$5-million gift will double child education centre

TheStar.com – News
Published On Mon Dec 06 2010.    Jim Wilkes, Staff Reporter

Eric Jackman thinks his mother would approve of his $5 million gift to the University of Toronto’s Institute of Child Study.

And not because his name is being added to the 85-year-old research and teacher training institute.

“I think she’d be delighted,” Jackman told the Star.

He said his late mother, Mary Rowell Jackman, was committed to education, sending him at 2-1/2 to what was then St. George’s Nursery School, now the institute’s Lab School. His brothers, former Ontario lieutenant-governor Hal Jackman and Rev. Edward Jackman, and their sister, Senator Nancy Ruth, all attended the school as children.

“In 1937, when I was 4, she started the Bond Street Nursery School, which still exists today.”

Jackman said his donation would be well-used.

“A lot of money goes into higher education, but as far as I’m concerned, primary education and early child development are the most important things in society,” he said. “If we can get our children off on the right start, healthy kids will grow up to be healthy, productive adults.

“I think it’s imperative in the long run that we have a greater focus on the healthy start in life rather than curing sickness later in life. The early years are so crucial.”

The institute, part of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, bills itself as one of the few places in the world to integrate advanced research, graduate teacher training and a working elementary school under one roof.

Jackman is chair of the institute’s $12-million building campaign advisory board and chair of the Jackman Foundation and Invicta Investments. He is a former chancellor of the University of Windsor.

Institute director Janette Pelletier said Monday that Jackman’s gift would help double the size of the institute.

“It will allow us to open our doors to serve Toronto families better,” she said. “Right now we’re so cramped for space.

“It will allow us to be a centre of excellence for early human development and childhood education and really put OISE on the map, which it is already,” she said.

For his part, Jackman isn’t focused on his legacy.

“It’s the largest gift ever in Canada to early childhood development and education,” he explained. “That’s what I want to underline. I only hope that others will follow me.
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