The Fields Institute Turns Twenty-Five 170725 Final book with covers - Page 58

36 Derek Corneil and also, importantly, of the President of the University of Waterloo, Doug Wright. Their infectious enthusiasm spread quickly from Waterloo to McMaster University and to the University of Toronto. There may not have been a second round of competitions for Centres of Excellence, but the idea for a mathematics research institute in Southern Ontario nevertheless gained support from NSERC with the condition that it be located at one of the several sponsoring universities, which were then competing to provide it with a permanent home. Steve Halperin was Chair of Mathematics at the University of Toronto at the time, and I represented the Faculty of Arts and Science in large research projects. Together, we drew up the Toronto proposal. Faculty members of both departments gave strong support to the notional institute, and crucially won the backing of the President of the University, Rob Prichard, who recognized immediately the significance of a mathematical research institute and would not countenance it going elsewhere than to Toronto. Prichard met the bus carrying the Site Selection Committee, climbed on board, holding up traffic on St. George Street, while he shook hands and introduced himself to the committee members. Toronto won the competition. Three sites at the University of Toronto were proposed. The first was the location of the Boys and Girls Library at 40 St. George Street, which was for sale. The second was an addition to the Sidney Smith building, but an engineering assessment indicated that the property would be unable to bear the additional weight. The third site was 222 College Street, then being used as a parking lot. Finding sufficient parking created problems for some time between the University and the City of Toronto parking authorities, but around then, the University saw the wisdom