Nobel Laureate John Polanyi with students of John Polanyi Collegiate Institute

Toronto school named for U of T's Nobel Laureate John Polanyi

Mayor declares John Polanyi Day

University Professor and Nobel Laureate John Polanyi  was honoured at the official opening of the John Polanyi Collegiate Institute (JPCI) October 12, 2012 – a day Mayor Rob Ford proclaimed John Polanyi Day in Toronto.

The world-renowned chemist, who is the only Nobel Laureate currently working in Canada, was named one of three winners of the 1986 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his pioneering work in developing infrared chemiluminescence. His long list of awards and honours includes the Royal Medal of the Royal Society of London, Fellowship of the Royal Societies of Canada, London and Edinburgh as well as the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the Pontifical Academy of Rome and the Russian Academy of Sciences. He is a member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada, a Companion of the Order of Canada and has 30 honorary degrees from universities around the world.

Polanyi has also made significant contributions in the areas of peacekeeping and science policy. He co-edited the book, The Dangers of Nuclear War, and served as co-chair of the Department of Foreign Affairs International Consultative Committee on a Rapid Response Capability for the United Nations.

The JPCI wanted to recognize Polanyi's extensive contributions to Toronto and the world.

"We're the ones being honoured," says Toronto District School Board trustee Howard Goodman. "I can’t tell you how much of a thrill it is that John Polanyi will allow us to capture the spirit of his excellence in so many things by naming the school after him. The whole student body and staff are excited about the opportunity. It gives them a really high symbol to aspire to in science, humanity and justice. He’s a tremendous example for everybody in the world, and certainly for this community, to strive to do their best and make a difference in the world.”

The dedication ceremony coincided with the end of "Nobel Prize" week. Polanyi addressed the JPCI students, along with Principal Aiman Flahat.

"I am amazed and delighted," says Polanyi. "It has to be a remarkable school to select such an out of the way name. The school has been in operation for a year, and from all I hear, it is hopping with activity, it's ambitious and, even for Toronto, an exceptionally inter-cultural place. I count myself really lucky to have a link with it."

Polanyi has been a faculty member in U of T's Department of Chemistry since 1956 and was honoured with the title of University Professor, one of the highest honours bestowed on a faculty member, in 1974. He continues to lead a very active research program and was honoured last year, during the International Year of Chemistry, with a limited-edition stamp from Canada Post.

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