Posted on Dec. 19: Enormous national reaction to $105-million gift


[img_inline align=”right” src=”” caption=”Newspaper coverage”]From coast to coast, the reaction to the announcement that McMaster is receiving a $105-million gift for its medical school, is almost as great as the donation itself.

“A gift so huge has as much shock impact as it does the ability to understand it,” says John Kelton, dean and vice-president of the Faculty of Health Sciences. For him, the realization of it is still sinking in. “I still haven't realized it. It's historic.”

So what has the external reaction been to the “historic” $105-million gift from Canadian businessman and philanthropist Michael G. DeGroote?

“Consistently enormous enthusiasm,” sums up Kelton. “That would be it in a nutshell.” And envy, he adds. “I have been hearing great enthusiasm and great envy from deans across the country. People are saying 'we can't believe it, we find it wonderfully exciting'.”

On Dec. 17, in the McMaster University Student Centre marketplace, approximately 1,000 people gathered to hear DeGroote announce he is giving McMaster the largest cash gift in Canadian history. The $105-million donation will be divided between a $64-million endowment fund, supporting education, health care and medical research in perpetuity and a $41-million capital fund directed to construction and outfitting of laboratories and hospital units. The Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University will be the first Canadian medical school to bear the name of a benefactor.

McMaster President Peter George has received letters from University presidents congratulating and thanking McMaster for raising the bar. “That is the message that resonates through virtually all of the universities in the country,” he says. “It sends a very positive and encouraging signal to donors that their gifts are important.”

It also helps attract government and additional private support, he adds. “This gift announces McMaster is a player. McMaster's health sciences will now have resources and endowed development funds that we can put on the table to leverage and attract support from other private sector donors and from government to undertake some major new initiatives,” he says. “What Mr. DeGroote's gift signals is that McMaster University is a winner and an outstanding investment, and I think that is communicated widely by the kind of celebration we had on Wednesday and by the kind of media attention we've had since then.”

Media exposure has ranged from local coverage in the Hamilton Spectator and CHCH TV, to national news reports in the Globe and Mail, National Post and CBC.

“There has been widespread coverage throughout Canada by all media types,” says George, adding a personal high point for him was an interview on Wednesday on CBC's As it Happens.

He expects this is just the beginning of press coverage. “It's been very positive and I expect it will be the generation of many news stories to come.”

Illustration: News reports about the historic gift announcement appeared in The Hamilton Spectator, Toronto Star and Globe and Mail, among others.