September 30, 2005
by Canadian Architect
Some of the brightest and best of the world’s architectural elite could soon be teaching at McGill University. Canada’s oldest architecture school is inviting the discipline’s leading minds to its doors thanks to a new million-dollar endowment for visiting international professors. The Gerald Sheff Visiting Professorship in Architecture will fund a new faculty position focused on stimulating innovation and professional excellence through teaching, public speaking and research.
The generous donation from business leader and philanthropist Gerald Sheff (B.Arch. ’64) will attract top international architects and related professionals, say university officials. Sheff’s firm, Gluskin Sheff and Associates, are long-time supporters of the School of Architecture, funding the Gluskin Sheff Travelling Scholarships in Architecture that give high-achieving undergraduates an opportunity to learn abroad.
A strong booster of the role of architectural design in creating living spaces that inspire harmonious human interaction, Sheff says “the legacies of the world’s great architects stand among the most powerful connections to our past, and to the ways in which other generations lived, worked and thought. I am pleased to have an opportunity to support the learning of current and future architects, to provide opportunities for them to bring their vision to the public, private and commercial spaces that reflect our lives and time.”
“Gerald Sheff is a superb alumnus of McGill and of the McGill School of Architecture, and a dedicated member of the McGill Community. The Gerald Sheff Visiting Professorship will enable us to better realize our ambitions, by giving McGill additional resources to attract and support top talent,” said Heather Munroe-Blum, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “Through his outstanding generosity, Gerald Sheff has made it possible for the School of Architecture to enhance its reputation for aspiring to the highest standards of teaching and research.”
David Covo, Director of the School of Architecture, welcomes the Sheff gift, saying it will enhance the experience of McGill students by giving them a superb opportunity to study with world-renowned architectural leaders. “These people are known to our students through lectures and publications-their reputations precede them. They are architects whose work is shaping our cities. And the endowment allows us to promote opportunities for their direct engagement with the students. We can now integrate them in a more meaningful way into the teaching of design at McGill.”
“Gerald Sheff is one of the greatest patrons of architecture,” says Bruce Kuwabara, partner of the prestigious firm Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects. “He knows the difference between very good and excellent design, and is consistent in supporting the highest standards. He’s a champion of quality.”
“With his keen sense of design and discerning eye, Gerald Sheff is a passionate supporter of architecture. His generosity today links his success as an entrepreneur to his early training at the McGill School of Architecture,” adds Marianne McKenna of KPMB.
Gerald Sheff is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Gluskin Sheff and Associates Inc. Born in Montreal, he graduated from the School of Architecture at McGill University in 1964 and received a Master of Business Administration degree from the Harvard Business School in 1971.
Before co-founding the investment management firm of Gluskin Sheff and Associates in 1984, Sheff held senior executive positions with Cadillac Fairview Corporation. During his 13-year association with the company, he served as Executive Vice-President and Director, and was a member of both the Executive and Pension Fund committees of the Board. As President of Cadillac Fairview’s Land & Housing Group, he was responsible for the management and disposition of real estate assets throughout North America worth approximately $2 billion.
Sheff is a member of the Board of Governors of McGill University, and is active in many community and charitable organizations. In Toronto, he serves on the Board of Mount Sinai Hospital, is a Director of Baycrest Hospital and an Honorary Trustee of the Ontario College of Art Foundation. He is a past Chairman of the United Jewish Appeal and has served as a Director of the Ontario College of Art, the Harvard Business School Club, the Arthritis Society and the Canadian Stage Company. He is also a member of the advisory board of The Scotiabank Giller Prize and a member of the board of trustees of the Art Gallery of Ontario Foundation.