Media Releases

Chair Established at University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management in Honour of BMO’s William Downe

November 1, 2017

Toronto, ON – A new chair has been established in honour of William Downe, a graduate of the MBA program at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. The chair was announced at the Rotman Alumni Awards Dinner on October 18 where Downe received a Lifetime Achievement Award. Downe is the former Chief Executive Officer of BMO Financial Group and received his MBA from the University of Toronto in 1978.

The William A. Downe BMO Chair in Finance will be awarded to a Rotman School faculty member later in the year.

“As CEO of BMO, BiIl has been a tremendous partner of the Rotman School and a strong advocate for management education. The relationship between BMO and Rotman is the gold standard, spanning students, research and philanthropy. The Rotman School is exceptionally proud to hold a chair in Bill’s name,” says Tiff Macklem, Dean of the Rotman School.

“Bill Downe is a globally respected banker who served BMO Financial Group with great distinction for 34 years. This chair that bears his name and ours will advance in perpetuity Rotman’s outstanding work in finance education and research and stand in testimony to Bill’s remarkable career,” says J. Robert S. Prichard, President Emeritus of the University of Toronto and Chairman of BMO Financial Group.

Downe joined Bank of Montreal in 1983 and held a variety of senior management positions in Canada and the U.S. In 1999, he was appointed Vice-Chair, Bank of Montreal and in 2001, he was named Deputy Chair, BMO Financial Group & Chief Executive Officer, BMO Nesbitt Burns. In 2006, he was appointed Chief Operating Officer of BMO Financial Group. He was appointed CEO on March 1, 2007.

Downe is a director of ManpowerGroup Inc., Catalyst Inc., the Business Council of Canada and serves on the Board of Trustees for the Rush University Medical Center. He is an advisory board member of the Rotman School of Management Martin Prosperity Institute (MPI) at the University of Toronto, and a member of the Economic Club of Chicago. He served on the board of the International Monetary Conference (IMC) as well as on the National Executive Committee of the 2015 Governor General Canadian Leadership Conference, and is Past President of the Federal Reserve Board’s Federal Advisory Council.

Downe is a member of the St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation Board, a member of the Executive Committee, and a member of the Campaign Cabinet. He is also a member of the campaign executive for The Campaign for the University of Toronto. Downe served as Chairman of the 2009 Campaign Cabinet for United Way of Greater Toronto, and is also past Chair of the Board of Directors of St. Michael’s Hospital.

Downe holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Wilfrid Laurier University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Toronto. He has also received an Honorary Doctor of Laws from the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University. Downe was appointed as a Member of the Order of Canada and was recognized by the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Canada Institute, receiving the Award for Corporate Citizenship.

The Rotman Lifetime Achievement Award was established last year by the Rotman School and is presented at the Rotman Alumni Awards Dinner, an annual celebration established to pay tribute to exceptional alumni who have contributed significantly to their organizations and communities.

The Rotman School of Management is located in the heart of Canada’s commercial and cultural capital and is part of the University of Toronto, one of the world’s top 20 research universities. The Rotman School fosters a new way to think that enables our graduates to tackle today’s global business and societal challenges.  For more information, visit


Ken McGuffin
Manager, Media Relations
Rotman School of Management
University of Toronto
Tel: 416-946-3818