The Gerald Schwartz & Heather Reisman Foundation
Gerald (Hon LLD 2016)
Heather (Hon LLD 2021)
Through their generosity to U of T, Gerald Schwartz and Heather Reisman have created a fitting tribute to their entrepreneurial spirit: a place dedicated to innovation with the power to impact society.
Gerald Schwartz and Heather Reisman made the largest gift in U of T ’s history when they donated $100 million to the University in 2019 to help build the Schwartz Reisman Innovation Centre. This 750,000-square foot complex will anchor U of T ’s unique cluster of globally renowned artificial intelligence scientists and biomedical experts and its world-class entrepreneurship network.
Their landmark gift also supported the launch of the Schwartz Reisman Institute for Technology and Society, which is bringing together leading scholars to explore and address the ethical and societal implications of AI and other emerging technologies. The Institute is harnessing U of T ’s signature strengths in the sciences, humanities and social sciences to explore the benefits and challenges that technological advances present for our economy, our society and our day-to-day lives.
The couple recognized that U of T ’s expertise in philosophy, ethics, law, social sciences, medicine, biomedical engineering, artificial intelligence, advanced materials, cybersecurity, fintech, cleantech and many other fields make it one of the few institutions in the world with the requisite breadth and depth to study such complex and pertinent issues.
Made through The Gerald Schwartz & Heather Reisman Foundation, this remarkable investment—which is also the largest gift ever to the Canadian innovation sector—was inspired by the couple’s belief in the importance of research-based innovation as a driver of economic and social prosperity and their keen interest in the interdisciplinary exploration of how technologies affect societies and individuals.
Gerald Schwartz and Heather Reisman are two of Canada’s most respected entrepreneurs and business leaders. Schwartz is the founder, Chair, and CEO of Onex Corporation, Canada’s oldest and most successful private equity firm. Reisman is the founder, Chair and CEO of Indigo, the country’s leading book and lifestyle retailer.
Schwartz and Reisman are also among the country’s most generous philanthropists, supporting institutions and causes across the country, particularly in the areas of literacy, education, health care and advanced research.
Over the years, they have given to a number of areas at the University of Toronto, including the Faculty of Law, the Rotman School of Management, the Faculty of Medicine, the Faculty of Arts & Science, the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design and the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing.
They have also assisted the University with numerous strategic initiatives. Reisman served on the Rotman Dean’s Advisory Council and the Faculty of Medicine Dean’s Advisory Group while Schwartz served on Governing Council and as a member of the Executive Committee, Academic Board and Planning & Budget Committee.
The couple’s gifts to the University of Toronto have made an immense difference to students, researchers and programs. With their most recent generous gift, they are creating a flagship facility with spaces purpose-built for the development of innovative ideas as well as encouraging the cross-disciplinary collaboration and thinking so critical to today’s world.
They have provided an unprecedented boost to the University’s research and innovation that will have an impact well into the future.