Jackman Humanities Announcement
May 16, 2007
Chancellor Emeritus Hal and Maruja Jackman, Chancellor David Peterson, distinguished friends, esteemed colleagues and students, special guests—good afternoon and welcome.
Thank you for joining us to mark an important occasion for the University of Toronto.
It is my great pleasure to announce today that the Honourable Henry N.R. Jackman and his wife, Maruja, will make a $15-million gift—their second in five years—to the university in support of humanities education and research. Today’s gift will double their previous commitment to the humanities to an unprecedented $30 million. This is the largest investment in the humanities from an individual in the history of Canadian universities.
- The gift will help create a new home for some of the university’s key humanities departments and centres, through the renovation of the Medical Arts Building, which will be named the Jackman Humanities Building.
- It will strengthen U of T’s competitiveness in recruiting top graduate students through the establishment of a graduate fellowship fund.
- It will be a catalyst for interdisciplinary humanities research and teaching activities through the creation of the Jackman Humanities Institute.
Moreover, I am proud to announce that the University is double-matching the Jackmans’ gift. What this partnership thus signals is a cumulative $90.5-million investment in the humanities at the University of Toronto.
The humanities have a long and impressive history at the University of Toronto. Our founding charter called for the “education of youth in the various branches of science and literature,” although I doubt that John Strachan and the others involved in establishing the University of Toronto would have imagined that literature one day would be taught here in more than 40 languages.
As a field of scholarship, the humanities include languages, of course, but also philosophy, history, religion, anthropology, the classics and the visual and performing arts. Their enduring relevance lies in their cultivation of the capacity for clear, critical and imaginative thought. In a world of shrinking distances and global competition, the humanities teach us much about bridging cultures and negotiating the often thorny terrain of human relationships. In addressing questions of suffering, of human dignity and the justice of our social responses, the humanities also offer heretofore unconsidered perspectives on the world’s most pressing problems. “The constructs of the imagination tell us things about human life that we don’t get in any other way,” Northrop Frye, the great U of T literary critic, once said.
Increasingly, exciting new insights occur at the intersection of disciplines, and U of T’s humanities programs are at the forefront of this trend. Enrolment in humanities courses has soared more than 80 percent since 2000—a testament to the excellent reputation of our humanities scholars, the breadth and depth of courses available, and our world-class library holdings.
So, there is much at stake in promoting the study of the humanities. And this is why today’s announcement is so significant.
- The Jackmans’ philanthropy pays tribute to an institutional legacy of excellence in humanities research and education.
- It contributes in vital way to our mission to give our students the pre-eminent university they deserve, enhancing our capacity to educate future generations of humanists.
- It also speaks to the true spirit of the benefactors—who are among this country’s leading philanthropists in the arts and education.
Hal and Maruja, we are profoundly grateful to you for your vision of what this institution can be—and for your tenacity in challenging us to meet your commitment. The breadth of intellectual and cultural accomplishments that will be catalyzed as a result of our partnership will play a powerful role in cementing U of T’s position as one of the truly great universities of the world, dedicated to advancing the full range of human understanding.
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