Making an impact now and into the future

24 April 2023

Thomas and Patricia Hewitt believe in the value of an education.

“It opens the door. You have many more opportunities once you have a degree,” says Tricia.

“We both came from poor families and had basically nothing growing up,” says Tom, who was born in Manitoba, and moved to Alberta at age eight. Tricia, born in Alberta, adds, “But it was instilled in us that an education was important to finding a good job and earning a good living.”

They met at the University of Alberta’s chemistry laboratory in 1966. Tricia was in Medical Laboratory Science, and Tom was in Honors Chemistry. They married the summer after third-year, and both graduated with bachelor’s degrees.

Over the next four years, Tom earned his Masters and Ph.D. His studies and their respective careers took the couple to the USA, and they currently live in Arizona.

When planning their estate, they decided to distribute all their funds to causes they cared about most, instead of paying taxes upon death.

“We have no children, and so it became important to decide what our legacy will be,” says Tricia.

This year, they are setting up an endowment fund for the Medical Laboratory Science Department at the U of A. It will provide discretionary funds to the Department Head for scholarships, research or other priorities; this allows the program to react quickly to new needs that will arise in the future. “Discretionary funds are highly desirable because it gives the Department Head an opportunity to fund what they prefer,” says Tom.

Next year, the Hewitts will set up a similar endowment in the Chemistry Department. When they both pass away, part of their estate will be added to these endowment funds.

“It feels good,” says Tom. Tricia adds, “There are so many young kids who are smart but can’t afford university classes. We hope this will help people down the road, our way of giving back to society for the good fortune we’ve experienced.”