A long-standing tradition of philanthropy at uOttawa

Posted on Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Tabaret Hall

Throughout its history, the University of Ottawa has called on the generosity of the University community and members of the public, whose contributions have contributed greatly to strengthening the University’s reputation and made it possible for the institution to implement a wide range of developmental projects over the years.

Their generosity has also made it possible for the University to continue forging out a reputation for excellence in teaching and research, in great part through the creation of new scholarships, the acquisition of leading-edge equipment and facilities as well as investments in large-scale research projects.

This issue of the Gazette takes readers on a journey back in time as we have a look at the various fundraising campaigns in the University’s history, beginning with the first one in 1886.

The Tabaret statue

Black and white photo of the Tabaret statue next to Tabaret hall.

Statue of Father Tabaret, taken in december 1977 in front of Tabaret hall. Credit: CIMC.

In 1886, the College of Ottawa’s alumni association organized a fundraising campaign to pay for the cost of erecting a statue in honour of Father Joseph-Henri Tabaret, regarded as the heart and soul of the university in the 19th century. The fundraising committee raised the $1,850 it needed to commission a bronze statue from Paris. Unveiled in 1889, the statue sits upon a pedestal made of pink granite from the Bay of Fundy.

Devastating fire

Black and white photo of the uOttawa building during the 1903 fire

The fire that destroyed uOttawa's main building in december 1903.

Following a devastating fire on December 2, 1903, that completely destroyed the University’s main building and claimed three victims, a committee is formed to help the institution rebuild after the tragedy. Once the Wilbrod wing of Tabaret Hall was completed, in 1931, the University finds itself facing a large debt. The institution decides to launch a new fundraising campaign to help it recover.

The post-war campaign

In order to fulfill a number of requirements at the University, the institution’s leaders launch a new fundraising campaign in 1945, resulting in donations of $250,000. Three years later, the year of the University’s 100th anniversary, the archbishop of Ottawa and chancellor of the University, the Most Reverend Alexandre Vachon, organizes a campaign in his archdiocese—which includes the parishes in Eastern Ontario and Outaouais— that eventually raises close to a million dollars, quite a considerable sum of money in the 1940s. Some of these funds are used to build Vanier Hall.

The Development Office’s first campaign

In 1960, the University opens the doors of its Development Office. The first goal of the new office is to launch a national fundraising campaign, setting its fundraising goal at $4M. The first stage of the campaign, which runs from 1961 to 1965, raises $1.7M.

Due to the departure of the director of the Development Office, the second stage doesn’t get off the ground.

The campaign goal is likely too ambitious for the 1960s, though. It’s worth noting as well that this era is one of great financial difficulty for the Catholic university, yet it is ineligible for grants the Ontario government provides to non-confessional schools. This situation changes in 1965 when the government passes the University of Ottawa Act, making the University of Ottawa a non-denominational university, now eligible for provincial funding.

The Achievement Fund

Black and white photo of Charles N. Armstrong

Charles N. Armstrong, president of Canadian operations at Metropolitaine, co-president of the Achievement Fund in 1979.

In 1980, the University kicks off its Achievement Fund campaign, headed up by Jean-Luc Pépin and Charles Armstrong. The campaign goal is set at $8M over five years to support increased research, capital purchases and scholarships for French-speaking students who otherwise wouldn’t have the means to study at the University of Ottawa.

The campaign is wildly successful and sees more than $9M contributed to the institutions purse. The University decides to make the Achievement Fund a permanent program, providing additional sources of future revenue.

The music campaign

Top view of Perez Building

Perez Building around 1988. Credit : Media Production Services of the University of Ottawa.

In 1986, the music fundraising campaign raises $3M for the construction of a music hall, to be named after José Perez, one of the biggest developers in the region, in recognition of his $500,000 donation. Unfortunately however, financial difficulties prevent him from ever meeting this obligation. The building is nevertheless named after him when it opens in 1988 and continues to bear his name to this day.

The Vision Campaign

Paul Desmarais on the front cover of Tabaret magazine, 1991 winter edition

One of the largest fundraising campaigns in the history of the University of Ottawa kicks off in 1990. Chaired by businessman Paul Desmarais, the Vision fundraising campaign sets its sights on raising $34M. On February 7, 1991, before a crowd of about 500 in Tabaret Hall, the campaign is officially launched. Four years later, in 1995, then-rector Marcel Hamelin proudly announces the University has raised a total of $38.6M—greatly surpassing its fundraising goal.

Gift-matching program

In 1996, the Government of Ontario introduces a gift-matching program for the province’s colleges and universities, the Ontario Trust for Student Support (OTSS). The first phase of the program sees 250 endowed funds created at the University of Ottawa for scholarships and bursaries, to be administered by uOttawa’s Financial Aid and Awards office.

The Campus Campaign

Campus Campaign posters

The first edition of the Campus Campaign is launched in 2002. The Development Office reaches out to the University’s support and teaching staff through email and in person campaigns. In 2003, the University reaches out to retired staff as well.

In May 2007, a special 48-hour edition of the campaign is launched to help the University in its quest to put students first, resulting in gifts of more than $230,000 from 624 donors.

After a hiatus, the Campus Campaign is relaunched in 2012. In 2015, the campaign reached an employee participation of 26%.

The Campaign for Canada’s university

Launch of the 2004 campaign for Canada's university in Montreal. Former Quebec minister (1970 to 1976) Guy Saint-Pierre and Chancellor Huguette Labelle appear on the photo.

Launch of the 2004 campaign for Canada's university in Montreal. Above left, former Quebec minister (1970 to 1976) Guy Saint-Pierre with Chancellor Huguette Labelle (centre). Credit: Robert Lacombe.

On May 20, 2004, the president of the University of Ottawa, Gilles Patry, announces the launch of the biggest and most vibrant fundraising campaign in the history of the University. The campaign co-chairs include Huguette Labelle, chancellor of the University of Ottawa, along with Guy Saint-Pierre, former chairman of the board for the Royal Bank of Canada, and Gabriel Tsampalieros, president and CEO of Cara Operations Ltd. The launch takes place in front of Tabaret Hall, the symbol of the University of Ottawa for over a century.

The campaign target is set at $200M to support exceptional students, recruit top-calibre teaching staff and update and renovate buildings and other facilities on campus.

When the final numbers are tallied, the campaign has brought in a total of $232.9M.

The 2015 campaign

This long tradition of fundraising campaigns goes back almost 130 years and continues in 2015 with a new campaign aiming to raise $400M. This will be the largest fundraising campaign ever in the history of the University!

The success of each and every one of these campaigns ensures this institution has always been and will always be well positioned for a very bright future!

uOttawa Campus


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