U of G Launches BetterPlanet Project, Aims to Raise $200 Million

September 23, 2010 - News Release

The University of Guelph today launched The BetterPlanet Project, an ambitious plan to help improve the quality of food, environment, health and communities here and around the world.

The BetterPlanet Project spells out a vision of what the University wants to accomplish, a $200-million fundraising campaign to help build human capacity and a strategy for accelerating innovation. Guelph alumnus Tye Burt, president and chief executive officer of Kinross Gold Corp. and vice-chair of the University’s Board of Governors, will lead the campaign.

“The Better Planet Project is a call to action for the University and concerned citizens everywhere to work together to improve life on this planet,” said U of G president Alastair Summerlee. “The world is at a critical point, and the University of Guelph is uniquely positioned to make a significant contribution.”

For nearly 150 years, Guelph has excelled in areas of teaching and research that are essential for finding solutions to today’s global crises, Summerlee said. “We have the interdisciplinary expertise to make a difference, but we need to accelerate the pace of change — we must transform the way we are contributing to make this a better planet.”

The BetterPlanet Project was unveiled to the public today via a website, advertisements in national media and videos that detail the vision and fundraising effort.

The campaign, which has already attracted close to $88 million, will provide the people and tools required for discovery and for translating U of G innovation into practical, useful applications, Burt said. “We are mobilizing minds and knowledge in ways that make a difference by addressing urgent issues facing us in the 21st century,” he said.

“Everyone from individuals to organizations, business and industry knows that dealing with these issues is vital to sustainability. The BetterPlanet Project will empower people and motivate them to get involved in helping bring about change.”

Burt graduated from the University in 1980 with a bachelor of arts degree in history. He and his family have made a personal gift of $1 million to The BetterPlanet Project to support first-year learning seminars. These smaller classes transform the way students learn and engage them in thinking about how to contribute to improving the world.

Other significant gifts supporting key areas of The BetterPlanet Project include:

  • Leadership support of no less than $1 million from the University of Guelph Alumni Association;
  • An academic chair in sustainable food production, a North American first made possible by a $3-million donation from Loblaw Companies Ltd.;
  • A $9.5-million legacy gift from the late Mona Campbell, a tireless advocate for animals, to support animal welfare research at the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC);
  • A faculty chair aimed at improving life for Canadian families and communities, supported by a $1-million gift from the Stephen Jarislowsky family;
  • A $5-million gift from Hill's Pet Nutrition, Inc. for a primary health and education centre at OVC;
  • A $3-million donation from Royal Canin Canada to help support an endowed chair in canine and feline clinical nutrition.

“There will be many more announcements of substantial support,” said Joanne Shoveller, vice-president (alumni affairs and development). “I fully expect we will achieve our $200-million target by 2014 and perhaps exceed it.”

The campaign will fund student programs, infrastructure across the campus and faculty positions. “We hope to name 50 chairs by 2014,” Shoveller said. “These dedicated positions will help to accelerate the pace of Guelph innovation and the transfer of knowledge into practical applications.”

The campaign will also seek funding for student scholarships and bursaries, travel grants and learning initiatives. There will be opportunities to renovate facilities and build infrastructure for the School of Engineering, the College of Management and Economics, and the OVC Health Sciences Centre.

“We believe the bigger our ambition, the bigger our results will be,” Summerlee said. “We invite everyone to stand with us — and support us — as we develop the essentials for a better quality of life for everyone.”

For media questions, contact: Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or lhunt@uoguelph.ca, or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982 or d.healey@exec.uoguelph.ca.

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