William Davis

William Davis
Affiliation: 
Former Premier of Ontario | Alumnus
Place of Birth: 
Toronto, ON
Graduation Years: 
1951
Department / Division: 
Bachelor of Arts

One of the most important things I feel I have accomplished was in the education field, where the development of the College System and growth of the University System was important then and even more important today. The success of the University of Toronto campus in Mississauga is an example of how the creation of new aspects of the University System have been, and still are, so important.

William Davis

William G. Davis, the 18th premier of Ontario (1971-1985), played a pivotal role in the founding of Erindale College (later renamed the University of Toronto Mississauga). After graduating from U of T in 1951, he attended Osgoode Hall Law School and was called to the bar in 1955. He practiced general law until 1959, when he began his political career as Peel’s member of provincial parliament at the age of 29.

In 1962, Davis was appointed education minister and oversaw the university affairs portfolio. During his tenure, he oversaw a transformation of Ontario’s education system, including the creation of Ontario’s community college system, Ontario’s Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), and the founding several new universities and colleges—including UTM.

As premier of Ontario, Davis played a major role in patriating Canada’s constitution in 1982. This shifted authority over Canada’s constitution from the British Parliament to the Canadian government. Because of his involvement in this process, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II swore him in as a member of the Privy Council.

Now retired, Davis has received numerous awards in recognition of his contributions to education in Ontario, including honorary degrees and diplomas from colleges and universities in Canada and around the world. Due to his commitment to education initiatives and his role in founding UTM, the university honoured him by rededicating the former South Building as the William G. Davis Building.

Davis is also a companion of the Order of Canada, a knight in l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur, and was invested with the Order of Ontario. The first authorized biography of William Davis, Bill Davis Nation Builder, and Not So Bland After All by Steve Paikin, was released in 2016 and is a National Post bestseller.