A new lecture series that will offer students, faculty, staff and alumni at Victoria College and the broader University of Toronto community unique perspectives from public figures with stature in the fields of law, economics, diplomacy, social justice or advocacy will be launched next year, thanks to a gift from Stephen Coxford, who graduated in 1974 as a member of Victoria College.
The $350,000 gift is a significant contribution toward the University’s campaign, Defy Gravity: The Campaign for Victoria University. Coxford serves as a volunteer member of the campaign cabinet.
To be presented on an annual basis, the Coxford Lecture will address one of the great public policy issues of the day. It will take place as one of the plenary lectures offered as part of the University’s award-winning first-year undergraduate program, Vic One.
“Stephen Coxford’s gift is both inspiring and deeply meaningful. As an alumnus, he understands so well the student experience at Victoria College and has remained connected to us throughout his distinguished career. His desire to offer the University community access to the most creative and intellectually compelling leaders in their fields will undoubtedly impact how students and the wider U of T community consider their own roles in shaping the world,” said Rhonda McEwen, president and vice-chancellor of Victoria University — which includes Victoria College — in the University of Toronto.
Coxford offered his congratulations to the faculty, current students and alumni who gathered for Vic One’s 20th anniversary event on April 13, 2023, in the Isabel Bader Theatre.
“It is a pleasure to be able to support an annual lecture at Victoria College. It is my hope that the speaker each year inspires members of the University community and contributes to the intellectual and academic mission of the college. I offer my sincere congratulations to all those involved with the Vic One program and to its alumni for sharing their intellectual curiosity and for inspiring us all with their many achievements,” said Coxford.
The anniversary event featured special guest speakers including Bob Rae, Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations, who is a recent recipient of an honorary doctorate from Victoria University; former NATO ambassador David Wright; and a panel led by Paul Gooch, president emeritus of Victoria University. Victoria University's chancellor emerita — and honorary chair of the campaign cabinet — Wendy Cecil announced Coxford’s gift, which received rousing applause from the audience.
Coxford graduated from U of T as a member of Victoria College in 1974 and Western University’s law school in 1977, and also holds a graduate law degree from Cambridge University.
He is the president of Gresham & St. Andrew Inc., a Toronto-based investment company. He formerly served as managing director of Classic Communications Ltd, a cable communications company serving southern York region, and was also a partner at Smith Lyons, a law firm now merged into Gowlings WLG, where he specialized in corporate and securities law. Coxford has served on the board of directors and as vice-chair of the Ontario Educational Communications Authority (TV Ontario, an Ontario Crown corporation). He served on the board of Western University from 2005 to 2013 and as its chair in 2012-2013.