With a historic new fundraising campaign, UTSC launches a bold new era.Andrew Westoll
Marc Lombardo has always wanted to change the world. While still in high school, the University of Toronto Scarborough student volunteered for social justice causes, organized benefit concerts, and even traveled to India to engage local youth in human rights struggles. Lombardo is now a second-year undergraduate student in the International Development Studies (IDS) co-op program, and his commitment to social justice continues to grow. He works with students from refugee camps in Somalia and South Sudan, helping to smooth the transition to life on campus. Last summer he taught reading and writing to Aboriginal youth in a First Nations community north of Thunder Bay. And 18 months from now, Lombardo will embark on the highlight of his degree: a year-long work placement overseas. Tomorrow’s leaders Lombardo is the kind of student UTSC is proud to attract. He is a smart, dedicated, globally-oriented young person who could become one of tomorrow’s great leaders. But simply attracting students like Lombardo to campus is not enough.
Once they get here it is the responsibility of the university community to invest in them, to do everything possible to help them succeed. The three scholarships Lombardo received since arriving at UTSC—the University of Toronto Scholar Award, the UTSC Alumni Admissions Award and the UTSC GRADitude Legacy Award—relieved much of the financial stress of university. “I’ve been able to invest so much more of myself into my education, and I’ve had more time to engage in extracurricular activities that feed my passion.” It takes a community In today’s world it takes an entire community to help lift the next generation as high as it can go. All three of the scholarships awarded to Lombardo were made possible by generous donations, large and small, from alumni and friends of the university. The same goes for his forthcoming work placement overseas. Without philanthropy from people who feel compelled to give back to UTSC, students like Lombardo might never reach their full potential. A historic campaign On November 14, 2012, UTSC launched Boundless: The Campaign for the University of Toronto Scarborough. With a goal of $35 million, this is the most ambitious fundraising goal in campus history. The ambition of Boundless is to provide students like Lombardo with opportunities to learn from leading professors and researchers, engage with the world beyond campus borders, excel academically and gain the experience and skills they need to succeed.
The UTSC effort is part of U of T’s overall Boundless campaign, which will raise a record-setting $2 billion. At its heart are the initiatives of each campus, college and faculty. “As a key component of U of T’s tri-campus teaching and research powerhouse, we are uniquely positioned to contribute to the university’s bold campaign,” says UTSC’s principal, Professor Franco Vaccarino. “Our focus on new and emerging areas of scholarship and our culture of active partnerships with the community are at the core of the university’s research and learning mission.” A half-century of excellence Boundless launches at a pivotal moment in UTSC’s history. Next year, UTSC will celebrate its 50th anniversary. In that half century UTSC has grown from a small, teaching-intensive campus to the equivalent of a comprehensive, mid-sized, research-intensive university in its own right. Over the last 10 years the student body has more than doubled to nearly 11,000 and the faculty complement has risen to over 300. UTSC offers 66 majors in 15 departments and graduate programs in biological sciences, psychology and environmental sciences. New buildings are changing the landscape, with more than $200 million invested in the new Instructional Centre and the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre currently under construction. Both promise to become flagship buildings as UTSC expands onto its vast north campus. Boundless capitalizes on this momentum. “We've already seen tremendous changes,” says Vaccarino. “Our campus is on the threshold of an exciting new era. Now is the time for UTSC to truly transform.” A twofold philosophy The philosophy behind Boundless is rooted in the recognition that in an increasingly interconnected world the university should have two overarching objectives. First, it must prepare students to be responsible global citizens by fostering fluency in international affairs and perspectives, ensuring access and opportunity for all, and imparting the critical thinking and leadership skills the young leaders of tomorrow will require. Second, it must yoke the campus’s groundbreaking scientific research and technological innovation to the task of overcoming the defining global challenges of our time. The funding priorities of Boundless reflect this twofold philosophy. Student scholarships are vital to helping undergraduates like Lombardo get the most out of their education. The campaign will significantly increase the funds available for awards and bursaries that support students. Similarly, international study and work placements are crucial to instilling students with a respect for other cultures and a globalized perspective. These placements would not be possible without the help of alumni, friends and leaders within our community, whose support has a tremendous impact on the students receiving help. Other priorities include student leadership development, furthering UTSC’s commitment to experiential education, and the creation of a visiting scholars program.
World-class research In terms of academic and scholarly infrastructure, the campaign aims to provide the foundations for three world-class research initiatives. The Canadian Centre for World Hunger will bring leading biologists together with political scientists, social scientists and economists to find solutions to world hunger. This will be the first centre of its kind in Canada. At the CAN-Change Centre, researchers from the biological, physical and environmental sciences will explore how living systems are adapting to environmental change. Researchers at the centre will tackle issues such as sustainability, the impact of environmental stressors on biodiversity and crop yields, and the impact of climate change on weather patterns. Mental health is one of the biggest health issues today, and UTSC has responded with its Mental Health Initiative, committing to becoming a leader in psychology and brain science. Researchers and students at UTSC’s Clinical Neurosciences Laboratory and at the Centre for the Neurobiology of Stress are conducting important research. The Department of Psychology is also launching a new PhD program in clinical psychology and, over the last three years, has made a number of high-profile faculty hires in this critical area. A professional master’s program in brain imaging will follow shortly, allowing the department to train technicians for this expanding field. For all three new research initiatives, UTSC is seeking funding for infrastructure, endowed chairs, graduate scholarships, undergraduate research opportunities and cooperative work placements. A great start Boundless launched at UTSC less than six months ago and already several major gifts have been announced. A $1.25-million gift from an anonymous donor will fund practical training for UTSC psychology students at academic hospitals. This donation is a huge boost to UTSC’s psychology department, which is establishing itself as a leader in scholarship and practical training. Another major gift comes from the estate of Doris McCarthy, one of Canada’s most celebrated landscape artists and a good friend of UTSC. Her estate bequeathed more than 200 paintings and 6,000 pieces of memorabilia, valued at $3.8 million, to enhance art history instruction and expand public art programs at UTSC.
The largest gift-in-kind in UTSC history, this bolsters the campus’s reputation as the intellectual and cultural hub of the eastern GTA region. “Excitement is really starting to build around the UTSC Boundless campaign among our alumni, our partners in the community and abroad,” says Georgette Zinaty, executive director of advancement and alumni relations at UTSC. “It is so gratifying to see so many different people and organizations stepping up and giving back on many levels.” Imagine Marc Lombardo believes education can change the world. “School has played such an important role in my life,” he says. “When I began to learn just how many millions of people don’t have access to good education, it really struck a chord with me.” Improving access to high-quality education is the theme linking Lombardo’s academic interests with his volunteer work. In many ways, it is also the overarching theme of Boundless. When Lombardo talks about his fellow IDS students, he could also be talking about the entire UTSC campus. “We are a dynamic group of people hoping to find solutions to pressing global issues,” he says. Imagine a world in which a new super-strain of rice feeds billions of hungry people. Imagine a world in which the impact of climate change on crop yields is mitigated, indeed obliterated. Imagine a world in which those suffering from mental illness can receive rapid, reliable treatment. Imagine a world in which students like Marc Lombardo create essential new bodies of knowledge and lead the most important movements of their time.
“This campaign will launch an electrifying new period in UTSC history,” says Principal Vaccarino. “Our campus is ready to dedicate the next 50 years to realizing our boundless potential as an engine of innovation and prosperity across our region and beyond.” This is UTSC’s Boundless. And you can help us get there.