UofT Notable Alumni
Arry Pandher - January 1st, 2023
The University of Toronto has produced many notable alumni over the years. Some of these alumni have gone on to become leaders in their field, while others have made significant contributions to society.
Here are just a few of the University of Toronto’s most notable alumni:
The late William Lyon Mackenzie King was the longest serving Prime Minister of Canada, holding office for 22 years and 26 days during three separate periods between 1921 and 1948. It was at the University of Toronto that he earned his Bachelor’s degree in 1894, eventually going on to earn a Masters from Harvard in 1896. Despite his turbulent political life, he was considered a consensus builder who sought to strengthen Canadian identity while promoting both national unity and international peace. His time as prime minister saw great strides in public infrastructure whilst also ensuring social justice and labour rights were preserved.
Norman Jewison has achieved great success in the entertainment industry as an acclaimed filmmaker, producer and actor. He attended the university during the 1940s where he showed his aptitude for performance and storytelling. Over the span of his career he directed some of Hollywood’s most memorable movies, including The Cincinnati Kid; In The Heat Of The Night; Moonstruck; Fiddler on the Roof, among others. His works have earned him various awards and honors such as four Academy Awards nominations for Best Director. Jewison also garnered numerous other accolades including being appointed as a Companion of the Order of Canada and receiving honorary degrees from University of Toronto, Ryerson University and York University.
A physician, poet and a Canadian icon, John McCrae gained international acclaim for his poem In Flanders Fields. He was born in Guelph, Ontario and attended the University of Toronto from 1883 to 1888 where he obtained a Bachelor in Arts degree as well as degrees in medicine and literature. His career later lead him to serve in WWI with an artillery regiment before taking his place as Brigade Surgeon for the 1st Brigade. For his service he was mentioned in despatches twice and awarded the DSO which stands for Distinguished Service Order. Sadly John died of pneumonia on January 28th 1918 but he continues to live on through his legacy as one of Canada’s most beloved poets.
Naomi Klein received her Master’s Degree from the University of Toronto and is one of the most prominent graduates in recent memory. As an award-winning journalist and activist, her searing analysis and inspiring advocacy has spanned multiple disciplines, including environmentalism and anti-capitalism. Her journalism has garnered international acclaim which was further bolstered by her variety of books that have documented events such as Hurricane Katrina, resulting in widespread attention to major issues like climate change and corporate corruption.
Brian Kernighan is a distinguished alumnus of the University of Toronto, having received both his Bachelor’s and Ph.D in Electrical Engineering from the university in 1965 and 1969 respectively. Since then, Kernighan has had an illustrious career, perhaps most notably as a pioneering computer scientist who played an influential role in the development of Unix. He also contributed significantly to many programming languages including C, AWK, and AMPL. His expertise even extended to co-authoring ‘The C Programming Language’ with Dennis Ritchie in 1978. As such it is clear why Kernighan is remembered fondly by his alma mater for his outstanding achievements within the field of computing science.
Lester B. Pearson, an esteemed University of Toronto alumnus and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, broke national and international boundaries throughout his illustrious career. After being awarded a Rhodes Scholarship in 1913, Pearson attended the University of Toronto where he was able to hone his critical thinking and writing skills while developing his passion for public service. His lifetime commitment to world peace began with his diplomatic contributions as Canada’s ambassador to the United States during World War II. But it was in 1956, when he was appointed Prime Minister of Canada, that Pearson made perhaps the most inspiring contribution of all– the idea for an international peacekeeping organization that would eventually come to be known as the United Nations Peacekeeping Force.
Margaret Atwood is one of the most revered alumni of the University of Toronto, having graduated in 1961 with a Bachelor’s degree in English. Since then, she has gone on to become an internationally renowned novelist, poet and essayist. She has written over twelve novels, seventeen books of poetry, nine collections of short stories and six children’s books throughout her career. To this day she remains strongly connected to her alma mater and continues to recognize the importance that it had on shaping her career as an author.
Adrienne Clarkson is an accomplished and prolific figure of Canadian media and politics. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Toronto before embarking on a remarkable career. Clarkson’s experience in public service includes stints as host of CBC Radio’s “Take 30”; producer and anchor for CBC-TV news programs. She was the Governor General of Canada from 1999-2005; and founding chief executive officer (CEO) of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship. In addition, she has since been recognized for her various notable achievements with numerous honorary degrees and awards. Truly, Adrienne Clarkson has left an impressive mark on our nation’s history with her vast contributions to media, arts and politics.
Robert Herjavec is defining success and blazing a trail for current and future students. This Serbian-Canadian entrepreneur, best known as an investor on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” grew up in Ontario and received an undergraduate degree in English Literature from UofT before he went on to work in corporate Canada. He eventually found success as the founder and CEO of cybersecurity firm The Herjavec Group. Herjavec’s rise to prominence serves as an inspiring example of achieving great wealth through hard work and ambition.
Paul Martin, the former Prime Minister of Canada and the current member of the Canadian Advisory Council on Economic Growth, is an alumnus of University of Toronto. He graduated in 1961 with a Bachelor of Commerce degree and gained election as Member of Parliament for Lasalle-Émard, Quebec in 1988. His stints as Minister of Finance from 1993 to 2002 and as Prime Minister from 2003 to 2006 helped him craft sound economic policies, improve educational resources for Indigenous peoples, and establish new public accountability measures during his tenure. His accomplishments have won him international recognition.
UofT continues to pride itself in creating an environment conducive to producing successful individuals who impact their communities for the greater good – something that stands strong at the heart of this great institution.
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