‘I want all students to feel they are supported’ — Leah Hoover

A woman in a yellow shirt sits on a bench with trees and a McMaster University sign in the background.

Leah Hoover, BA ’81, a longtime employee and donor, proudly supports McMaster’s Rainbow Bursary Fund.

In Leah Hoover’s more than 40-year history with McMaster University, she has worn many hats. From student to employee, coach to donor, each role has deepened her connection with McMaster’s mission and values.

“McMaster has played a big role in my life,” said Hoover. “I met lifelong friends when I was a student, and my education led to a great career and life.”

After graduating in 1981 with a bachelor of arts degree, Hoover was hired at McMaster full-time. Over the next 14 years, she held positions in the Student Liaison Office, the Registrar’s Office and the University Advancement team.

She proudly led the university’s first ever fundraising phone-a-thon and played an integral role in migrating McMaster’s list of graduates to an online database.

A lifelong donor

And for five decades, she has been a generous donor to McMaster, usually donating over the phone. “After all, I started the phone centre!”

Hoover has supported academic priorities like student scholarships and programs within the Faculty of Social Sciences, as well as areas that hold personal interest, like the women’s fast pitch team, which she proudly coached to a championship in the past.

More recently, Hoover learned of the opportunity to support a new fund that aligns deeply with one of her personal values — inclusivity.

McMaster’s Rainbow Bursary Fund, established in 2021, supports LGBTQ2S+ graduate students from all faculties and disciplines.

“I want to ensure McMaster remains attractive to a diverse group of people,” she said. “I want all students to feel they are supported.”

When Hoover saw that the fund had been established by a fellow McMaster grad and his partner, she was inspired to contribute.

“This will allow McMaster to maintain and enhance its inclusivity mandate. Let’s put it at the forefront and make education more accessible.”

After a stint working elsewhere, Hoover returned to McMaster in 2003 for another five years, this time helping raise $6 million for the new Engineering Technology Building.

Through life’s many twists and turns, McMaster has remained a constant for Hoover.

“Even when I worked for the University of Michigan and the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation in Toronto, all along I kept giving to Mac,” she said.

Always supporting students

Through her giving, Hoover hopes to help McMaster become even more open, more affirming and more inclusive.

She sees her own education at McMaster as the springboard for her life and career, and wants to ensure that as many students as possible have access to the same opportunity.

Supporting students has always come naturally to Hoover, starting with her time as a student herself, when she was involved in the McMaster residence council.

“I was the Welcome Week representative in my first year and floor president in my second year,” said Hoover, who also landed a part-time job giving campus tours to prospective students and their families.

“What better way to connect with campus than to share it with other students, parents and families?”

Supporting the Rainbow Bursary is a way for Hoover to expand her wide-ranging support for the university and to empower the next generation of McMaster graduates.

Learn more about supporting the Rainbow Bursary.

Why McMaster donors give: At McMaster University, every single gift, no matter the size, has the potential to make a difference in the lives of our students, the quality of our research and our ability to give back to our community and influence the future. We asked some of our donors and their families what motivates them to give. These are their stories

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