March 26, 2024 | Alumni | Volunteer & Awards

Exemplary volunteer, mentor and philanthropist Paul Cadario recognized with the Rose Wolfe Distinguished Alumni Award

U of T and the UTAA honour Paul Cadario for “longstanding contributions to the University over many decades.”

Paul Cadario stands on stage between Rose Patten, Corwin Cambray and Meric Gertler, holding his award and smiling

Paul Cadario (centre) receives his Rose Wolfe Distinguished Alumni Award from U of T Chancellor Rose Patten, UTAA President Corwin Cambray and U of T President Meric Gertler.

Paul Cadario (BASc 1973, Hon LLD 2013) has dedicated nearly five decades to the University of Toronto community as a volunteer. It all started when he became one of the first students elected to the university’s Governing Council. Since then, he has taken on more than 35 volunteer positions at U of T, earning accolades such as the Arbor Award and an honorary degree. Through his philanthropic support that spans various priority sectors of U of T, Cadario has also significantly impacted the lives of thousands of students.

“On behalf of the University of Toronto community, I am delighted to congratulate Paul Cadario on receiving the Rose Wolfe Award,” said U of T President Meric Gertler. “Through his decades of volunteer service and philanthropy, Dr. Cadario has made a positive difference in the lives of so many of our students. And through his work at the World Bank, he has helped to raise the living standards for people around the world.”

The Rose Wolfe Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes exceptional alumni who demonstrate outstanding professional achievements, dedication to civic, charitable and social causes, and extraordinary service to the University of Toronto. The award is jointly sponsored by U of T and the University of Toronto Alumni Association (UTAA). It is named for Dr. Rose Wolfe (BA 1938 UC, Dip. Social Work 1939, Hon LLD 1998), who served as chancellor of the University of Toronto from 1991 to 1997. She was an exemplary volunteer for the university she loved dearly.

Paul Cadario sits in the audience smiling at his award ceremony.
Cadario at the Rose Wolfe Distinguished Alumni Award presentation ceremony.

“Paul Cadario embodies the values and principles championed by Rose Wolfe and the highest ideals of the University of Toronto,” said Dr. Rose Patten, Chancellor of U of T and chair of the Rose Wolfe Award selection committee. “His extraordinary record of service to our university is an inspiration to our entire community. His tireless commitment to lifting the student experience through his involvement and philanthropy will resonate for generations to come.”

Born and raised in Toronto, Paul Cadario studied civil engineering at U of T and worked as a research assistant assessing municipal services in Inuit communities in the Northwest Territories. After graduating in 1973, he became a Rhodes Scholar and spent a summer working in the central planning office in Papua New Guinea and travelling through developing regions in Asia.

Following these formative experiences, Cadario started a career at the World Bank in 1975 and then pursued his lifelong commitment to reducing poverty and improving living standards for people worldwide. During his 37-year career at the World Bank, he managed various development programs in Africa and Asia and helped modernize the bank for the digital age of transparency and accountability. Before he retired in 2012, Cadario oversaw quality, results and compliance for the multi-billion-dollar portfolio of funds and grants the World Bank administers.

Watch Paul Cadario's acceptance speech:

“I’m honoured to be named alongside past recipients of this award,” Cadario said. “My motivation for giving, whether it’s time or money, is to strengthen the student experience. Even though I’ve long since graduated, I continue to have formative learning experiences at U of T. It’s an incomparable ecosystem in Canada for students to learn how to learn and to become strong, contributing members of society.”

Cadario has been a member of the Governing Council twice, first as an undergraduate and later as an elected Alumni Governor. He was the first openly gay president of the University of Toronto Alumni Association and the first non-resident of the GTA to be elected president — another indicator of his extraordinary and global commitment. Cadario regularly sits on advisory boards at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy and the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering. In 2012, these divisions named him Distinguished Fellow in Global Innovation, and in June 2013, U of T awarded him an honorary LLD for his leadership and dedication to the university.

U of T Chancellor Rose Patten speaking to the audience at the Rose Wolfe awards ceremony.
The Rose Wolfe Award recognizes alumni who demonstrate outstanding professional achievements, dedication to civic, charitable and social causes and extraordinary service to U of T.

That same year, Cadario received recognition for being an outstanding role model for engineering students, the Engineering Alumni Medal. This is the highest honour awarded by the Engineering Alumni Association to alumni who have made outstanding achievements in their diverse careers, while responding with flair and excellence to challenges.

Cadario’s philanthropy at U of T spans multiple faculties and disciplines, reflecting his wide-ranging interests. During the 1990s, he established the Cadario Facility for Integrated Learning and the Paul Cadario Scholarship at the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering. More recently, he created a doctoral fellowship in global engineering and provided foundational support for the Centre for Global Engineering at the Myhal Centre for Engineering Innovation & Entrepreneurship.

“I am in awe of Paul Cadario’s contributions,” said Corwin Cambray, president of the UTAA. “His lifetime work inspires others to do more. And he has provided exemplary leadership to the U of T community through his myriad volunteer advisory roles for decades. We are all proud to count him as a member of our global alumni community.”

Paul Cadario stands at a podium giving a speech.
“My motivation for giving, whether it’s time or money, is to strengthen the student experience," says Cadario.

At the Faculty of Arts & Science, Cadario founded the Paul Cadario Visiting Professorship in Public Policy and Governance, the GSEF-Paul Cadario Scholarships in Public Policy and the Paul Cadario Fellowship in Global Affairs. He also helped revitalize University College, making it more accessible and student-friendly, and his generosity helped build the Paul Cadario Conference Centre at Croft Chapter House. Most recently, he endowed four undergraduate awards within the Experiential Learning Commons, which will assist as many as 60 students each year. His giving also established new social impact internships, which will support approximately 12 students annually.

“Paul Cadario is among this university’s most dedicated alumni, donors, volunteers, fellows, advisors and friends,” said David Palmer, vice-president, advancement. “He has been an exemplary champion of U of T, serving with distinction in nearly every capacity an alumnus could possibly serve — an unrivalled record of volunteer service over 50 years since his graduation. We are truly fortunate to call him a friend and to honour him as one of the university’s great citizens with the Rose Wolfe Distinguished Alumni Award — our highest alumni honour.”

Read an interview with Paul Cadario, where he discusses his decades as a volunteer and his advice for today’s students.

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