Posted on October 3, 2018
More than $2.5 million has been raised to support a chair and JD/MBA student financial awards at the University of Toronto in honour of the late Geoff Taber, who tragically perished with his wife, Jacquie, and two teenaged sons in a fire on December 24, 2016.
The Geoff Taber Memorial Award at the Faculty of Law, the Geoff Taber Memorial Scholarship at the Rotman School of Management and the Geoff Taber Chair in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Rotman were established to remember the vibrant, talented and well-respected Toronto lawyer who was at the forefront of the technology sector and a founder of the Emerging and High Growth Companies Group at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP.
A member of the Faculty of Law’s Class of 1985, Taber practised law in a career spanning 30 years. He was a much-loved friend, colleague and mentor to many in the business and legal worlds and is remembered for his strong intellect, sense of humour and passions in life.
“The Faculty of Law is deeply grateful for these generous gifts to honour the memory of our alumnus Geoff Taber,” says Edward Iacobucci, Dean and James M. Tory Professor of Law. “The tremendous support received, not only to remember a giant in the legal tech world, but also to award the best and brightest JD/MBA students with financial assistance for those who need it most, is a testament to the profound respect felt by his colleagues and friends, and the immeasurable loss felt by the community. Geoff Taber’s passions for law and entrepreneurship will be remembered with the next generation of future leaders thanks to the inspirational giving of these donors.”
The new chair will be held by entrepreneurship expert Ajay Agrawal
At the Rotman School of Management, Taber was a founding member of the Creative Destruction Lab, a seed-stage program for massively scalable, science-based companies, where his engagement with students, faculty and ventures left a lasting impact and accelerated entrepreneurship and innovation in Canada.
Prof. Ajay Agrawal of the Rotman School is the inaugural holder of the Geoff Taber Chair in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Donations made in support of the chair were generously matched by the Rotman family.
As founder of the Creative Destruction Lab, Prof. Agrawal launched the nine-month program that pairs startup founders with experienced entrepreneurs and investors to set focused, measurable objectives with the goal of helping companies grow quickly and sustainably. He is also the Academic Director of the Rotman School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and a co-founder of The Next 36. He teaches courses on business strategy, innovation, and entrepreneurship and conducts research on the economics of innovation, creativity, and artificial intelligence. His PhD is from the University of British Columbia.
“Prof. Agrawal’s contributions to entrepreneurship and his extraordinary impact on the innovation ecosystem across Canada have positioned Canada as a leading destination for the commercialization of artificial intelligence and quantum computing technologies,” says Tiff Macklem, Dean of the Rotman School. “This chair is a fitting tribute to Geoff’s efforts to advance entrepreneurship and technology in Canada.”
The awards will help students in financial need who study the intersection of law and business
The Geoff Taber Memorial Award and the Geoff Taber Memorial Scholarship will each support two students each year in the JD/MBA combined degree program. The program, which takes four years to complete, is part of a long-standing collaboration between the Faculty of Law and the Rotman School in research and teaching. The program enables students who are interested in the many ways in which the law interacts with the business world to combine graduate training in management with their law degree.
The Geoff Taber Memorial Award will be given to outstanding first-year JD students with financial need who will enter the MBA program, and the Geoff Taber Memorial Scholarship will be given to JD candidates with financial need who have a demonstrated interest in entrepreneurship and have been accepted into the Creative Destruction Lab MBA course.
The first awards and scholarships will be given out in the fall of 2018.
“Geoff Taber’s passing continues to be felt at Osler. We miss him, and Jacquie and the boys very much,” says Dale Ponder, co-chair of Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP. “We are grateful for the outpouring of support – from his colleagues, friends and family – and the generosity that has allowed for student financial aid and a research chair in his name at the Faculty of Law and the Rotman School of Management. These are truly great tributes to his contributions to the legal and technology communities.”
“Geoff pursued his personal and career passions at full tilt,” says Chad Bayne, co-chair of Osler’s Emerging and High Growth Companies Practice Group. “The nexus of law, technology and entrepreneurship thrilled him and we cannot think of a better way to honour his intellectual pursuits, mentorship bonds and community volunteerism than with these gifts at the University of Toronto, his alma mater and an institution with a global reputation as a centre of innovation and inquiry. Our sincere gratitude to everyone who donated in his name.”