University of Toronto Mississauga

Jewel of Mississauga

This is a spectacular time of year to visit the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) campus, U of T’s western Greater Toronto Area campus. UTM’s unique setting on 225 acres of protected greenbelt along Mississauga’s Credit River, under a canopy of yellow, red and orange leaves, is an idyllic and welcoming educational setting.

Established in 1967, UTM is the second largest division of U of T, with 11,700 undergraduate students, 500 graduate students, 740 staff and over 40,000 alumni. The campus is home to 15 academic departments and an Institute of Communication, Culture and Information Technology, where the new $37-million Terrence Donnelly Health Sciences Complex joins the recently opened $70-million Instructional Centre and numerous other award-winning buildings and residences.

Beautiful surroundings and impressive facilities aside, the campus is much greater than the sum of its bricks and mortar. Once the “new campus”, UTM has started a history of its own over the last 45 years of academic excellence, broadening its reach into the community and fostering Mississauga’s burgeoning knowledge-based economy. The last 10 years, in particular, have seen major transformations on campus—undergraduate enrolment has doubled, new graduate programs have been established and the campus “footprint” has changed dramatically.

The Canadian Business Journal had the good fortune to speak with Professor Deep Saini, Vice-President of the University of Toronto and principal of UTM, about the role of UTM in the U of T framework, in Peel Region and nationwide.

“UTM has a strong strategic interest in delivering broad-based and specialty programs for our core student demographic—those from the western GTA, north to Georgetown, south to Burlington and west to Milton. It’s clear that there is increasing demand for higher education in these communities and huge potential for enrolment growth on this campus. But, increasingly, we are attracting a national and international audience. So, our next phase of growth is to broaden our academic offerings into new areas of scholarship, training and research to meet the needs of our student population.”

Specifically, UTM is building upon its core strength (arts and sciences) while dramatically expanding its business and management programs. Currently, the campus has close to 2,000 students studying in its high-demand commerce and management programs at both the undergraduate and graduate level. The time is right, Saini says, to take advantage of this burgeoning interest and to develop a specialty program with national and international caché.   

The Institute for Management and Innovation (IMI) will create a new model for business education and set the stage for the next phase of UTM’s growth, Saini says. “This institute will be the physical and intellectual nexus of 21st century innovation, a transformative initiative for this campus and university. ”

The institute, says Professor Ulrich Krull, Vice-Principal, Research, will train students to assume leadership roles in managing innovation in sectors such as the environment, biotechnology and sustainability. “The business of managing innovation is the single most important key to economic growth and prosperity in the 21st century. Our students will learn how to drive innovation, how to take ideas and actually move them forward to implementation. Our graduates will be leaders with keen business acumen coupled with scientific depth and an ability to translate creative ideas into viable commercial initiatives.”  

The institute, Krull adds, will bring together government, industry and university partners in a new and visionary way. Students will have hands-on experiential learning opportunities in sectors such as health, science, environment and business—a convergence that will help to drive the region’s economic development and will further Canada’s economic standing.

The IMI continues UTM’s expansion into new and exciting areas, an expansion that most recently included the opening of the Mississauga Academy of Medicine, a partnership with U of T’s Faculty of Medicine and two Mississauga hospitals. And the program growth won’t be stopping anytime soon. “We are continuing to look at new academic disciplines where there is demand and where we can collaborate with an established U of T program so we can best meet the needs of this campus,” Saini says.

UTM is also planning a significant increase to its international student complement—a more than 20 per cent increase of new international students over the next five years or so, says Saini. “More and more international students are applying to our campus every year. They know U of T Mississauga will deliver a first-rate education and give them a competitive edge in the workforce. We will be ready for them.”

So, despite the outward beauty and seeming tranquillity of U of T Mississauga dressed in its fall colours, don’t be fooled.  Underneath the idyllic exterior is a whirlwind of change waiting to emerge.