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Giving back, sharing in a vision for the future
Posted Thursday, February 23, 2012 1:05 PM
By Mariianne Mays Wiebe
The Bulletin

Thelma Lussier, a two-time graduate of the U of M (BA/72 and MEd/95) and current director of the institutional analysis unit, sees giving as both a privilege and a responsibility — and she strengthens her connection to her alma mater and workplace through philanthropic support.

As an advocate of life-long learning, Lussier feels connected to the university in other ways as well. “When I’m learning something new, it’s a good day. That’s why I like the Visionary Conversations series so much,” she says.

“The people here at the university and the fact they are always making an effort to make this institution and our community a better place makes me want to give back as well, in order to support that vision for the community and the future.”

Every year, the faculty and staff giving campaign, which kicks off next week, collects just these kinds of stories from those who work at the university and offer their own philanthropic support here.

Ashley Davidson, annual giving manager, hears such inspiring reasons for giving every day. “Our staff and faculty are so generous,” she says.

“In addition to their dedication on the job, many also support the world class teaching and research through charitable gifts at the U of M.”

She notes that there are many options of how and where to donate a gift to the university. Some decide to give to a specific project such as Project Domino or the Taché Hall renovation, some give to student funding and scholarships, while others give back to their units directly.

‘An easy choice to make’

Campaign co-chairs Jean Anne Paterson and Gary Thompson each regularly give back to the units they feel passionately about.

Paterson, a retired Faculty of Medicine professor, continues her legacy of support by giving financial support to the Neil John Maclean Health Sciences Library.

The needs of present and future students were on Paterson’s mind when she made her decision to give to the library.

“I chose the library because I really felt that this is a resource that benefits every group that works in the health profession,” she says. “It’s a resource that benefits students because of the books and the video aids and it also benefits researchers and clinicians.”

Paterson sees her financial support of the U of M as a wise investment in a valuable resource and encourages others to do the same. “To encourage others to give, I would say that their money will be well used,” she says. “It will be used not only for the present but to invest in the future because students are our future.”

“I chose to support the Active Living Centre and the active living fund because that’s my life’s work, that’s where my passion is,” says co-chair Thompson, who is the director of active living. “I believe in the role of active living in chronic disease prevention and treatment.”

Soon, Thompson’s passions will be realized with the opening of the new Active Living Centre. Slated to be completed as early as next year, the centre will be the university’s new fitness facility. The centre will be the largest active living facility in Manitoba, with a capacity of up to 1,200 people.

Gary Thompson adds that he also chooses to support the U of M because the institution is the leader in knowledge creation in the province.

“I think in some way all Manitobans are touched by the work the university does,” he says. “It’s a really easy choice to make for me.”

Visionary giving: For now and for the future

Renee Dupuis, an architect in physical plant, has given gifts to support the Taché redevelopment and the School of Art.
“I choose these funds because I work with the faculty and staff who will eventually be in these buildings and I can see the great need for improved teaching and research space,” she says. “There is a lot of appreciation for the support they receive.”

And for Dupuis, supporting the university is more than just business, it’s personal: “My family and I are all alumni and I hope that my daughter will become a U of M student one day,” she says.

Current students benefit from giving, too. Hossein Pourreza, a PhD in computer science, says, “The turning point in my academic life was the moment I heard I would receive a four-year scholarship and a graduate fellowship.

“These awards gave me the opportunity to spend more time on PhD research. I am so thankful to the U of M and for all the generous donors whose support changes the lives of many graduate students.”

The University of Manitoba is incredibly lucky to have a committed group of supporters, says David Barnard, president and chancellor of the U of M. “Made up of alumni, faculty and staff, students, parents, friends and community members, the combined dedication of this group shows our students and researchers that we stand behind them as they invent, grow, create, thrive and embrace the unexpected.

“I am particularly proud of the members of our campus community who have chosen to enhance their daily contributions to the university through their philanthropic giving. Each and every one of the over 2,000 faculty and staff members who have made a donation to the people and places of our institution have shown that they are committed to inspiring and challenging our campus community,” he says.

John Kearsey, VP (external), notes that giving is personal as well as visionary. “It is my hope that all faculty and staff participate in giving through this year’s campaign; give as you are able — but do give, and be a part of the satisfaction that comes from building our future together,” he says.

“We all thank you, because through your giving, the students, researchers and staff here at the University of Manitoba can continue to the do the trailblazing and innovative work they do.”

The campaign kicks off February 27 at the Fort Garry Campus and February 28 at Bannatyne.

(With files from Marshall Wiebe)
For more information, contact:
Mariianne Mays Wiebe
Editor, The Bulletin
Marketing Communications Office
Phone: (204) 474-8111
Fax: (204) 474-7631