John McCall MacBain, BA'80, knows an opportunity when he sees one - and he clearly knows how to get the most out of it. After acquiring a Quebec buy-and-sell car magazine 20 years ago, the Canadian entrepreneur built a worldwide publishing empire from classified advertising, with 350 titles and 50 websites spanning 23 countries.
Last June, McCall MacBain seized upon another opportunity, selling Trader Classified Media and establishing with his wife, Marcy, the McCall MacBain Foundation, an organization which pinpoints areas in need of visionary support, such as health and education in sub-Saharan Africa, climate change and postsecondary education.
Now, McCall Macbain has set his sights on another way to make an extraordinary impact - this time backing his own alma mater with his foundation's largest gift to date: $5-million for the McCall MacBain Fellowship in Arts, to support graduate students in the Faculty of Arts. "This is an area where we can make a real difference with our philanthropic dollars," explains, McCall MacBain.
Principal Heather Munroe-Blum applauds the gift for its strategic focus. "Graduate students are at the heart of university research and teaching, and have been behind many of the most important discoveries of our time," she says. "This gift will have a major impact on our ability to compete successfully for the world's best graduate students."
McCall MacBain’s contributions– and his participation in Campaign McGill as senior advisor for international gifts–are part of a deep involvement with McGill that stretches back to his days as an undergraduate.
A southern Ontario boy, he chose to come to Montreal because of McGill’s international reputation. “There’s lots of camaraderie among the international students and those from the rest of Canada, which makes McGill so unique,” he remembers.
An honours graduate in Economics, McCall MacBain not only became president of the McGill Students’ Society, he also won a Rhodes Scholarship, which led him to study law at Oxford. He followed this up with an MBA from Harvard Business School.
“McGill has played a critical role in my life,” says McCall MacBain, now based in Geneva. “I was able to lay the foundations of an interesting career as an entrepreneur and a builder of businesses around the world – something for which I’ll always be grateful.”