Rotman died Tuesday morning in Toronto. The cause of death was not disclosed.
"Joe was a remarkable Canadian who leaves an impressive legacy in the fields of life sciences, arts and business, including the students who will graduate from the schools that bear his name," Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement.
Rotman was a well-known figure in the business world, having founded a number of public and private companies in oil and gas, real estate and venture capital, including private equity management firm Clairvest Group Inc. (TSX:CVG) in 1987.
Rotman was inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame as a companion in May 2009 and appointed an officer of the Order of Canada in 1995.
In addition to his business ventures, Rotman was also known as a philanthropist who dedicated his time and money to the arts, education and health-care.
The Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, which bears his name, called Rotman a "visionary."
"More than 20 years ago Joe had a transformative and courageous vision to build a truly great management school at one of Canada's great universities," it said in a statement.
Western University, which has the Rotman Institute of Philosophy and where he was chancellor until his death, described Rotman was among a small group of Canadians who shaped the country.
“He was one of those rare leaders who dedicated much of his time, business acumen and personal wealth toward a wide range of philanthropic endeavours that had transformative effects on the arts, health-care and higher education in Canada," said Western’s president and vice-chancellor, Amit Chakma.
Rotman had also been chair of the Canada Council for the Arts since 2008.
"He made a lasting impression on the trajectory of the council," said Simon Brault, director and CEO.
"From a place of personal passion and belief, he advocated tirelessly for the role of the arts in our individual lives, as well as in the economy, in the development of our communities and at the heart of this country, which he loved. The council was privileged to have benefited from his leadership at such a crucial moment in our history and we will honour his memory and his ambitious aspirations by continuing to follow the path he has set us on.”
Rotman also helped fund the Rotman Research Institute at the University of Toronto's Baycrest Health Sciences Centre and, in 2010, was appointed chair of the Ontario Brain Institute.
He was also a long-time benefactor to the Art Gallery of Ontario, Israel Museum, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Canadian Opera Company, National Ballet of Canada and the Toronto International Film Festival.
Toronto Mayor John Tory expressed his condolences on Twitter.
"Mr. Rotman was a true city builder, demonstrating a commitment to developing Canadian institutions in the arts, education and health-care. On behalf of the people of Toronto, I offer my sincere condolences to his family. He will be truly missed."
Ontario Health Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins also tweeted the news.
"My dear friend and mentor Joe Rotman. Rest in Peace. You lived a great life of generosity, compassion and brilliance. I am heartbroken," Hoskins said.
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