McGill alumni Barbara and Patrick Keenan, gave a transformative gift of $5 million to the Faculty of Religious Studies, as part of the University’s fundraising effort, Campaign McGill: History in the Making. This donation – the largest to the Faculty since its founding – will fortify teaching, research, scholarly collaboration and outreach related to the study of comparative religion and interfaith dialogue.
The landmark gift will also create the Wilfred Cantwell Smith Graduate Fellowships, honouring the memory of an influential and internationally renowned professor in the Faculty; two annual Barbara and Patrick Keenan PhD Dissertation Finishing Fellowships for doctoral students and at least two annual Barbara and Patrick Keenan Undergraduate Internship Awards that will provide recipients with valuable first-hand experience of religious cultures in global communities. Access to these internship awards will not be limited to students in the Faculty of Religious Studies; any student across the University who has taken at least two elective courses in the Faculty can apply for one.
Finally, the Barbara and Patrick Keenan Conference Support Fund will support one or two high-profile symposiums that will bring together prominent international scholars to share their knowledge of world religions and globalization with the wider community. “These initiatives will nourish creative, interdisciplinary scholarship and advance graduate and undergraduate education on issues of religion and society at a time when such contributions are arguably more critical than ever before,” said Professor Ellen Aitken, Dean of the Faculty of Religious Studies.
McGill alumni Barbara Keenan received her Bachelor Degree in 1954 and Patrick Keenan completed his Bachelor of Commerce in 1954, as well as obtained his Chartered Accountant designation in 1957. “In our globalized world, religion is a vital dimension of our humanity,” said Barbara Keenan. “It is very important that today’s students – no matter what their course of study – have an understanding of and sensitivity to the multitude of faith traditions and the cultures they produce. This knowledge will help to shape them as tomorrow’s leaders.”