By JEFF SODOWSKY
Interim VP Advancement
Thompson Rivers University
IN NOVEMBER, university donors awarded $775,000 to TRU students—pushing the total amount distributed this fall to over $1 million. It was a perfect kick off to a holiday season that is traditionally focused on giving gifts and helping others.
One of Thompson Rivers University’s attributes that has resonated most for me since I’ve been on campus is its accessibility for local and regionaltudents looking to create new realities for themselves.
The impact of a scholarship or award for some of these individuals cannot be overstated. The donors who are establishing or supporting scholarship and bursary funds are nurturing transformational journeys.
As a public institution, TRU relies on tuition fees and provincial support for basic operations. When international enrolment has been strong, TRU has been able to leverage those additional funds into investments in sustainability, capital renovations or to create new facilities.
Philanthropy will always play an important role in enhancing student experiences, furthering our faculties’ ability to deliver the best education or reducing the financial barriers for those choosing to pursue post-secondary education.
In 2012, TRU set its sights on raising $50 million as it approached the school’s 50th Anniversary. The effort has quietly been building momentum since. The focus has been on student support, community partnerships, capital projects and research—to elevate what we can offer. Donors don’t help us operate. They help us innovate.
In October, when TRU launched the public phase of this Limitless Campaign, it came with a celebration. That’s because we were already at $41 million raised toward our goal of $50 million. Since then, we have reached $42.3 million raised. Achieving a goal like this takes time and requires thousands of friends.
With investments in capital, new equipment, programs and research–not to mention student support –donors are having an impact that will last generations. Dr. Sherman Jen, who gave $5 million, not only created student awards but funded new labs in nursing and trades.
The Stollery Charitable Foundation gave $550,000 toward the Nursing and Population Health Building and another $200,000 to support bursaries and the TRU Community Legal Clinic. The clinic and related research have also benefitted from $1.6 million in funding from the Law Foundation of BC. Roland and Anne Neave have not only given over $600,000 in scholarships and bursaries, but they have gifted the Neave Family Wetlands for research and program use–opportunities that will draw students and experts from around the world to unique facilities in Wells Gray Park.
This is a handful of examples, but they extend to all who make a gift through the annual gala, golf tournament, the Day of Giving, TRUly United campaign or simply send in a donation of their own accord. I look forward to the day when we can list everyone who made this ambitious dream a reality.
There are many important causes needing our attention and vying for support. There always will be. Some are ongoing and some are one offs. $50 million is a big number. Crossing the finish line will be a significant milestone for this university, but the gifts that will get us there are donations that will ripple through the region. Whether it’s new jobs that are created, skilled employees joining the workforce or expertise that builds reputation and grows investment in the area, the impact of TRU and its students is far-reaching.
It’s a joy and a privilege to see some of these transformational opportunities up close and personal. It’s an experience I wish could be shared with everyone. As you spend time with loved ones, reflect on the past year, or renew and plan for the next, I encourage you to think about the Limitless opportunities that come with an investment in education. As one of our students stated in October, “Your gift can be anything. It means everything.”
Learn more by visiting tru.ca/limitless.
Jeff Sodowsky is the interim Vice-President Advancement for Thompson Rivers University.