The Fields Institute Turns Twenty-Five 170725 Final book with covers - Page 30

8 W.F. Shadwick was Peter Nicholson. An Institute Needs a Board of Directors By this time (probably late 1988 or early 1989), John Chadam had become my aide-de-camp. We went to Toronto one day to meet Peter Nicholson, then working as a special advisor to Cedric Richie at the Bank of Nova Scotia. We left that meeting (and a good lunch Peter Nicholson treated us to) convinced that we had found the first Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Institute. Jerry Marsden’s extraordinary energy on the scientific side was matched by Peter Nicholson’s advice on the c ampaign. Over the next few years on the daily commute between Burlington and Waterloo, I almost always spoke with Peter on the car phone before 8 a.m. on the way in and with Jerry in the evening on the way home. John was also involved on a more or less daily basis. Brick Wall? By the beginning of the 1989–90 academic year, there was still no sign of a second round of Ontario’s Centres of Excellence and to make matters worse, Cornell’s Mathematics Research Center was looking for a new director and had been courting Jerry. By March 1990, the prospects for the Fields Institute, in spite of the now quite apparent benefits it would bring, appeared hopeless. Vic Snaith, who had been serving as the Chairman of the Fields Institute Committee, and I went to Ottawa to make an invited presentation to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Science and Technology. I cannot recall what generated this invitation but I suspect that Peter had a hand in it. We told them about the Fields Institute and our conclusion that there was apparently no means of funding it.