Alum makes $8 million investment in McGill’s future

McGill alumnus Les Vadasz and his wife Judy have donated $8 million for the creation of 15 fellowships that will recruit outstanding doctoral students to McGill's Faculty of Engineering.

By McGill Reporter staff

Always a forward thinker, Les Vadasz told the New York Times in a 2001 interview that he doesn’t dwell much on his family’s escape from Communist Hungary following the Revolution of 1956 because he was a person who spends ”more time worrying about what could be, rather than what was.”

A member of Intel’s founding management team, Vadasz, BEng’61, DSc’07, and his wife, Judy Vadasz, have kept their focus on the future by pledging more than $8 million to create 15 fellowships that will recruit outstanding doctoral students to McGill University’s Faculty of Engineering. This gift from the Vadasz Family Foundation represents the largest donation so far from outside Canada – and the largest U.S. gift – to Campaign McGill, the Montreal university’s historic initiative to raise $750 million. To date, the campaign has raised $457 million from 64,160 donors worldwide.

The Vadasz Doctoral Fellowships in Engineering will support and recognize at least 15 outstanding graduate students each year in the doctoral degree program of the Faculty of Engineering. These endowed fellowships will have a profound effect on the Faculty’s long-term ability to deliver graduate education of the highest quality, and to attract and retain the very best emerging researchers and innovators.

“I am thankful to McGill and to Canada for providing me with the opportunity of an education when I arrived from Hungary following the revolution of 1956,” Vadasz said. “In today’s challenging economic times, it is especially important that great universities like McGill continue to have the resources to welcome and develop young minds. This is the best way to invest in our future, and I encourage others to do what they can to support our educational institutions.”

In 1968, Vadasz was part of the founding management team of Intel Corporation, where he led the engineering activities which created the memory and microprocessor products that have become the foundation of today’s computer business. Recognized as an innovator and strategic leader during his 35-year career at Intel, Vadasz held many operational and management roles and was a member of Intel’s board of directors. In his later years at Intel, he was President of Intel Capital, which has become the largest corporate strategic venture program among high-tech companies, supporting hundreds of start-up businesses. Vadasz received honorary degrees from Sonoma State University in 2006 and McGill University in 2007.

“Dr. Vadasz is an outstanding role model for our students,” said Heather Munroe-Blum, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of McGill. “His creativity, energy, dedication and record of achievement are truly remarkable, and he serves as an inspiration to young researchers and innovators to reach his level of success. Dr. Vadasz and his wife, Judy Vadasz, have already had a powerful impact on our students, with their leadership giving for many years. We are deeply grateful that they continue to show their faith in McGill – and in the importance of graduate education – with this extraordinary gift.”

“Doctoral students are the motors that drive university research,” said Faculty of Engineering Dean Christophe Pierre. “By enabling us to attract larger numbers of superbly qualified students, this exceptionally generous gift from the Vadasz family will significantly enhance the quality of teaching and research at our Faculty and, ultimately, advance Canada’s leadership in technology and innovation. I cannot overstate the significance of this support.”

Campaign McGill: History in the Making was publicly launched on Oct. 18, 2007, and will run until the end of 2012. Its $750 million goal was the largest starting goal in the history of Canadian university fundraising drives. Campaign McGill seeks to raise the funds needed to attract and retain the world’s best students and faculty, increase access to quality education and enhance McGill’s ability to address critical global challenges.