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Featured Alumni
Fraser Mustard

Faculty of Medicine

Fraser Mustard

Doctor of Medicine (MD) 1953, Hon. Doctor of Laws (Hon. LLD) 1988

There is a picture of Fraser Mustard, 10 years old, paying rapt attention to an exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum. The year is 1938. That little boy went on to become of the world’s greatest advocates of early childhood education.

Before his passing in November of 2011, Dr. Mustard often talked about the connections in his life and how other people’s work allowed him to gain success in his chosen field. But for most people, it was his outstanding work and dedication that affected the lives of so many others.

U of T President David Naylor once described Mustard as a “national treasure and a giant in every sense of the word.” Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty called him his “personal hero” and one of the first people to make the connection that, “If we make the early years right, a child is set for life. If we get them wrong, it takes a lot of investment to turn them around.”

In 1999, Mustard and Margaret Norrie McCain co-authored the ground-breaking "Early Years Study: Reversing the Real Brain Drain", for the Ontario government. They wrote “We consider... that the period of early child development is equal to or, in some cases, greater in importance for the quality of the next generation than the period’s children and youth spend in education or post-secondary education.”

Mustard had several opportunities to become a president of a university, but chose a different route. In 1982, he created the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. The institute’s programs have focussed on science, technology, innovation and economic growth, and the effect of economic change on the social environment and health and well-being of individuals and populations.

One of Mustard’s final projects was the planning and establishment of an Institute of Human Development at U of T. Now launched and named in his honour, the Fraser Mustard IHD is one of the largest research bodies of its kind in the world.

One of the many tributes to Mustard said this: “Fraser’s brilliance came from his ability to distil the complex story of the dance between nature and nurture and its effect on early brain development. He gave voice to three enduring messages that have permeated the popular culture: The years before 5 last a lifetime", "It takes a village to raise a child", and "Pay now or pay later.

 

Published Nov. 28, 2013

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