In April 1951, Joey Tanenbaum left first-year civil engineering to join his father’s steel company. But his initial foray into the working world didn’t last long.
Tanenbaum returned to classes a year later – against his father’s wishes – and went on to graduate second in his class, with a BASc, in 1955. He says going back to school was the smartest thing he’s ever done.
Now, Tanenbaum and his wife, Toby, want to ensure a new generation of students can afford to attend university, and have pledged $1 million to establish the Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Admission Scholarships in the department of civil engineering. The gift will be matched in part by the faculty’s Academic Excellence Fund to create a total endowment of $1.5 million for scholarships. Cristina Amon, dean of the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering, said the new scholarships will help the department of civil engineering attract “exceptional students” who could become “the leaders of tomorrow and contribute to the technological innovation, economic development and prosperity of Canada.”
The Tanenbaums are well known for their philanthropy: they have donated significant art collections to the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Art Gallery of Hamilton and the Royal Ontario Museum, and are also major supporters of the university. “You’ve got to give back to the community when you’ve done well,” says Tanenbaum, whose grandparents left Poland with their two children in 1911. “I am a first-generation Canadian. We were brought up to give back to Canada and appreciate what this country has done for us.”