Join us as we celebrate where we’ve come from, what Rotman Commerce is today, and where we’re excited to be heading next – together.

Message from our Deans

One woman on the

100 years. A remarkable milestone in our ever-evolving history.  

On the sunny day of June 6, 1924, the first graduates – a group of seven – of the University of Toronto’s undergraduate business program now known as Rotman Commerce walked across the stage at Convocation Hall and received their diplomas.  

While Rotman Commerce has never stopped growing and evolving to keep pace with change, we can draw a solid line from that first handful of graduates to the multifaceted Rotman Commerce of today. The purpose that guides us is not so different from the one expressed decades ago by Charles Allen Ashley, who led the program from 1934 to 1952: “…to turn out graduates who can expect to apply themselves with success to the task of learning a business quickly, of becoming good citizens, and of living a full life.” 

As we celebrate this milestone, we are grateful to our community for making Rotman Commerce what it is today and for helping us shape our tomorrow. A community that has grown more diverse and globally connected. One that delivers an innovative and unique academic experience combining the world-renowned breadth and depth of expertise of both the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Arts & Science and the Rotman School of Management. An alumni network that collectively shares insights, provides mentorship and invests in a new generation. A group of leaders, changemakers and innovators who champion Rotman Commerce as an organization that leads the way.  

Together, we celebrate a century of building the future. 

 Firstname Lastname

Message from our Deans

One woman on the
Faculty of Arts & Science Dean Melanie Woodin (left); Rotman School of Management Dean Susan Christoffersen (right)

100 years. A remarkable milestone in our ever-evolving history. 

On the sunny day of June 6, 1924, the first graduates – a group of seven – of the University of Toronto’s undergraduate business program now known as Rotman Commerce walked across the stage at Convocation Hall and received their diplomas.  

While Rotman Commerce has never stopped growing and evolving to keep pace with change, we can draw a solid line from that first handful of graduates to the multifaceted Rotman Commerce of today. The purpose that guides us is not so different from the one expressed decades ago by Charles Allen Ashley, who led the program from 1934 to 1952: “…to turn out graduates who can expect to apply themselves with success to the task of learning a business quickly, of becoming good citizens, and of living a full life.” 

As we celebrate this milestone, we are grateful to our community for making Rotman Commerce what it is today and for helping us shape our tomorrow. A community that has grown more diverse and globally connected. One that delivers an innovative and unique academic experience combining the world-renowned breadth and depth of expertise of both the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Arts & Science and the Rotman School of Management. An alumni network that collectively shares insights, provides mentorship and invests in a new generation. A group of leaders, changemakers and innovators who champion Rotman Commerce as an organization that leads the way.  

Together, we celebrate a century of building the future. 

 Firstname Lastname

The tenets that bring us together

With the unique plethora of perspectives that may be found in the past one hundred years, there are four key throughlines that stand out as tying our collective efforts together – our long history of keeping pace with change; the many ways we connect our network to opportunity; our diverse and growing community; and the continued momentum that’s propelling us into the future. 

 

Growing community

Our community is more inclusive than ever, welcoming people of diverse identities and points of view. But all graduates, past and present, have made the same journey from uncertainty to understanding to rewarding collaboration. We share the pride that comes through tackling challenges together and applying what we’ve learned in the world.

Graduating student embracing their mother at Convocation
Students dressed in graduation gowns walking in a line with a group of people on the right cheering them on with black inflatable noisemakers.

Transforming tomorrow

Our centenary is a chance to look back and see where we’ve come from, celebrating the milestones of progress. But it’s equally a celebration of where we are today – and how we’ll continue building and gaining momentum to create an even better tomorrow.

Connecting opportunities

A top-ranked commerce program integrated with a leading business school and the arts and science faculty of a respected global university – at the heart of Canada’s commercial and financial capital – these are the dimensions of opportunity that connect Rotman Commerce to the world and shape the unique quality of education we deliver.

An intersection on St. George Street with many pedestrians in the foreground and a tall building in the background.
Two people wearing pink Rotman Commerce shirts and holding a paper between them that says ‘#RCWIB Fashion’.

Building for change

Change doesn’t just happen. It’s something you build toward, grounding bold moves in proven approaches and time-tested insights. This is what our graduates have been doing for a century. And it’s how those who follow them will continue building the future.

Our Stories

Intro blurb (EOG or Sarah) – mention that new content appears each month.

Our Community

Click on the images to read this month's reflections from our community.

Share your memories

Intro blurb (EOG or Sarah) – mention that new content appears each month.

Our Community

Click on the images to read this month's reflections from our community.

Students with "Let's Go Commerce" banner

Share your memories

Provide benefits for viewer to share their story. 

Guidelines length etc

Advise on what they can expect to see of theirs – location – moderation – will they be notified when live? also shared on social

Link to MS form  (Sarah to create)

Our Community

Click on the images to read this month's reflections from our community.

Students with "Let's Go Commerce" banner

Share your memories

Provide benefits for viewer to share their story. 

Guidelines length etc

Advise on what they can expect to see of theirs – location – moderation – will they be notified when live? also shared on social

Link to MS form  (Sarah to create)

Our Community

John Smith
Class of 2007

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Prince Owusu
Class of 2019

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Julia Stones
Class of 2003

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Mohair Abdullah
Class of 2007

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Linh Tran-Nguyen
Class of 2012

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Adam Carnegie
Class of 1989

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John Smith
Class of 2007

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Prince Owusu
Class of 2019

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Julia Stones
Class of 2003

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Mohair Abdullah
Class of 2007

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Linh Tran-Nguyen
Class of 2012

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Adam Carnegie
Class of 1989

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Our History

Explore our history and learn how Rotman Commerce got its start, evolved to keep pace with society’s changes, and transformed into what it is today

1920
The beginning of student life
Black and white photo of a group of men in suits standing by steps outside of a building.

The Commerce Club is formed as the official representative organization of the new course in Commerce. Over the next five decades, the Commerce Club plays a central role in Commerce student life but it wasn’t until 1957 that women were admitted as members.

The first members of the Commerce Club

Credits | View image close up

1924
The first graduates
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1926
Once a leader, always a leader
Black and white photo of a group of men dressed in suits.

Gilbert Jackson (pictured front row, second from the left) becomes the first Director of the Commerce & Finance course. Jackson later served as the first economist for the Bank of Nova Scotia, before becoming Advisor to the Governors of the Bank of England.

It all begin with
political economy
1888

William Ashley (later to become Sir William Ashley) is appointed the University’s first Professor of Political Economy and Constitutional History, a move that indicated the institution’s burgeoning interest in teaching economics and finance.

An economist takes
the lead
1892
Typewritten letter dated 1892

James Mavor—an economist, economic historian and professor of political economy—is appointed as the successor to William Ashley, as outlined in this letter to Professor Mavor.

Industry asks for more
1901

James Mavor introduces the first formal post-secondary recognition of commerce at U of T, creating a two-year diploma course in the subject at the request of the Toronto Board of Trade and the Canadian Manufacturer’s Association.

This description of the program outline and Mavor’s working notes provide insight into the academic breadth of the Political Economy program.

Once, it was a BA
1909

Students at the University can now enroll in a four-year honours course in Commerce and Finance, culminating in a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Birth of the U of T BCom
1920
New Commerce Course has lured twenty-five frosh.

The Bachelor of Commerce degree is established and 25 students enroll. The program falls under both the Faculty of Arts and the Department of Political Economy.

Article from The Varsity – Friday, November 19, 1920.

Our first home
1920
Black and white photo with large group of people with the front row sitting in chairs and the two back rows standing. They are standing in front of a building with a front porch.

The program’s first home is Baldwin House (now known as Cumberland House) on 33 St. George Street. Baldwin House was home to the Political Economy Department and all Commerce classes and Commerce Club activities were held in this building.

The Political Economy faculty in front of Baldwin House in 1933.

Our Future

A new home and a new era for Rotman Commerce

As we continue to grow and welcome the best and brightest into our program each year, one critical gap remains: a physical home for our community to call its own.

For the first time in our hundred-year history, we will soon have a dedicated space on the University of Toronto’s St. George campus. This signifies a transformative moment in our growth: the creation of a central meeting place that brings together our diverse community of learners and leaders under one roof that will engender spontaneous discussions, cross-disciplinary interactions, and a shared sense of purpose vital to nurturing camaraderie and collaboration.

This new multistorey structure will be situated beside the Goldring Centre on Devonshire near the Rotman School of Management. Classrooms, student activity spaces (including study rooms, social lounges, designated areas for student clubs, and spaces for silent reflection), support units such as Academic and Career Services, Student Life and the Centre for Professional Skills, a large event space, a café on the ground floor, and more will be housed in this state-of-the-art building.

With an open concept, warm wood tones and natural light throughout, our new space will serve as an inclusive, inspiring, and inviting meeting ground that brings our community together for generations to come. 

To our students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, and friends – we look forward to welcoming you home.

Photo of new building
Photo of new building
Rotman Commerce future home | Preliminary Design | View from Devonshire

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Events

This interactive and dynamic exercise will bring together alumni and current students to experience the power of our network and the rewards of paying it forward.

Support Us

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Credits

Welcome

Graduating students in front of Convocation Hall: 

Our Stories

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Our History

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Our Community

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Our Future

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Events

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Support Us

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1892

Typewritten letter dated 1892

Letter

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