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Jackman’s $11-million donation to U of T law largest ever

|Written By Heather Gardiner
Jackman’s $11-million donation to U of T law largest ever
U of T’s law school is now well on its way to raising the $54 million need for its new building. Illustration: Hariri Pontarini

With a record-breaking $11-million donation, the University of Toronto Faculty of Law is well on its way to securing the $54 million needed for its new building.

Thanks to the generosity of Henry “Hal” N. R. Jackman, a former lieutenant-governor of Ontario and a former U of T chancellor, the law school has now raised $32.5 million towards its new building, which is set to start construction next summer and be completed in 2015.

Jackman is a longtime benefactor to the university. He originally donated $1 million when the faculty of law launched its campaign for a new building last November. He recently bumped it up to $11 million — the largest donation the law school has ever received.

The university decided it was time for a new building after three external reviews and student feedback revealed its physical facilities are a big hindrance to its law school.

“We have terrific faculty and we have a very good faculty-student ratio, but it’s been very hard to maximize the benefit of that because we don’t have enough classrooms for people to teach in,” says U of T law dean Mayo Moran.

“There are so many things that students do now outside of class: co-curricular activities, journals, they do moots all over the world, they have public-interest groups, and there’s just nowhere for them to meet to do that work. So that’s another thing that the [new] space will include,” she says.

The new building, designed by Toronto architects Hariri Pontarini, will create 50-per-cent more space with a multi-storey wing on Queen’s Park Crescent. It will include new classrooms, offices, and a student services hub. Renovations are also planned for the Bora Laskin Law Library and the historic Flavelle House.

When she became dean in 2006, Moran says she knew it was crucial to the future of the law school to have new physical space. Now that the campaign for a new building is in full force, she says she spends about 30 per cent of her time on it.

And attracting donations in this economy is no small feat, according to the Canadian Lawyer 4Students article, “The art of the ask.”

U of T’s law school has received some funding from the university, but a large portion of it has come from private donations.

“What really made a difference was that people understood that the law school desperately needed these new facilities,” says Moran. “They love the law school and want to support it, and they could see that their support was going to be really crucial to making it happen.

“Most of all Mr. Jackman, because so few people have the capacity to make the kind of difference that gift made. I just can’t tell you how fortunate I feel that he saw and responded to the need of the law school. It really just made an absolutely huge difference for us.”

Several law firms have also made significant contributions to the campaign, including Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP and Torys LLP, which donated more than $2 million each. Numerous other law firms have also contributed.

Although it may be challenging, it is possible to secure private funds. By taking this route, other law schools have also been able to update their facilities.

For instance, last fall Osgoode Hall Law School unveiled its $50-million renovation and expansion to its existing building, renamed the Ignat Kaneff Building.

Also last fall, the University of British Columbia Faculty of Law opened its brand new $56-million Allard Hall, named after alumnus Peter Allard who donated nearly $12 million to the project.

But law schools are in need of more than just physical upgrades.

Torys LLP and Geoff Beattie, president and CEO of Woodbridge Company Ltd., donated $1.5 million to the Western University Faculty of Law last month  for its corporate law program.

Last week, Norton Rose Canada LLP donated $300,000 to the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law to establish the Norton Rose classroom and the Daniel A. Artola Intellectual Property Award in memory of the firm’s late partner who was a graduate of the law school.

UBC’s law school also received an additional $2-million gift last month in memory of the late Franklin Lew, a graduate of the law faculty.

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