Landmark gift provides huge boost to doctoral students in engineering

Prestigious Vadasz Scholars Program aims to attract top PhD students to McGill
Les Vadasz talks with McGill students during a visit to the University in September 2016.Owen Egan

A landmark $15-million gift from McGill alumnus Les Vadasz, a founding member of Intel Corporation, and his wife Judy Vadasz, will enhance the prestigious doctoral fellowship program that bears their name in McGill’s Faculty of Engineering, deepening their support for outstanding PhD students who pursue innovative research at McGill.

Their gift also aims to strengthen Montreal as an engineering and technology hub by attracting more top talent to McGill.

“We’re deeply grateful for this extraordinary gift from Les and Judy Vadasz who have done so much to support our Faculty of Engineering,” said McGill’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor Suzanne Fortier. “Their remarkable generosity continues to open doors for talented graduate students every year, and at the same time, supports our commitment to research excellence and innovation as McGill heads into its third century.”

Legacy of support

The gift from the Vadasz Family Foundation builds on the couple’s remarkable legacy of supporting graduate students in McGill’s Faculty of Engineering. Their endowed gift in 2008 established the Vadasz Doctoral Fellowships in Engineering. The Fellowships have sparked huge growth in PhD enrolment (up 63 per cent since 2005) and graduate research at McGill’s Faculty of Engineering. To date, 176 students have benefitted from the Vadasz Doctoral Fellowships

With their latest gift, the Vadasz Doctoral Fellowships in Engineering will offer greater financial support to doctoral students each year, and for a longer period – four years, which is the standard time it takes to complete a PhD in Engineering. The fellowships, which were already among the most generous in Canada, help McGill recruit top graduates who will shape the future of engineering, and enrich the Canadian workforce and economy for decades to come.

Primarily intended for Canadian citizens or permanent residents, the Vadasz Doctoral Fellowships in Engineering will now support up to 60 doctoral students at a time over a four-year cohort, including 15 new recipients each year.

Les Vadasz, BEng’61, DSc’07, came to Montreal in 1957 as a refugee fleeing the Hungarian Revolution and earned his engineering degree at McGill. He went on to an illustrious career in the United States, notably at tech giant Intel Corp., where he was part of its founding management team, and where he oversaw the development of the world’s first commercially available microprocessor. Despite the passage of time and distance, Vadasz has never forgotten his alma mater.

“I really value the education I received at McGill, and the Fellowship program is a way of removing financial obstacles so that engineering students can focus on their graduate research and achieve their potential,” said Les Vadasz, who is now retired and lives in California. “It reflects my gratitude to McGill and Canada for giving me the chance to study there, and also a desire to support innovative research at McGill, which helps drive progress.”

“The Fellowships create multiple benefits,” said Jim Nicell, Dean of McGill’s Faculty of Engineering. “They bring outstanding students to McGill who receive an excellent education, and help drive research in the Faculty. Doctoral students are required to make significant contributions in their area of research. And because they’re working on their PhD, they’re pushing the research agenda of the professors and University much further.”