MONTREAL, June 18, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - Growing up in suburban Montreal, 2013 McGill graduate Martin Legault always had a passion for the environment. At McGill University's Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, he put that passion into practice, gaining the scientific and practical skills to help address the world's pressing food and water issues. But when it comes to understanding the complex social, cultural and environmental factors behind food scarcity, there was only so much he could learn in the classroom.
Thanks to a Bieler Family Internship Award, created through a gift from Quebec agricultural entrepreneur Marc Bieler, Martin was able to put his skills into practice, traveling to rural Cuba to work with local farmers, planting and harvesting a variety of crops, learning about local field methods and sharing knowledge about North American farming practices.
"It was an extraordinary opportunity that I would never have had if it weren't for Mr. Bieler's generosity," said Martin. "I learned from the villagers as much as they learned from me, and the experience has inspired me to go on and continue pursuing a career which I feel can really make a difference in communities like the one I visited."
Martin is just one of the thousands of students whose lives and futures have been transformed thanks to the generosity of donors to Campaign McGill: History in the Making. At a press conference today, McGill announced that the Campaign raised a total of $1.026 billion over nine years, improving dramatically McGill's accessibility to deserving students regardless of financial means, while fueling innovative research. Half of the gifts that came from individuals - or $320 million - came from donors in the rest of Canada and 114 other countries around the world, representing a direct and substantial contribution to the economy of Montreal and Quebec.
"These gifts make an extraordinary contribution to McGill's students, our research and the communities we serve," said Principal and Vice-Chancellor Heather Munroe-Blum. "University philanthropy is taking off in Quebec, and the Campaign's success speaks to the overwhelming generosity of our alumni, parents and friends from Quebec, all of Canada and internationally. They all have a strong conviction that, by supporting McGill's accessibility to all deserving students while strengthening its academic excellence, they can make a meaningful contribution to our city, Quebec, our nation and our world."
Publicly launched with an initial goal of $750-million, the Campaign attracted support from 95,619 donors around the world, the majority of them McGill alumni. The Campaign also attracted unprecedented support from people outside of the University community—more than 10% of the Campaign total came from individuals who are not alumni, parents, students or McGill staff, but who were moved by the cause of McGill to contribute to the Campaign.
Above and beyond the operating budget
"The money raised through this extraordinary campaign is entirely devoted to activities not financed by the operating budget of the university. Our donors are providing a powerful example of the absolutely essential role private giving plays —not as a substitute for adequate public funding, but in ensuring that, to the best of our abilities, we can continue to serve our students and our community at the highest level," said Stuart H. "Kip" Cobbett, BA'69, BCL'72, Chair of McGill's Board of Governors.
More than 60% of the money raised during the Campaign was designated to support students through increased scholarships and student aid, as well as enhanced programs and new teaching and learning spaces. The remainder of the funds has gone to support special faculty opportunities and research.
A tangible impact
Of note, campaign funds have allowed more than 600 new student bursaries, scholarships, fellowships and awards to be created, supporting more than 3,700 students to date. Donors have also contributed support for the creation of 46 new faculty chairs, enabling McGill to recruit and retain outstanding faculty researchers. Campaign gifts have also contributed nearly $300 million to support cutting edge research and to create new and renovated teaching and learning spaces, helping to address the University's significant deferred maintenance.
Of the Campaign's total, 60% came from individuals, 26% from foundations, and 14% from corporate philanthropy. Of the close to 96,000 donors who contributed to this campaign, 80,000 gave less than $1,000 and nearly 50,000 gave to McGill for the first time.
"Through their outstanding support for this Campaign, McGill's unique community of alumni, parents, friends and supporters has sent a clear and powerful message: they believe in our students, they believe in McGill and its place in Quebec, and they believe in the incredible things that can happen when a world-class public university is fueled additionally with the vision and generosity of donors. Simply put, philanthropy changes lives," said Campaign McGill Co-Chair Yves Fortier, BCL'58, LLD'05, speaking on behalf of himself and fellow Co-Chairs Michael Meighen, BA'60 and Eugene McBurney, LLB'77.
About McGill University
Founded in Montreal, Que., in 1821, McGill is a leading Canadian post-secondary institution. It has two campuses, 11 faculties, 11 professional schools, 300 programs of study and some 38,000 students, including 8,800 graduate students. McGill attracts students from over 150 countries around the world, with more than 7,700 international students making up 20 per cent of the student body. Approximately 40 per cent of McGill students indicate that French is their mother tongue or that they speak the language fluently.
On the Web: www.mcgill.ca/campaign/
SOURCE: McGill University
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