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President Gertler reflects on busy, successful trip to China

Meric Gertler’s trip to China in early December “both reflected and advanced U of T’s standing as a truly global institution,” the U of T president says.

Gertler packed a lot of activities into his four-day visit: the 20th anniversary of the University of Toronto Hong Kong Foundation, the biannual U of T Asia-Pacific graduation ceremony, a reception with alumni in Shanghai, tours of Chinese universities and a talk at the Canadian embassy in Beijing on the role of leading universities and their host city-regions in driving prosperity.

“It was wonderful to see such large and enthusiastic gatherings for the 20th anniversary of the Hong Kong Foundation, the graduation ceremony, and the Shanghai alumni reception,” Gertler said upon his return. “We had very successful meetings with key supporters and partner institutions. And I had the privilege of addressing leading officials and experts at a gathering organized by Canada’s ambassador to China, Guy Saint-Jacques, on the role of leading universities and their host city-regions in driving prosperity.

“All in all, the trip both reflected and advanced U of T’s standing as a truly global institution and a major contributor to the advancement of knowledge in the 21st century.”

Gertler also held talks with China’s vice-minister of education, the secretary general of the China Scholarship Council, and the presidents of Tsinghua, Peking, Fudan, and Shanghai Jiao Tong universities.

It was Gertler’s second visit to China. During his first trip, in 2013, he also attended the Asia Pacific Graduation Ceremony. The event is held every other year in Hong Kong so graduates with ties to the region can celebrate their achievements with family and friends. 

photo of President Gertler giving nanoleaf light to hostGertler’s Beijing talk was part of the Canadian embassy’s ‘Talking Economics’ series, promoting Canadian expertise in economics, finance, and business to an audience drawn from government, business, academia, and media. 

(At right, Gertler presents his hosts with a Nanoleaf light bulb – the smart sustainable lighting solution created by former U of T students.)

In his address, Gertler argued that urbanization is driving growth in both China and Canada and universities are essential to that growth.

He also noted that Toronto and Beijing are connected through the students who flow through those two cities:

“Students from China comprise by far the largest share of the University of Toronto’s international student body – far exceeding the number from India or the United States. 

“It is clear that the movement of students between China and Canada will benefit both of our countries, by fostering deeper mutual understanding and by facilitating the flow of knowledge between two of the world’s great knowledge-producing nations.”