Major gift from Macdonald Stewart Foundation bolsters water resource management studies

Posted on Friday, October 21, 2011

Dean Chandra Madramootoo and Bruce Bolton, BSc’72, Executive Director of the Macdonald Stewart Foundation, at the official announcement for McGill’s new Liliane and David M. Stewart Water Management Program. / Photo: Christian Bergeron

By Gary Francoeur

As McGill welcomed back thousands of graduates for Homecoming this past weekend, the Macdonald Stewart Foundation once again made history with a $1.5-million gift to support water resource management studies in the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

The generous donation will create the Liliane and David M. Stewart Water Management Program, which will build on the University’s existing strengths in water management and water-related food security issues. A special ceremony to celebrate the gift was held on Saturday, Oct. 15, in the Centennial Centre Ballroom at Macdonald Campus.

Named in honour of Dr. Liliane Stewart, LLD’99, and her late husband Dr. David M. Stewart, LLD’78, the new program will support a wide range of initiatives in the Faculty’s Department of Bioresource Engineering. It will provide additional funding to attract and retain postdoctoral fellows and visiting scholars, create financial awards to recognize the academic achievements of top undergraduate and graduate students, and establish seminars, symposia and conferences that will bring together academics, stakeholders and policy makers from around the world.

“By partnering with McGill, we are building on Sir William Macdonald’s extraordinary vision of staying at the avant-garde of groundbreaking new academic areas,” said Bruce Bolton, BSc’72, Executive Director of the Macdonald Stewart Foundation.

Chandra A. Madramootoo, Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, praised Mrs. Liliane Stewart and the Macdonald Stewart Foundation for their generosity and vision. “We are extremely grateful for this landmark gift to our Faculty,” he said. “This gift recognizes our strength in research and teaching related to the effective use and conservation of water resources and will ensure that McGill continues to play a lead role in this critical domain for years to come.”

The Faculty is already home to the Brace Centre for Water Resources Management, which draws together agricultural, environmental, engineering and parasitology experts from several McGill faculties to ensure that water resources are managed in a manner that is both sustainable and supports economic and social development.

 A legacy of philanthropy

This latest gift from the Macdonald Stewart Foundation represents the continuation of one of McGill’s oldest and most generous philanthropic relationships. For more than 100 years, Sir William Macdonald, his heirs in the Stewart family and the Foundation have made major donations to McGill, making them one of the University’s largest and most venerable donors.

From the creation of Macdonald College itself to endowed chairs and extensive gifts of real estate, Sir William Macdonald, the Stewarts and the Foundation that bears their names have played a pivotal role in McGill’s growth.

Nearly a dozen buildings on McGill’s two campuses bear one or both of the Macdonald and Stewart names – and even the Stewarts’ favourite cat, a Himalayan named Tadja, has a building named after it. More than a dozen chairs were created thanks to the families’ endowments, including the chair in experimental physics that would be occupied by Ernest Rutherford, while hundreds of students have studied at McGill on Macdonald-Stewart scholarships.

Building McGill’s future

The gift from the Macdonald Stewart Foundation adds to the momentum of Campaign McGill: History in the Making, which is raising the funds needed to attract and retain top students and faculty, increase access to quality education, and ensure that McGill remains one of the world’s great research-intensive and student-centred universities.

“As we celebrate the 190th anniversary of McGill’s founding this year, it is heartening to see that our lead donors continue to place their faith in the excellent work and enduring ambitions of our teachers, researchers and students,” said Principal and Vice-Chancellor Heather Munroe-Blum. “Our University simply could not maintain its place at the forefront of international academia without the steadfast support of partners like the Macdonald Stewart Foundation.”

For more information on Campaign McGill, visit



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