University of Toronto

Office of the Chancellor

Mentor Recognition Reception

February 13, 2017

Good evening, and welcome everyone. It’s wonderful to be here.

I’m particularly delighted to help recognize and thank our U of T mentors, and to thank the UTAA and Alumni Relations for organizing this event and providing this opportunity.

As Chancellor, I’m a volunteer, too. And I think one of the best ways to comment on the contributions of volunteers is to add context. To frame just how important mentorship is to the University.

Back in December, U of T had the great pleasure of hosting many of our alumni and friends for a landmark celebration. We announced that we had reached our historic goal of $2 billion for Boundless: The Campaign for the University of Toronto.

At the same time, we announced that we’ve extended the campaign to the $2.4 billion mark. The campaign has built up incredible momentum. We’re experiencing an ongoing surge of support for U of T—and we want to accommodate all those who want to take part.

That level of support is a real comment on the values of our community. The generosity of our alumni and friends in giving of their time, energy and resources. And our shared vision for the future of the University of Toronto.

That same generosity, that same vision, is epitomized by all of you here today. As mentors, you may not have been thinking in terms of contributing to some grand institutional enterprise. You were no doubt thinking simply about helping young people get off to a good start in their careers.

But the cumulative result of great numbers of people acting selflessly and contributing thoughtfully always adds up to something much more. In our case, a great university. Because great universities are an expression of the societies that sustain them. The University of Toronto is an expression of you.

On that night in December, we provided a few big numbers to try and convey the magnitude of what our community had achieved together. One was 94,736 — the number of donors to the Boundless Campaign at that point.

Let me give you another one that is directly relevant to our event today — 4,280. That’s how many mentors were involved with students—in the past year alone! That is an absolutely remarkable figure!

These numbers speak to a profound connection between the University and the community we serve. Mentoring in particular is so fundamental to U of T’s identity that it is clearly aligned with all three of the University’s strategic priorities: Leveraging our urban location; strengthening international partnerships; and rethinking undergraduate education.

This connection and shared commitment is also reflected in one of U of T’s proudest achievements. Yes, we are consistently listed as one of the world’s top 25 universities. And we are second behind only Harvard for research output. But what is so unique about U of T is that among the world’s great public universities that remain truly accessible to students of all backgrounds—U of T now stands virtually alone.

That is a tremendous achievement and it’s only possible thanks to the spirit of generosity and giving back that we are celebrating here today. Our mentorship programs help make U of T truly exceptional.

And, for both students and alumni, mentorship strengthens the bonds of the worldwide U of T family across generations—building on what it means to be an alum of this great, good place.

Thank you so much for what you have done and continue to do for our students. Thank you so much for contributing to this remarkable university. And thank you for giving so much to our community and for the leadership example you set.