Partnering With Alumni, Corporate and Community Donors

2010-2011 Issue 2

Generous Financial Support Helps Ensure Student Success

With over 12,000 students, McGill’s School of Continuing Studies is home to many motivated achievers. Whether they are making a career change, seeking to upgrade their credentials, learning a new language or pursuing personal growth and development, students are eager for life-changing learning and networking opportunities. As this diverse community juggles work, family responsibilities and other challenges, they can benefit from specialized services and financial support to help them reach their goals.

According to Debbie Mercier, Associate Director of Development & Alumni Relations, philanthropic gifts from alumni and friends, as well as corporate investments, will be essential for improving support that is currently offered to students, most of whom are honing their skills and competencies for the local job market. “While instructors and staff are instrumental in aiding students’ success, we would also like to be able to provide services – such as career transition – that are tailored to individual student needs. As well, we’re actively searching for new contributions in the form of student aid, scholarships and prizes, and help with implementing the latest educational technologies.”


New Life and Career Transition Service Will Help Students

As many SCS students complete professional programs, they increasingly need to network and learn about job opportunities, and recent immigrants often need to know about adapting to Quebec and Canadian society. Gianna Giardino, Senior Manager of Client Services, says that “There’s a real need to advise them on career transitions, academic issues and cultural integration. Our hardworking students need a comprehensive career-planning and transition service with strong ties to local employers and professional associations.”

To address this urgent priority, Continuing Studies seeks to create a crucial student-advising service called “GPS for Lives and Careers.” So far, several sizeable gifts have been received from alumni and friends, including an injection of funding from the State Street Foundation. Paul Kuai Yu Leong (BCom’81) has pledged $25,000, which McGill will match dollar for dollar through the McConnell Challenge Fund. The goal is to raise $250,000 annually for five years to ensure the success of this initiative.


Financial Support and Academic Awards Make a Difference

Another area that urgently needs funding is new scholarship and bursary programs. Instructor Charles Pitts and his wife Manon Boisvert recently established the Boisvert-Pitts Bursary in Public Relations. “We believe that a student’s lack of funds should not prevent him or her from attending Continuing Studies in order to get
ahead,” Pitts says. “A lot of students may be new to Montreal, just starting careers and families, so money can be tight.” As well, donors like alumna Rita Bacani (CertMgmt’88) and her husband, Jun, have stepped up to establish a named scholarship to encourage students in specific disciplines such as Accounting & Taxation, and Entrepreneurship to do the best work they can. The goal is to raise $125,000 annually for scholarships, bursaries and awards.

As an indication of how important this type of individual student support is, Mercier provides a telling anecdote: “One of our prize winners sent a thank-you letter to the prize donor the day after he got married, and he even apologized for not sending his appreciation sooner!” Mercier continues, “We often see such heartfelt testimonials. This type of support, regardless of the size, has a tremendously positive
effect on the recipients.”


Improving Learning Outcomes With Technology

As technology transforms modern teaching techniques by catering to different learning styles and situations, Continuing Studies is striving to keep its classrooms and educational services as up to date as possible. “This is an area where donors can make a real difference,” says Jean-Paul Rémillieux, Director of Instructor Services and Educational Technologies. The Educational Technologies Fund aims to attract $640,000 in order to ensure Continuing Studies remains at the forefront of today’s educational practices in areas such as online
delivery, hybrid courses and distributed learning methods. To date, Miranda Technologies, Continuing Studies alumni and the McGill Association of Continuing Education Students (MACES) have contributed to this key priority.


Alumni are Often the Most Loyal Donors

Given that many students have a positive, life-changing experience studying here, Mercier says, “It’s no surprise that many graduates return as donors, eager to help a new generation of students gain an advantage. When they think back to the most significant moments in starting or changing their careers, Continuing Studies often figures near the top,” she says. “Whether it was what they learned, an accreditation they received, who they met here or how it launched their career, we were a turning point in their lives and they’re eager for others to experience that, too.”


How You Can Help to Support Our Services and Students

For more information on how you can make a positive impact on our services and support for students, please contact Debbie Mercier at:
debbie.mercier@mcgill.ca or 514-398-3570.

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