McConnell Challenge Fund doubles donor support for students

Fall 2009

A matching gift program established by the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation is helping Faculty of Engineering donors double the size and impact of their donations.

The $17-million “McConnell Challenge” is open to donors across McGill. Awards are being made on a first-come, first-serve basis, however, and the funding is fast running out, so engineering, architecture and urban planning donors are encouraged to move quickly if they want to take advantage of the offer.

Matches are available for undergraduate scholarships, graduate fellowships, endowed chairs and the multiple support programs administered by the McGill Engineering Student Centre (MESC). The latter option includes academic support for undergraduates and professional development and career counselling to help students find satisfying employment after graduation.

Donors who use the program retain their name on gifts; the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation acts as a silent partner.

Grateful alumnus Yanping Lin uses matching funds to add to fellowships pool

Mining and Materials Engineering alumnus Yanping Lin, PhD’92, was one of the first Engineering Faculty donors to avail himself of the McConnell matching gift program. His endowment for graduate fellowships was doubled — meaning that $200,000 is now available in perpetuity for recipients of the Dr. Y. Lin-Alexander Fellowships in Engineering.

A successful entrepreneur — and recently published author — who divides his time between Montreal, Paris and China, Lin is one of a new generation of alumni who are increasingly showing their gratitude to McGill Engineering for the education they received here.

Dr. Yanping Lin

Dr. Yanping Lin

On a visit to the Faculty not long ago, Lin said that China may be his homeland, “but Canada is now my country.”

“My McGill education taught me about values, fairness, love and generosity as much as it did about metallurgical engineering,” he says. “China is a very different place in that sense, and frankly I might never have become aware of the importance of these values in everyday life had I not accepted McGill’s offer to study in Montreal.”

Humanitarian values key to his world view

Now a father with two young sons and a daughter in her second year at the Desautels Faculty of Management, Lin augmented his income during his doctoral studies by working as a teaching assistant and a research assistant. He says he is eternally grateful to McGill for waiving the extra fees he was supposed to pay as an international student.

His Chinese-language book, which Lin was unable to publish in China because of its often blunt criticism of contemporary Chinese society, is a study of the differences between Chinese and Western cultures.

“Our values may not be perfect in the West,” he says, “but we are still light years ahead of China in the way Canadian and other educational systems help to develop the whole person.”

Lin, who has been contributing to the Alma Mater Fund since the mid-’90s, says his fascination with Western culture will almost certainly compel him to write more on the subject. He is concerned that many of the Chinese students studying abroad today are concerned only with the technological aspects of their education. He hopes to kindle in them some of his remarkable passion for Canada and for Canadian — and other Western — values.

Loyalty to McGill Engineering

Family members of McGill Engineering alumni are also showing a willingness to help engineering, architecture and urban planning students.

Arts graduate Elizabeth Adjeleian, BA’54, for example, availed herself of McConnell matching funding to provide $200,000 in graduate fellowships for students who bridge the disciplines of structural engineering and architecture. Named in honour of her late husband, John, BEng’52, the John Adjeleian Graduate Fellowships are given to exceptional students in Architecture and Civil Engineering and Applied Mechanics.

Sylva Jurney, who is not a McGill alumna, also honoured her late husband, Faculty of Engineering graduate Pekka Erkkila, BScArch’70, BArch’73, by joining with the McConnell Foundation to establish a $120,000 scholarship at the School of Architecture. The Pekka H. M. Erkkila Scholarship is awarded to outstanding undergraduate students who have completed at least one year of the BArch program.

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