Boundless Campaign ends with unprecedented $2.641 billion in donations

Funds to support building, renovations, mental health, student aid

Boundless Campaign ends with unprecedented $2.641 billion in donations

U of T President Meric Gertler spoke about the end of the Boundless Campaign on March 19, after the fundraising drive raised a record $2.641 billion for U of T over seven years.

Following student protests about the university’s mental health services, there is a growing online movement calling on the university to use donations from the Boundless Campaign to fund mental health services. However, most of the donations are not free for the university to use at its discretion.

Much of the funding will be used for specific projects across U of T and funds that are not specifically earmarked for particular initiatives are generally given to student support.

David Palmer, U of T’s Vice-President Advancement, wrote to The Varsity about how the money will be distributed. He explained that $406 million of donations have been provided specifically to establish or grow nearly 4,000 scholarships, support 220 student-focused programs, and lift the university’s endowments for student support “above $1 billion for the first time in [the university’s] history.”

A further $600 million was donated for use in construction and revitalization projects, including the renovations of University College, the Munk School’s Citizen Lab, the construction of the Jackman Law Building, and the Robarts Common — an extension that was originally planned for Robarts Library but never fulfilled.

Some contributions are targeted to address mental health at U of T, such as donations totalling $3 million by the Rossy Family Foundation. The Foundation gave $1 million to the Health & Wellness Centre in 2016, and has donated an additional $2 million to the university to support mental health initiatives. These initiatives will include a prevention strategy, which would educate students on managing their own mental health, as well as increase the number of embedded counsellors and nurses in accessible locations.

Other donations for mental health initiatives include $1.5 million for the Anne Steacy Counselling Initiative at Trinity College, $2 million for research into prevention and early detection of youth mental illness, and $20 million to research the biology of depression.

The majority of donations to the Boundless campaign originated in Canada, though significant contributions also came from Hong Kong, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

University College renovations set to begin in January

Proposed renovations prioritize undergraduate usage and accessibility

University College renovations set to begin in January

A Town Hall hosted by the University College Literary and Athletic Society (UC Lit) on October 10 discussed many of the drastic changes planned for the UC Building. The renovations, proposed in 2015, are part of a multi-million-dollar 10-year plan to restore the historic university buildings. Construction is scheduled to begin in early January of next year.

According to University College Principal Donald Ainslie, there are four core principles that influenced the renovations’ design. The first was to “put undergraduates first.” The second was to place focus on heritage, since UC is a national historic site. The third principle was accessibility. “We wanted the idea of the college to be for everyone,” said Ainslie. Plans are in place to add a new elevator to the front of the building.

“The final priority in the renovation was ensuring that UC… [is the] iconic building of the University of Toronto… We want to make sure that… U of T’s identity as one of world’s great teaching and research universities [is] embodied in the use of the building.”

New features will include a restored library and reading room, which will be named after former Toronto Dominion Bank CEO Ed Clark for his $2.5 million donation. UC alumnus Paul Cadario also donated $3 million to the restoration project; there will be a conference centre at Croft Chapter House named after him.

The renovation costs are to be covered by college donors and a student levy established under UC Lit, which increased by $12.50 in accordance with a vote in March 2016. “Over the past three years, a student advisory committee appointed by the UC Lit has and continues to be involved in discussions on the renovations to ensure the needs of students will be prioritized in them, especially since UC students are paying for the renovation costs,” wrote UC Lit President Albert Hoang to The Varsity. “A large majority of UC students in March 2016 voted in favour of increasing their student fees by $12.50 per session (part time students would pay $5 per session) and these increases would go towards the student levy collected over 20 years.”

Several areas near UC will be inaccessible until the end of construction in spring 2019. The UC quad walkways will be closed to build wider paths; the east and west hall on the second floor of the college will be closed and will become the new library and Clarke Family Reading Room; and the Alumni Lounge and the F Wing Basement will be inaccessible.

Student organizations — including the college newspaper The Gargoyle, located in the F Wing — are working with university officials to “find a way for them to continue their activities even during the construction,” according to Ainslie.

Student events, including the Fireball social and Orientation organized by UC Lit, are also expected to be affected by the renovations. “Students will still be able to enjoy events put on by the UC Lit and its ancillaries,” said Hoang. UC Lit said it will be working with the college administration to “preserve the spirit and quality” of social events.