Campaign Update

Hydro-Québec commits further $1,000,000-plus to graduate fellowships

Electrical and civil engineering are predictable priorities for a major utility like Hydro-Québec, but these days the corporate giant is taking a broader perspective. A recent commitment of $1,050,000 will fund ten $15,000 renewable fellowships for the next seven years--open to graduate students from all faculties.

Previous Hydro-Québec Fellowships, awarded since 1992, have funded research in food science, psychology and religious studies as well as various branches of engineering. The new crop of Hydro-Québec fellowships, slated to start in September 1996, is completely undesignated--open to students of special merit in any discipline who are successful in the McGill Majors Competition.

Generous gifts like the Hydro-Québec Fellowships give a decided boost to McGill's plans to increase graduate enrolment from 25 to 33 per cent of total enrolment by the new millennium. Fellowship support helps McGill attract and keep the best and brightest students. The list of recipients of the last round of fellowships reflects McGill's diverse student body--in fact, it reads like roll-call at the United Nations, with students from China, the former Soviet Union, France, Iran and several Canadian provinces.

Student recipients are keenly aware of the difference holding a fellowship makes in their lives. Psychology student Winnifred Louis, who did her undergraduate work at the University of Toronto, is now working on a master's thesis entitled "Coping with Discrimination." She is grateful for "the experiences and opportunities which have been available to me this past year."

The fellowship, she says, "has had an appreciable impact on the quality of life which I enjoy, and greatly freed up the money available to me for research."

Food Science PhD student Shyam Swaroop Sablani earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in mechanical engineering in his native India. His research interest is rotational processing of canned foods, a complex field involving both experiments and computer modelling. Sablani feels the benefits go far beyond the financial. With the Hydro-Québec fellowship, he says, a world of opportunities opened up to him.

Student-led initiatives give campaign special spirit

Gifts and pledges from students have been among the most striking successes for The McGill Twenty-First Century Fund to date, raising $7,705,378--substantially over the initial hoped-for campaign goal of $5,000,000 from the student body. And it's a particular point of pride that the entire initiative has been student-led, from identifying initial priorities to managing funds and installing equipment.

Students on the Macdonald Campus, for example, have committed more than $500,000 over the next five years to a new, centralized student services facility. Macdonald Campus Students' Society liaison officer Alan Monfette notes that this is "something students really care a lot about. Existing facilities are completely inadequate. We're also working on getting more services out here, such as athletics facilities, distance education facilities, and more visits from the doctor and nurse."

Richard Latour, president of the Arts Undergraduate Society, says the initiative stems from student leaders' belief that "we have a responsibility to help pay for our education. We're fortunate to have such low tuition fees, so special projects can (and should) be taken care of by students. Paying our fare is definitely a good thing."

In tangible terms, that translates into small things that make students' lives easier, like the automatic check-out machine that will let students take out books after the McLennan Library service desk has closed. "The little things really make a big difference," says Latour.

A series of plaque unveilings through February and March have been set up to highlight student contributions to various faculties. As Dean Toope told students at the unveiling of the plaque for the new Law Library on February 8, "This is really going to happen, thanks to your commitment." That scene is being replayed, with themes and variations, all over the campus.

From the office of The Twenty-First Century Fund Campaign