A large financial gift to the University of Victoria’s business school last week marked a list of milestones.
Not only was Sardul S. Gill’s $5-million donation the largest-ever gift to a UVic graduate program and the largest-ever gift from an alumnus to the university, it might also be the biggest gift to any Canadian university from a person of South Asian descent, according to UVic.
“Mr. Gill’s generous donation will do a great deal to strengthen graduate level business education and allow us to reward outstanding academic achievement and foster excellence in teaching,” says UVic President David Turpin. The money will be used to set up a permanent endowment fund that will fuel scholarships and financial awards, as well as international projects, teaching and research.
In return, the graduate business program at UVic will be renamed the Sardul S. Gill Graduate School – another first. No similar Canadian institution has been named after a Sikh Indian philanthropist.
Gill, who declined interviews, said in a statement: “I made this gift to honour my parents. My father immigrated to Canada from the Punjab 1906. He laboured all his life and encouraged me to pursue my education at a time when there were significant barriers to people of Indian descent in this country.”
As he paid his own way through higher education, Gill worked in some of the same saw mills on the Island that his father did. After graduating from Victoria High school, Gill attended Victoria College – UVic’s former incarnation – then received his commerce degree from the University of British Columbia.
“I owe the fact that I got this far to my parents,” said Gill, who now lives in the Cedar Hill area of Saanich. “My parents were staunch believers in education, and now I want to honour them, and the value they placed on higher education by giving something back to the institution that gave me a start in life.
“My greatest hope is that this gift inspires others to give back to their own communities – perhaps just as my father and mother inspired me.”