Launched in April 2011, The President’s Society recognizes donors to the University of Alberta who play a leadership role in supporting the University and donate $1,000 or more annually.
The inaugural group of members comprises nearly 2,000 donors who, through their annual gifts, collectively contributed over $12 million to the University of Alberta during the past year. According to O’Neil Outar, chief advancement officer for the University, the impact of these gifts is tremendous: “Our donors support programs and projects that have a direct impact on our community. Scholarships and bursaries, athletics, library acquisitions, undergraduate research, global education initiatives and learning opportunities–all of these enhance the overall experience for our students.”
U of A President Indira Samarasekera
Scholarships and bursaries established through the generosity of the President’s Society donors can, in particular, facilitate students doing extraordinary things by allowing them to have experiences beyond the classroom, such as undergraduate research, international experiences and community service.
In September and October 2011, President Indira Samarasekera and Jim Edwards, ’62 BA, ’06 LLD (Honorary), chair of the President’s Society, hosted dinners in Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver to honour the members of the new President’s Society. Speeches by faculty members Anne Naeth, ’76 BSc, ’85 MSc, ’88 PhD, Robert Burrell, Lorne Tyrrell, ’64 BSc, ’68 MD, and Wenran Jiang highlighted the dinners and gave President’s Society members an opportunity to hear about recent scholarship in areas of high priority for the University.
Over 700 donors attending these special events heard President Samarasekera share the story of Kayla Stan, a third-year scholarship student. Kayla had written a letter of thanks to the donor who had established the scholarship that enabled herto excel in school while volunteering on campus and in the community.
Enjoying the President's Society dinner at the Calgary Golf and Country Club were Dennis Kadatz, '60 BPE, '65 MA, and Denise Kadatz.
“I am so grateful for my scholarships and the donors who made them possible. Receiving a scholarship makes a huge difference,” wrote Kayla. “A lot of my friends at university have to work and will still have a lot of debt when they graduate. Scholarships relieve so much stress and alleviate the financial burden.”
In addition, she notes, the scholarships have “allowed me the time to give back. I’ve been able to help more people. Without scholarships, I wouldn’t have had that time.” Among other activities, Kayla supports literacy initiatives by helping to raise funds for books for inner-city children and libraries in the Canadian North; she also reads to children at an on-campus daycare centre.
The Royal Ontario Museum was the location for the Toronto dinner. Pictured are guests Sherree Drummond, Suneeta Monga, '84 BSc, '89 MD, Amit Monga, '96 PhD(Eng), Andrew Drummond, '93 BA, '96 MA.
“I thoroughly enjoyed these dinners and the opportunity to personally thank our donors,” said President Samarasekera. “Many indicated their interest in giving more, telling me that engaging in these events made them feel closer to the University.”
Edwards describes the President’s Society dinners as a celebration of philanthropy and philanthropists: “We see these as an opportunity for our leading donors to come together and understand that we appreciate and celebrate their commitment to the University.”