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Seymour Schulich: one of Canada’s leading philanthropists

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Seymour Schulich

In honour of Canada’s 150th birthday, The CJN presents 40 profiles of some of the most prominent Jewish Canadians throughout our history.

Seymour Schulich is a Montreal-born businessman and investor who has used the wealth that he has accumulated to benefit higher education and medical research in Canada and Israel.

The 77-year-old philanthropist graduated from McGill University with a BSc in 1961, McGill’s Desautels faculty of management in 1965, and the University of Virginia, where he earned the designation of Chartered Financial Analyst in 1969.

Schulich began his working career with the Shell Oil Company. In 1968, he joined Beutel, Goodman & Company Ltd., one of the largest pension-fund management firms in Canada, eventually becoming president and vice-chair .

In 1978, while still with Beutel, Goodman, Schulich launched a new business venture with partner Piette Lassonde. The two entrepreneurs helped pioneer the concept of royalty payments in the mining industry. They co-founded Franco-Nevada with the idea of gaining consistent revenue from production protected from cyclical prices. The company paid US $2 million to acquire royalties covering a small heap-leach mine in Nevada. The investment paid off handsomely when Barrick Gold developed the cornerstone Goldstrike property into one of the largest and most profitable gold-mining operations in the world.

READ: THE CJN’S SPECIAL COVERAGE OF CANADA’S SESQUICENTENNIAL

Schulich and Lassonde formed a second royalty company and expanded their portfolio of royalties into other metals and commodities.

In more recent years, Schulich has focused his efforts on philanthropy. He donated $20 million to McGill University’s faculty of music, $25 million to the University of Calgary’s engineering faculty, $26 million to the University of Western Ontario’s faculty of medicine, $20 million to Dalhousie University’s law school, and $15 million to Nipissing University’s faculty of education.

The major beneficiary of Schulich’s generosity among Canadian universities has been York University. In 1995, he endowed the Schulich School of Business (as it subsequently became known) at York University with $15-million – at the time, the largest gift of its kind ever made to a Canadian university. The donation was used to endow five academic chairs and to create a series of annual scholarships for Schulich students that reward academic excellence. His gift funds more than 27 annual named scholarships and awards, as well as numerous bursaries that have benefited hundreds of students at the undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate levels.

He later contributed $10 million toward the state-of-the-art business education complex at York University, which opened in 2003. The complex houses the Schulich School and the Schulich Executive Learning Centre. He has also supported a number of other important initiatives at York, including the Lorna R. Marsden Honour Court and Welcome Centre. In total, Schulich has given in excess of $30 million to York University over the past two decades.

He has also been a major donor to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

In Israel, in 2006, he donated $20 million to the Technion’s faculty of chemistry. The donation was one of the largest gifts in the history of the Technion and Israeli higher education. The gift will enable the Schulich faculty of chemistry to substantially upgrade its current research infrastructure, as well as support annual undergraduate scholarships, graduate, post-graduate, and post-doctoral fellowships, and visits by internationally renowned scholars in chemistry.

In 2011, Schulich announced a $100-million scholarship program targeting students entering the science, technology, engineering and math fields (STEM) in Canada and Israel. This gift is being co-administered by UJA Federation of Greater Toronto and the Schulich Foundation. The program is called Schulich Leader Scholarships, the largest undergraduate STEM scholarship opportunity in each country.

Schulich has received many honours for his charitable gifts with numerous honorary degrees and induction into the Order of Canada as an Officer of the Order of Canada.