Meet Our Donors

Behind every gift to OCAD U there is a story to tell. The donors highlighted here provide a small snapshot of our many supporters who are helping us put imagination to work.

Rosalie & Isadore Sharp

Long time benefactors Rosalie (AOCA, 1969) and Isadore Sharp, founders of the Four Seasons Hotel chain, have pledged $3-million to OCAD University to create a dramatic new façade on the Rosalie Sharp Pavilion at 115 McCaul, and to transform the building into the OCAD University Centre for Experiential Learning. This student-focused centre is dedicated to studio-based learning across the university’s program areas, partnerships with community and industry, and training in professional and business skills. Bortolotto Architects have been selected to transform the Pavilion into a striking landmark that will anchor the university’s creative city campus along McCaul St.

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"We funded the creation of the Sharp Centre for Design at a time when the institution was literally and figuratively being lifted to a new level,” said Rosalie Sharp. “With this donation, we are helping build another artistic landmark that solidifies OCAD U’s place as a hub of innovation in Toronto."

Ada Slaight

Ada Slaight has committed $3-million to fund scholarships, improve studios and student gallery space, and create The Ada Slaight Chair of Contemporary Painting and Print Media. The Ada Slaight Chair will focus on drawing and painting, printmaking, and digital painting and animation. The Ada Slaight Entrance Scholarships will create the university’s largest and most prestigious scholarship program. The Ada Slaight Studios will improve studios for painting, drawing and printmaking at 100 McCaul St.

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“This investment by my mother Ada Slaight continues her 25 years of volunteering, leadership and advocacy in support of OCAD University. This reinforces her commitment to enabling students to excel in their studies and push the boundaries of imagination,” said Gary Slaight, President & CEO, Slaight Communications

Delaney Family Foundation

The Delaney Family Foundation has pledged $2-million to OCAD U to fund scholarships for undergraduate and graduate visual artists. The gift will also support the university’s Indigenous Visual Culture program - its curriculum, Research Centre, outreach and campus-wide activities as well as the new Delaney Chair in Indigenous Visual Culture.

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“As the Chancellor of OCAD University, I have seen the new opportunities created in our indigenous program, Faculty of Art and graduate studies. Our family looks for ways to help students and these two areas provide great opportunities,” said Kiki Delaney, who is president of Delaney Capital Management.

Relay Ventures

OCAD U Board of Governors member John Albright, co-founder and managing partner of Relay Ventures, is leading a $1-million investment of private funding to OCAD University through the creation and oversight of an investment fund, which will provide early stage (or seed) financing for Imagination Catalyst teams. This new investment will contribute 10 per cent toward the operating costs of the business accelerator program. This relationship will boost the Imagination Catalyst and OCAD University’s brand and reputation as a hub of creative entrepreneurship.

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"OCAD University is one of Canada’s best-kept secrets and produces world-class design professionals necessary to the success of any enterprises, large or small’, says John Albright. OCAD U represents creativity and innovation; it brings a completely new dimension to technology-driven entrepreneurship…and our investment in the Imagination Catalyst Fund is a logical extension of our focus in that area."

The Manchee Family Foundation

The Manchee family has donated more than $550,000 to support OCAD University’s new Design for Health graduate program. The generous gift comes as the university prepares to deliver game-changing education and research to dramatically improve design practices related to healthcare environments, medical technologies and public health policy and communications. The gift will allow the new scholarship to be endowed in perpetuity. Each year, starting in the 2016/17 academic year, the two top applicants to the M. Des. program will receive scholarships.

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“The Manchee family is pleased to support this innovative program with a scholarship that will permit the most promising students to further their studies in the field of healthcare design,” said Susan Manchee. “The Manchee Foundation was created to further education in the arts, design and healthcare fields, we are proud to support this program with a lasting legacy.”

Left to right: Michael McClelland, Kelly Uyeda, Matthew Evans.

Matthew Evans

For Matthew Evans (AOCAD, Industrial Design, 2002), giving back directly to upcoming artists and designers was the main focus in setting up the Evans Award with Michael McClelland. Both Matthew and Michael are avid art collectors and wanted to see funding help a new artist or designer starting out in the industry. Kelly Uyeda (BFA Drawing & Painting, 2015) the 2015 recipient of the Evans Award, is taking her time in putting the Award to good use. When asked how she will use the Award, she paused and answered, “I’m saving it for something special. I want to use it for studio space, or setting up a collective with fellow artists, making a space our own.” Kelly’s work was featured in the OCAD U booth at Art Toronto 2015. For Matthew and Michael, this has come full-circle, helping a fresh graduate continue in their creative potential.


RBC Foundation

Thanks to a generous gift of $200,000 from the RBC Foundation, OCAD University will be able to launch the RBC Institute for Emerging Artists & Designers – a flagship suite of programs that will include a slate of expanded co-curricular programs and services, offered free of charge, to help students transition from graduation to creative careers.

The RBC Institute will offer OCAD U students more depth on the essentials of business planning, financial literacy, leadership skills, marketing and networking, and will enable students to access a wider range of frequent seminars, workshops and clinics covering topics from portfolio development to crowd-funding.

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“As a longstanding supporter of the arts, we recognize the importance of providing opportunities for promising artists. We are confident that the RBC Institute will help creative and talented design students develop their careers and transition into the professional world and we are proud to support this initiative."

Danica Loncar

Danica Loncar (AOCA, Drawing & Painting, 1992) graduated from OCAD University with honours. She was also a recipient of the Lieutenant Governor's Medal. During her time as a student, she benefited from a learning environment so rich that it has stayed with her since graduating. Danica fondly remembers the instruction of Lorne Towes and Pheobe Gilman in her figurative drawing and painting classes and the excited, creative flurry that was her life as a student. Her positive experiences followed her as she embarked on her journey as a practising artist and teacher, instructing in both art and design at the college level.

Practising the message of mentorship has been a part of Danica's life ever since. She is the director of Art Works Art School and Gallery in Toronto, founded in 1996, and the force behind the establishment of two OCAD U scholarships. Community-building is one of the core principles of Danica's mandate for Art Works Art School and Gallery, and also the motivating factor in her commitment to OCAD U, of which she will always remain a part.

"The Art Works Art School Scholarships are a humble way of allowing me to say "Thank You" to OCAD University.”

Canada Walk of Fame

Canada’s Walk of Fame is delighted to partner with OCAD University to award scholarships, each valued at $2,500, that will help cover tuition fees. These scholarships are presented annually to two third-year undergraduate students who have achieved the highest academic success in the Material Art & Design program.

As a national registered charity, Canada’s Walk of Fame is committed to not only celebrating Canadian excellence, but also inspiring the next generation of emerging talent. Through scholarships and programs such as the Canada’s Walk of Fame Scholarship at OCAD U, Canada’s Walk of Fame offers support to engage, inspire and mentor young Canadians.

Canada’s Walk of Fame believes OCAD University’s bold and future-facing learning environment provides students the necessary skills and guidance to excel in their chosen careers.

"By teaming up with a renowned educational institution like OCAD University, Canada's Walk of Fame is supporting aspiring students pursuing a career in fine arts to achieve their best."
Richard St. John

Richard St. John

Richard St. John (AOCA, Industrial Design, 1969) was awarded an OCAD Mclean Traveling Scholarship after graduating at the top of his Industrial Design class. He bought a bike and peddled thousands of kilometres across South East Asia. Travel paved the way for his future success, as he “was pushed to practice skills that would make for a better designer and photographer... and the OCAD Travel Scholarship is what made it all possible”.

Richard did indeed succeed in a number of careers. He is best known for his TED talk “8 Secrets of Success.” It has over 8.5 million views, and is one of the most viewed TED talks (out of 2,000) as well as the most translated TED talk (66 languages). By researching success, and using his OCAD skills to communicate it visually and simply, his talks and books are helping millions worldwide.”

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“Last year I realized it was time to give back. My wife and I donate to charities every year, but I wanted to thank OCAD in a bigger way. So we made a donation to set up an ongoing Richard St. John Travel Scholarship. So now, more students will have the same wonderful opportunity that I had so many years ago to travel, learn, and expand their minds. Doing it on a bicycle is optional."

Craig Harris (Environmental Design) (right), the inaugural recipient, James Anderson, Lead Creative Director (centre), and Terry Brown, Creative Director (left)


FORREC, a Toronto-based entertainment design company, creates places of escape and destinations of distinction, and is behind the new FORREC Design Scholarship of Excellence at OCAD University. Created in 2014, this scholarship is granted to a third-year environmental design student to help launch the career of a promising designer: suitable for someone who has consistently exceeded requirements through their course work, projects and extra-curricular activities. The recipient also has to show a commitment to big ideas and design creativity, have strong communication and interpersonal skills, and be a resourceful self-starter. James Anderson, Lead Creative Director and Terry Brown, Creative Director were already familiar with the calibre of OCAD U students. They’d attended the annual Graduate Exhibition and have hired OCAD U graduates for their Creative Studio in the past. So establishing this scholarship was an obvious next step.

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“It’s a pleasure for us to support newcomers in our field because it benefits the overall industry. We get to meet new talent and students have the opportunity to learn about FORREC, and to see the possibilities ahead for them after graduating,” says James Anderson, Lead Creative Director.
Jack Dixon

Image of Jack Dixon

Jack Dixon

After Jack Dixon (AOCA, 1960) graduated from OCAD University (then OCA), he taught part-time in 1965 and then full-time in the mid-1970s when the curriculum began to change. Winning the Governor General Award medal inspired him to establish the Jack Dixon Award for Excellence in 1989, which is still granted annually to students in the Industrial Design or Environmental Design programs.

"Being a monthly donor helps me to keep up to date of the goings-on at OCAD University. The cost of tuition has changed considerably since I was a student, so I give what I can to help students while also inspiring future thinkers and leaders of tomorrow”.