Dr. Richard Walls, PhD’78, and Carolina J. Walls, BSc’85, with Principal Heather Munroe-Blum at the announcement of the Best in the West scholarships in Calgary, April 2008.
Dr. Richard Walls, PhD’78, and Carolina J. Walls, BSc’85, were both born a long way from Montreal, but each found in McGill a great reason to travel here. A native of Kentucky, Dr.Walls came to McGill for a PhD in geology. He had never lived in a big city, heard French or experienced a snowstorm – but he immediately fell in love with his new home. “McGill’s greatest asset, aside from its academic quality, is its location in downtown Montreal.”
“Richard may be from Kentucky,” says Mrs.Walls, “but I am really from the south.” When she was 10, her family emigrated from southern Chile to New Brunswick. As a teenager, moving to Montreal to study at McGill was a cherished dream. She looks back fondly on her own time in Montreal, with memories of “bagels at 5 a.m. and hot dogs on Decarie.”
Now based in Calgary, the Walls would like to help students travel to McGill for their own life-changing experiences. “We want to give undergraduates from the west the chance to study at a world-class university such as McGill with the hope, of course, they will return home enriched by the experience,” explains Mrs.Walls.
The couple has pledged $1-million to endow the Dr. Richard and Carolina J. Walls Best in the West Scholarship in Science, for outstanding students from British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan entering a full-time degree program in the Faculty of Science, as well as the Best in the West Scholarship in Earth and Planetary Sciences, for an exemplary second-year student.
The Walls are long-time supporters of their alma mater. Dr. Walls’s lead gift was instrumental in raising $1.2-million toward the T.H. Clark Chair in Sedimentary and Petroleum Geology, and the couple now serve as the Campaign Calgary Co-Chairs. Mrs. Walls is a lawyer, while Dr. Walls is the Chairman of Fairborne Energy Ltd.
“We were surprised how few awards there were for undergraduates at McGill,” says Mrs. Walls. “You want to see a direct return,” Dr. Walls adds. “And with supporting a student, there’s a return on that.”
Both feel strongly there is no greater gift than helping a student get the best education possible. Their own lives are proof of that investment in the best. “I took a gamble,” says Dr. Walls. “McGill sounded like the place for me, and it turned out to be just that.”
Article: Jesse Staniforth, BA’01, MA’03
Photo: Neil Koven Photography
“At the end of the day, the customer is the student,” says Dr. Richard Walls, PhD’78, who with his wife, Carolina J. Walls, BSc’85, has pledged $1-million to create the Best in the West Scholarships in Science, and Earth and Planetary Sciences. (See article at left.)
The Walls’ ultimate goal is to create another 100 scholarships for deserving undergraduates from the west. They encourage others to contribute to the faculty of their choice, either in their own name or that of a loved one.
For information on how to contribute to Best in the West, please contact Scot DeJong, Senior Development Officer, tel. 514-398-3036.