A selection of President Gertler's speeches and institutional publications on the theme... Regional and Urban


  • 2018
  • THE World University Rankings 2019: Toronto is happy at home September, 2018

    It is frequently said that our world is becoming smaller. Advances in information and communication technologies, coupled with the rise of social media, have seemingly made geographical separation a much less significant obstacle to social interaction. The global reach of multinationals has spread their economic influence around the world.

  • The University and the City: A Mutually Beneficial Partnership September, 2018

    I recently had a nightmare. It is 2030, five years after a perfect storm has forced the city’s universities to close. Universities saw their public funding reduced substantially over time, as part of the effort to tackle the provincial deficit. Tuition fees were abolished in the belief that this would expand access. Universities’ pension plans faced huge unfunded liabilities, requiring onerous extra payments to be diverted from increasingly depleted operating budgets. The Ministry required more courses to be offered online and demanded that degree programs be just three years in length, to reduce costs and to speed graduates’ entry into the workforce. …

  • President’s statement on the Danforth Avenue shooting July, 2018

    On behalf of the University of Toronto community, I offer my deep sympathy and condolences to the families of the two people who died in the mass shooting on The Danforth on the evening of Sunday, July 22 and to the victims who are now recovering. The Danforth is one of Toronto’s most vibrant communities, […]

  • Statement on the Attack in Toronto April, 2018

    Yesterday we received the heartbreaking news that one of our students has died as a result of the van attack in our city on Monday. I wanted to say at this time how deeply saddened we are, and how concerned we are for the victims of the attack and their families and friends.


  • 2017
  • In support of Central European University April, 2017

    I write as President of the University of Toronto to express our community’s alarm and dismay at the recent vote in the Hungarian parliament supporting legislation that would, in effect, shut down Central European University in Budapest.

  • Big Ideas @ Rotman – Tech North January, 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, 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
  • Boundless Campaign Celebration December, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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.

  • Statement on the events in Orlando June, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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. 

  • San Francisco alumni reception March, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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.

  • Students and scholars at risk September, 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, 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

  • Universities and Smart Cities: A Global Perspective January, 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, 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.


  • 2014
  • President’s Statement on violence and threats against women December, 2014

    Violence against women is a despicable reality in Canada and around the world. We must take every opportunity to condemn it and work tirelessly to bring it to an end. Many of you are disturbed, as I am, at news of anonymous online threats targeting women at our university. In response to these specific threats, […]

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

  • Big City, Big Ideas September, 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.

  • Address to the Toronto Region Board of Trade May, 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.

  • CivicAction: Forum on regional transportation April, 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

    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.

  • Canadian Studies Book Celebration January, 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
  • Installation Address November, 2013

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