By Jake Scott and Jackie Hong
G. Raymond Chang, Ryerson University’s third chancellor and namesake of the Chang School for Continuing Education, died on Sunday at 65.
Chang, a Jamaican-born Chinese-Canadian, was a Bay street juggernaut, prolific philanthropist and a family man. He served as the school’s chancellor from 2006 to 2012.
“Whenever students needed help, Ray was there for them,” said President Sheldon Levy in a news release. “He was always an inspiration, and his passing is a tremendous loss for our university and the many thousands of people whose lives Ray touched in his remarkable time with us.”
Chang’s influence extended far beyond Ryerson. Last month, he was a recipient of the 2014 Order of Canada, one of the country’s highest civilian orders.
In 2011, the Toronto Star dubbed him the “Covert Philanthropist” because he had been known to donate millions of dollars to various organizations anonymously. He gave much of his wealth to help others — the home he bought for himself and his family was his one of his few financial indulgences. He bought his clothes from Winners and his favourite drink was a mug of hot water.
The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) was among one of the many organizations Chang donated to.
“Ray was an incredibly valued member of our community and his profound impact on the Royal Ontario Museum will be felt for years to come. He championed accessibility initiatives and educational programming, helping to ensure more children and families could explore and enjoy the Museum,” Dianne Lister, president and CEO of the ROM Governors, said in an email statement. “His outstanding philanthropic leadership and extraordinary generosity will be a lasting legacy at the ROM.”
Chang was also a founder of CI Financial, an invest company that currently manages assets worth over $100 billion. During his 30 years with the company, Chang held many high-profile positions, including president and CEO, and eventually became the director in 2010.
“(Chang’s) work laid the foundation for CI’s strong business today,” current CI Financial president and CEO Stephen A. MacPhail wrote in an email. “Ray was a generous and thoughtful man and we will dearly miss his wisdom and grace.”
Ryerson flags will fly at half-mast in honour of Chang. He is survived by his wife, Donette Chin-Loy, and their two children.