Krieble gift advances Trottier Building

Krieble gift advances Trottier Building McGill University

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McGill Reporter
April 19, 2001 - Volume 33 Number 15
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Home > McGill Reporter > Volume 33: 2000-2001 > April 19, 2001 > Krieble gift advances Trottier Building

Krieble gift advances Trottier Building

In the Krieble family, what goes around comes around in more ways than one. This is a family whose patriarch, the late Vernon K. Krieble, and his late son Robert made a fortune through their invention of an industrial adhesive for bonding metals and their founding of the American Sealants Company, now part of the Connecticut-based Loctite Corporation. Robert's son, Fredrick Krieble, is here today on campus being honoured for, once again, thanking McGill for the education the University gave his grandfather that enabled him to be the highly successful inventor and professor of chemistry he became. This time, the gift from the Krieble Family Foundation was $1 million to the Faculty of Science, to be used in the construction of the Lorne M. Trottier Building for information technology sciences.

Fredrick Krieble, speaking on the phone last week from his home in Turks & Caicos, said of his family "that we are fortunate to be able to contribute to making the campus one of the most exciting ones that exists, as it was when my grandfather got there." That was in 1907. A farmboy from Pennsylvania, Vernon Krieble, fresh from Brown University with a BSc in chemistry, arrived at McGill to begin work as a laboratory demonstrator while doing his MSc and PhD studies and ultimately became a professor at the University, where he taught until 1920.

As Krieble pointed out, that was a particularly exciting era of science at McGill. "Ernest Rutherford and Frederick Soddy had advanced the frontiers of atomic physics, leading them to Nobel prizes, a fact that surely attracted my grandfather to choose McGill for advanced degrees in chemistry."

The ties that bind the family to the Faculty of Science, and the chemistry department in particular, are not only strong but far-reaching, said Dean of Science Alan Shaver. Shaver was chair of chemistry when, five years ago, the family foundation gave $305,000 (US) to expand the chemistry computing laboratory so that not only would there be computers in a lab, there would be computers in the hallways, granting students long hours of easy access.

That model of computer labs prompted the Science Undergraduate Society to raise money to do the same for all science students, a move which Shaver, once he was dean, encouraged by having his faculty match the funds. Since then, other faculties have followed suit.

"The lab has had a great impact on teaching and responding to the needs of students. It shows the impact of a visionary gift not just to a department, but to a faculty and even other faculties," said Shaver.

Principal Bernard Shapiro is thrilled that the Krieble Family Foundation has contributed to making the new IT hub a reality. "We are grateful to the family and we are proud of the historic connections that link McGill today with a distinguished past and an exciting future," he said.

The Kriebles are not only philanthropists at the post-secondary level of education. In Turks & Caicos, the family foundation supports the local private secondary school in order that some of its students may go on to advanced studies. This year, Gamal Robinson, from the Caribbean island, begins his first year in chemistry. "It just goes to show that we're preparing local students to be accepted in the best universities of the world," said Krieble.

Lorne Trottier, co-founder of the Montreal-based Matrox Electronic Systems Ltd. and an engineering graduate (BEng'70, MEng'73), shares the Krieble family's sense of gratitude to McGill and the desire to make a difference in the lives of future generations. He lauds the generosity of the Krieble gift and hopes it "encourages other donors to do likewise." Last fall, Trottier donated $10 million toward the building that will bear his name. While things have been rocky in the IT sector over the past few months, the need for skills in this area hasn't changed, he said. "Education in IT is a long-term investment and I think this industry has strong long-term prospects. In my company, finding skilled workers has been a constant problem."

Furthermore, he adds, a city with a skilled IT workforce attracts industry. "Different parts of North America, such as Boston and the Silicon Valley, are competing with each other to attract this kind of industry and the most important resource is human capital." The six-storey Trottier Building will bolster Montreal's human capital by allowing McGill to increase enrolment in such fields as computer and electrical engineering, computer science, software engineering, telecommunications and micro-electronics. One section of the building will bear the name of Vernon K. Krieble.

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