The Fields Institute Turns Twenty-Five 170725 Final book with covers - Page 46

24 James Arthur There was considerable opposition to the idea. A number of mathematicians, especially from outside Ontario, felt that Canada could not support more than one major institute. There was also concern that if the institute was not successful, it would impose burdens on mathematicians in the province that could undermine their ability to do mathematical research. There was even some opposition to the proposed name of the institute, especially its promotion on the basis of implicit ties to “the mathematical equivalent of the Nobel Prize.” As an aside, I think it is fair to say that the Fields Medal today, with its continuing upper age limitation of forty years, has regained some of its original standing as a celebration of the future vitality of mathematics. Nevertheless, Shadwick was unshakable in his determination to bring the institute into being. His countless interventions with government, universities, scientists, and members of the broader public were at last rewarded. The Fields Institute was established in 1992, with Jerrold Marsden serving as its founding Director. It was temporarily based at the University of Waterloo, with the understanding that a permanent home would be determined later. A Permanent Home My most vivid memory of these early years is connected with the process for choosing a permanent home. When I returned to Canada as professor at the University of Toronto in 1979, I was somewhat surprised at the rivalry among mathematics programs at the various universities in Ontario. In retrospect, this was perhaps an understandable feeling among departments making their way in the rapidly expanding world of international mathematics. Nowadays, I think that Ontario (and Canadian) mathematics departments see each other more as allies than competitors.