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$3.5 Million Donation to Create 
The Richardson College for the Environment:
Largest Private Gift in UWinnipeg History

e-dition - Sept. 22, 2006




UWinnipeg Chancellor Sanford Riley, James Richardson & Sons Ltd. President & CEO Hartley Richardson, UWinnipeg President & Vice-Chancellor Lloyd Axworthy, and UWinnipeg Foundation President & CEO Susan Thompson at the Richardson College for the Environment announcement.

$3.5 Million Donation to Create
The Richardson College for the Environment:
Largest Private Gift in UWinnipeg History

By Ilana Simon

The University of Winnipeg celebrated its largest gift ever September 12, 2006 with a $3.5 million donation from the Richardson Firm, Family and Foundation to establish The Richardson College for the Environment. 

“The new Richardson College for the Environment will be on the cutting edge of environmental studies and sciences, will be international in scope, and will have an interactive community educational focus,” said Hartley Richardson, President & Chief Executive Officer, James Richardson & Sons Limited. “One of the key elements of the College will be a new urban green space – an environmental garden planted with native prairie vegetation.”

University of Winnipeg President and Vice-Chancellor Lloyd Axworthy thanked the Richardson family for their generosity and leadership. “It’s important to recognize the significance of this historic gift. The Richardson College for the Environment will help establish environmental partnerships provincially, nationally and internationally; serve as an incubator for ideas on a global scale; bring the best minds to this University; and, contribute to the transformation of downtown Winnipeg.”

Science Education at UWinnipeg Enhanced

Dr. Axworthy also thanked Dr. Alaa Abd-El-Aziz, Dr. Ken Friesen, Dr. Gabor Kunstatter, the Faculty of Science—and all faculty members involved thus far—for their hard work on this project. While the Faculty of Science will begin looking at curriculum issues, he noted, "Sustainable issues can engage the entire university community from Politics to English. This is a work in progress."

The Richardson College for the Environment is a major first step in implementing the University’s Academic Plan to enhance Science education and research at UWinnipeg, Dr. Axworthy stated.  "We should treat this as a precedent, not a completed task. Hopefully, this gift will provide inspiration for future engagements."

The Richardson College for the Environment will specialize in a number of key emerging areas of environmental research and study: Forest Ecology; Urban Ecology; The Global North; Water Resources; and Environment & Health.  In addition to this, UWinnipeg will take advantage of its strength in Aboriginal education by developing programs that will integrate indigenous values and practices into scientific study – enhanced by the recent announcement of Dr. Dawn Sutherland as UWinnipeg’s Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Science Education.

Dr. Axworthy also noted the new College will allow for opportunities for UWinnipeg to connect with the inner city in the area of environmental science and link the Aboriginal community’s traditional teachings with science curriculum. It will include "a Model School" component – an innovative learning centre that will allow students of all ages, particularly from the inner city and Aboriginal communities – to learn and experience science and nature first hand.   This innovative learning centre will include hands-on displays and exhibits.

“Today is a coming together of the vision of President Lloyd Axworthy, the commitment of a major donor to the city of Winnipeg, and one of The University of Winnipeg Foundation’s founding members, Jim Richardson,” stated UWinnipeg Chancellor and Chair of The University of Winnipeg Foundation Board Sanford Riley at the announcement on the front lawn of Wesley Hall.

“The University of Winnipeg is a key anchor in the redevelopment of downtown Winnipeg and as the area evolves over the next several years, it will serve as the centrepiece in the revitalization of the city.”

Richardson Family Connection to UWinnipeg

Richardson noted that his family has a significant connection with The University of Winnipeg beginning with Muriel Richardson serving on the Board of Regents of United College from 1940-51, Dr. Paul Thorlakson, Chancellor from 1969-1978, Honorary Doctorate Recipient Dr. George T. Richardson (1990), Jim Richardson, Director, Board of Regents from 1994-2000 and Director, The University of Winnipeg Foundation Board from 2003. Many Richardsons were students at The University of Winnipeg Collegiate: Jim, Pamela, Carolyn, David, Royden, and Hartley Richardson.

“The association we have with The University of Winnipeg is long-standing and our family commitment to this institution runs deep and we are proud of our connections to it,” he said.

“We are grateful to the Richardson Family, whose long-standing connections to The University of Winnipeg and its Collegiate, combined with the importance of environmental stewardship in today’s world, make this a gift of lasting significance,” said Susan Thompson, University of Winnipeg Foundation President & CEO.  “We thank the Richardson Family, Firm, and Foundation for this important investment which will not only help shape the future of our students but also the future of the world around us.”

Government Response

Representatives from the three levels of government were also on hand for the historic announcement, and praised the Richardsons for their gift.  “I am grateful to the Richardsons. There was recognition than an environmental college could have a very positive impact and steps were taken to make this dream a reality,” said the Hon. Rod Bruinooge, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, and MP for Winnipeg South on behalf of the Government of Canada.  He also cited the project as an excellent example of public/private partnerships at work and said: “I am also excited about the urban green space in the downtown.”

The Hon. Diane McGifford, Minister of Advanced Education and Training for the Government of Manitoba thanked the Richardson family for their exceptionally generous $3.5 million donation to the College for the Environment and a new urban park. “The Richardsons have a long history as exemplary corporate citizens. The new college is important for students and the larger community and will be a model for environmental and sustainable design in an urban context.”

And City Councillor Gord Steeves (St. Vital) brought greetings on behalf of City Council and Mayor Sam Katz, noting, “I truly get the sense that this campus is on the rise.”

Students Benefit

UWinnipeg alumna Alana Lajoie-O’Malley, BA (Hons.) 2006, who is currently coordinator of SUNSET (Sustainable University Now, Sustainable Earth Tomorrow) at The University of Winnipeg, pointed out, “The responsibility of environmental stewardship does not belong to environmental studies alone: the relationship with our ecosystem shapes teaching in many areas. The new Richardson College for the Environment will allow students to immerse themselves in inter-disciplinary environmental studies.”

The college promises to be a model of energy efficiency and “green” building practices reflecting the University’s commitment to sustainability in its policies, operations, programs, and policies. 

< Back to e-dition September 22, 2006 - Volume 24 Number 1