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Asian Institute

The Asian Institute's Exceptional Suite of Awards & Opportunities Grows: Announcing the Mark and Suzanne Gayn Scholarship for Chinese Studies

The Asian Institute prides itself on offering education that connects classroom learning to field research in Asia. Whether through self-directed research projects, study abroad programs or internships, the Institute has cultivated a tremendous range of opportunities to deepen students’ understanding of Asia. Further enriching this extensive suite of programs and funding opportunities, the Asian Institute is thrilled to announce the Mark and Suzanne Gayn Scholarship for Chinese Studies.

For Mark and Suzanne Gayn, bridging the gap between the diverse cultures, arts, and politics of Asia and Canada was essential in creating a more understanding, peaceful world.

Now, through their generous contributions, their legacy will support the next generation of scholars and seekers with the newly unveiled Mark and Suzanne Gayn Chinese Studies Scholarship.

The annual scholarship will award five full-time undergraduate students C$5,500 to enroll in either the University of Toronto’s East Asian Studies program or the Dr. David Chu Program in Contemporary Asian Studies, focusing on Chinese Studies. The scholarship will be awarded based on merit and the students’ written applications, and will be selected by a committee of adjudicators from both departments.

This recent gift is a remarkable continuation of Suzanne and Mark Gayn’s generous legacy of contributing to the University of Toronto and now, the Asian Institute.

Through their journalistic careers and commitment to philanthropy, Suzanne and Mark left an indelible mark on Canada’s understanding of the many cultures and arts of Asia.

Mark Gayn was born in what is now inner Mongolia to Russian-Jewish parents. He and his Hungarian-born wife Suzanne lived in Shanghai, Hong Kong, and the United States before settling in Canada, though they continued to make frequent trips to the region for Mark’s work as a foreign correspondent. Inspired by her experiences in Asia, Suzanne also published many articles and photography exhibits throughout their travels.

Mark’s journalistic career is renowned for several journalistic achievements, including publishing the bestselling book “Japan Diary,” which included interviews with key Chinese communist party leaders including Mao Zedong, and reports from Kim Il Sung’s newly established dictatorship in North Korea.

During their travels, the couple developed a deep appreciation for Asian artistry. Over the course of their lives, Mark and Suzanne amassed an extensive and impressive collection of Asian artwork, ranging from Southeast Asian early ceramics, Indonesian folk art, Japanese ceramics for the tea ceremony, and Japanese modern sōsaku hanga woodblock prints.

After Mark’s passing in 1981, Suzanne generously donated a significant portion of their collection of Chinese Cultural Revolution photographs, artwork, and propaganda materials to the University of Toronto's Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, enriching students’ and scholars’ understanding of the era. The donation was in addition to another contribution by Suzanne, consisting of an extensive collection to the Library of Mark’s archival material, films, diaries, letters, correspondence, lectures, and handwritten notes, known as the 'Mark Gayn Papers.' These materials have significantly enriched scholarly research at the University of Toronto and across the academy.

Now, over forty years after Mark’s passing, the Gayn family has furthered their commitment to deepening scholarship between Asia and Canada by supporting undergraduate students who have the passion and curiosity to commit four years of study towards Chinese studies. Their gift will help alleviate the financial pressures of study, allowing students to focus more fully on their scholarly passions.

The University of Toronto’s Asian Institute is deeply grateful to the Gayns for their gift, and thrilled to know that their journalistic contributions to the world – which have for so long brought the stories of Asia to audiences across North America – will continue to live on with young scholars who will benefit from their legacy of giving to the University of Toronto and the Asian Institute.

This gift will add to the many scholarship opportunities and grants available to students of the Asian Institute. The Asian Institute is pleased to offer awards that can help offset tuition costs in addition to funding for experiential learning, study abroad, research projects, and opportunities for students to learn Asian languages. This exceptional range of student opportunities is unique for such a specialized department, and a testament to the scholarly culture fostered by our community. We express our sincere gratitude to the donors whose outstanding generosity makes these scholarships available to our students, and we encourage students to explore and apply! Don't hesitate to reach out to Asian Institute staff with any questions at and and learn more by visiting our scholarships page.