University of Toronto

Office of the Chancellor

BMO Financial Group National Scholars Dinner

March 20, 2017

Many thanks, Rose, for your generous introduction. On behalf of everyone here from the University of Toronto, I would like to thank you and BMO Financial Group for hosting this celebration.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted to be in the company of so many outstanding members and friends of the U of T community. It’s wonderful to see such a large turnout. I extend greetings to BMO Financial Group National Scholars, past and present; BMO Financial Group employees, who have been so supportive of the National Scholars program over the years, as donors and volunteers; and the many members and friends of the U of T community here this evening, including senior representatives of the University and its faculties and colleges.

We are here tonight to celebrate this year’s BMO Financial Group National Scholars. We are very proud to call these brilliant women and men U of T students. And in coming years, they will no doubt join their fellow BMO Scholars in leadership roles in Canada and around the world.

I am pleased to say that U of T was the first university to participate in the BMO Financial Group National Scholars program. And on this 30th anniversary of the program, our relationship with BMO remains one of the University’s most significant and valued partnerships. Together we are advancing our shared mission to support well-rounded students who combine academic excellence with community, artistic, or athletic achievement.

Our BMO Scholars hold tremendous promise, not only for their own life-long success, but also for the economic and social prosperity of our communities, our country, and the world. It is a privilege to be involved in their education.

Before continuing, I must say that there are few individuals who have given more of their time and talent to the University of Toronto and its students than Dr. Rose Patten. Over the past two decades, Rose has played a very important role in the University’s progress and accomplishments.

As chair of the Governing Council, she advanced policies that made U of T more family-friendly and improved the lives of our students, faculty, and staff. She cares deeply about our students, their financial challenges, and their potential, and has supported bursaries and awards across the University, providing access to higher education for so many deserving students. She has also generously shared her wisdom as a mentor – a truly invaluable contribution.

In these and other ways Rose has opened doors for individuals and strengthened communities, while setting an inspiring example for all of us. Indeed, it occurs to me once again this year, that Rose embodies all of the qualities of a BMO Scholar! So, Rose, on behalf of the University, I would like to thank you for all you have done for U of T and, in particular, for the BMO Financial Group National Scholars program.

Rose continues as a prolific volunteer for the University, including as a member of the Executive Committee of our Boundless campaign. I’d like to take this opportunity to share the good news that U of T made history this past December when we announced the Boundless campaign had achieved its two billion goal, and that, because of its incredible momentum, we’ve expanded the campaign to achieve a total goal of $2.4 billion. All of it goes to support our teaching and research missions, including additional financial aid for students. To put these numbers into context, of the thousands of universities worldwide, only 31 have successfully raised $2 billion or more in a campaign and just fifteen public universities have raised that amount.

We compete on this level because of the generosity and vision of donors like the BMO Financial Group. Our success is a testament to your belief that what we do here matters to Canada and the world. Thanks to BMO Financial Group, the University of Toronto has been able to offer one of the most prestigious and impactful scholarships in Canada. And our BMO Scholars, many of whom are in the room tonight, are making important contributions, nationally and internationally, in a host of fields – from engineering to business to medicine to the arts.

For example, in the short time since Jasmeet Sidhu was a BMO Scholar at U of T she has become an international leader in media and the arts. Over the past decade, she has worked as a filmmaker, writer, entrepreneur, and creator of visual content. Her various projects have taken her across the globe and won many awards and accolades. At just 21, Jasmeet was named one of Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women, the youngest recipient in the history of the award. She also received the prestigious Michele Landsberg Award for Women, and is regularly profiled in top magazines and newspapers in Canada and beyond.

Clearly, she is uniquely talented! But Jasmeet is part of a great tradition of BMO Scholars at U of T. Member of this year’s cohort represent an impressive range of disciplines at the University: anthropology, engineering, music, environmental studies, history, mathematics, and the sciences, among other fields.

As in past years, our most recent BMO Scholars are not only excellent students, they are also highly creative and committed to giving back to their communities. They are advocating for mental health and a clean environment. They are award-winning writers, musicians, athletes, and dancers. And they are world travellers. With their spirit of innovation and their international outlook, these exceptional young people offer an inspiring glimpse into a bright future for Canada and for the global community.

Congratulations to our 2016-2017 BMO Financial Group National Scholars, and to all of our U of T BMO Scholars here tonight. Going forward, you’ll follow many different paths, but wherever the road takes you, I have no doubt you’ll continue to make us proud.

Again, thank you, Rose, and thank you BMO Financial Group, for hosting this event. I look forward to many more such gatherings.

Ladies and gentlemen I invite you now to enjoy your dinner.