Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs 519 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

January 11, 2007

U of G First Canadian University to Let Employees 'Leave for Change'

The University of Guelph is the first university in Canada to support a new initiative that allows employees to volunteer their knowledge and skills overseas during short assignments in developing countries.

President Alastair Summerlee unveiled details about the Leave for Change program and U of G’s involvement today during a speech at the Empire Club, one of Canada's oldest and largest speakers' forums, whose members include some of Canada's most influential leaders. Summerlee was speaking as both U of G president and chair of World University Service of Canada (WUSC), a network of people and post-secondary institutions whose mission is to foster human development and global understanding through education and training.

U of G is piloting its involvement in Leave for Change, which is being offered through Uniterra, a joint initiative of WUSC and the Centre for International Studies and Co-operation (CECI). The centre mobilizes people and organizations in Canada and the developing world to reduce poverty by achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals.

Leave for Change allows qualified employees from participating organizations to transform their holidays into short international assignments with well-defined tasks and the support of development professionals in the host country. Their employers also make a contribution to WUSC.

Employees selected for the program receive pre-departure training, insurance coverage, vaccinations, airfare, lodging and daily stipends. Canadian volunteers are assigned overseas for two to three weeks.

“We can all take great pride in knowing that Guelph is the first Canadian university to offer support for this exciting new initiative,” Summerlee said, adding that everyone benefits from Leave for Change.

“Canadian organizations act as good corporate citizens locally and internationally. The employees who participate gain new skills and awareness while having an amazing personal and professional experience. Employers and employees support a worthy humanitarian cause and express their social concern at an international level. And partner organizations in developing countries acquire more valuable skills and know-how,” he said.

It is expected that 30 employees will be assisted by their employers to participate in WUSC and CECI’s development projects on short-term volunteer assignments. The program is expected to grow to over 100 placements in coming months.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rachelle Cooper, Ext. 56982.

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