A native of St-Boniface, Manitoba, Marcel Desautels, C.M., LLD’07, was raised with equal measures of humour and discipline and a deep respect for higher education.
He worked his way through university and launched a private legal practice in Winnipeg as a young man before offering his services to the Great-West Life Assurance Company and the Treasury Board of Canada. Later, he took the helm at Creditel of Canada, the country's largest commercial credit and debt recovery bureau, and presided over 25 years of unprecedented growth. Creditel was sold in 1996, and Desautels used the proceeds to launch the Canadian Credit Management Foundation (CCMF), a non-profit organization that would support Canadian business education for years to come.
The CCMF made major contributions to several Canadian universities before its landmark $22-million gift to McGill in 2005 – at the time, the largest donation ever made to a Canadian business school. This influx of resources funded endowed chairs, scholars' awards, an annual symposium, a visiting scholars program, leading-edge facilities and new scholarships, fellowships and research, and the Faculty was renamed in honour of Desautels’s extraordinary generosity. In 2008, he provided a further $10 million to create the Marcel Desautels Institute for Integrated Management, which aims to introduce interdisciplinary “big-picture” thinking into a global business world that must increasingly operate with both social and financial balance sheets in mind.
In 2007, Marcel Desautels received an honorary McGill doctorate in recognition of his outstanding contributions to business education. In July 2008, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada, one of the highest civilian honours bestowed by the Canadian government.
Marcel Desautels was an Honorary Lifetime Member of the Desautels Faculty of Management’s International Faculty Board.
A tremendous supporter of higher education in Canada, Marcel Desautels died on January 31, 2023 at the age of 88.