A gala event marking the Asia-Pacific launch of the Boundless campaign and honouring U of T’s decades-long relationship with people in the region drew more than 250 alumni and friends to the W Hotel in Hong Kong in October.
The sold-out celebration, co-hosted by U of T president David Naylor and alumna Daisy Ho (MBA 1990), also recognized two significant gifts to the fundraising campaign. Ms. Ho, who chairs the University of Toronto (Hong Kong) Foundation, has given $2 million to support visiting scholars and undergraduate exchanges – initiatives that are seen as central to the university’s goal of improving the student experience in an era of globalization.
Her gift will fund two specific projects: an Award for Emerging Leaders at the Rotman School of Management, designed to attract the brightest international academic fellows; and a major new undergraduate program to encourage student research projects on contemporary China and student exchanges with Chinese institutions.
Ms. Ho, who is now deputy managing director of Shun Tak Holdings, says she never studied harder in her life than when she attended Rotman. “I think what helps me to push myself along in my career is the perseverance and the determination that U of T instilled in me,” she says. “It is indeed a lifelong education.”
David Palmer, U of T’s vice-president, advancement, also announced a $4-million gift – from an anonymous donor – to establish a chair in Chinese-Canadian Studies at University College. “The chair will be the cornerstone of a new program to promote understanding and awareness of the significant contributions of Chinese-Canadians to our country,” he said.
The chair will reinforce another long-standing initiative supporting cultural exchange – the University of Toronto (Hong Kong) Foundation scholarships, which have brought more than 60 students to U of T from Hong Kong since 1995. “These scholarships have changed lives and opened doors of opportunity that otherwise have been beyond the means of promising young leaders,” Palmer said.
David Naylor noted that collaboration between U of T faculty members and their peers in the Asia-Pacific region goes back more than a century. U of T faculty and students have also benefited from dozens of inter-university partnerships across the Asia-Pacific region, from MBA exchange programs to engineering collaborations.
Today, more than 10,000 international students attend U of T, with about 75 per cent of them coming from China, India, Japan and other Asian countries. “This mix of students, ideas, perspectives and disciplines is more important than ever before,” Naylor said. “The global challenges we face together are complex, multifaceted and interconnected – from our substantial thirst for energy, to the vitality of urban regions; from cyber security to food security.”
The celebration was one of a number of U of T events designed to celebrate and strengthen the engagement of alumni and academic partners in the region. President Naylor spoke at the Science and Technology in Society Forum in Kyoto, Japan, hosted an alumni event at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo, and delivered a keynote address to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, which drew the highest attendance in its history.
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