Sowing the seeds of love
ONE OF THE GREAT JOYS of working at the University of Toronto is seeing our students grow—watching them discover their passions, engage with new ideas, and start to make their mark on the world. That’s one of the reasons many of our faculty and staff consider working at the University of Toronto to be more than just a job. And why they choose to contribute philanthropically to the University’s two core missions: teaching and research. We asked a few members of the Arts & Science family why they chose to give this year. Here’s what they said.
I Love My Colleagues
Keren Rice, University Professor of Linguistics
You see a gap, and you hope that if you do something to fill it, it won’t stay a gap.
Over the past few years, I’ve made donations to scholarship funds in honour of retiring colleagues. In a small department like Linguistics, every single faculty member makes a difference for every single student, and you want to be able to remember the contributions they have made. Each time a student gets a named award, it makes them stop and think about who that person is, what kinds of important contributions they have made.
Last year, we set up a new undergraduate award in honour of our newly retired colleague Elaine Gold. When I wrote the student to tell him he’d gotten the award, he was just so flattered to be recognized. It’s not a lot of money, but it made him feel like his hard work had been noticed.
As a faculty member, I donate to scholarships because I am at a stage in my life when I have the means to do so and am thinking about what kinds of things I want to support. Honouring my colleagues and helping our students are definitely worthwhile causes.
I Love Supporting Students
Anita K. Srinivasan, Director of Programs in Public Policy
I donate to student scholarships because I believe that accessible public education is a cornerstone of democratic society. I have long supported education as a parent and a community volunteer. And since I came to work at the University of Toronto 11 years ago, my commitment to accessible education has only deepened.
The Master of Public Policy program has about 170 students. Most of them are also involved in student-led volunteer projects that are about building the public good in our country.
For many, the two years of our program are difficult financially. They have maxed out their OSAP, they are working part-time, and this is still not enough to cover their living expenses in Toronto. So they are highly dependent on financial aid from the University. Without it, many of these brilliant students would not be able to complete their degrees.
When our staff get together, the students are a common topic of conversation. We all feel a sense of concern about their wellbeing, and for me, making a donation to scholarships is a natural response. Working with U of T students and seeing them realize their life goals is a privilege. I’m glad I can contribute to making their path a little bit easier.
I Love Research
Michael Gervers, Professor of Medieval Studies
I give to make sure the research I am passionate about continues to thrive.
I had decided a long time ago that I wanted to leave a bequest for a scholarship at the University of Toronto. Then I thought, “If I have enough money to fund a scholarship, why not give it while I’m still alive?” Because then I can have some satisfaction in seeing what happens to it.
I have since made several gifts, to the Centre for Medieval Studies and to a new program in Ethiopic studies.
I’ve been going to Ethiopia regularly since the early 1980s—the amount of interesting research material there is astounding.
I see this as a way of having my own research continue even when I’m not there, necessarily, to do it. I don’t think of it as giving back. It’s really moving forward.
I would say to my colleagues: Follow your interests—support your interests. Be generous, not necessarily to this institution called the University of Toronto, but to what you love in life—and what makes you who you are.