Great universities are defined in large part by the achievements of their alumni, and U of T is fortunate to have incredibly accomplished graduates around the world, in every walk of life.
But while we know the individual stories of many of our former students, we know very little about how our alumni collectively are contributing to their communities. And so, this spring, we’ve embarked on a mission to find out – by seeking information from every single one of the university’s more than 500,000 living graduates.
It’s our hope that by creating a clear picture of the scope and scale of our alumni’s activities, we will better understand the impact of the entire University of Toronto community in the Toronto region, Canada and the world.
We already have a good sense of the university’s contributions to research, teaching and the economy. U of T consistently ranks among the top 25 universities – and top 10 public institutions – in the world. We employ 23,000 people across our three campuses, and our faculty members and graduate students attract $1.1 billion in research funding each year. Over the past two years alone, 48 companies have been spun out of U of T research and hundreds of inventions have been developed here throughout the university’s history. In all, U of T’s annual economic contribution to Canada is estimated at $15.7 billion.
But these numbers – as impressive as they are – don’t reflect the immense impact of our alumni. It is this part of the U of T story that we would like to tell more fully.
By now, many of you will have received an email asking you to participate in a 15-minute Alumni Impact Survey. The invitation comes from Malatest, a market research company we have engaged to assist with the project.
The survey includes specific questions about your employment and civic engagement. It asks whether you have started a company, received any patents, published a book, served on a board or spent time volunteering. There will also be space for you to tell us about activities that we may not have listed. Are you a caregiver or a coach, for example? Do you help out at your local church, synagogue or mosque? Humility may be a virtue, but we ask you to suppress your modesty! The whole point is for us to be able to document your accomplishments fully and accurately.
We are treating this survey as an academic undertaking. The analysis will be rigorous, and all individual answers will be kept private and secure, unless we receive your express consent to share them. Our own internal team, led by Shiri Breznitz, a professor of economic geography at the Munk School of Global Affairs, and Vivek Goel, vice-president, research and innovation, guided the development of the survey and will help analyze the results. Later this year, we will share what we have learned with the entire university community.
Other top-ranked universities have conducted similar surveys, so we’ll be able to compare our results with those from Harvard, Stanford and MIT, to name a few. This will be a significant asset as we seek to enhance U of T’s international reputation and attract the world’s best students, researchers and teachers to the university. At a time when other countries are turning inward, U of T has a unique recruitment opportunity as a beacon of diversity and inclusion.
Knowing more about your contributions will further strengthen U of T’s reputation locally, nationally and globally, which in turn will heighten the value of a U of T degree. This will serve both the university and its individual alumni in mutually beneficial ways. It will also help us in our ongoing conversation with policy-makers and taxpayers about the value of public investments in post-secondary education.
The Alumni Impact Survey presents a rare opportunity for us to learn more about your story and to reveal the true and profound value of a University of Toronto education. We hope you’ll be inspired to take part.