The Perfect Fit

The Côté Sharp Family
The Côté Sharp Family (left to right), Catherine Sharp, Hélène Côté Sharp, Dennis Sharp, Sc'60, and Geneviève Sharp. The family has donated 5M in support of student wellness.
“When students arrive at Queen’s, they are cut off from their natural network for the first time in their lives,” Ms. Côté Sharp says. “It’s natural for them to have a lot of anxiety and loneliness. The Wellness Centre will provide services to them when they’re in a crisis situation. It will also help them develop a better-balanced life.”

Making a big gift to Queen’s was an easy decision for Dennis Sharp, Sc’60. Figuring out which initiative to support was a little more difficult. Several of the university’s fundraising initiatives appealed to him, but he was holding out for the perfect fit. It took him a few years, but he found it this year in the Student Wellness Centre.

A Hamilton native who was drawn to Queen’s because of its celebrated engineering program and its relatively small size, Mr. Sharp has fond memories of his time here. A football Gael and a member of a close-knit class of geological engineers, he remembers his time at Queen’s as among the best of his life. “It was a wonderful environment,” he says, “a great place to make friends, and those friends have stayed with me to this day.”

Mr. Sharp went on to a successful career in the natural resources industry, but he never forgot his Queen’s experience. “As you advance your career, you’re always looking back on what is meaningful,” he says.  “For me, Queen’s became more and more meaningful as time went on, and I became a bigger and bigger booster of the university.”

A celebrated alumnus who won the John B. Stirling Montreal Medal in 2003, Mr. Sharp gave his financial support to the Integrated Learning Centre the following year. He knew he wanted to make a more significant gift, but since any funds he donated would come from his family foundation, he wanted to be sure that his gift reflected not just his passions, but the passions of his entire family – especially his wife.

Hélène Côté Sharp, Mr. Sharp’s wife of more than 40 years, spent a decade working with troubled youths and families and has a deep personal and professional interest in wellness. Mr. Sharp shares her passion, and realizes that his years at Queen’s epitomized a healthy student experience. “I had close friends on the football team and among my classmates,” he says. “We had a wellness experience, but so much is different now. Being a student is much more stressful than it used to be.” 

When the couple learned that Queen’s was planning to dedicate prominent space in the newly revitalized building in the heart of Main Campus to student wellness, they realized that they had found the perfect fit they had been waiting for, and decided to support the initiative with a $5-million gift. In appreciation for the gift, the space will now be known as the Côté Sharp Student Wellness Centre.

“When students arrive at Queen’s, they are cut off from their natural network for the first time in their lives,” Ms. Côté Sharp says. “It’s natural for them to have a lot of anxiety and loneliness. The Wellness Centre will provide services to them when they’re in a crisis situation. It will also help them develop a better-balanced life.”

“Wellness will continue to be an important issue with students for decades to come,” Mr. Sharp says. “The Centre will be there to help them address any needs that come up. Our hope is that it becomes an important part of the Queen’s campus.”