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Queen’s University School of Business will today announce that it has received the largest ever donation to a Canadian business school, with a Can$50m pledge from financier and entrepreneur Stephen Smith. It is also the largest gift given to Queen’s University in its history.

David Saunders, dean of the renamed Queen’s Smith school, says the money will be used to build the school’s endowment, with two-thirds of the income from the endowment supporting faculty chairs and research, and the remaining third allocated to scholarships.

Initially those scholarships will be for MBA students, he says. “It [the MBA market] is massively competitive and our scholarships need to increase.”

David Saunders

The decision to put the whole of the donation into the endowment was taken by Mr Smith, says Prof Saunders. He believes this is good news, as it gives clarity as the school’s fundraising drive continues. “We still have lots of other opportunities,” says the dean.

The donation will effectively double the size of the business school’s endowment, and mean that Queen’s will have the second largest endowment fund of any Canadian business school after the University of Toronto’s Rotman school.

The Can$50m follows several previous gifts from Mr Smith, who co-founded First National Financial, Canada’s largest non-bank mortgage lender, and is currently its chairman and chief executive officer. The previous donations included scholarships for electrical engineering students and support for the economics department at Queen’s. An electrical engineering graduate from Queen’s University, Mr Smith also studied economics at LSE in London.

In 1995, York University received Can$15m to name the business school the Schulich school, and the University of Toronto renamed its business school the Rotman school in 1997, following another $15m gift. In Montreal, McGill University became the Desautels school in 2005 following a Can$22m donation.

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