David Palmer unveils largest fundraising campaign in Canadian university history David Palmer unveils largest fundraising campaign in Canadian university history Nana Arbova

Last Sunday evening at Convocation Hall, the University of Toronto launched Boundless, a $2 billion fundraising campaign and the largest in Canadian university history. ”Canada must have universities that can achieve two related goals: conduct the advanced research that will help solve the grand challenges humanity now faces, and offer the best and brightest students an exceptional education to help them build a better world,” said President David Naylor.

Boundless was officially launched this week, but fundraising campaigns never really end. The previous campaign officially ended in 2003, and since then nearly half the target--$966 million--has been raised. “It goes on and on,” said former U of T Chancellor Hal Jackman. “The campaign starts, which means everyone should come to the trough again to give. After so many years you have to have another campaign so that they’ll come again.”

U of T has a large trough. The school has a global network of over 500,000 prospective donors and alumni spread across 174 countries.

Although U of T usually fares well in global rankings, it does so despite financial constraints. In activating this huge potential donor pool, Boundless can work to put U of T on a more equal footing with its competitors. “We’re very, very good, in spite of having low per capita funding,” said U of T Chancellor David Peterson. “We’re funded way below the per capita funding of the schools we compete with - the Oxfords, the Harvards.” While Oxford and Harvard are private universities, U of T’s total revenue per full-time student is indeed about 41 per cent lower than average for publicly funded peer institutions in the United States.

“We are studying in the province with the highest tuition fees, lowest per-student funding, and largest class sizes,” said Danielle Sandhu, President of the University of Toronto Students’ Union. “We need to increase political pressure on the government to ensure adequate funding for our colleges and universities and we can do this by engaging in joint lobbying with our university administration.”

Meanwhile, Boundless exemplifies Chancellor Peterson’s vision of U of T as a global institution. Both of its “central pillars” use the word “global”: Preparing global citizens and meeting global challenges. The first pillar will prepare students who look out toward the world. The second pillar involves research and teaching, including attempts to attract world-class minds and a new generation of “rising star” faculty.

“There are an endless number of projects involved,” said Chancellor Peterson. “It’s broken into 23 campaigns. It’s bricks and mortar, but more importantly it’s student assistance - it’s chairs, it’s research. It affects all parts of the university.” Now various departments and divisions are creating their own priorities and goals.

Here is how the funds will be divided according to the campaign’s priorities: $650 million for faculty, including the creation of more than 200 new chairs, professorships and “rising star” faculty positions; $500 million for student programming and financial aid, which will be divided into $300 million for graduate and undergraduate financial assistance, and $200 million for student-focused initiatives, such as smaller learning communities, international internships, research grants, international exchanges, and peer mentoring; $450 million for research and programs, including a range of priorities including acquisitions for libraries and cutting-edge research projects; and, $400 million for infrastructure, such as libraries, classrooms, labs, study spaces, athletic facilities and public spaces across all three campuses.

And while Sandhu has concerns about the influence philanthropists will carry, Terrence Donnelly, whose name is attached to the U of T Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular research and who had recently donated $12 million dollars for the Mississauga campus’ new Health Sciences Complex, is optimistic of U of T’s role in the future, “It’s onward and upward. I think there are new fields of research that are becoming evident and branching off of what we’ve already discovered. I think the horizon is unlimited. This campaign is about growth and about future success in areas we can’t even imagine.”

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  • Subtitle: U of T announces $2 billion fundraising goal
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