New College students and alumnus Richard Rooney join forces to enhance New College campus

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The New College Student Council (NCSC) and New College alumnus and strong supporter Richard Rooney (B.A., 1977) have donated a combined $800,000 to build a plaza that will enhance the streetscape on Willcocks Street, bring attention to the New College campus and increase the functionality of the College’s existing space.

Earlier this year, the New College Student Council, following a vote by New College students, pledged $150,000 towards the Plaza. Rooney, inspired by the students’ generosity and leadership, generously gifted the remaining $650,000 needed to fund the project.

“The New College Student Council has a long history of working with New College’s administration and staff to improve student spaces. It is an honour to work hand in hand with people whose goals align with ours: to better serve our students,” said NCSC President Ashkan Azimi. “This year’s NCSC executives, board of directors and representatives are continuing the legacy of passion, innovation and excellence shown by previous councils.”

The Plaza will be a tangible symbol of the leadership demonstrated by New College students. Its design envisions a prominent entryway to help raise awareness of the New College quadrangle and act as a marker for the College. The design also includes bicycle racks, landscaping, large benches and a footpath to enhance the pedestrian traffic flow between the College’s entrances on Huron and Willcocks Streets.

“For years, I defended New College’s rather unusual design. It is not your usual stone-and-arches building, but I really like it,” Rooney said. “How validating it was when an architect friend of mine called New College a perfect example of a distinctive period of modern architecture. The new Plaza will provide a beautiful and functional space that will welcome students and visitors and provide a meeting place for them, while complementing that iconic architecture.”

“The clincher for me was when I heard New College students had voted to raise $150,000 of their own money to advance the project,” Rooney continued. “The best people to assess the importance of any project are the people who will live with it every day. I am proud to invest in New College alongside them.”

Rooney, President and CIO of Burgundy Asset Management Ltd., is a long-time supporter of the University of Toronto. He has received an Arbor Award in recognition of his service as the Chair of the New College campaign cabinet. He currently supports New College’s New One: Learning Without Borders program for first-year students and Principal’s Innovation Fund, and previously supported the Brian Euler gymnasium in the 45 Willcocks Street residence building.

“Last year, we celebrated New College’s 50th anniversary. Thanks to the generosity of Richard and our students, the stage is now set for the College’s next 50 years and beyond,” said Principal Yves Roberge. “In the coming years, the Plaza will provide a new space for students to gather and foster an even stronger sense of community within the College. This revitalized outdoor space will anchor the New College campus and connect our buildings in a way that reflects, and enhances, the connections our students are making at the College every day.”

Published December 2013