Story by Laura Rosen Cohen
The University of Toronto is internationally recognized for being a hub of inclusive academic excellence. It brings together people from every conceivable background to create a healthier, more sustainable, and equitable world. On the St. George campus alone, there is a veritable army of staff and support workers who make sure that everything runs as it should. They serve and create student spaces, communities, innovation in sustainable foods, thoughtful nutrition, act as family away from home, develop plans for new buildings on campus, make meals, supervise parking, create, and plan events and so much more. This team is the Spaces & Experiences portfolio.
The Spaces & Experiences group works to set new standards for the campus experience. It enables students to be more comfortable on campus throughout their stay, allowing students to keep their primary focus on academics and their holistic campus experience. Meals on campus are created by the Food Services team with sustainable, local produce and served in our friendly, home-away-from home dining halls and residences. Our family housing unit offers holiday programming, special events, field trips, drop-in activities for kids and facilitates community access to social supports. Our physical spaces remain inspiring and inviting, and new builds on campus keep sustainability at the forefront of planning. Our goal to provide excellence in service, remains synchronized with the University’s academic reputation for excellence.
The background to this evolution tracks back to June 2020, when the University’s Governing Council approved the amalgamation of Ancillary Services with Real Estate Partnerships. This move created a new portfolio with an expanded mandate filled with exciting possibilities in support of students, faculty, staff and the St. George campus in general. Initially referred to as University Development and Campus Services (UDCS) the portfolio integrated the 4Corners real estate strategy, the planned expansion of new student communities, campus collaborative events, food services and the development of innovation spaces on campus. Therefore, a new name was required to accurately reflect the depth, breadth, and widespread impact of the portfolio on the St. George Campus.
Going forward, this portfolio and group of creative campus problem solvers will now be known as Spaces & Experiences (S&E). This name expresses what the portfolio creates and provides for the university community and does a better job of describing what S&E curates, develops, and markets to its stakeholders – both internal and external.
Image Gallery: Some of the many ways the Spaces & Experiences portfolio services the U of T community.
Spaces and Experiences is comprised of University Family Housing, Student Residences (Chestnut, Graduate House, and Knox College), Food Services, Real Estate Partnerships, Campus Events, Transportation Services, St. George Catering, Campus Beverage Services, and the Chestnut Conference Centre.
“Our team members interact daily with students, staff, and faculty in our dining halls, residences and within new developments on campus. Every interaction that we have is an opportunity to make an impact and enhance the campus experience,” says Anne MacDonald, Assistant Vice-President, Spaces & Experiences.
This philosophy directly complements the Defy Gravity campaign recently launched by the University of Toronto. This landmark fundraising campaign incorporates and articulates several critical and forward-thinking aspirations for the future of the University. One of the main campaign focuses is raising the funds that will enable U of T to continue to advance the frontiers of knowledge by transcending disciplines and borders in a diverse and inclusive community. In the same vein, Spaces & Experiences is committed to creating the most positive, innovative, inclusive and meaningful campus experiences for the St. George campus. Campus life prepares students to be the next generation of leaders and providing excellence in the overall campus life experience enhances U of T’s reach and impact and helps to build the University’s global reputation.
U of T President Meric Gertler has made it a top priority to ensure that U of T is an environmentally positive campus, promising to divest the University from fossil fuels, and aiming for a Climate Positive Campus by the year 2050. Spaces & Experiences has heeded this call, and it permeates all our campus operations. From supporting local Ontario farmers and food producers, to limiting single-use plastics on campus, from providing reusable eco containers in our dining halls and composting to making sure that all new campus builds follow the highest industry standards of sustainability and innovation.
Spaces & Experiences is committed to continually expanding the campus horizons of excellence in service to our community. Learn more about Spaces & Experiences and our commitment to service excellence in our newly launched website.