The Fields Institute Turns Twenty-Five 170725 Final book with covers - Page 26

4 W.F. Shadwick This is a brief sketch of what I remember about the critical points in the creation of the Fields Institute and the pivotal contributions to it. While writing it, I have been on a different continent from my records of the time. I apologize to anyone who has been unintentionally slighted in this account and hope to correct any such lapses in an extended version in future. Ontario Centres of Excellence but Not in Mathematics In the winter of the 1985–86 academic year, at a meeting of the University of Waterloo Mathematics Faculty Council, Waterloo’s plans were announced for participation in a new program of research entitled the “Centres of Excellence,” initiated and funded by the Province of Ontario. No consideration had been given to mathematics as a potential area of research to be supported in this program. I thought this was especially odd given that Waterloo had the singular distinction of having an entire faculty devoted to mathematics and was home to several first-rate mathematicians. I was perhaps the only mathematician in Canada at that time who had been both a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) and the new Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) at Berkeley. So, while there were others who had been members of IAS—“The Institute,” as it was known in those days —and knew what a tremendous resource it was, there was far less awareness of the new model that the Berkeley Institute provide d. MSRI had demonstrated that a visiting member institute with no permanent faculty could generate research programs as fruitful as those at the IAS without the need for a modern equivalent of the Institute for Advanced Study’s wealthy founding benefactors.