A Toronto couple with a deep commitment to social justice and the welfare of children has donated $15 million to the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto. The gift is the largest ever made to a social work faculty in North America.
The donation from Lynn Factor, a social worker for 25 years, and her spouse, Sheldon Inwentash (BCom 1978 New College), will establish 50 graduate student scholarships and five endowed chairs. In recognition of the donors, the faculty will be renamed the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work.
Dean Cheryl Regehr calls the gift “groundbreaking,” and says it will help the faculty attract a diverse and talented group of students as it expands its master’s program from 215 to 355 places. “The scholarships will help ensure that the additional graduate spaces are accessible to students from all backgrounds,” she says.
The five new chairs will help maintain the student-professor ratio as the faculty expands, and will foster research in such important areas as children’s mental health and child welfare and protection, as well as immigration and the law, says Regehr. “The kind of preventive work done in child welfare is hugely beneficial for Canadian society, as well as the kids and families who are actually being helped.” Factor has worked for much of her career in child protection and child welfare. “Social workers are concerned with the least advantaged in our society,” she says. “With our gift we hope to advance the profession and cause of social work.”
Inwentash, a Bay Street financier, says the gift has given him an opportunity to thank U of T for the education he received, and he hopes it will shine some attention on a sometimes overlooked but much-needed profession. “With this gift we have the chance to give something back to this great university.”