The public face of science at McGill gets a major boost


$5.5-million gift from Lorne Trottier secures the future of high-profile science outreach initiatives

Does the idea of science make you think of complicated equations, test tubes and isolated laboratories? For entrepreneur and longtime McGill philanthropist Lorne Trottier, BEng’70, MEng’73, DSc’06, bringing science out of the ivory tower and into the public domain is a longtime passion. Now, thanks to a $5.5-million gift to McGill’s Faculty of Science, he is making sure that several successful public outreach programs have a secure long-term future.

With this transformative donation, Trottier will provide crucial endowment funding to ensure that several key initiatives that he has previously supported on an annual basis will endure in perpetuity. Endowed gifts are invested by the University to create a steady income stream, creating a powerful means of supporting priority programs and projects for years to come.

Of the total contribution, $3 million will endow the McGill Office for Science and Society (OSS), which will be renamed the McGill Trottier Office for Science and Society. The OSS, co-founded by Drs. Joe Schwarcz, BSc’69, PhD’74, David Harpp and Ariel Fenster, PhD’73, offers a wide range of programs both in English and French aimed at separating fact from fiction on topics ranging from nutrition and health to cosmetics and environmental chemicals. The OSS is recognized by academics, the public and the media across Canada as a go-to source for reliable and unbiased information.

The remaining $2.5 million will endow the popular Lorne Trottier Public Science Symposium Series and Mini-Science Series, annual symposia that engage audiences and further scientific debate around such topics as “What was the spark of life?” and “What is the origin of ethics?”

“With this gift, Lorne Trottier becomes the single largest benefactor to the Faculty of Science in McGill history,” said Dean of Science Martin Grant. “But what makes Lorne a special friend of Science is not measured in dollars. He commits not only money, but invests time and energy in the projects he supports. The study of Science at McGill owes a lot to the generosity of Lorne Trottier. In fact, I cannot imagine the Faculty of Science without him.”

A McGill Governor Emeritus, Trottier is a long-time benefactor of his alma mater. In 2006, he made a $12-million gift to create the Lorne Trottier Chair in Astrophysics and Cosmology in the Faculty of Science and the Lorne Trottier Chair in Aerospace Engineering in the Faculty of Engineering, along with fellowships for graduate students in both faculties. Six years earlier, Trottier donated $10 million to help finance construction of the state-of-the-art Lorne M. Trottier Building, which now houses the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the School of Computer Science.

“It has been rewarding to have sponsored the Trottier Symposium on an annual basis for the past six years,” explained Trottier, co-founder of Matrox Electronics Systems, a Montreal-based video graphics company. “I am now pleased to provide a permanent endowment so that the Symposium, the Office for Science and Society and Mini-Science can continue their valuable mission of promoting a broad appreciation and understanding of both the importance and the excitement of true scientific inquiry.”

McGill Principal and Vice-Chancellor Heather Munroe-Blum calls Trottier’s commitment to McGill nothing short of extraordinary. “He has served our University with passion and dedication, and this latest gift is yet another example of his outstanding generosity, incredible leadership and great faith in McGill,” she said.

This latest gift adds to the momentum of Campaign McGill: History in the Making, which is raising the funds needed to attract and retain top students and faculty, increase access to quality education, and ensure that McGill remains one of the world’s great research-intensive and student-centred universities.

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