Feb 7, 2012 – 3:25 PM ET
| Last Updated: Feb 7, 2012 5:34 PM ET
Lynn Farrell/National Post
John C. Eaton (far right) pictured at a downtown Toronto Eaton’s store in 1999 weeks before the 130-year-old company went bankrupt. Ryerson University announced a new chair will be appointed in his name on Tuesday
Ryerson University will use a $1-million gift from the Eaton family to help establish a new chair of social innovation and entrepreneurship, the Toronto-based institution announced Tuesday.
A search committee is being created to find the first person to hold the position, Ryerson said. That person will be tasked with developing and expanding an interdisciplinary program intended to create opportunities for students to apply social innovation and entrepreneurial skills to address social challenges facing marginalized youth.
John C. Eaton, who made the donation together with his wife Sally, is the great-grandson of Timothy Eaton, who founded the Eaton’s department store chain in 1869. One hundred years later, in 1969, John was appointed chairman of the company’s board and remained in that role until Eaton’s went bankrupt and was sold to Sears Canada in 1999.
He then became chancellor of Ryerson, where he holds an honourary doctor of commerce degree. In 2006, the Eaton Garden was unveiled at the University’s downtown campus to mark the end of Mr. Eaton’s seven-year term.
The Eaton family has a long history of good will toward Ryerson, stretching back to 1994 when the Eaton Chair of Retailing was established. He also gave the school $1.5-million in 2002 to launch a community health program named after his wife who is a former registered nurse.
“The John C. Eaton Chair in Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship truly reflects the uniqueness of Ryerson University as an innovative, urban university with a strong commitment to our community’s health and well-being,” said Ryerson president Sheldon Levy in a release.
Ryerson will fold the new position into the existing School of Child and Youth Care. The chair will function as a five-year endowed position and will collaborate with the Ted Rogers School of Management to form a course structure.
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