people in graduation gowns walk across a lawn

Class of 2016: UTM celebrates its newest grads

Blake Eligh

It was a day of sunshine, celebration and selfies as U of T Mississauga welcomed the newest members of its alumni community at the annual spring convocation ceremonies.

“I’m delighted to salute you, the class of 2016,” said Professor Deep Saini, vice-president, U of T, and principal, UTM, as he welcomed the graduands and their families. “Today, the University of Toronto is recognizing your hard work, your accomplishments, your perseverance and this milestone in your careers. You are joining an extraordinary family of U of T alumni who number half a million people in 190 countries around the world.”

UTM’s Class of 2016 is the largest spring graduating class in campus history, with 1,801 people crossing the podium at Convocation Hall at U of T’s St. George campus. The graduands, who represented 140 programs and 17 academic departments, joined a community of 52,548 proud UTM alumni

A further 70 graduands of three professional graduate studies programs also convocated, including 27 scholars of the first cohort of the Master of Science in Sustainability Management within the Institute for Management & Innovation.

The convocation celebrations were also notable as the twenty-third and final U of T convocation presided over by Saini. “My colleagues and I have enjoyed our time with you, and we are so very proud of you,” he said. “You are the very cream of university graduates in this country. I hope you will look back on your time as a period of incredible learning, both inside and outside the classroom.

Three distinguished speakers addressed the graduands, sending them off with congratulations and words of wisdom.

Shelley White, the president and CEO of United Way Peel Region, emphasized the importance of the humanities to society. “Today, we need individuals who are experts in, and care about, the human condition. Cultivating a humanitarian culture is a powerful force for social change. There is power in the humanitarian spirit,” she said, referencing the Canadian response to the Syrian refugee crisis. “But there is so much more we need to do.”

Paul Smith, vice-president of the Xerox Innovation Group, addressed the afternoon ceremony. An inventor with 76 patents, Smith leads Xerox’s Global Materials Research Centre, and serves on a number of boards related to innovation, printing and science. “Imagination, entrepreneurial spirit and opportunity to create have driven our biggest advancements,” he told the graduands. “Tomorrow is in your hands. The future is in your hands, and in your minds. The best way to own tomorrow, to own the future, is to imagine it, grasp the opportunity and invent it. Go forth boldly and courageously to create positive social and economic change, globally and locally.”

Physician and chief executive officer of Grand Challenges Canada, Peter Singer, spoke at the final ceremony of the day. Singer, who has gained international recognition for his creative solutions to some of the most pressing global health challenges, advised the graduands to expect and embrace failure, and to learn from those experiences. “Find a problem and solve it, and make sure it’s a grand challenge,” he said. “Pursue innovation, but remember that impact is the final destination. By leveraging the knowledge you’ve learned at this great school, you will surely make Canada and the world a better place.”

For more Convocation 2016 stories, check out profiles of recent UTM graduands Laura Krajewski, Jordan Foster, Daniel Jayasinghe, Joshua Foster and Mohamed Sidibé.