New Experiential Learning Commons will help prepare U of T students for the jobs of the future
Oct 23, 2023
Alumnus and donor Paul Cadario helped launch the centre with a transformative gift of $4 million to support undergraduate students’ real-world experiences.
Paul Cadario and University of Toronto Chancellor Rose Patten.
The official opening of the Experiential Learning Commons (ELC), a new flagship space on the St. George campus for student-oriented professional development activities, took place on October 11. The event gave the university a chance to celebrate the ELC’s opening while also thanking and recognizing Paul Cadario (BASc 1973, Hon LLD 2013) for his transformational support of undergraduate student awards. The new Paul Cadario Experiential Learning Student Awards and the Paul Cadario Social Impact Internships will be held by both the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering and Faculty of Arts & Science. These new funds will provide experiential learning opportunities for students as well as internships with non-profit and community organizations.
“Some of the most important experiences for students happen outside the classroom — through internships, co-ops and other forms of experiential learning,” says President Meric Gertler. “I want to thank Paul Cadario for supporting student success with these endowed awards. They will open doors to a lifetime of success and fulfillment for talented U of T students, while contributing to the prosperity of the Toronto region and society as a whole.”
Supporting student success
Paul Cadario endowed four undergraduate awards in conjunction with the ELC’s opening; two at the Faculty of Arts & Science and two at the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering. Establishment of the new experiential learning awards will support as many as 60 students each year, while the establishment of new social impact internships will support approximately 12 students each year.
“The Paul Cadario Experiential Learning Student Awards and Social Impact Internships will help remove barriers for students who face financial need,” says Vice-President and Provost Cheryl Regehr. “This crucial support will also ensure that students can participate at non-governmental organizations and socially conscious start-ups that actively benefit our communities.”
Cadario, one of U of T’s most active and dedicated volunteers and alumni, is a former president of the University of Toronto Alumni Association and a fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy. Having spent his professional life working for the World Bank, Cadario is passionate about experiential learning as one way to make a social impact. With the opening of the Experiential Learning Commons, Cadario saw an opportunity to foster positive social change.
An eagerness to learn and grow
“I’m always interested in supporting students’ professional and personal development,” says Cadario. “Many non-profit organizations in Canada — unlike multinational corporations, for example — cannot offer competitive internships to undergraduates. But I believe these community organizations are where passionate students can truly make the biggest difference. In turn, these are the organizations that can most benefit from students’ enthusiasm and eagerness to learn and grow. I’m delighted to be able to help students realize their potential.”
I’m delighted to be able to help students realize their potential.
The Experiential Learning Commons is a resource for students from all three campuses, helping to provide enriching educational opportunities that also increase practical knowledge.
“As a student in the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering, I’m tremendously excited about this new resource,” says Orrin Dahanaggamaarachchi, a third-year undergraduate pursuing robotics and engineering business. “Having practical experience in my field will increase my chances of being hired after I graduate. Above all, it will give me the skills necessary to make a lasting impact.”
I’m delighted to be able to help students realize their potential.
Opportunities for practical learning
Located at the corner of College and Beverley streets, the ELC provides a physical space for the university to deepen its resources and help students explore myriad opportunities for practical learning. This tri-campus initiative is equally funded by the the Faculty of Arts & Science, the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering and the Provost’s Office.
“Experiential learning initiatives allow students to explore different career options, earn an income while learning, gain insights into markets and develop essential job-search skills,” says Melanie Woodin, Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Science. “Students are increasingly interested in these types of opportunities and this new resource will help prepare them for success after university. It will give them the skills, connections and confidence they need to compete in the job market or launch their own ventures.”
The endowed Paul Cadario Experiential Learning Student Awards and Social Impact Internships aim to prepare U of T students for the jobs of the future by facilitating meaningful work experience and networking opportunities.
“Student awards and expanded programs provided through the Experiential Learning Commons will set them up for success after graduation,” says Chris Yip, Dean of the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering. “We proudly join others in thanking Paul Cadario for making them possible.”
Making a positive difference
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Cadario’s graduation from the university with a Bachelor of Applied Science. And the opening of the ELC represents a rededication by U of T to the types of opportunities Cadario himself had as an undergraduate. Cadario benefited from paid summer job placements, working alongside U of T professors in both the Northwest Territories and Toronto. When making his current gift, he felt that similar opportunities could assist today’s students to make a positive difference in their communities.
“U of T is fortunate to count Paul Cadario among our most generous friends and supporters,” says David Palmer, Vice-President, Advancement. “The scholarships and fellowships he has created to date have changed students’ lives within Arts & Science and Engineering, with his contributions to University College, the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, the Centre for Global Engineering and the Paul Cadario Conference Centre at Croft Chapter House. We are proud and delighted that he has joined with us to support experiential learning opportunities for students.”