A most generous heart
It’s wonderful that Seymour Schulich is getting the kind of recognition his philanthropy deserves. In recent days, half-page newspaper ads have trumpeted his gift, in partnership with Daniel Woolf, principal of Queen’s University, of 400 rare books to Queen’s. A batch of full-page ads have commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Schulich School of Business at York University.
Schulich, who made his money investing in gold, turns 76 next month and is busily giving away much of what he made. His total givings to date are probably in the $400-million range. I can’t think of anyone else in Canada who has been so generous. Among the many university recipients where his name is on a building are Western (Medicine and Dentistry), Dalhousie (Law), Calgary (Engineering), McGill (Library of Science and Engineering as well as the Music faculty), Technion (School of Technology in Israel), and Nippissing (Education). Health has also been a beneficiary: The Heart Centre at Sunnybrook.
But Schulich’s most powerful gift is the $100 million endowment that established the Schulich Leader Scholarships. Every year, 50 high school students from across Canada in their graduating year receive awards each worth $80,000. Talk about a life-changer! Cecil Rhodes did something similar with the Rhodes Scholarships, established in 1902. Schulich Leaders fall into the same category; 100 years from now they will still be celebrated. Schulich sets an example to all of us in a country where fewer than one-quarter of Canadians make annual donations to any cause.
Schulich has plenty of honorary degrees and hall of fame memberships. He doesn’t want or need any more. His book, Get Smarter: Life and Business Lessons, published in 2007 sold 120,000 copies. But he doesn’t like anyone to make a fuss. He’d rather take a brisk two-hour walk with a friend and talk about the issues of the day than stand around at some event in his honour. Still, a little praise every once in a while doesn’t hurt.