History & Milestones

Working together and speaking with one voice to advance the value of higher education produces results.

In 1985, a group of universities that were to later form the core of U15 approached a newly elected Ontario Liberal government to try to put investing in research on its agenda. Largely as a result of their initiative, then-Premier David Peterson established the Premier’s Council on Science and Technology and launched the Ontario Centres of Excellence program. That program became the model for the federal Networks of Centres of Excellence program, which continues to fund and strengthen world-class research in Canada.

The core of the U15 began with a group of five Ontario universities, which formed an association in the mid-1980s to advance the interests of their research-intensive institutions. The executive heads of McMaster University, Queen's University, the University of Toronto, the University of Waterloo and the then-University of Western Ontario began meeting informally to consider mutual interests, such as promoting research investment at a provincial level.

By 1989, vice-presidents from other Canadian universities had joined the initial Ontario group. After a meeting at the University of British Columbia, they agreed to meet twice annually to share common concerns. In 1991, the universities formed a Group of Ten/Le Group de Dix: McMaster, Queen's, Toronto, Waterloo, Western, UBC, Alberta, McGill, Montreal and Laval. The group's purpose was to serve as a Canadian equivalent to the Association of American Universities.

In 2006, the organization expanded to include Dalhousie University, the University of Calgary and the University of Ottawa. It became the Group of Thirteen, or the G13. In 2011, the group grew to its current size and membership with the addition of the University of Manitoba and the University of Saskatchewan, becoming pan-Canadian. The group renamed itself the U15.

In 2012, the executive heads of the university members created a U15 Secretariat, based in Ottawa, and appointed Suzanne Corbeil the organization's first executive director.