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C$50M Pledged to Business School at Queen's University

Queen's University campus building

Queen's School of Business has taken on the name of finance entrepreneur, Stephen Smith, following a pledge of C$50 million (c. US$38m) - the largest single donation a Canadian business school has ever received.

The gift to what is now to be officially known as the Stephen JR Smith School of Business at Queen’s University is intended to give the Ontario-based institution the opportunity to assert itself as Canada's finest (it currently stands 7th in QS's MBA rankings for 2014/15) and to improve its global standing. Although the donation represents Canada's largest and indeed, the largest in the history of Queen's University as a whole, the school has said that the amount is in line with those associated with naming rights in the US. 

MBA scholarships set to increase at Queen's Smith School of Business

The pledged funds are to be added to the school's endowment (the size of which is expected to double as a result) with two-thirds of the C$50m to go towards funding faculty chairs or professorships and the remaining third allocated for scholarships. Scholarship provisions have initially been earmarked for MBA students. Indeed, dean of the newly-known Smith School of Business, David Saunders, told the FT that competition for the brightest students necessitates making more MBA scholarships available.

The Smith School of Business' benefactor, Stephen Smith, is a Queen's University graduate in electrical engineering and holds a master's from the UK's LSE. He said his subsequent career path lay behind his decision to contribute to the business school rather than another part of the university:

“I see myself as a Queen’s University graduate. While I studied engineering and economics at Queen’s, I have always had a keen interest in business, and most of my career was spent in the finance and insurance industries."

Smith is the chairman, president and cofounder of First National Financial Corporation - held to be Canada’s largest non-bank lender of residential and commercial mortgages. A philanthropic relationship with his alma mater dates back to the 1990s and Smith has since helped to establish bursaries for students in economics and engineering as well as for a chair in economic policy.

“I just look forward to making this a transformational gift that is good for Queen’s University and good for the Smith School of Business to make it the leading business school and to enhance its position as the leading business school in the country,” Smith said in the Globe and Mail.

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Written by Tim Dhoul

Tim is a writer with a background in consumer journalism and charity communications. He trained as a journalist in the UK and holds degrees in history (BA) and Latin American studies (MA).

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