University

College of Montreal: the reward of transformation

This text is part of the Philanthropy special

The University of Montreal believes that neither luxury nor vanity, knowledge and innovation should be the focus of our common development.

Some American universities wouldn’t be impressed by those numbers, but a psychological barrier just fell for the University of Montreal. While French-speaking higher education institutions are thought to lag behind their English-speaking counterparts in the area of ​​philanthropy, recent major donations from the Chopin-Péladeau Foundation and Quebecor ($40 million) and the Courtois Foundation ($159 million) have reached new heights . All this for the benefit of researchers and students, not to mention the benefits that the community will derive from it.

The Courtois Foundation donation will be used to establish the Courtois Institute, dedicated to the natural sciences. The aim is to create new materials, thanks to a multidisciplinary team, to offer more environmentally friendly batteries, to improve the functionality of 3D printed objects or to find alternatives for polluting minerals to be extracted.

The Chopin-Péladeau Foundation and Quebecor aims to support entrepreneurship in Quebec by creating the Millennium Quebecor program to raise awareness, train and support entrepreneurship. Money from the donation will also be used to construct a building on the MIL campus that will bear the name of Quebecor’s founder, Pierre Péladeau. It will host the program but also the Innovation Center of the University of Montreal, in particular to accelerate the implementation of new ideas and increase entrepreneurial activity.

These contributions ensure that “the knowledge society” is not a utopia but an ideal. Even if it means shaking up two or three clichés, as Michael Pecho, Vice Rector for Alumni Relations and Philanthropy, recommends. He doesn’t hide it: constantly emphasizing the cultural differences between Francophones and Anglophones when it comes to philanthropy tires him.

“I reject the idea that it’s cultural,” admits the man who began his career in philanthropy at UNICEF in its offices in New York and Senegal. All you have to do is commit yourself the funds and resources to attract donations. Before I worked at the University of Montreal, I was at McGill and our team was 250 people, while here we are around 120. I speak almost every day with graduate students from the University of Montreal, some of whom are also McGill or MIT, and they emphasize the different approach that is required of those universities more than ours. And they tell me: You don’t ask me enough! »

Giving: why exactly?

For some, what might be termed the “philanthropic effect” can be seen in the construction of new pavilions and the names of donors associated with them. In short, it is the most visible part or the most spectacular. Frédéric Bouchard, Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy at the Université de Montréal, prefers to refer to donations as “moral commitment”. “When a person, a family, a foundation or a company supports a university, it also expresses its support for the community,” says the philosopher of science.

This support is reflected in all citizens and there is no shortage of examples to demonstrate the ongoing impact of initiatives and research from academia in society. Michael Pecho cites the example of university-affiliated hospitals, “including just two in Montreal,” and anything they can bring with them. “Think about drugs too,” emphasizes this lawyer through training. The birth of molecules also occurs in science. And consider that the University of Montreal has the only veterinary medicine department in Quebec and Eastern Canada. »

As for Frédéric Bouchard, while he is grateful for the generosity of major donors, which often leads to snowballs, he remains convinced that all donors, regardless of the amount offered, support the university’s mission and impact consolidate on society. In his opinion, “Money is great, but friends are even better”.

Accomplices, collaborators, ambassadors… all working towards the same great goal, supports the dean. “Every aspect of our lives today is understood and enhanced through academic research, and that is not a luxury. Because without knowledge, without education, we grope in the dark. History guides us to understand the world as it is today, and astrophysics helps us define our place in the universe. Knowledge is the only way to create the future instead of suffering it. If you hope that the great American or Japanese universities will generously share their discoveries with you, you will have to wait a long time…”

And for those who believe that philanthropy can divert universities from their fundamental goals and thus from the common good, Frédéric Bouchard wants to clarify. “Philanthropy has a job, it is well monitored, but it must not relieve the state. Their roles are complementary: there would be a problem of equity if public funds supported projects that are not yet mature enough. Donors are sometimes willing to take that risk. “This is exactly the choice of the Courtois Foundation to fund research into materials that don’t yet exist,” concludes Michael Pecho.

This special content was created by the Special Publications team at Have to, related to marketing. The elaboration of Have to did not participate.

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