In the daily hustle and bustle of campus life, I have frequently passed the Visitors Centre, always reaffirming that one day I would drop in to see what they offer. That day came last Friday, and I’m really glad that I stopped by.
The Nona Macdonald Visitors Centre houses the office of the central Student Recruitment team (there are also recruitment teams at both the Scarborough and Mississauga campuses), which does outreach to attract the best and brightest to the University of Toronto.
The Centre is also where approximately 20,000 visitors stop by each year, to find out more about our university. Members of the public can take tours through various parts of the St. George campus. These tours occur daily – there are formal tours twice daily on weekdays (beginning at 11 am and 2pm), and they take approximately 1 ½ hours to complete. There is also a daily tour that occurs on Saturdays. In addition to these regularly scheduled tours, during the months of October and November extra tours are added that are specifically geared towards high school students and their families. That said, visitors are always welcome to drop in to the Centre at any time to ask questions. Further to this, the tours extend through the entire summer break as well.
The Centre organizes Fall Campus Day, which was described to me as being “one stop shopping” for potential students and their parents. The day is organized so that different locations host the various faculties and disciplines – for example, Hart House was the location for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences during the last Fall Campus Day.
I found everyone at the Centre to be very welcoming; and an impromptu tour was organized for me within minutes. I was introduced to Sophie, a 3rd year student and official tour guide. Sophie explained that our tour would cover four main areas: the Koffler Centre, the Athletic Centre, Robarts Library, and Hart House.
Sophie was very knowledgeable about the history and architecture of our campus. She offered a lot of tidbits that most visitors – and current students – are probably not aware of. For example, did you know…
- That the University of Toronto consists of approximately 75,000 students spread out over our three campuses: 55,000 at St. George campus alone, and 10,000 each at Scarborough and Mississauga?
- That the design of Robarts Library was inspired by, and built to resemble, a peacock?
- That Hart House contains a campus map drawn in the early 1900’s, and that this map does not contain any references to the western part of campus because it did not exist as yet?
- That there is a chop mark embedded into the door at University College, where stonemasons Reznikoff and Diablo dueled for the affections of a lady – and that one of these men ended up murdering the other and throwing his body down the tower? (more on their story can be found here)
- That the Athletic Centre’s Varsity Stadium field has an artificial surface ranked 2 stars by FIFA – the highest international ranking that FIFA gives to fields, and that U of T is one of only four fields in North America to have obtained this ranking?