A distinguished supporter of higher education in Canada, Dr. Marcel Desautels (Hon LLD 2003) has passed away at the age of 88. He leaves a tremendous legacy in his support of post-secondary education across Canada.
“The University of Toronto has lost a great friend and champion in Marcel Desautels,” says President Meric Gertler. “He fully understood the value and power of higher education to transform people’s lives and build better societies. He was a model of philanthropy and a truly great Canadian. His many friends and admirers across U of T will miss him deeply.”
Marcel Desautels was a three-time graduate of the University of Manitoba. He also received honorary degrees from his alma mater (1999), the University of Toronto (2003) and McGill University (2007). Desautels was the President & CEO of the Canadian Credit Management Foundation, which selectively supports institutions of higher education—particularly universities, chairs and professorships. Before this, he was the President of Creditel of Canada, which, under his leadership, grew to become the country’s largest commercial credit and debt recovery bureau. After Creditel’s sale in 1996, Desautels used the proceeds to launch the Canadian Credit Management Foundation, a non-profit organization that to date has given over $100 million to post-secondary institutions in Canada.
"Marcel Desautels fully understood the value and power of higher education to transform people’s lives and build better societies. He was a model of philanthropy and a truly great Canadian."
—Meric Gertler, President, University of Toronto
A deep commitment to training business leaders at the Rotman School
“Marcel Desautels was a deeply engaged supporter of the Rotman School and its students,” says Susan Christoffersen, Dean of the Rotman School of Management. “Since its creation, the Desautels Centre for Integrative Thinking has been bringing together internationally renowned scholars and thought leaders, extending the frontiers of leadership education and changing the way that business schools teach. Marcel cared passionately about the Rotman School, and was deeply committed to its success in training the next generations of business leaders.”
Desautels had deep roots within the Rotman School community and a long history of volunteerism here. In 2000, the University presented Desautels with an Arbor Award, the highest honour bestowed upon volunteers at U of T. More recently he was a member of the Rotman Entrepreneurship Advisory Board, Rotman’s Dean’s Advisory Board and the Martin Prosperity Institute Cabinet, and was an Honorary Chair of the Boundless Campaign.
His philanthropic support extended across U of T and included two $10-million gifts in 2000 and 2005 via the Canadian Credit Management Foundation to establish the Desautels Centre for Integrative Thinking at the Rotman School of Management. This landmark program forever changed the face of MBA education by creating a new approach to solving complex, multi-faceted problems in business. Desautels also supported the Rotman Building expansion, as well as fellowships, professorships and chairs at the Rotman School. In total, he gave more than $41 million to support University of Toronto students, programs, researchers and buildings. His broader philanthropy across Canada includes the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University, and the Marcel A. Desautels Faculty of Music at the University of Manitoba.
"Since its creation, the Desautels Centre for Integrative Thinking has been bringing together internationally renowned scholars and thought leaders, extending the frontiers of leadership education and changing the way that business schools teach."
—Susan Christoffersen, Dean, Rotman School of Mangement
A generous and outstanding philanthropist
In 2014, Marcel Desautels received the Outstanding Philanthropist award from the Greater Toronto Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. He is also a winner of the CCAE Friend of Education Award for his lifelong philanthropic commitments to higher education. He was also a member of the Order of Ontario and the Order of Canada.
“Marcel Desautels was one of Canada’s most generous and devoted benefactors of post-secondary education,” says David Palmer, Vice-President Advancement at U of T. “He cared deeply about student success and always enjoyed meeting those who benefited from his transformational generosity. Although he did not attend U of T, he found here a place where his support would have the greatest impact and address the issues that he was most passionate about. He will truly be missed.”