It has been a great honour and privilege to lead the University of Toronto. I am proud to have served one of North America’s finest universities as its 14th president and to have continued the tradition of building on its high standing. Its excellent faculty, superb staff, outstanding students and dedicated alumni and friends make it a great institution, which I firmly believe has even greater potential for its future. The University of Toronto plays the same leadership role in Canada that the University of California, Berkeley, does in the United States and I feel most fortunate for having the opportunity to lead them both. I am deeply grateful for the privilege of having served the University of Toronto as its president and am both inspired and humbled by the opportunity to head Berkeley.
I greatly regret that the timing of this opportunity has not allowed me to complete my term as president of the University of Toronto. However, I believe that over the past four years we have accomplished together a tremendous amount and are well on our way to achieving the goals of “Excellence, Equity and Outreach,” which I articulated at the time of my installation. Our vision for the University of Toronto to rank among the world’s best public research and teaching universities has begun to influence and shape public discussion of post-secondary education in Ontario and in Canada. I am hopeful that the review of post-secondary education currently being conducted by former premier Bob Rae will make the case for the level of public funding that is necessary to support a world-class post-secondary education system here in Ontario. We have developed an exemplary academic-planning framework, “Stepping Up,” and our academic-planning process is well underway.
We have increased substantially our needs-based financial aid to students, thanks in considerable measure to the support of our donors, making a great education truly accessible to any student accepted to the University of Toronto. We have successfully accommodated Ontario’s “double cohort” students and engaged in the largest faculty renewal and capital expansion initiatives since the 1960s. During my term, we have hired some 500 new faculty members and undertaken some $700 million in capital construction across our three campuses. Our east and west campuses have experienced historical structural changes that will influence their development for years to come. At my installation, I announced that we were increasing our fundraising goal from $575 million to $1 billion. We have reached that goal one year ahead of schedule. We have in place an extremely talented and diverse team of vice-presidents who are working together with real synergy to meet the challenges that lie ahead. We have established a momentum for looking outward and reaching higher that will most certainly continue under their strong leadership.
It has been a wonderful personal privilege for both Mary Catherine and me to serve our alma mater. We were warmly welcomed back to the University of Toronto. We have met many extraordinary and wonderful people, all linked in different ways to this outstanding institution. I have experienced enormous personal growth over the last four years as your president. My time at the University of Toronto has prepared me well and given me confidence for the next set of challenges. As grateful alumni, Mary Catherine and I will always remain indebted to this “great good place” and we will continue to support it proudly in every way that we can.
A U of T lab is working with actors, writers and directors on how they could harness AI and other emerging technologies to generate new ideas and – just maybe – reinvent theatre