McGill launches $2-billion fundraising campaign

"Made by McGill: the Campaign for Our Third Century” will mobilize thousands of alumni and donors around the world in support of McGill’s mission of teaching, research and service to society 
McGill launched its $2-billion fundraising drive with an event on lower campus. On hand were (from left): Honorary Campaign Chair John McCall MacBain, nutritional sciences student Christine Ha, medical resident Dr. Sheila Wang, Principal Suzanne Fortier, psychiatry student Jay Olson, law student Lina Bensaidane, and Campaign Co-Chair Marcia Moffat.Paul Fournier

This morning’s launch for “Made by McGill: the Campaign for Our Third Century,” the University’s bold $2-billion fundraising campaign, didn’t just start with an inspirational story – it started with four.

“I’m passionate for the need to embrace diversity and inclusion for all students,” said fourth-year Law student Lina Bensaidane under the tent sheltering the enthusiastic crowd from the morning’s rain. Bensaidane was the inaugural recipient of McGill’s Centre culturel islamique de Québec (CCIQ) Memorial Award, which recognizes students who show a commitment to fostering the inclusion of Muslims within the larger Quebecois and Canadian societies. “I’m proud to support opportunities that open doors for talented students from all backgrounds to come study at McGill.”

Jay Olson, a PhD student in psychiatry, next took the mic. He studies the power of suggestion, and hopes his work will lead to new treatments for children living with neurological disorders such as migraines and Tourette’s syndrome: “I’m proud to support research that changes lives.”

Medical resident Dr. Sheila Wang recalled using paper rulers to measure wounds during her first year of med school. She thought there must be a better way to chart healing; her smartphone app is now used in more than 1,000 facilities across Canada and the U.S. “I am proud to support innovation that drives progress for the benefit of society,” she told the crowd.

The last testimonial came from Christine Ha, a PhD candidate in nutritional sciences who already has a wealth of experience under her belt – including volunteering at the Montreal General Hospital emergency room, coaching Special Olympics basketball, and interning with a climate change NGO. “Every opportunity has made me better able to define my career and my true path,” she said. “I am proud to support education that shapes future-ready students who make a meaningful impact on the world around us.”

Four very different stories, one common thread: Each student is proud to call themselves “Made by McGill.”

Connected to the world

Principal and Vice-Chancellor Suzanne Fortier was visibly impressed with how the quartet are using their McGill experiences to change the world. “It’s a real honour and pleasure for me to share this stage with them,” she said as she officially launched Made by McGill: the Campaign for Our Third Century.

“This Campaign is about McGill being connected to the world,” said Principal Fortier. “It’s about McGill working together, all of us in our community, to make the world a good place – a home for everyone.”

The Campaign comes as the University prepares to mark its 200th anniversary in 2021. The Campaign aims to boost resources for financial aid and scholarships, equipping students with the skills they need to become “future-ready” global leaders, and supporting research and innovation in some of the most pressing societal challenges. The $2-billion goal is earmarked to support four key areas:

  • $600 million towards increased funding for bursaries and scholarships and other means of student support, with the goal of ensuring that no qualified student is denied a McGill education for financial reasons.
  • $250 million towards creating hands-on learning experiences for students through field study opportunities, academic exchanges, interdisciplinary research projects, and internships that complement classroom study.
  • $750 million towards research, accelerating discovery and breakthroughs in strategic areas where McGill is poised to make the most significant contributions, including neuroscience, environmental sustainability, the social impacts of artificial intelligence and data science, and infection and human immune threats.
  • $100 million towards increasing innovation across faculties through seed funding, training, and mentoring from graduates and industry partners, as well as support for early-stage innovation designed to close the gap between research, discovery and proof of concept, in service of bringing new ideas and discoveries to market more quickly.

In addition to these four priorities, another $300 million will support capital projects to provide new or expanded facilities for students, faculty and for research projects.

Shared vision

The Principal spoke about the inspirational generosity of people who share the University’s vision. “We see how their gifts have a real impact,” she said. “It started with pioneers who invested in this University many, many years ago – and [includes] people today who are making the investment for the future.”

Principal Fortier then introduced McGill graduate John McCall MacBain (BA’80, LLD ‘14) who, with his wife Dr. Marcy McCall MacBain, made a $200-million donation to McGill earlier this year. Their gift launched the McCall MacBain Scholarship program at McGill, which Principal Fortier believes will “provide opportunities for students at McGill to broaden their horizons, to work on what they need to be equipped with to really shape the future of our world.” In recognition of their leadership, Principal Fortier gave Marcy and John McCall MacBain the title of “McGill Third Century Founders.”

“Every one of us has a McGill story,” said Mr. McCall MacBain, who then told his own story of leaving his home in small town Ontario to study at McGill in 1977.

“McGill made me,” he said. “It really did. At McGill, I learned leadership. I ran the Winter Carnival. I ran Welcome Week. I was president of the Student Society. What a chance, to have three major leadership roles at under the age of 23! And the reason this happened was because I received the James McGill Scholarship, which allowed me to leave Niagara Falls and to come here to Montreal to study at McGill. McGill really prepared me for my life and my successes. It gave me resilience, which I think is really, really important in today’s world. McGill made me who I am.”

Mr. McCall MacBain is serving as the Honorary Campaign Chair. He will be working alongside the three other accomplished McGill graduates who are serving as Co-Chairs: G. Garvin Brown IV (BA’91), Claude Généreux (BEng’85) and Marcia Moffat (BSc’91).

Transformational work with local, national and global impact

Ms. Moffat closed the celebration with a few words about the Campaign leadership cabinet.

“Our role is to set the tone and pace for the campaign, and to lead by example,” she said. “We will share the McGill story with our alumni community worldwide. There is much transformational work happening here at McGill, and it’s work that not only impacts Montreal, and not only impacts Canada, but really is globally relevant.”

In a press release about the Campaign, Marc Weinstein, McGill’s Vice Principal (University Advancement) wrote that “The launch of our Campaign, and the upcoming celebrations marking McGill’s 200th anniversary, afford us with timely opportunities to not only raise much-needed funds for McGill students and researchers, but to deepen our connections with our alumni, friends, parents and volunteers here in Montreal, across Canada and around the world.  It is through the collective efforts of this entire community of supporters that we will celebrate McGill’s achievements as a world-class University and set it up for even greater successes in its third century.”

To learn more about McGill’s vision for our third century, and to read about the many ways philanthropy is helping our students, researchers and professors make the world a better place, please visit the “Made by McGill: the Campaign for Our Third Century” website.

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