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Donor Stories

Taking Their Place

Potential. Spotting it, nurturing it and celebrating it in our students, our faculty and our researchers is at the heart of what we do at the University of Manitoba. And it’s why donors are choosing to take their place to support the Front and Centre campaign.

Donors like Dr. Sara Israels [MD/79], who recently joined her mother, Dr. Esther Israels [MD/50, MSc/58] and Bayer Inc. to create the Lyonel G. Israels Professorship in Hematology, honouring her late father, Lyonel Israels [MD/49, MSc/50].

“This professorship provides a wonderful legacy,” says Dr. Sara Iraels. “This individual will be a mentor to our present and future trainees in the field of hematology.”

This kind of direct impact can be seen across our campuses through the support of scholarships, research chairs, classroom and laboratory upgrades (see Campus News, page 6) and the other priorities identified in the Front and Centre campaign’s five pillars of Indigenous Achievement, Graduate Student Support, Research Excellence, Outstanding Student Experience and Places and Spaces.

So far, donors have committed more than $215 million to the campaign. With the addition of a $150 million commitment from the Province of Manitoba, the campaign has reached $365 million of its $500 million goal.



Patricia Bovey

When the decision was made to amalgamate the School of Art and Faculty of Music into the new Taché Arts Project at the heart of the campus, Patricia Bovey knew it was a perfect metaphor.

“The arts are the heart and soul of who we are,” says the chair of the University of Manitoba’s Board of Governors. “I’ve always thought artists are 20 years ahead of the rest of us. They give visual exposure to big ideas, societal concerns and social justice issues, long before the rest of us catch on.” Bovey is excited that the makeover on the iconic Taché Hall will give our emerging artists a multi-disciplinary place to build connection with established artists and the greater community.

“From my own work as a gallery director and curator, I know Canadian art wouldn’t be what it is without graduates from our School of Art,” says Bovey, noting alumna and recent recipient of the Governor General’s Award, Wanda Koop. Bovey says the arts have far-reaching effects in every sector of our society.

“Our current Dean of Medicine has his students attend music classes. Roberta Bondar, the first Canadian women in space, is a neurologist and a fine arts photographer. And the arts are absolutely integral to the goals of any government.”

The momentum of the transformative campaign at the U of M, and its spinoffs like the Taché Arts Project, is thrilling to Bovey.

“The collective power of all gifts, large and small, is huge. I’m so grateful for everyone that’s caught this vision train,” she says. “If you’re a believer in the future, this is a great cause.”



Kym Watt

As medical director of liver transplantation at the Mayo Clinic, Dr. Kym Watt [BSc/93, MD/97] sees first-hand the way life can alter course.

“Many patients are so terribly sick. Keeping them well enough to receive a transplant, and then to watch the change after transplant is incredible and tremendously rewarding,” Watt says. “It can be very challenging but really, it’s more than life-saving, it is life-transforming.”

Watt herself experienced a metamorphosis at the University of Manitoba, thanks to an excellent professor.

“I went into medical school wanting to be an orthopedic surgeon.” Watt says. “But Dr. Gerald Minuk’s lectures, and the elective time I spent in his clinic, completely changed my career trajectory to internal medicine and hepatology.”

That decision led her to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, which is renowned for its research.

“Being able to contribute to the research and science behind patient care is something I feel very passionate about,” she says, with the same enthusiasm that has compelled her to donate to the Faculty of Medicine Bursaries Fund since graduation.

Before the rewards of her career came the long haul of medical school, residencies and fellowships. Watt remembers all the debt accrued along the way.

“I got a few small bursaries,” Watt says, “and I just want to give something back for the help and the training I was privileged to receive.”



Lisa Lewis and Ian Robertson

For Lisa Lewis and Ian Robertson [BComm/77, MBA/84], supporting Indigenous students with a business focus is a natural blend of their passions.

“I’m an Indigenous person, I work and volunteer with Indigenous organizations. That’s close to me,” says Lewis. “And Ian is a U of M commerce and MBA grad, so it was a natural fit. It’s about giving back to the community through our ties to the university.”

The two have given their support to create the Lisa Lewis and Ian Robertson Indigenous MBA Scholarship.

“Coming on the heels of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission where Justice Murray Sinclair was putting it out there about turning words into action and what can people do, we thought this is one way for us to make a contribution,” says Lewis. She provides consulting services to Indigenous organizations and Robertson has held high-level positions at Great-West Life and the Government of Manitoba.

“My feeling is that the MBA really jumpstarted my career,” says Robertson. “It helped me to get recognized by major employers. It distinguished me from the crowd.”

Lewis and Robertson want the scholarship to help aid in developing opportunities for others.

“Our hope is it will equally open the door for Indigenous people who get the scholarship—that we can in a small way assist them in their careers,” says Robertson.



Hector Ma

“I have many fond memories,” says Dr. Hector Ma [MD/59], who lived in Taché Hall during his time at the University of Manitoba. “I still vividly remember staying with local families for Christmas and the beer drinking contest between the Faculties of Medicine and Engineering.”

While some activities may have changed over the decades, the need for cutting edge medical research remains the same.

“As I see it, a focus in the next decade is within the field of molecular medicine, which forms a bridge between diagnostic radiology and internal medicine,” says Ma, director and senior consultant radiologist in the Scanning Department of St. Teresa’s Hospital in Hong Kong.

To that end, last year he established the Dr. Hector Ma Fellowship in Internal Medicine “to cultivate the interest of junior medical researchers in basic science research.”

After his own graduation, Ma taught at McGill and the University of Toronto and returned to Hong Kong in 1970. Since then, he has become an Honorary Fellow of Hong Kong College of Radiologists and an Honorary Professor in the Diagnostic Radiology of Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine of the University of Hong Kong.

Ma says he has gained great satisfaction from setting up the fellowship.

“At the University of Manitoba, I obtained all my undergraduate medical knowledge and also learned the ethical standards of becoming a good doctor to serve my community, both in Canada and in Hong Kong,” he says. “I am glad to repay my debt to this institution. It is an honourable give and take.”



Bill Moir

Ever heard of Tim Hortons? Of course you have. The coffee and donut super-brand has reached iconic status in Canada. And you can thank Bill Moir [BComm(Hons)/72] for getting it there.

For nearly 25 years Moir led marketing and brand strategy for the company, growing it into one of the most recognizable institutions in Canada. Along the way he captured accolades, including being recognized by Advertising Age in 2005 as one of the top 10 marketers in the world.

Moir says the University of Manitoba is what sparked his career as a marketing virtuoso.

“It opened up the whole world of marketing to me. It unlocked that world,” he says. “And as I got deeper into the work, I found that I was oriented towards consumer behaviour. It’s what really got me excited, learning about how people react to things and why they buy.”

His outstanding student experience at the U of M—which included a successful academic career and playing for the Bison hockey team—also allowed him to build personal and professional networks meeting people who became lifelong friends.

To return that support that he received, he has created the Bill Moir Graduate Fellowship in Marketing. “I felt it appropriate to establish something at the business school that was focused on marketing. It’s obviously something I’m interested in and felt it would help advance the school.”

“At certain stages of your life, you think about giving back to organizations that made a difference in your life,” says Moir. “I ended up having a degree of success in my career and it started with the University of Manitoba.”


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