The endowment -- a gift that keeps on giving

Endowments are often associated with foundations and the wealthy, but they needn't be. Many individuals in the Concordia community have created endowments by coming together for a common purpose: to provide financial help for deserving students.

As part of the capital campaign that ended last fall, Economics Professor Morton Stelcner created an endowed in-course award called the Stelcner Family Prize. This endowment will create two awards to provide recognition and incentive for excellent students in the Economics Co-op program. Professor Balbir Sahni, the director of the program, also designated his capital campaign pledge to the award.

"I've been thinking about this for a long time," Stelcner said, "since the Economics Co-op started 18 years ago, in fact. The program is very successful, but it should be better known." His sister Anna, an alumna, and her husband, Michel Benchimol, who live in Toronto, joined him in creating a $7,000 endowment. With the contributions of other faculty members, Stelner hopes it will grow further.

Stelcner is in his fourth and last year as president of CUFA, the faculty association. When he and vice-president Stephen Scheinberg appealed to their members to give to the recent capital campaign, some wanted to know where they could most usefully direct their donations, and the Economics Co-op was one of those suggestions.

An endowed award funds itself, in that the annual pay-out from the capital provides the award amount; the donation itself is not touched. The annual pay-out is fixed at 5 per cent of the average market value for the year, and is calculated every May 31. An endowment of $15,000 could support a $750 bursary, and an endowment of $40,000 is required to support a $2,000 scholarship.

Faculty/StelcnerBy working together, employees can create an endowment to help support any of the priority areas that the university has designated as needing our support -- scholarships and bursaries, the libraries, faculty development, teaching and research and athletics. A project or special need in a department can also be funded this way.

During the capital campaign, many staff members contributed to the Concordia Staff Endowed Scholarship Fund. It has already raised more than $14,000, and will continue to grow as pledges are paid.

Endowments are especially appropriate to honour someone who has done great service to the university. In honour of Richard Cheng's retirement after 25 years with the university, his wife Agnes created the Richard Cheng Award for students in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. When Alex Laurie suddenly passed away, David Gobby (Quality Programs) endeavoured to create an endowment in his memory through individual donations and a dinner.

There are many interesting ways in which endowments have been funded. In honour of her wedding, one faculty member created an endowment in her mother's name, asking guests to contribute to it rather than give gifts. Another faculty member continues to fund an endowment through royalty cheques on a book he wrote. Faculty and staff members in the Department of Psychology have created an endowment to help various projects and activities in the department.

Our endowments are managed by professional investment counsellors outside the university. The 5-per-cent rate was set by the Concordia University Foundation as being prudent and in line with Canadian and American university endowment practice. If the fund performs better than 5 per cent, then the value of the fund, and of each individual endowment account, grows accordingly, providing an opportunity for growth as well as protection against erosion of capital by inflation.

For further information on creating an endowment or further supporting the university, the Office of University Advancement will help you.

- Many thanks to Colleen Weddell for this information

Photo:   Morton Stelcner, Rector Frederick Lowy and Balbir Sahni are thrilled about an endowment for the Economics Co-op program.

The best Economics students are in demand -- before graduation

Concordia's Economics Co-op program has more employers clamouring for fresh blood than students who can fill the bill.

For 18 years, it has been quietly placing highly qualified Economics students in work terms, mainly with departments of the federal government. Now some of the earliest Co-op students are employers themselves, and they haven't forgotten where to find good young economists.

There are 35 students in the program this year, four of them at the Master's level. As well as such massive users of economic expertise as Human Resources Development Canada, Foreign Affairs, Industry Canada, Natural Resources and the Bank of Canada, students have been placed with Pratt and Whitney, Hydro-Québec and Bombardier, among others.

It's not that students don't apply, but the standards for admission are high. Professor Balbir Sahni, who is the director of the program, said he gets about 100 applications a year, of which only about 10 are accepted.

Once they've completed the co-op, they usually have a job waiting for them, but some go on to graduate work," Sahni said. "One took an MBA at Harvard, and another went to Yale."

While he's happy with the level of interest from employers, Sahni says the program has been slow to catch on in Quebec. "They thought our students were unilingual-English, so we were passed over for other co-op programs like that of Université de Sherbrooke. Now employers like Hydro-Québec realize that most of our students are bilingual."

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