Monday, May 9, 2016
Gerry Schwartz

Brilliant entrepreneur, vigorous city builder, magnanimous philanthropist and proud Canadian Gerald (Gerry) Schwartz, founder of private equity firm Onex Corporation, will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree at the Faculty of Law’s Convocation ceremony on June 3, 2016.

Under Schwartz’s leadership, Onex is an incredible Canadian success story, one that has not only created a valuable public company in its own right, but one whose business model depends on improving other businesses around the globe. Its impact has been outstanding.

A tremendous supporter of a variety of educational, medical, and cultural organizations and institutions, Schwartz is also an exemplary civic leader, giving back generously of his time, as well as financially.

“Gerry Schwartz has made contributions to business and community that are each remarkable in their own right, and collectively are nothing short of exceptional,” says Dean Ed Iacobucci. “We are very pleased to be able to bestow this honour on someone who so deeply deserves it.”

Schwartz has been deeply involved with the Faculty of Law over many years. He provided valuable support for the construction of the spectacular new Rosalie Silberman Abella Classroom, and has enriched the experience of countless students of constitutional law with his support for the annual visits of Justice Aharon Barak of the Supreme Court of Israel. Each year, the top three JD/MBA students with the highest overall academic achievement in a combined program are recognized with the Gerald W. Schwartz Medals. In addition, he supported the endowment of the Prichard Wilson Chair in Law and Public Policy at the Faculty of Law.

Schwartz served on the University of Toronto’s Governing Council as a governor for a maximum nine-year term, from 1986 to 1994. During this time, his contributions to U of T’s vision and success were far-reaching. He provided valuable counsel to the president as a member of the Executive Committee (1992-95), and together with his wife Heather Reisman, supported the endowment of the Heather M. Reisman Chair in Perinatal Nursing Research.

Currently, he sits on the board of trustees of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, a global human rights organization. He is the former vice chairman and a member of the executive committee of Mount Sinai Hospital, and has served on the boards of Junior Achievement of Toronto and the Canadian Centre for Diversity.  Other directorships include on the boards of Indigo Books & Music Inc. (honorary), the Bank of Nova Scotia and Celestica Inc.

He’s an officer of the Order of Canada, and a recipient of the University of Toronto’s Arbor Award for distinguished volunteers. He’s received honorary degrees from St. Francis Xavier and Tel Aviv universities.

Schwartz graduated with business and law degrees from the University of Manitoba in 1962 and 1966 respectively. He obtained a Harvard MBA in 1970, and launched his finance career in New York, first with Estabrook & Company, later with Bear Stearns & Company. He co-founded with the late Izzy Asper what is now known as CanWest Global Communications Corporation, and then founded Onex in 1984. 

As chair of the board, president and CEO of Onex, he has steered the global corporation to become recognized world-wide as an exceptional Canadian success story.