Temerty Foundation makes a historic gift to University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine

After the announcement at the University of Toronto on September 24. Back row from left to right: Hira Raheel, third year medical student in the U of T MD program; Trevor Young, Dean, Faculty of Medicine; Rose Patten, Chancellor, U of T; David Palmer, vice-president of advancement, U of T. Front row from left to right: Mike Lord; Leah Temerty-Lord; Meric Gertler, President, U of T; Jim Temerty; Louise Temerty All photos: Johnny Guatto

Yuri Bilinsky, New Pathway – Ukrainian News.

History was in the making at the University of Toronto’s Hart House on September 24 during the announcement of the $250-million gift from the Temerty Foundation to the University’s Faculty of Medicine. In gratitude for this single largest gift ever made in Canada and among the largest gifts made internationally to a faculty of medicine, there is now a Temerty Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto.

The benefaction from the Temerty Foundation, established by James and Louise Temerty, will go towards the creation of a new state-of-the-art Faculty of Medicine building prominently situated at the corner of King’s College Road and King’s College Circle in Toronto’s downtown. The gift will also support advances in machine learning in medicine; biomedical research and collaboration across Toronto’s health-science network; innovation, commercialization and entrepreneurship; equity and accessibility in medical education.

The newly named Temerty Faculty of Medicine will include the new Ukraine – U of T Education and Research Collaboration Fund. The Fund will support visiting fellows, professors, scholars and students from Ukraine and encourage increased collaboration with academics and researchers from the Faculty. The Fund will also include scholarships for students from Ukraine.

Dr. James Rutka, Chair of U of T’s Department of Surgery, who, in conjunction with Dr. Myroslava Romach from the University of Toronto’s Department of Psychiatry, has travelled to teach and help ‘train the trainers’ in Ukraine at least once a year for many years, said: “Some of our most valued career experiences have been in participating in international capacity-building and educational experiences there. We have also had the great pleasure of hosting Ukrainian clinicians and trainees here in Toronto. Everyone involved benefits — both the Canadians and the Ukrainians. We are grateful to the Temerty family for helping strengthen health research and educational partnership between our two countries.”

Sonia Molodecky, Temerty Foundation’s counsel, explained that the new Ukraine – U of T Education and Research Collaboration Fund is a key priority for the Foundation. “There is a lot that we can learn from one another and this new partnership presents a tremendous opportunity for building new relationships, new learning and knowledge generation in health for students, faculty and researchers in both countries.”

“The main motivation behind making this gift [was that] the Faculty of Medicine has uniquely distinguished itself with its history of firsts from insulin […] to pace-makers to stem cells and many other things. And it’s a history that my family and I are honoured to align with and an institution I am truly excited and energized to be supporting. Our hope and goal by committing this gift is to ensure that Temerty Faculty of Medicine will continue to take that leadership position and register more of those firsts. We have every confidence this is the direction in which we are headed. The team we have gotten to know have shown they are of the highest caliber not only in their professions but in their character. I am excited for what’s to come,” said James Temerty at the announcement ceremony.

The gift includes a $10-million allocation to the Dean’s COVID-19 Priority Fund. It will support front-line clinical faculty members and trainees, as well as researchers at U of T and partner hospitals seeking to create better treatments and prevention strategies.

(L-R): Mike Lord, Jim Temerty, Louise Temerty, Leah Temerty-Lord during the announcement

Temerty Foundation and its founders

Founded in 1997 by James and Louise Temerty, the Temerty Foundation has provided significant philanthropic support to health care, education and culture in Canada and beyond.

Staying true to his roots, Mr. Temerty and his family have been long-standing supporters of the Ukrainian community, diaspora and causes important to Ukraine. The Temerty family established the Temerty Contemporary Ukraine Program at Harvard; the Ukraine in European Dialogue at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna; the Kyiv Mohyla Business School; Help Us Help; Atlantic Council’s Ukraine in Europe Initiative; and the Holodomor Research and Education Consortium.

In the healthcare space, their contributions have established the Temerty Centre for Therapeutic Brain Intervention at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, the Louise Temerty Breast Cancer Centre at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and the world’s first international tele-simulation centre in medical education at University Health Network. The Temerty Foundation’s gift to U of T leverages its previous giving and expands its impact across the network. In addition to these initiatives, the Foundation has established the Temerty Chair in Focused Ultrasound Research and the Surgical Training Partnership with Ukraine at Sunnybrook Research Institute, the Temerty Foundation RGNEF Research Fund for ALS at Western University and the Ukrainian Paediatric Fellowship Program at The Hospital for Sick Children.

James Temerty worked for IBM before launching an entrepreneurial career, starting with a franchise of ComputerLand that he built into the largest chain of ComputerLand stores in the world. This was followed by the founding of Northland Power. The company was created with innovation and environmental stewardship at its core. Starting with the first large-scale biomass generation project in Canada, to high efficiency clean natural gas cogeneration, to early adoption of onshore wind and utility scale solar generation, the company has led the way in Canada. Northland’s common shares trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange with a market cap exceeding $7 billion. Along the way Mr. Temerty was also instrumental in the formation of SoftChoice Corporation, which he chaired for 16 years.

Mr. Temerty said this in his address during the announcement ceremony: “I attribute my business success in large part to my drive to innovate, to lead the way, to be the first, to do things differently and to never be satisfied with the status quo. […] Taking Northland as an example, we declared ourselves a green and clean company and proceeded that way starting thirty-three years ago, long before it was a fashionable thing.”

James Temerty’s entrepreneurial career and philanthropic endeavors have been recognized with many distinguished honours. In 2008, he was appointed a Member of the prestigious Order of Canada in recognition of his contributions to society. In 2010, he was awarded the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in Canada. Mr. Temerty received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 to honour him for his contributions to his country. In 2013, Mr. Temerty was the first recipient of the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Medal, an award established to recognize contributions to the cause of Ukrainian-Jewish understanding and cooperation. In 2015, he was honoured by Ukrainian President Poroshenko with Ukraine’s Order of Yaroslav the Wise, which is the highest tribute Ukraine can confer to a foreign citizen who has not been a head of state. Mr. Temerty in 2010 was awarded the Taras Shevchenko Medal, the highest form of recognition granted by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, for his lifelong support and leadership within the Ukrainian Canadian community. In 2019, Jim and Louise Temerty received The Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko’s Tryzub Community Leadership award.

Born in Ukraine in 1941, James (né Constantin) Temerty was named after his grandfather Costiantyn who was arrested by the NKVD in late 1937, accused of “insurgent activity” and executed by firing squad shortly thereafter. He was rehabilitated in 1989. The family fled the warzone in Ukraine in 1944 and lived in displaced persons’ camps in Germany and Belgium before migrating to Canada, where they arrived at Pier 21 on December 8, 1950. Temerty’s father Ilya was an engineer, his mother Raissa was a Director of a Ukrainian school in Montreal. Temerty’s sister Ludmilla is a renowned artist. She designed the first Holodomor commemorative monument in Canada, erected in Edmonton in 1983.

With files from the University of Toronto