The Fields Institute Turns Twenty-Five 170725 Final book with covers - Page 51

The Competition 29 Institute now sits and brings such credit to the University. And the mathematicians insisted on a special architecturally compelling building, rejecting institutional bureaucracy and lesser ambitions. When the competition was held, we put forward a very compelling case, we brought out every big gun we had, and I chaired our team in the actual hearing/interview—again as a symbol of institutional commitment. It worked. We blew the panel away with our commitment, plans, building, and overall offer and as a result were awarded the Institute, beating others such as the University of Waterloo who did not anticipate our aggressive competitive bid and assumed it would stay put in Waterloo. John Charles Fields’ personal association with the University of Toronto was part of the narrative (and of our bid document) and part of the great tradition of mathematics at U of T. However, our enthusiasm for the cause would have been essentially the same even if the name had been different. Our bid was about the substantive merits, not nostalgia. That said, there can be no doubt that the legend of Fields has been and continues to be an inspiration to all mathematicians at U of T and at the Fields Institute. We knew it was the right thing to do, and history has judged us well. And that win inspired other wins as colleagues raised their sights and aimed for the stars. Simcoe Hall was judged as having been an asset instead of a dead weight in the process, and that helped reposition the administration as well. In the end, it turned out that winning Fields was an important turning point for the University and we have never looked back. The brains of this whole initiative lay in the leadership of Mathematics, Arts and Science, the Vice–President Research, Jim Keffer, and no doubt many others. They were the heroes. My role was simply to do my job, seize the opportunity, commit the land, building, and dollars necessary to win,