McMaster gets $10-million for liberal arts
Latest donation comes during record year for university philanthropy
Joey Coleman, Macleans.ca | Oct 29, 2007 |
McMaster University’s incoming chancellor, Lynton(Red)Wilson, made his presence known Monday by donating $10-million to liberal arts programs at the Hamilton, Ontario university. The money will be used for a new liberal arts building which will house four new initiatives for the university: the Centre for Global Citizenship, the Centre for Cognitive Studies in Liberal Arts, the Centre for Collaborations for Health, and a “Big Questions” institute that will engage in interdisciplinary research relevant to current issues.
Wilson said he made the donation to make a difference in liberal arts, disciplines that do not traditionally receive the same level of support that areas such as medicine and engineering do. “The contribution of education in the humanities and social sciences hasn’t always been recognized in the business community,” Wilson noted.
Wilson graduated from McMaster with a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1962. He worked for various government departments including foreign affairs where he was posted to Vienna and Toyko before becoming Ontario’s deputy minister of industry and tourism. After retiring from his public service career, Wilson had a successful private-sector career as chairman of Bell Canada Enterprises, Nortel Networks, and Redpath Industries. Currently, he is chairperson of CAE Inc. He credits his liberal arts education for his success.
Monday’s financial contribution to liberal arts is not surprising: Wilson co-founded the Historica Foundation of Canada and donated $1-million to McMaster University to found the L.R. Wilson Centre for Canadian History in 2004.
Universities enjoyed huge fundraising this year. Several business schools received multi-million dollar donations. McMaster alone received $51-million from David Bradley, a Hamilton businessman and owner of the B.C. Lions, and $10-million from Ron Joyce, co-founder of Tim Hortons. Jim Basille donated $50-million to the University of Waterloo to create a governance school, Ted Rogers shelled out $15-million to Ryerson University for the Ted Rogers School of Business, Mel Goodes gave $5-million to the Queen’s business school that bears his name, and Sheldon Inwentash donated $15-million to the school of social work at the University of Toronto.
Dr. Peter George, president of McMaster University and chair of the Council of Ontario Universities, attributes the increase in major donations to a few factors: recent tax changes, a surging culture of philanthropy, and successful baby-boomers looking to leave a legacy. “It is a refreshing trend,” George said.
Many universities are in the middle of major fundraising campaigns at the present time. McMaster University hopes to raise $400-million dollars out of soon to be launched campaign. McGill University set their goal at $750-million dollars. Ryerson University has also recently launched an advertising campaign.
Despite all of these advertising campaigns, George isn’t concerned about an over saturation of the philanthropy market. “I believe that all the advertising helps raise attention,” he said, adding that because each institution has its own community and alumni, they rarely compete for fundraising dollars.
George says that major donations are important to a fundraising campaign. Not only do their help the university towards its fundraising goal, major donations attract media coverage which often results in more donors stepping forward. George himself is proof of this: he also donated $100,000 of his own money to the liberal arts at McMaster Monday.