporters are advancing the three priorities I identified for the University at the outset of my term as President just over one year ago. Our goals in advancing these priorities are to enhance our standing as Canada’s leader in research-intensive undergraduate education, and in graduate education, and to enhance our standing as one of the world’s great research universities.

The first priority is to leverage our urban location more fully, for the mutual benefit of the University and the surrounding city-region.

The University of Toronto plays a crucial role in the success of the Toronto region. We contribute billions to the regional economy with benefits that extend far beyond our communities. We are a hugely powerful magnet for investment – and, most importantly, for talent. In turn, we benefit immensely from our presence in the world’s most diverse and harmonious urban region.

The Boundless campaign is building this two-way relationship, through a number of landmark gifts that are strengthening the University, while enhancing social and economic prosperity across the region. At U of T Mississauga, Terrence Donnelly and Carlo Fidani have enabled the creation of the Mississauga Academy of Medicine, which has established close partnerships with health care institutions in Mississauga and the western GTA. And the City of Mississauga has provided a major investment to help build the Innovation Complex, which houses the Institute for Management and Innovation – a splendid new facility that we opened officially just last week.

At U of T Scarborough, the campaign is supporting the creation of Highland Hall – an auspicious new focal point for student services, community engagement, and the social sciences.

On the St. George Campus, a new home for the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design is being created through the transformation of One Spadina Crescent. This extremely exciting project is being realized thanks to the generosity of many alumni and friends, but especially thanks to the leadership of John and Myrna Daniels, whose gifts are the largest ever made to a faculty of architecture in Canada. This new and renewed building will be a home for research and teaching on the design arts, architecture, and city building.

The second of these top priorities for the University is to strengthen our international partnerships.

The University of Toronto enjoys partnerships with leading institutions in every major urban region of the world – including New York, London, Paris, and Berlin, but also Beijing, Singapore, Mumbai, and São Paulo. According to the latest count, our scholars collaborate with over 1,200 institutions in more than 950 municipalities around the world. These relationships are generating new knowledge to help address the great global challenges of our time.

The Munk School of Global Affairs provides a singular example. Created through a monumental pair of gifts from Peter and Melanie Munk, the Munk School embodies the vision that Canadians can and should play a leading role in shaping our understanding of the global economy, global governance and social movements. Munk School faculty and students have become prominent participants in debates on the most important developments of the 21st century – like the shifting balance of global power; cyber security and internet censorship; the role of innovation in the world economy; and the rise of the Asia-Pacific region.

Our third of three top priorities in the years to come is to re-examine, and perhaps even re-invent undergraduate education.

Ultimately the University’s greatest contribution to the prosperity of the Toronto region, to Ontario, and to Canada is in the education of successive generations of young people. Given the astonishing rate of change in the digital age and the increasing pressure to produce “job-ready” graduates, we must keep working hard to provide the highest quality education to our students.

Over the past decade we have undertaken a fundamental transformation of undergraduate teaching and learning at U of T. To that end, among many other innovations, we have multiplied small-group learning opportunities. These include first-year foundational programs at our distinctive colleges, federated universities, and newer campuses.

These trailblazing initiatives – known collectively as the “ONE” programs – have received support from great champions of the University who are motivated by their passion for accentuating the distinctiveness of our wonderful “neighbourhoods”. For example: Richard Rooney’s support of New College; Rose Patten’s generosity to Woodsworth, support to Victoria College provided by Blake Goldring and Hal Jackman; James Mossman’s gift to University College; and Anne Steacy’s generosity to Trinity.

Through these gifts – and tens of thousands of other gifts – the supporters of our Boundless campaign are enabling the rise of the University of Toronto to an ever more prominent role locally and globally. You are helping extend the global reach and impact of cutting-edge U of T research. And you are providing the resources needed to provide the best education possible for our brilliant students, the emerging and future leaders of our country and of our world.

In sum, the people in this room – along with the many thousands of other alumni and friends who are supporting our shared mission – are providing the wherewithal to help us prepare global citizens and to meet global challenges.

Ladies and gentlemen, as you know, we invited you here this evening to celebrate our reaching the one-point-five-billion-dollar milestone in our campaign. I am delighted to announce to you now, that, through the Boundless campaign, we have not only reached that milestone, we have surpassed it quite significantly. To advance the teaching and research missions of the University of Toronto, as of today, we have raised one billion, five hundred and ninety-four million dollars!

We have come so far, and we have built up tremendous momentum. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Vice-President David Palmer and his team for their terrific work in organizing the campaign. But David and his team would be the first to point out that you are the reason for our great success so far – you and the 8,400 volunteers and nearly 87,000 donors supporting the Boundless campaign.

As George said, we still have some distance to go. But, on behalf of the entire University of Toronto community, I thank every single person in this room tonight, and our entire, incredibly generous community of supporters, for bringing us to this height.