C. David Naylor Scholarship Reception

January 16, 2015

Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Meric Gertler, and I have the distinct privilege of serving as the 16th President of the University of Toronto. Thank you for joining us for this celebration of the C. David Naylor Scholarship program.

I will introduce the inaugural recipients of the scholarship momentarily. At this time let me extend special greetings to President Emeritus David Naylor, in whose honour the scholarships were established. David will speak later in the program. But for now, welcome, David.

Ladies and gentlemen, the C. David Naylor Scholarship program was established to support some of our most promising students, on the basis of not only their academic merit but also their leadership excellence. Recipients will have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement and leadership potential in fields such as sports, music, social enterprise, volunteerism, and entrepreneurship.

In celebrating these amazing new scholarships, the University is very grateful to Susan and Arthur Scace (who, unfortunately, could not be with us here today). Both proud alumni of Trinity College and outstanding citizens of the University, they, along with the Henry White Kinnear Foundation, are the principal donors to this program. Their leadership encouraged others to give, so that deserving Canadian students might have the opportunity to focus fully on their studies and on developing their own leadership skills here at U of T.

At this point let me also acknowledge that there were many other friends and colleagues who contributed to the scholarship fund, some of whom have joined us today. While there are too many to recognize by name – which is, by the way, a nice problem to have! – let me say how grateful we are for your generous support, in helping realize this truly visionary new scholarship program.

Together you and our principal donors have made it possible for the University of Toronto to award entrance scholarships of $20,000 to six brilliant Canadian students this year. This is a landmark accomplishment, a wise investment in our emerging leaders, and a great milestone in strengthening our ability to attract the best and the brightest from coast to coast. These outstanding students are much sought after by every university on the continent.

Five of the six inaugural recipients are with us this afternoon. I will now introduce them briefly, and I would ask them please to wave as I read out their names and area of study: Ms Valerie Chu, Life Sciences; Ms Liz Gross, Public Policy; Mr. Bhareth Kachroo, Engineering Science; Mr. Luke Kyne, Life Sciences; and Mr. Imran Ladak, also studying in Life Sciences.

To all of you, on behalf of the University of Toronto community, I offer hearty congratulations! This is a wonderful achievement.

The sixth recipient, Ms Anna Ye, is pursuing a degree in Engineering Science. She could not be here today, as she is attending the Engineers Without Borders national conference in Montreal as we speak. She regrets missing the opportunity to thank those of you who contributed to the scholarship in person, and she sent us the following note: “I am inspired by the donors’ generosity and am determined to work hard during my four years at U of T so that one day I can pay it back by investing in someone else’s education.”

Now, ladies and gentlemen, we have a treat: one of our inaugural recipients is going to say a few words about what the scholarship – and the generosity behind it – means to him. As I mentioned, Mr. Imran Ladak is studying in the Life Sciences program here on the St. George campus. He is passionate about human rights, and for the past few years he has volunteered extensively in his school and his community.

Please join me in welcoming him to the podium. Imran…

Thank you, Imran, for your inspiring words – and congratulations again, to you and all the inaugural recipients of the C. David Naylor Scholarship.

In our program today, it was natural and fitting to begin by thanking our generous donors, and then to focus on our scholarship recipients and on the goals of this new, landmark scholarship program. But now, David, I’m afraid the time has come for a few words about you.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is a profound honour to serve as President of the University of Toronto. For me, this is so partly because of the character and accomplishments of those who held the position before me – not least among them, the 15th president and my immediate predecessor.

David Naylor is relentlessly and famously committed to excellence. He demonstrates that commitment in every position he holds, in every task he undertakes, and in the impressive range of fields in which he is either a leading expert or a brilliant amateur (in the true sense of the word).

His contributions as President were broad and deep, and will long outlast his presidency. (And notice that for the sake of brevity, today I am leaving out the rest of his record in the senior leadership of this University, and his influence as a public policy advisor, on public health, innovation, and health care, among other things.)

From Towards 2030… to Boundless… to the building boom on our three campuses… to the strengthening of the undergraduate experience… to our brilliant new culture of innovation and entrepreneurship… to the background work that ultimately led to the Canada First Research Excellence Fund… and there are so many other things I could mention… David Naylor has made a profound impact on the advancement of the University of Toronto as Canada’s leading institution of research and research-intensive education, and as one of the world’s greatest universities.

Now, David would be the first to object – emphatically – by pointing out that credit for these accomplishments is due to many leaders, past and present, at U of T and across the post-secondary education sector. I agree that this is true. But, David – and please forgive me for this – your role in all of these achievements was critical, and everyone knows it.

Alright now, David, you’ve suffered long enough. Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, please welcome C. David Naylor.