A selection of President Gertler's speeches
and institutional publications.


  • 2017
  • President’s Statement on the Events in Quebec City January 30, 2017

    The University of Toronto community has reacted with shock and sorrow at news of the appalling shooting at a mosque in Québec City. Our heartfelt condolences go out to the families and friends of those killed or injured. On behalf of the entire University of Toronto community, let me also offer our support to the […]

  • Big Ideas @ Rotman – Tech North January 27, 2017

    We’ve gathered here to consider the next steps in building the Toronto-Waterloo corridor into one of the world’s top technology clusters by 2025. That might sound like a tall order, late on a Friday afternoon. But we have some great foundations to build on, to realize the vision of Tech North.

  • Truth and Reconciliation Entrustment Ceremony January 13, 2017

    As we embark upon a year of celebration to mark the 150th anniversary of Canada’s confederation, we cannot lose sight of the work that needs to be done before we can truly celebrate a country that welcomes the centrality of Indigenous peoples.


  • 2016
  • President Emeritus David Strangway, In Memoriam December 15, 2016

    The University of Toronto’s David Strangway, who led U of T as president from 1983-1984, died yesterday. He was 82. Strangway was the only person to serve as president of both U of T and the University of British Columbia. He was also the chief geophysicist for NASA in the 1970s, leading the analysis of moon rocks collected by Apollo astronauts.

  • Boundless Campaign Celebration December 8, 2016

    Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. We are here tonight because we share a love for the University of Toronto, a commitment to its academic mission as one of the world’s great public universities, and a belief in its vital importance to our country and our planet. We are here because U of T plays a major role in our lives, and because we know that, in supporting U of T, we are playing our own role in the history of this great, good place.

  • International Collaboration: A Role for Universities and Urban Regions in Fostering Global Prosperity November 4, 2016

    Thank you also to President Lin for the invitation to join you today and the privilege of offering this keynote address. It is a great honour.

    I am delighted to be back in Beijing and deeply grateful for the warm hospitality I have received here over the years. Indeed, Beijing truly embodies the spirit and optimism of this Forum. I hope my remarks this morning continue in that spirit. In particular, I want to speak to the Forum’s sub-theme: mutual trust, cooperation, and sharing.

  • Statement on Recent Acts of Anti-Semitism October 20, 2016

    The University of Toronto’s St George campus has recently witnessed blatant acts of anti-Semitic vandalism. We deplore these abhorrent acts. We will support those affected, investigate or assist in the investigation of apparent crimes, and forward any evidence to the Toronto Police for their assessment.

  • Statement on Free Expression October 19, 2016

    Recent events on our campuses have led us to reaffirm the University’s commitment to free speech and to highlight, once again, two critical features of this commitment.

  • Catalyzing Innovation: Cities, Collaboration, Connections, and Commitment. September 26, 2016

    Address to the 6th Americas Competitiveness Exchange on Innovation & Entrepreneurship.
    This morning, I want to talk about what I will call the four ‘C’s: cities, collaboration, connections, and commitment. In particular, I want to investigate how these four ‘C’s combine to foster innovation in our regions.

  • A strategic moment for Canada July 21, 2016

    At a time when the world is riven by sectarian conflict, violence, and intolerance, Canada is emerging as a beacon of stability, openness, tolerance and inclusion. While the turbulence abroad poses significant threats globally, we stand to benefit if we play our cards right.

  • Thank you to the community June 13, 2016

    On behalf of the University, I want to thank all members of the community – students, faculty, staff and friends – who responded calmly and quickly to the event on our St. George campus. And I also want to extend our thanks to the Toronto Police Service and our Campus Community Police for their fast […]

  • Statement on the events in Orlando June 13, 2016

    The University of Toronto community has reacted with horror and grief at the news of the mass shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando. Our heartfelt condolences go out to all those who are mourning the loss of family and friends, and those who have been injured in this immense tragedy.

    Our thoughts are also with our LGBTQ community here at U of T and in the greater community across Canada and around the world.

  • Statement on Anti-Semitism and Racism May 11, 2016

    The values of diversity, inclusion, respect, and civility are fundamental to the University of Toronto. Discrimination or harassment of individuals or groups based on race, religion, ancestry, place of origin, ethnic origin, citizenship, or any other identity as stated in the University’s Statement on Human Rights is intolerable.

  • Innovation Creativity and Urban Regions – Address at the Utrecht Town Hall April 11, 2016

    For my remarks, I would like to build on some of what my esteemed colleagues have said and offer five policy considerations for successful cities. I recognize, of course, that success takes many different forms and has many different ingredients. Each region will have its own unique characteristics – perhaps this is something my colleagues and I might address in the question and answer session.

    Nevertheless, the five policy considerations I will propose are, in my view, essential to building and growing innovative, successful city clusters. They are based on my ~15 years of research with David Wolfe and colleagues at the University of Toronto.

  • Administrative Response to Report on Sexual Violence April 5, 2016

    The report of the Presidential and Provostial Committee on Prevention and Response to Sexual Violence was released on February 2nd. Comprised of tri-campus representatives from among students, staff and faculty, the committee and its three working groups were tasked with establishing a set of recommendations to prevent and respond to sexual violence at the University of Toronto.

  • Beyond Divestment: Taking Decisive Action on Climate Change March 30, 2016

    Late in 2015, the President’s Advisory Committee on Divestment from Fossil Fuels issued its report on a petition urging the university to divest fully from direct investments in fossil fuel companies.  Today, the university is releasing its response to the advisory committee report. 

  • The 150th Anniversary of the German Department March 29, 2016

    I am delighted to join you tonight to celebrate this remarkable milestone, and to extend congratulations on the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Department of German on behalf of the University of Toronto!

  • San Francisco alumni reception March 3, 2016

    Ladies and gentlemen, let me say how truly delighted I am to be back in San Francisco, one of the world’s most beautiful and dynamic cities. Given where we are meeting, in the middle of what is arguably the world’s most innovative urban region, I thought you’d be interested to hear about recent developments in Toronto’s innovation ecosystem, and the very important role your alma mater is playing in it.


  • 2015
  • Report of the Advisory Committee on Divestment from Fossil Fuels December 16, 2015

    On March 6, 2014, Toronto350, the University of Toronto chapter of the larger 350.org movement, presented the Office of the President with a petition requesting that the University of Toronto fully divest from direct investments in fossil fuels companies within the next five years and to stop investing new money in the industry. This is the report of the Presidential Advisory Committee struck to consider the petition.

  • Urban Regions and Universities December 1, 2015

    It is increasingly clear that this relationship between cities and universities is critical to our collective prosperity. In fact, my argument today will be a simple one: Global cities in partnership with global universities are building the foundations of our collective future prosperity. While there is growing recognition – both in China and in Canada – that urban regions are fundamental sources prosperity, I believe that their importance remains under-appreciated. I am going to argue this afternoon that this is going to change.

  • President’s Statement on Diversity and Inclusion November 20, 2015

    Diversity, inclusion, respect, and civility are among the University of Toronto’s fundamental values. Outstanding scholarship, teaching, and learning can thrive only in an environment that embraces the broadest range of people and encourages the free expression of their diverse perspectives. Indeed, these values speak to the very mission of the University. They spark education, discovery, and understanding and so take their place among humanity’s greatest forces for good.

  • Statement on the attacks in Paris November 15, 2015

    The University of Toronto community shares the shock and sadness felt around the world in response to the deadly attacks in Paris on November 13, 2015. Our thoughts are with those whose loved ones were killed or injured, and with all the people of France. In particular, our thoughts are with U of T students, faculty, staff, and alumni who are from France or who have friends and loved ones there.

  • The Engaged University: The Role of the University in the City October 8, 2015

    It is simply extraordinary to see how many things have changed since I was an undergraduate student here. There is a fantastic vibe at McMaster and throughout Hamilton these days.

    In fact, this afternoon I want to talk about that vibe and how McMaster is both helping to create it and benefiting from it. I will argue that McMaster and its host city-region of Hamilton are a striking example of an increasingly important global phenomenon.

  • Students and scholars at risk September 15, 2015

    We have watched news of the Syrian refugee crisis with overwhelming distress, sorrow, and frustration. Our reaction has been all the more visceral, particularly here at the University of Toronto, as we witness the disproportionate impact on young people and children.

  • Foundations for Canada’s Future Prosperity May 22, 2015

    My main argument is a simple one: at a time when our traditional sources of prosperity are being challenged by both cyclical and longer-term change, we need to instigate a local, provincial, and national conversation about where our future prosperity will come from

  • President’s Statement on the Earthquake in Nepal April 28, 2015

    The University of Toronto community extends its condolences to the people of Nepal and to the Nepalese community in the Toronto region, to all those who are mourning the loss of family and friends, and those who have been injured or left homeless after the devastating earthquake and its aftermath. We encourage any students who […]

  • In Memory of Professor George Luste March 23, 2015

    Colleagues across the University of Toronto community, and well beyond, are saddened to learn of the death of Professor George Luste.

  • In Memory of Professor George Connell,
    President Emeritus of the University of Toronto
    March 14, 2015

    With the passing of Professor George Connell, the University’s 12th president (1984-1990), the University of Toronto community has lost a great leader, scientist, colleague, and friend.

  • In Memory of Dr. John Evans, President Emeritus of the University of Toronto February 13, 2015

    The University of Toronto receives the news of the death of Dr. John Evans with sadness at our collective loss, and gratitude for his decades of contributions to diverse facets of Canadian society.

  • Universities and Smart Cities: A Global Perspective January 28, 2015

    The University of Toronto is proud of the ongoing collaborations between our Munk School of Global Affairs and the ORF. This partnership brings together premier foreign affairs think-tanks from India and Canada. It involves international thought leaders from the academy, from industry and the non-profit sector, from the public service and all levels of government. And it extends beyond the borders of our two great nations into international collaborations.

  • Universities and City-Regions: A Partnership for Innovation and Opportunity January 22, 2015

    Universities and city-regions collaborate on many of the themes at the very heart of the Intercultural Dialogue Institute: community building, peace-building, social innovation, opportunity, and prosperity.
    But before I get too far ahead of myself, let me start with an image from the past… Imagine that you are standing at the corner of Bay and Richmond looking east.

  • C. David Naylor Scholarship Reception January 16, 2015

    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.


  • 2014
  • Canada First Research Excellence Fund Announcement December 4, 2014

    Prime Minister, on behalf of the University of Toronto, and on behalf of my colleagues at universities and colleges across the country: Thank you for sharing this very exciting news with us, and thank you for your government’s leadership in the advancement of globally competitive, Canadian research and innovation.

  • National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women December 4, 2014

    Twenty-five years on, the violence against women committed on December 6, 1989 is no less shocking. And it is no less a challenge to our society.

  • Announcement of the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research November 20, 2014

    Ted Rogers said, “There are always lots of opportunities, if you persevere and aren’t afraid to take chances. But the important thing is that you have to work very hard and take risks.” Given the number of people affected by heart disease in Canada and around the world, we need to take Ted Rogers’ advice.

  • Boundless Milestone November 10, 2014

    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.

  • Teaching and Learning Symposium Keynote November 3, 2014

    It is a privilege to be offering the keynote at such an important event – particularly given the distinguished nature of the audience today.

  • AUCC Optimizing Innovation Conference Keynote October 28, 2014

    The City and The University: A Partnership for Innovation Download the full text and slides as a PDF… Check against delivery Good evening – thank you for that kind introduction, David. I am delighted to be here to address this wonderful and distinguished audience. I am particularly happy to acknowledge, Ambassador Barak, Esteemed guests from […]

  • University of Toronto Scarborough 50th Anniversary October 5, 2014

    I am simply delighted to be here and help mark such a major milestone in the history of the University of Toronto Scarborough.

    We are celebrating not just UTSC today, but the entire U of T family – and the gathering this afternoon is a tangible manifestation of that fact.

  • Richard Nunn Portrait Unveiling September 29, 2014

    Ladies and gentlemen, the portraits in this room, and those in the halls leading up to it, remind us that the University of Toronto is a great academic community comprised of people, collaborating in our shared missions of teaching and research.

    Of course the portraits also represent their individual subjects. In this, they remind us of the unique character of each of these leaders. And in so doing, they convey the ethos of this wonderful community of learning and discovery, to which we are so privileged to belong.

  • Big City, Big Ideas September 18, 2014

    On 29 May of this year: had the pleasure of speaking at TRBOT on ‘The University & the City’, to a full room of civic leaders. I made the case that a strong University helps build a strong city, and vice versa: a strong host city enables a university to excel nationally and internationally.

    I want to dig a little deeper into the same themes this afternoon.

  • Trinity College Matriculation Convocation September 9, 2014

    Chancellor Graham, Provost Moran, Chancellor Wilson, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen: I am honoured – and delighted – to bring greetings to the Trinity College community, as President of the University of Toronto. To the members of the matriculating Class of 2018, welcome! We are so pleased that you have chosen to share the adventure […]

  • 1914-1918 In Memoriam July 31, 2014

    Ladies and gentlemen, visitors to this campus are struck by its marvellous buildings, old and new. Invariably they pause at a uniquely dignified landmark, at the heart of it all. The Soldiers’ Tower…

  • Global LGBTQ Human Rights: In Conversation June 20, 2014

    The University of Toronto has a long—and proud!—history of advocacy on LGBTQ issues; marked by an important string of ‘firsts’. While there are too many for me to list here, I will touch upon a few highlights.

  • Norman Bethune Sculpture Unveiling May 30, 2014

    Ladies and gentlemen, Dr. Norman Bethune stands forever as one of our most famous alumni, and as an extraordinarily accomplished graduate of our Faculty of Medicine. World renowned in the history of humanitarianism, he served and continues to serve as a key bridge between Canada and China.

  • Address to the Toronto Region Board of Trade May 29, 2014

    I want to spend the next 20 minutes or so making the case that the partnership between universities and the Toronto region is crucially important – and often misunderstood.

    I also want to present the case for why it makes sense to grow and deepen this partnership, for the mutual benefit of both the University and the city, and talk about some ways to achieve this.

  • 16th Berkshire Conference on the History of Women May 23, 2014

    Histories on the Edge Convocation Hall On behalf of the University of Toronto, I am honoured to be here and to welcome you to the 16th Berkshire Conference on the History of Women — Histories on the Edge We have been joined this evening by a number of remarkable leaders at the University, in the […]

  • TechKnowFile Opening Remarks May 7, 2014

    Techknowfile owes some of its importance to what I might call, with apologies to Gordon Moore, Gertler’s Law. That is: The number of IT related challenges and opportunities at the University of Toronto doubles every two years.

  • Milestone Service Awards Reception May 7, 2014

    During my time at the University of Toronto as professor, Dean and now as freshly-minted President, I have been struck by the high calibre and remarkable commitment and loyalty of those who work at the University. For a quarter-century or more, you have helped to define the nature and quality of U of T, and you have provided such a great service to the people of Toronto, Canada, and beyond.

  • The Honourable David Peterson, Portrait Unveiling April 30, 2014

    Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Council Chamber in historic Simcoe Hall and to a
    wonderful celebration of our Chancellor Emeritus The Honourable David Peterson.

  • Science Leadership Program conference April 23, 2014

    I would like to make three, related and perhaps slightly contentious observations about science engagement and education in Canada. There isn’t anything particularly new in these observations, at least not for this audience. But I think I can offer an interesting perspective: that of a former Dean and now current President of Canada’s largest research-intensive university.

  • SOSCIP Impact: 2014 April 14, 2014

    The technology is the bridge that brings everyone together, but it is the distinctive collaboration among an extraordinary cluster of talented, creative, and hardworking individuals that are helping us advance fundamental research and develop new solutions and tools.

  • CivicAction: Forum on regional transportation April 2, 2014

    I am so pleased to be here with you this evening. And I am delighted that this discussion is taking place here at the University of Toronto. As I said in my Installation Address five months ago, the University has a social obligation to collaborate with local partners in addressing the most compelling urban issues of the day. Tonight’s gathering is a perfect example.

  • Faculty of Medicine Retreat April 2, 2014

    Over the next twenty or so minutes, I would like to share two key messages with you. The second message – about partnership – will comprise the lion’s share of my remarks.

    But my first message is this: Thank you. Thank you for your leadership… for your scholarship, mentorship, and clinical expertise… for your commitment to research, and research-intensive education… for your dedication to your students, your colleagues, your patients, your hospitals, your University, and your extended communities.

  • Varsity Athletes Luncheon March 28, 2014

    I am delighted to be here this afternoon to celebrate our outstanding Varsity athletes.It has been another extremely rewarding year for the Blues, and you have each carried our colours with talent and dedication. This past season has seen its share of individual and collective victories, glorious achievements, personal bests and proud podium moments.

  • Comparative and International Education Society conference March 11, 2014

    Over the next few days the world’s leading authorities on education will address a theme of great importance – “Revisioning Education for All”. It is a marvellous opportunity for all of us to share our experience and expertise, and to move forward together in realizing this goal.

  • MLK Was Here February 12, 2014

    In the autumn of 1967, Dr. King delivered the seventh set of Massey Lectures. Established by the CBC, the Massey Lectures are an annual five-part series of talks by a distinguished scholar on a topic of contemporary interest and import.

  • Creative Destruction Lab Awards February 7, 2014

    Seeing the Creative Destruction Lab in action was fascinating, and truly exciting. We use the word ‘innovation’ a lot – no doubt because it’s of fundamental importance to our economy and to our society. But it’s amazing actually to witness ‘new things’ coming into being, through the exchange of ideas, insights, and expertise.

  • Outstanding Native Student of the Year January 27, 2014

    I am delighted to be here today to participate in this award ceremony alongside families, elders and invited guests — who have all gathered to celebrate the achievements of this afternoon’s recipients.

  • Royal Society of Canada Fellows and Medalists reception January 23, 2014

    Once again, U of T scholars have had a remarkable year. An unprecedented four faculty members were recognized with medals and a research award; and nine more have joined the ranks of the nation’s premier scholarly society as fellows.

  • Canadian Studies Book Celebration January 22, 2014

    Thank you, Donald [Ainslie], for that very kind introduction. Thanks also, to you and the leadership team here at University College, for your outstanding work. And special thanks to Emily Gilbert, director of the Canadian Studies program, for her leadership, and in particular for launching this great initiative. Ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted to […]


  • 2013
  • A Celebration of the Remarkable Life of Nelson Mandela December 13, 2013

    Nelson Mandela is a towering figure in the history of the world. As our first speakers have made clear so eloquently, Mr. Mandela epitomized courage, integrity, and wisdom. His unflinching dedication to human rights for all people – in the face of unimaginable personal suffering and injustice – remains a singular inspiration. His example is a source of hope and optimism in a

  • Installation Address November 7, 2013

    20th … 8th … 2nd … 1st … and last. That is the paradox that is the University of Toronto.