March 15, 1827, King's College - the precursor to the University of
Toronto - was granted its royal charter by King George IV. Throughout
2002, U of T celebrated 175 years of Great Minds. As part of the
celebration, the U of T website featured excerpts from The
University of Toronto: A History, written by Martin Friedland, University
Professor and Professor Emeritus of Law at U of T.
"I don't envy
him the job he is taking on"
presidential appointment of the 42-year-old John Evans was announced
publicly towards the end of November 1971. "I don't envy him
the job he is taking on," the acting vice-president and provost
Don Forster wrote to a friend. "Financial prospects for the next
few years are quite bleak and morale at the University is going to be
President Jack Sword congratulates John Evans on the announcement
of Evans' presidency on November 23, 1971
Evans was "almost an outsider," to use Evans' own words. He
knew the medical school well, but not the rest of the university. "I
didn't know the power structure," he later said, "the kind
of constraints and forces" within the University. Still, the University
had been a significant part of his life. He had been a student at the
University of Toronto Schools before entering the U of T medical school,
both his parents had graduated from U of T - his father had been president
of the Victoria College alumni association, and his mother vice-president
of the UC alumnae - and all six of his brothers and sisters had attended
the University of Toronto.
at McMaster had given him greater respect for the quality of some of
the programs at other Ontario universities than was often accorded by
Toronto administrators. Even before he took office, he went with Forster
and the graduate school dean, Ed Safarian, to a number of other Ontario
universities to make Toronto more aware of what was taking place throughout
the system and of how Toronto was regarded by other universities. Shortly
after the visits, Forster noted their "more than grudging admiration
for the quality of some of our programmes," but also their "fear
of our size and influence [and] doubt about the recent quality of our
'management' and direction."
took place at the end of September 1972 on the front campus - the first
time such an event had taken place out of doors. It was also the first
time the proceedings were presided over by a woman - Chancellor Pauline
McGibbon, a Victoria College graduate of 1933, who would later become
lieutenant governor of Ontario. Between six and seven thousand people
attended the ceremony, under a clear sky.
To no one's
surprise, there were minor disruptions and a large number of placards
- in favour of "free day care" and "access to library
stacks," and against "racism" and "repression of
women." At one point, graduate student Tony Leah sprinted past
the guards and onto the platform and handed Evans a subpoena to appear
at a trial the following week in connection with the day-care controversy.