University of Toronto

Office of the Chancellor

Rotman Commerce: 90 Years of Excellence

May 28, 2014

The Hon. Michael Wilson, P.C., C.C., B.Com., LL.D.
Chancellor of the University of Toronto

Thank you, Professor Corts, for that kind introduction, and thank you for inviting me to speak. Ladies and gentlemen, I’m delighted to join you this evening. This is the ultimate homecoming event for me.

As Chancellor of U of T, I have the pleasure of attending many events at my alma mater. When I was Chancellor of Trinity, I attended many events at my old college. But tonight, as a BComm grad, I’m actually back in my old program – it doesn’t get closer to home than that!

Looking ahead to this event, I was asked what I remember most about my time in the program. My answer, without hesitation, was that I was lucky to graduate! I remember going to see my Accounting prof one year, to express my surprise at how poorly I’d done on an exam. He said, “You’re surprised because you don’t know how much you don’t know about the subject!”

Anyway, it was a challenging program then, just as it is now. But I did graduate, and I can tell you that what I learned along the way has served me well in my life and career since then – in business, in public life, and in my volunteer work.

I had the advantage – as I know our Rotman Commerce students do today – of studying under some of the greatest minds in the country. In first and second years, I took corporate finance and economic history from C.A. Ashley and Vince Bladen – two Canadian giants in their fields. In my final years, I studied under Ed Neufeld, most recently EVP and Chief Economist at the Royal Bank, and Bill Hood, who as you know passed away only two weeks ago – both extraordinarily accomplished scholars and leaders.

As an aside, when I was Minister of Finance I served as a governor of the World Bank in Washington, D.C. At the time Bill Hood was there, serving as Economic Counsellor and Director of Research at the International Monetary Fund. I told him, if I say something you disagree with, and you call me out on it, I’ll tell people that you taught me everything I know! He was a brilliant and wonderful person, and a great teacher.

From what I know of Rotman Commerce today, I believe our students continue to enjoy the benefit of an education from Canada’s leading scholars and most dedicated mentors. It is part of a great tradition.

As noted in the anniversary booklet, there are now more than 13,000 Commerce alumni around the world. They include presidents and CEOs, lawyers, accountants, tech executives, entrepreneurs, musicians, politicians, professors, physicians, writers, bankers, soldiers, teachers, and economists. They have developed their ability to understanding the world around us and to help find creative responses to the great challenges and opportunities of our time. As a result, they’re making their mark, excelling not only in business but in virtually every field.

I would like to congratulate Professor Corts and all of the faculty, staff, students, alumni, and supporters of Rotman Commerce, on this history of excellence, and on the major milestone we celebrate today. It’s a milestone not only for those of us connected to Rotman Commerce, but for the entire University of Toronto community. So here’s to another 90 Years of Excellence, and more!

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