University of Toronto lowers flags to half-mast in honour of Loretta Rogers

Loretta Rogers

The University of Toronto lowered flags to half-mast across the three campuses Tuesday to honour Loretta Rogers, a leading philanthropist and longtime director at telecom giant Rogers Communications Inc.

Rogers – who died on June 11 at age 83, and who was remembered at a funeral service this morning – was a driving force behind a $130-million gift from the Rogers family to establish the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research, named after her late husband and founder of Rogers Communications. The donation to the Hospital for Sick Children, University Health Network and U of T was one of the largest private donations in Canadian health-care history.

“In the course of U of T’s history, few have forged change like Loretta Rogers,” said U of T President Meric Gertler in a tribute published on U of T’s Defy Gravity website. “Her impact on research, academic programs and student financial support has transformed lives, created hope, and moved society forward. She was one of a kind. I offer the University’s sincerest condolences to Lisa, Ed, Melinda, Martha, and all the Rogers family.”

Trevor Young, dean of the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, called the gift “transformational,” noting that it “catalyzed a tremendous surge of discovery – uncovering key genetic causes of heart failure, inventing new ways to repair injured hearts, and improving patient outcomes in multiple areas.”

The Rogers family has also supported U of T’s Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering and Trinity College. In 2000, Loretta and Ted donated $25 million to U of T Engineering, which led to the endowment of two research chairs, the Edward S. Rogers Sr. Chair in Engineering and the Velma M. Rogers Graham Chair in Engineering. The funding also supported graduate and undergraduate scholarships that have benefited 2,400 students to date.

In recognition of the gift, the faculty named its department of electrical and computer engineering after Edward S. Rogers Sr., Ted’s father, who was a student in the department from 1919 to 1921. The Rogers family made the gift on what would have been Ted’s father’s 100th birthday.

Trinity College named its library in honour of Ted’s stepfather, John W. Graham.

“With Loretta’s passing, the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering has not only lost a generous champion but also a cherished friend,” said Dean Christopher Yip. “She and Ted were deeply connected to U of T Engineering, and were tremendously important in helping us become Canada’s top-ranked engineering school and one of the best in the world. They always inspired us to reach higher.”

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