Committed to giving back: Staff and Faculty an Important Part of New Campaign
By Anjum Nayyar
Every time U of T staff member Jim Hartley walks past Robarts Library, he thinks of his mother. That’s because there are two trees, a pine and a horse chestnut, that he provided for the grounds through a private donation.
“Those two trees are growing around Robarts library, and on the occasion I’m around there, I enjoy them. I thought it was a great thing,” said Hartley, an executive assistant to the chair of the Department of Medicine. “There aren’t too many places that allow you to do that.”
Hartley, who was first a student at U of T Scarborough back in 1976, later joined the staff there. He has been a donor to the university for more than 31 years, since he first started working at UTSC.
“I think it’s good to give back,” Hartley said. “If you’ve got something you can share with others, whether it be monetary or volunteer time, I think it’s worthwhile to give back to those who gave you something. . The university has good transparency on donations. You know exactly where the money is going and you get excellent feedback on a yearly basis.”
History professor Ken Bartlett agreed.
“It’s a marvellous opportunity to return some of the pleasures and benefits we’ve gotten from this institution and the role it’s played in our lives,” said Bartlett, who teaches at Victoria College.
Bartlett also arrived at U of T as an undergraduate, entering university in 1967. He says the university has been an extension of his life. This is where he studied, met his wife and became a faculty member. For him, donating goes in hand-in-hand with special milestones in his life.
“We’ve used the opportunity to celebrate particular moments in our lives. So for example we’ve purchased a number of seats in the Bader theatre to celebrate my mother’s 90th birthday. We also donated on the date my wife and I got married.”
Bartlett says he derives pride in giving back to the university.
“In a university we identify those places and things that have meant a great deal to our lives,” Bartlett said. “That’s why most of our giving goes to Victoria College. We have a close relationship with the university, not just as an employer but also as a place where we have a community, friends and shared experience in memory with many people here.
“I also do want to ensure that students who come in the future will have the same kind of rich experience I had as an undergraduate. I see it as a privilege to be a donor because one of the reasons that I’m able to make a not-so-unsubstantial gift to organizations like U of T is because of the education I received here.”
The university recently launched an ambitious new fundraising campaign with a $2-billion goal. Boundless, the Campaign for the University of Toronto, will support foster international fluency and leadership skills among the University’s almost 80,000 undergraduate and graduate students – by raising funds to support student awards and build learning environments that nurture creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, disciplinary excellence, interdisciplinary inquiry and global perspectives. The campaign will also seek funds for ground-breaking research and teaching that generates solutions for healthy, sustainable and successful societies, while also strengthening the essential foundation of basic research. Funds raised will support the University’s world-class minds, attract a new generation of “rising star” faculty and make critical enhancements to programs and infrastructure.
Bartlett understands the need for universities to raise additional funds, and it’s not only about the university itself.
“We live in an imperfect world and the limited amount of funding available can keep the core function operating, but it’s really philanthropic giving that allows for that dynamic change that makes a good university great. It also a provides a gift to the people of Toronto and Canada, everything from the beauty of the campus, which is a marvellous moment of calm surrounded by this enormous city, to the historic buildings, the green space and community involvement. “
When Bartlett thinks of his role as a donor he says he thinks of it as a measure of protection.
“I see philanthropic giving and endowment as protection of what a university must be from the forces that begin to question that. A university is not just an instrumental vehicle for the production of highly trained manpower. It’s the the possession of our collective past and our collective future.”