Thompson Rivers University asked city business leaders to give Thursday, based not simply on student need but for research purposes.
Several donors announced large contributions to the campaign, which last year raised $3 million for student awards.
“Questions our graduates are asked and have to deal with can’t be answered in text books,” said university president Alan Shaver. “They’ll be answers no one’s seen before and they’ll need ways to address those questions.”
The way to address questions is through research opportunities, Shaver said, calling TRU’s offerings “research-intensive education.”
One of researchers, Tamara Bandet, told several hundred business leaders and corporate representatives gathered Thursday morning at the university’s Grand Hall the opportunity for research here is one of the reasons she didn’t transfer elsewhere for her bachelor of science degree.
“My plan was always to transfer to a larger, more recognized institution,” said Bandet, who has been accepted to a university in Japan for her post-graduate studies in cellular and microbial biology.
But small class sizes and opportunity for undergraduate research kept her at TRU. She was awarded a $4,500 grant on a research project to study bacteria that develop resistance to common antibiotic drugs.
Many of the student awards are based on need. Shaver noted B.C. “is one of the few provinces without an undergraduate support program.”
TRU Foundation’s endowment fund for student assistance now totals $16 million.
“That’s a significant increase over the past five years,” said Norm Daley, chairman of the foundation.
The foundation assisted 700 students last year.
“About half (another 600 who didn’t receive grants or awards) had to go without because there’s not enough funds to go around,” Daley said.
Among donors who announced contributions at the breakfast meeting were Ken Lepin, who is establishing a prize for the top graduating science student; Spencer and Jane Bryson of the Stollery Foundation, which is giving $150,000; Rae and Ron Fawcett gave $100,000; and TB Vets is providing $63,000 for the university’s respiratory therapy program.