Grad pledges $1.5 million to support McGill's global food security efforts

By Gary Francoeur

Rising food prices, recurring floods and droughts, and a growing demand for shrinking resources have pushed millions of people into hunger and poverty. According to the United Nations, there are now nearly one billion undernourished people globally – which means that one in seven go hungry each day.

Now, thanks to a generous $1.5-million gift from businesswoman and graduate Margaret A. Gilliam, BSc’59, McGill is positioning itself well to tackle the global food and nutrition crisis by seeking long-term answers for sustainable agricultural production.

“This is a worldwide problem that requires our immediate attention,” Gilliam said. “I am delighted that McGill is working towards addressing this issue and that I can play some part in this worthwhile mission.”

Her gift will support research, teaching and graduate fellowships at the McGill Institute for Global Food Security, which is based at the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and is widely recognized as Canada’s leading multidisciplinary teaching and research centre on global food security.

The money will be invested in three areas:

• The Margaret A. Gilliam Faculty Scholar in Food Security, which will serve to attract or retain a scholar who pursues research in the area of global food security.

• The Margaret A. Gilliam Fellowships in Food Security, which will recognize and support outstanding McGill graduate students who are studying global food security issues.

• The Margaret A. Gilliam Endowment in Food Security, which will be used to fund, in perpetuity, teaching, research and outreach initiatives related to food security.

“Maggie Gilliam’s gift will allow us to find solutions to some of the most devastating problems currently affecting nearly one billion people around the world: food security, malnutrition and hunger,” said Chandra A. Madramootoo, Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and Interim Director of the McGill Institute for Global Food Security.

“Through her generosity, we will attract and retain outstanding professors, scholars and graduate students who are working to make our world a better and more secure place for future generations,” he said.

Born in Ottawa, Gilliam grew up on a farm in British Columbia, where she gained an appreciation for agriculture

and the importance of sustainability. She now lives in New York City, where she spent over 30 years as a Wall Street securities analyst, covering all facets of the retailing industry and other related areas. She went on to found Gilliam & Co., a research and consulting firm that assists companies in developing and executing viable business strategies, and helps investors optimize returns in both the private and public sectors.

Marc Weinstein, McGill’s Vice-Principal (Development and Alumni Relations), praised Gilliam for her strong belief in the importance of supporting scientific education and scholarship.

“McGill is deeply grateful for Maggie Gilliam’s incredible passion and her commitment to our University,” he said. “Her visionary leadership in making a gift that includes both direct and endowed funding will have both an immediate impact on our students and researchers, and allow for important work in food security to continue in perpetuity.”