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$1 million large cheque placed on windowsill upright.
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TRSM awarded $1 million donation

By Gabriela Silva Ponte

The Ted Rogers School of Management (TRSM) was presented with a $1 million donation from Steve and Rashmi Gupta on Jan. 26. 

The Guptas own The Gupta Family Foundation and The Gupta Group. They are both prominent figures in the hotel and hospitality industry. This was the Gupta family’s first donation to the university. 

TMU president Mohamed Lachemi announced at the cheque presentation ceremony that The Gupta Family Foundation award would be commencing in the winter of 2025.

“Two deserving students will receive the first Gupta Family Foundation award. This donation to our business school aligns with Dr. Gupta’s remarkable success as a developer, business leader and philanthropist,” he said.

It was also announced at the ceremony that the TRSM premiere auditorium will be named “The Steve and Rashmi Gupta Lecture Theatre.”

In an interview with The Eyeopener, Steve Gupta explained their contributions to the university.

“I came to this country from India with $108 in my pocket and our whole family is very humble. We appreciate what Canada has done [for us] and we feel we want to give back,” he said. 

“TMU has been close to our downtown hotels and somehow we connected with…Dr. Mohamed Lachemi,” he added. “What matters is the people representing the [university] and your relationship with them. That’s what made us donate to [TMU], plus our working relationship.”

  • Four people holding the large cheque while standing in front of a window.
  • Man signing cheque with Sharpie marker. Large cheque placed on table.
  • Woman laughing while standing at podium, wearing purple blazer
  • Two men laughing with each other while holding a present box.
  • Man standing at podium pointing finger while speaking.

Donation allocation

According to TRSM Dean Cynthia Holmes, part of the money will be going towards an endowed fund to support Masters of Business Administration (MBA) students at TMU, specifically those interested in hospitality and tourism. 

The remainder of the donation will serve the university’s “priority needs,” she said.

Holmes also shared her gratitude for the donation.

“The flexibility is just so generous and we can find where the greatest need [is] and where our priorities [are],” Holmes said in an interview with The Eye. “My job is to serve students and this just gives me more and more opportunity to pursue that.”

According to Steve Gupta, $800,000 of the fund will be used for “special projects where they need the money most.” The remaining $200,000 will be put into the MBA student endowment fund.

But, in the interview with The Eye, he added that he would have liked for the money to go entirely towards scholarships.

“We would have preferred to have all of the money in endowment [and] scholarships for students. But they needed the money there so we want to work with them. We are fine with it,” he said.

Holmes elaborated on this, saying the entirety of the money will be going towards students through means expanding beyond the donation fund.

“I believe the discussion with Dr. Gupta was really centred around supporting the greatest needs of the university and of the business school. And so that’s the idea: to find ways not just to support students through awards but to support students through programming,” Holmes said. 

No information regarding when the money will be implemented or how exactly the non-endowment funds will be used was provided.

The ceremony

The cheque presentation ceremony allowed some TRSM students, the Guptas and university staff to come together. 

Lachemi made his remarks about the donation. 

“It’s a remarkable gift. And on behalf of the entire TMU community, I want to express our heartfelt gratitude to Steve and Rashmi Gupta,” he said 

According to Lachemi, hospitality and tourism is one of the areas of business Steve Gupta “excelled” in.  

“He wants to give back to the community and there’s no better role model for students who are in programs that are in relation to hospitality and tourism,” he said.

Hospitality and tourism students Alicia Gan and Casey Vo spoke at the ceremony.

“Ever since first year, I’ve always had some sort of guilt for deciding to pursue this expensive education so far from home and I always tried to avoid anything that would cost extra money,” Vo said at the ceremony. “Thanks to the generous contributions of donors to the school, I’ve had the opportunity to experience [once-in-a-lifetime] experiences. And most importantly, I’ve made my family proud.” 

According to Holmes, the two TRSM students won first place in an international case competition with the support of the university.

The impact of benefactions

Holmes reiterated everything she does is for students.

“I want to congratulate [the students]. If they’re selected for this award, that just shows their excellence,” Holmes said. “They deserve it and so I’m thrilled that we’re going to be able to offer those new awards.”

Holmes said TRSM is home to approximately 12,000 students and 270 faculty members. According to Holmes, the hospitality and tourism management program was named top three in the country.

The Gupta family has previously donated to the Toronto International Film Festival and the Princess Margaret Hospital. Steve Gupta has served on several hospital boards in the country. 

“Countries are built and strengthened on the basis of what the youth are today, what they will be [and] what kind of education they have,” Steve Gupta said at the ceremony. ” I’m proud to say that TMU is a great institution. One of the best ones, one of the few best ones globally and you’re getting one of the best education.”

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