Renovations Begin on Graduate Student Services Space

From: Locke Rowe, Vice-Provost, Graduate Research & Education
Date: December 11, 2015
Re: Renovations Begin on Graduate Student Services Space

Work is beginning on renovations to 63 St. George Street in a project that will enhance student experience by improving service delivery and providing a welcoming public face to the School of Graduate Studies (SGS). The project will create better space for graduate students in their contact with the School’s administration, with a student common space, dedicated counselling and consultation space, and oral examination rooms that provide a more dignified atmosphere than what is currently available. To make way for the renovations, all services currently offered at 63 St. George Street will be temporarily relocated to 704 Spadina Avenue (near Sussex Street) beginning Monday, December 14. The work is expected to take about six months to complete.

As a result of the renovations, the School will have more dedicated space and increased access to key services for our graduate students, including mental health services, services for international students, and graduate professional development. The building’s original library will also be restored and converted into a student lounge.

Many graduate students defend their thesis at Macdonald-Mowat House. One of the aims of the renovations is to create better rooms for these defences. Many rooms and corridors were subdivided over the years, especially when the building was used as a student residence in the 1960s. Fire escape stairwells were added, detracting from the exterior appearance.

The building at 63 St. George Street is Heritage-listed and has a significant connection to the history of Canada and Ontario. Built in 1872, the structure was occupied by Sir John A. MacDonald from 1876 to 1878, and later owned and occupied by Ontario premier Oliver Mowat. Knox College took over in 1910 and now leases the house to U of T for use by SGS, which also occupies the house next door. In addition to improving services for graduate students, the renovations will also restore the house’s heritage features.

As part of the renovations, offices will be reorganized and non-structural partitions removed. Washrooms will be updated, mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems will be improved, and windows replaced. SGS also occupies the neighbouring property at 65 St. George Street, and while both buildings need work, priority is being given to Macdonald-Mowat House as it is used more by students; the 65 St. George Street property consists mostly of administrative offices and is in better condition.

U of T has the largest graduate school in Canada, with more than 17,000 students in about 280 graduate degree programs. In addition to its role in enhancing student experience and pursuing innovation in programming, the School of Graduate Studies defines and administers university-wide regulations for graduate education, such as program delivery, performance standards, equity and ethical conduct, and the provision of awards and financial assistance.

A story about the renovations has been posted on the U of T News website.