Making a multigenerational impact in health

Planned giving
Student experience
Brian Henderson and Nicole Higgins portrait
Family ties to the University of Ottawa run deep for Brian Henderson (MEd ’75) and Nicole Huggins (BHSc ’23). Both are interested in health and medicine, and also share similar values when it comes to giving back to their alma mater.

They have very specific reasons for supporting uOttawa: the institution’s English and French programs, curriculum that strongly prepares graduates, its ability to maintain integrity, and the kinship they feel through family connections. “Nicole and I both agree that the advantages are that it’s bilingual, has authoritative academics, and has given us both tools that we can use in real life. It’s a university that is a gem when it comes to having values that count. We feel at home. We feel a real kinship with the University,” says Brian Henderson.

The family connection to the establishment started with Frank Finnigan, Henderson’s uncle, who was the first in his family not only to attend university, but also to pursue studies at the University of Ottawa. Frank Finnigan played hockey for the University in 1921 until he was pulled into the National Hockey League in 1923.

After completing a master’s degree in education at the University of Ottawa, Brian worked as a curriculum developer and accreditation manager in the health and medical fields. He says he owes a lot to the education program at the University of Ottawa, both for what it taught him and for providing a background in research methodology that would assist him tremendously in his future roles.

His great niece, Nicole, completed an Honours Bachelor of Health Sciences with specialization in technologies and innovation in healthcare, and is now also working in the field. She even had the opportunity to help set up the new Health Science Building during her final year, which she credits as her best memory at uOttawa: it brought closure to a new beginning.

Brian Henderson has been a loyal uOttawa donor for more than 40 years. It’s the people he met along his educational journey that played a key role in his decision to include a gift in his will that would create a scholarship in the Faculty of Medicine. “I was looking at the people that I’ve met at the University and what they represented. And a lot of my intent was to provide a gift that was in their image.”

Nicole hopes to one day do the same as her great uncle. “It's just an incredible thing that he’s done, and I know so many people will benefit from it,” she says. And giving back is truly in the family’s nature. As a child, Nicole signed up for every volunteer opportunity presented to her. She has always believed that her purpose in life was to help others. “If you’re putting some good out into the world, chances are some good will go around. And you’re never going to regret giving something to someone who needs it.” With these shared values, there’s no doubt the family’s impact on uOttawa will continue for many generations.                                        

Health Sciences' building
Planned giving

“The most important reason that Nicole and I support and encourage donations to the University of Ottawa is that we believe that it is maintaining its integrity as an institution.”

Brian Henderson

— (MEd ’75)

Many University of Ottawa alumni have included a gift to the University and its students in their estate plans. It is important to inform the University of your intention as our planned giving team will be able to validate the designation of your future gift with you. To learn more about this type of philanthropic project, please contact us. Thank you for your support!