Year in review: top stories from 2013

Sub-title: 
A look back on the year’s biggest newsmakers
Author: 
Brianna Goldberg

It’s been a big year for U of T as students, researchers, alumni – and even a new university president – continued to make headlines around the world.

Here at U of T News, we were pleased to feature some of the best and most exciting stories about these extraordinary people and how their influence is being felt in the city, province, country and beyond.

What follows is a round-up of U of T’s biggest stories from 2013.

10. Social media thrives

Screen shot of U of T's facebook pageU of T's life on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram resulted in lots of great engagement with future students, current students and more. In fact, there were so many great moments that we've pulled together a separate feature on U of T social media: http://news.utoronto.ca/best-social-media-moments-2013

Read more: 21 pieces of advice for first-year students

9. U of T in the media
Smartphone displaying the Globe and Mail onlineThe achievements of U of T's remarkable students and researchers attracted media attention around the world. Here are just a few of our favourite clippings.

8. Music composition alumni Mychael Danna wins Oscar, Golden Globe
Still shot from Life of Pi showing tiger and man in boatHollywood bestowed its top honours on U of T alumnus Mychael Danna, who composed the multiple award-winning score for Life of Pi. Click through to the stories below to listen to music from the Oscar-winning soundtrack.

Later in the year, current U of T master of music student Roydon Tse won the 2014 Canadian Music Centre Prairies’ Emerging Composers Competition. His winning piece will be performed alongside a composition by Danna at a Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra concert in January.

Read more: Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra to perform student's award-winning composition

7. Celebrating a new cohort of grads

Group of grads celebrating with professor in front of campusWith another Convocation season came another opportunity to celebrate the achievements of more than 12,500 students receiving their degrees. U of T News covered a wide range of their stories through features, social media and even interactive maps.

Read more: Convocation 2013: where the grads go
​Read more: Convocation 2013: best social media of #UofTGrad13
​Read more: Convocation 2013: five entrepreneurs to watch
​Read more: Convocation 2013: five U of T health leaders to watch
​Read more: Convocation 2013: five creative leaders to watch
​Read more: Convocation 2013: five U of T athletes to watch
​Read more: Convocation 2013: five engineers to watch
​Read more: Convocation 2013: from refugee to U of T grad
​Read more: Convocation 2013: Chinese students take Green Path to success

6. Headline-grabbing research
Image of researcher putting cap with electrodes on study participantU of T is a research powerhouse so it’s no surprise that 2013 was filled with breakthroughs of all kinds, including: a human-powered helicopter; the discovery that just 20 minutes of walking can help prevent depression; the discovery of a new and deadly greenhouse gas; a new cause of autism; an invisibility cloak and answers to why lonely people end up in bad relationships. Add in a U of T-co-researched project being named “Breakthrough of the Year” by Physics World and you’ll see why the year's top research stories merited their very own article. Read more: Great 2013 research stories at U of T

5. Shining a light on U of T’s entrepreneurs
Hand holding smartphone showing new keyboard on screenThe past year saw researchers and innovative dreamers from the University of Toronto launch their startups in a big way. The world took notice when a group of alumni launched the world’s most energy-efficient lightbulb; when grads created a tiny, smarter smartphone keyboard after raising 837 per cent of their funding on Kickstarter; when Google acquired a neural networks company co-founded by one of U of T’s most revered researchers and professors, Geoffrey Hinton, and more.

In fact, so many great companies are spinning out of the work of University of Toronto entrepreneurs that U of T News launched a new series profiling their stories.

Read more: Series: Spotlight on Startups at U of T

4. U of T as city-builder in Toronto
Artist rendering of 1 Spadina plansThe university’s role as generator of urban innovation, policy and expertise in the city was realized in a wide variety of ways in 2013. Engineering graduate Samah El-Tantawy’s plans for smarter traffic lights in cities around the world resulted in international news headlines and, back in Toronto, plans for transforming one of the city's most iconic buildings with a dramatic new look were already taking shape. U of T experts weighed in on the development of policy, reflections on the city's history and strategies for its future.

Read more: Smarter traffic lights win global recognition for U of T grad
Read more: Transforming one of Toronto's most iconic sites: One Spadina Crescent
Read more: U of T student, grads win City of Toronto Awards
Read more: U of T Nursing professor advises Toronto city council as it strengthens health care for medically uninsured
Read more: How walkable is your city?
Read more: Kid-friendly cities: the importance of walking to school
Read more: U of T in the city: students bring alive Harbord Village memories
Read more: Why "Canadian experience" violates human rights

3. U of T tops global rankings for overall performance, employability, scientific performance, libraries

Birds-eye-view of Convocation hallInternational evaluations once again recognized the calibre of students and faculty at U of T with top rankings in a wide variety of areas ranging from student employability to scientific research, great libraries and overall university quality.

Read more: U of T ranks among world’s top universities in QS World University Rankings
Read more: Once again, U of T first in Canada, among world’s top 20 in new rankings
Read more: Canada's leading university in major global reputational ranking
Read more: U of T ranked 8th in the world, 1st in Canada, for scientific performance
Read more: Tops for employability: U of T grads ranked first in Canada, 14th in world
Read more: U of T library system ranked among top three in North America

2. Three U of T Rhodes Scholars set off for Oxford, two more announced for 2014
Three U of T Rhodes Scholars speaking at panel discussionCelebration of U of T’s three Rhodes Scholars for 2013 – Joanne CaveConnor Emdin and Ayodele Odutayo – continued as former University of Toronto president David Naylor, who completed his D.Phil. at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, moderated a panel discussion with the students, asking where they see themselves in 10 or 15 years.

And within a weeks of those scholars starting their studies at Oxford, two new U of T Rhodes Scholars were announced for 2014, alumnae Aliyyah Ahad and Chloe Walker.

Read more: Two U of T alumnae selected Rhodes Scholars

1. Meric Gertler becomes 16th University of Toronto president
President Meric Gertler having new cap put on him at installation ceremony

On November 7, renowned urban scholar and U of T’s former dean of Arts and Science, Meric Gertler, was installed as the University of Toronto’s 16th president. In his first official speech, Gertler highlighted three strategies he will work to feature throughout his term: the importance of leveraging U of T’s location, international collaborations and reinvention of the undergraduate experience.

And in his first few weeks on the job, President Gertler was already on a plane to China where he met with leaders from partner universities, U of T alumni, research collaborators and friends. 

Read more: President Gertler visits alumni, partner universities in China

His trip gave U of T News a great opportunity to highlight just a few of the many great research collaborations between U of T and partner universities in China.