A Place to Reimagine the World
U of T’s Boundless campaign is helping the university – and Canada – shine as a beacon of inclusion and hope
By Meric Gertler
As detailed in this issue of U of T Magazine, I am delighted to report that we have met and exceeded the very ambitious goal we set for ourselves in 2011, when we launched the University of Toronto’s historic fundraising campaign, Boundless.
At the time, we did not expect to surpass the campaign’s $2-billion target so quickly. We did not predict the unprecedented number of volunteers, or the record level of alumni engagement, that it has attracted. Nor could we have predicted the many new opportunities that our deans, principals and other academic leaders would uncover to extend U of T’s impact as a global powerhouse of learning and discovery.
As Boundless progressed, we identified Three Priorities for the university, to help us achieve our strategic plan. First, we are leveraging our three locations in one of the world’s most vibrant and dynamic city-regions, for the mutual benefit of the university and the city. Second, we are strengthening our partnerships with leading peer institutions around the world, to provide more opportunities for our students to gain international experience and for our faculty members to collaborate with global colleagues. And third, we are reimagining undergraduate education, better enabling our students to make the most of their experience at U of T to help them prepare for a lifetime of success.
These Three Priorities have been embraced energetically across our three campuses and throughout the university. And the success of the Boundless campaign has created an unprecedented wave of momentum.
In light of this, recently I announced that, with the unanimous support of our volunteer Campaign Executive Closing Committee, and our Principals and Deans Advisory Group, we have decided to expand the Boundless campaign to achieve a total goal of $2.4 billion for the advancement of the University of Toronto.
As I’ve said before, U of T defies gravity. This institution somehow competes with, and even outperforms, some of the greatest (and wealthiest) universities in the world, with a small fraction of their budgets. And we remain staunchly committed to ensuring that all qualified students can complete their studies at U of T, regardless of their financial means.
Through the expansion of Boundless, together we can reach even higher – as a world leader in regenerative medicine, genomics, computational medicine and machine learning; as a hub of new thinking on the future of the Toronto region and other major urban regions around the globe; as a key source of groundbreaking research across the humanities, the sciences and the social sciences; as a massive engine of innovation and entrepreneurship; and as a global portal for the talent, creativity and collaboration on which the future of our world depends.
We launched Boundless in the wake of the Great Recession, a time of enormous uncertainty in the world. We believed that the challenges of that time gave us all the more reason to press onward. And our alumni and friends rallied to the cause.
The year 2016 has also been a time of astonishing and unsettling change. Some of the world’s most powerful and progressive countries are turning inward, and the temptation to build walls and burn bridges seems to be unstoppable. In my travels on behalf of the university, I hear my international colleagues express concern. But they also express their admiration – for U of T, and for the wonderfully successful experiment in diversity we call Toronto.
And so, in a new time of challenge, we are once again presented with an opportunity. It is Canada’s moment to shine, as a beacon of inclusion and hope. These values are our values, as Canadians and as members of the global U of T community. We have so much to contribute, so much more we can accomplish together, to help reimagine the world – as a world of equality and justice, health and prosperity, wisdom and wonder.
I invite you to join us in this new and final stage of our campaign for the University of Toronto. And I thank you for the historic, boundless progress that you have made possible.
Adapted from a speech delivered December 8 at Varsity Centre.