Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

The Magazine Of Queen's University

Search form

From the principal: A transformative gift

From the principal: A transformative gift

[From the Principal - graphic]
From the Principal
[principal Daniel Woolf photo]
Caption Principal Daniel Woolf holds a favourite book from his own collection, a 1502 edition of Roma Instaurata by Renaissance era historian Flavio Biondo. (Photo by Bernard Clark)

Principal George M. Grant is said to have remarked, shortly before the end of his life, that Queen’s could always count on its alumni for support. Over a century later, that remains true, and the names attached to many buildings, endowed chairs and professorships, and scholarships and bursaries attest to the great love for and gratitude to this university that our graduates, going back to Robert Sutherland’s time, feel in their hearts.

Among our most generous alumni donors, some names are understandably well known: Robert Sutherland; the Goodes family; the Richardson family; the Chernoff family; stadium lead donors Stuart and Kim Lang; Robert Buchan; Robert Beamish; Donald Munro; and of course, Drs Alfred and ­Isabel Bader. To that list we now add the name of Stephen J.R. Smith, Sc’72, whose recent $50-million donation in support of our business school is the largest-ever gift to any ­business school in Canada.

As an endowment to support our faculty and students in perpetuity, this will help the school – renamed in honour of our benefactor “The Stephen J.R. Smith School of Business at Queen’s University” – continue what has been a steady and strong upward rise among the world’s ­leading business schools. As David Saunders, Dean of Smith School of Business, has emphasized, one of the key measures of a business school’s success is its endowment per faculty member. Mr. Smith’s gift will immediately ­accelerate the School’s upward trajectory.

A few words about Stephen Smith, whom I have come to know quite well over the past six years: already a generous donor to Queen’s (to the Department of Economics and the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science), he has also served on our Initiative Campaign cabinet. Stephen left Queen’s in 1972 with strong quantitative skills and a keen interest in finance stimulated by his engineering training and through his elective courses in economics.

Like many of our alumni, Stephen is an entrepreneur who embodies the spirit of initiative. He co-founded First National Financial Corporation and has built it over the years into one of Canada’s leading financial institutions outside of the chartered banks. Since then, he has invested in or created a number of other businesses. He ­invests in success, and he has recognized the enormous leaps that our business school has made in the past couple of decades, assisted by many alumni and most notably by the generosity of Mel and Nancy Goodes, whose prior gift to ­support a new home for business, Goodes Hall, has made so much else possible.

Stephen is a modest man, and one with a ­sincere commitment to giving back to the ­community with his ‘time and talent’ as well as his ‘treasure’. I have had the pleasure of working with him for a few years on the board of the non-profit organization Historica Canada. His leadership style is warm and ­persuasive but low-key. He has achieved ­success not only through his training, discipline and ­energy, but through cultivating relationships. Stephen Smith is, in a word, one of Canada’s great success stories and I am proud to have his name permanently associated with Queen’s University and Smith School of Business. 

See alos, from this issue: Business education has a new name: Stephen J.R. Smith

[Queen's Alumni Review 2015 Issue 4 cover]