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Schulich gift boosts agricultural research on eve of McGill conference on food crisis

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Published: 4 Sep 2008

$5-million funding also helps other sciences, architecture

$5-million funding also helps other sciences, architecture

As McGill University prepares to host an international conference on the global food crisis, new support for agricultural research has arrived from one of Canada's leading philanthropists, Seymour Schulich. Building on Dr. Schulich’s long-standing generosity to McGill, his new gift of $5 million will create fellowships for graduate students in several disciplines, including the agricultural sciences.

To be held Sept. 24-26, the McGill Conference on Global Food Security will bring together senior officials from governments and international organizations, academics, agricultural experts, and food traders and retailers from around the world. As millions struggle with poverty, hunger, malnutrition and social unrest, the conference was convened to discuss the global problems of climate change, sharply rising prices, changing patterns in food consumption and, ultimately, solutions to the predicament that has left so many without affordable, adequate food.

One of the first of its kind, the conference will underline the urgent need for nations everywhere to devote more resources to agricultural research. With one of Canada's leading faculties of agricultural and environmental sciences at its Macdonald campus, McGill is ideally suited to host such an important conference.

The Schulich gift of $5 million will create generous fellowships for graduate students in a wide variety of areas of study within the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, as well as supporting graduate fellowships in the Schools of Architecture and Urban Planning, and the Departments of Physics, and Mathematics and Statistics. The new Schulich Fellows will receive funding of $25,000 to $100,000 a year.

“Everybody strives to make this a better place for having been here. That’s a big motivator for me,” Dr. Schulich said. His extraordinary generosity to McGill has included a $20-million gift in 2005 to the music faculty (renamed the Schulich School of Music), followed in 2006 by his Golden Violin Award, described as the “Stanley Cup of classical music.” He also established McGill’s Schulich Library of Science and Engineering. As well, Dr. Schulich has an extensive philanthropic legacy with universities and health-care centres across North America and in Israel.

“This is a spectacular gift from an outstandingly generous benefactor and a champion of higher education,” said Heather Munroe-Blum, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of McGill. “What sets this Schulich gift apart is that it will apply to areas of academic study that Dr. Schulich has not supported previously. The fellowships that will be developed from these funds will support important research and learning across a broad range of subjects, further strengthening McGill's competitiveness in attracting and supporting outstanding graduate students – a benefit as well to Quebec and Canada as a whole. That some of these funds will be applied to the important area of agricultural research is good news indeed for those tackling the difficult challenges posed by the global food crisis. We applaud Dr. Schulich and his visionary support to higher education and his alma mater.”

Seymour Schulich is a Canadian business leader with more than 35 years’ experience in the oil and mining industries. In 1978, he pioneered the concept of royalty payments in the mining business, eventually creating the world’s largest royalty resource company with partner Pierre Lassonde. Dr. Schulich is a member of the Order of Canada, and has received four honorary degrees, including a DLitt from McGill in 2004.

He credits much of his success in life to a $1,600 scholarship he received while studying for his MBA at McGill. “I doubt very much that I could have achieved what I have in life, without the education that I received at McGill.”

“In the current, extraordinarily competitive recruiting environment,” said Martin Kreiswirth, Associate Provost and Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at McGill, “the fellowships provided by Dr. Schulich’s magnanimous gift will allow McGill to attract and retain the very best graduate students in extremely important academic fields.”

For more information on the McGill Conference on Global Food Security – including the lists of participants and how to register – visit http://www.mcgill.ca/globalfoodsecurity/

For more information on Campaign McGill, our historic drive to raise $750 million to support the university’s academic mission, visit http://www.mcgill.ca/campaign//

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