From coast to coast, a celebration of academic excellence at three Canadian universities
When Karrie Wolfe arrived at the University of Toronto from her home in Kitchener, Ont., in September, she brought more than just top marks, a prestigious National Scholarship and her winter clothes. “Like a lot of people, I arrived with preconceptions about the U of T,” says Wolfe. “I thought I might get lost in the crowd.” But just one month later, Wolfe had an entirely different take on life as one of 51,000 students at Canada’s largest university. An ardent environmentalist, she had taken the first steps towards launching a composting program at St. Hilda’s Residence. And from an academic home base at Trinity College— population 1,250—she was immersing herself in “five great courses,” including Identities, Ethnicity and Nationalism, in which she and only 17 fellow students share the attention of tenured professor Michael Levin. Says Wolfe, 19: “You soon realize there are many opportunities to make your mark, to feel like you belong, and to learn.”
Like those who have gone before her, Wolfe is benefiting nicely from what president Robert Prichard calls the “dual citizenship” enjoyed by students at the University of Toronto, which for the third year in a row tops the list of Medical/Doctoral institutions in the Maclean’s university ranking. “Our goal,” says Prichard, “is to combine the intimacy and support of a liberal arts college with the opportunities that can be found at one of the finest public research institutions in the world.”
And those opportunities are nothing short of awesome. Tie university boasts more than 300 undergraduate and 81 doctoral programs. Its 50 libraries house North America’s fifth-largest university collection. The 3,000-strong faculty includes such world-renowned scholars as Nobel Prize-winning chemist John Polanyi and political scientist Thomas Homer-Dixon.
But while the university’s breadth is truly impressive, it is no surprise that students like Wolfe are able to carve their own niche within it. Each of nine main colleges offers a unique sense of community—as well as its own faculty, courses and academic specialties. And like Wolfe, many first-year arts and science students are given the chance to take one seminar course with no more than 20 students, taught by a tenured professor.
When classes are out, 250 campus clubs, and the social and cultural offerings of Canada’s largest city, provide ample diversions.
“The University of Toronto,” says Wolfe, “is a great place to go to school”—delivering just the kind of ringing endorsement Prichard ' loves to hear. “Our ability to build strength,” says the president, “depends more than anything else on people’s enthusiasm for the place.” If that is true, the University of Toronto can count on an exciting future—and one that is built on solid foundations.
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