Choosing not to choose
Paul E. Gagné isn’t one to let others decide for him—with one exception.
President and CEO, CFO, COO… Paul E. Gagné (BCom ’72) fits the profile of the savvy manager. Now retired after a career in both Canada and the U.S., he continues to sit on the boards of several large companies like Wajax (as chair), Textron, CAE and Norbord.
But when it came time to decide how to use his bequests to the Telfer School of Management and the Faculty of Health Sciences’ School of Nursing—his wife, Shari (BScN ’73) also graduated from the University—it was important for Gagné to leave both units as much flexibility as possible.
“Trying to decide now what will be important at the time of my death in, maybe, 25 years, would be difficult. So it’s better to leave that decision to the people who will be around then,” he says.
Gagné chose to support the strategic priorities funds at both the Telfer school and the School of Nursing. At the University, these types of funds serve specifically to address emerging priorities: new initiatives, recruiting talented people, modernizing infrastructure, new programs…
Indeed, they give the University the needed flexibility to grasp opportunities as they present themselves. Because things can change a fair bit in a generation!
Gagné knows this well, having studied at a time when the student population at the University of Ottawa was a quarter of what it is today.
“It was a very different world, in terms of culture, jobs, technology and social relationships,” he says. “But one thing that hasn’t changed is the value of an education in society, whether in personal or economic terms.”
And thanks to the foresight of generous donors like the Gagnés, the University of Ottawa will be able to foster the transformative power of education for a long time to come.