Volume 92, Issue 58

Tuesday, January 12, 1999



Private university a possibility

New renovation proposal costly but efficient

Frat finally pays up

Applied mathematics founder dies at 77

GM motors cash through U of T


MP3s bring music revolution

Caught on campus

GM motors cash through U of T

By Becky Somerville
Gazette Staff

General Motors has taken a new approach to corporate donations in the form of a $2 million pledge to the University of Toronto.

In an effort to assist women, the physically challenged and Canadian First Nations students, GM developed the fund to create scholarships and awards as well as support research projects in science and engineering.

The gift comes in the wake of the Ontario government's commitment to match funding and both the provincial government and U of T have each agreed to match $1.65 million of GM's donation, creating more than $5 million for scholarship endowments and research.

"There's always been a link between GM and U of T," said Diane Lehman, coordinator of charitable contributions for GM. "[The donation] is something a lot of institutions aren't getting into. We're trying to stay out of the main line and do some different things."

Over $1 million of the contribution will go towards recognizing women's excellence in engineering as well as in science and math. Also, $300,000 will be awarded to first generation law students while $300,000 will aid financially needy First Nations students and physically challenged students.

The remaining $350,000 will support research in the faculty of applied science and engineering.

GM agreed to the capital campaign after being approached by U of T. "[The target groups] have been overlooked. It's very apparent that most scholarships and bursaries have gone to a male-dominated field," Lehman said. "We're trying to give greater educational opportunities to students."

Ron Venter, a professor of mechanical engineering at the university, said GM's donation was very positive and would increase accessibility for students.

"I really think it's very important for industry to help in the education process," Venter said. "It's an interesting target for a gift."

Not everyone, however, shared the same enthusiasm for GM's contribution. Chris Ramsaroop, president of the Students' Administrative Council at U of T, expressed his concern the gift may bring commercialization onto campus.

"It's always good to help out with groups that are marginalized, but you have to look at where the money is coming from," Ramsaroop said. "Philanthropy is good, but are there any strings attached?"

While the donations would help students in the short-term, Ramsaroop stressed the ultimate solution for students is more funding from government sources.

Lehman said the aim of the donation was to get money into the students' hands and help them accomplish their goals. "It's nice to have a positive influence and to be positively perceived," she said.

In 1992, GM donated $250,000 over five years to Western, but have not been approached recently, Lehman added.

Western, however, is in the early stages of a 125th anniversary fund-raising campaign and will likely appeal to GM in the near future, said Western's VP-external, Ted Garrard.

"We certainly will be targeting all major Canadian and London-based corporations for support. General Motors can expect to hear from us too," he said.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999