The lasting impact of role models

Planned giving
Richard McAllister
For Dr. Richard McAllister (BSc Kinanthropology ’79), role models have played a key role in his pursuit of dreams and lifelong learning. They’ve all made a lasting impression and motivated him to give back to the University of Ottawa as a way of saying thank you.

“Something I’ve become more and more aware of over the years is how many excellent role models I’ve had,” says McAllister, originally from Prescott, Ont., and now living in Colorado. 

From high school teachers and sports coaches to university instructors and academic advisers, they’ve all left a mark. However, among all his role models, the most meaningful has been his grandmother, or Nana, as he calls her. “She was a very significant lady in my life.” 

While they shared many interests, such as the arts, rock hounding and anthropology, perhaps the greatest influence his grandmother had on him was instilling a desire to learn.  

Not many people can say they attended high school with a grandparent, but when Nana was determined to study Spanish in her 60s, she enrolled in a high school course. When McAllister returned to the classroom to change career paths in his 50s, his grandmother’s courageous example inspired him. “Her love for lifelong learning was an influence on me. In some way, it must have lessened the fear about going back to school later in life, because if she could do it in her 60s, surely I could do it in my 50s.” 

McAllister also found role models throughout his remarkable academic career, not only at the University of Ottawa but at other institutions in the U.S., where he received two master’s and a PhD, and held faculty positions. Reminiscing about his undergraduate days, he fondly recalls several of his professors by name and remembers them as outstanding teachers and researchers. “I think the most remarkable memory for me was the quality of the teaching when I was at University of Ottawa.” He credits this teaching with preparing him well for graduate studies and his career. 

McAllister understands the importance of philanthropy and has been a loyal donor for more than 20 years. But what motivated him to make a planned gift to the University? “It was the realization that I should give back because this institution got me started.” 

Wanting to have a direct impact on students, McAllister has confirmed a legacy gift to the University of Ottawa through his registered retirement plan. His gift will create an endowed Richard McAllister Scholarship, which will provide financial assistance to students enrolled in a program at the School of Human Kinetics. 

There’s no doubt that McAllister will have an impact on students at the University of Ottawa and that he too will serve as a role model for others. 

Dr. McAllister is clearly appreciative of his role models and has found a way to celebrate and thank them all through his future gift. “There are so many excellent role models out there and sometimes we don’t recognize that as well as I think we should. But they are there and if you are aware of that, there’s just so much that you can learn from them and apply to your own life.”