Introducing the Schulich School of Law

By Marilyn Smulders - Thu Oct 15 00:00:00 ADT 2009

Seymour Schulich speaks to guests at a reception at the renamed Schulich School of Law. (Danny Abriel Photo)

Lord Dalhousie, George Munro, Lady Beaverbrook, Dorothy and Izaak Walton Killam, Seymour Schulich.

Mr. Schulich’s name joins the list of benefactors who have made “transformative gifts” to Dalhousie University and “profoundly shaped our destiny,” in the words of Dalhousie President Tom Traves at a celebration held in the Weldon Law Building on Thursday afternoon.

The Toronto-based billionaire who has given millions to universities and hospitals in Canada, the United States and Israel was on hand yesterday to write another cheque: this one for $20 million to Dalhousie’s Faculty of Law. It is the largest gift to Dalhousie by a living donor and the lead contribution in the university’s forthcoming capital campaign.

The words “Schulich School of Law” are now installed on the building at 6061 University Avenue in recognition of Mr. Schulich’s generosity. The Schulich name graces five other educational institutions across the country: the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto; the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ont.; the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary; the Schulich Library of Science and Engineering at McGill University in Montreal and the Schulich School of Music, also at McGill.

After moving to the podium himself, Mr. Schulich explained he doesn’t give money for buildings; he gives money to students with the aim of making higher education more accessible.

And that money flows immediately: 24 scholarships valued at $12,000 to $20,000 will be awarded this year and 41 next year. Students who get the scholarships must meet two out of three qualifications: academic achievement, community service or financial need.

“We don’t need only brilliant nerds,” said Mr. Schulich, who also established the Seymour Schulich Fund last year at Dalhousie. That fund awards four renewable scholarships in the fields of science and computer science—two are based on academic merit, two on community service.

'Ain't mashed potatoes'

The man who made his fortune in the mining and energy sectors says he’s gotten good at giving away money and, where his money goes, more follows. Dalhousie has committed to bringing in an additional $12 million within 10 years whether from private donors, government coffers or university operating budgets. “And $12 million ain’t mashed potatoes,” he said.

Michelle McBride, president of the Law Students’ Society (LSS), said law students have had a few weeks to let the magnitude of Mr. Schulich’s gift sink in and are getting accustomed to the name change. She says his generosity will allow one in five law students to attend the Schulich School of Law tuition free—“in the true Weldon tradition, this school is for those who love the law, not just for those who can afford to study it.”

In return, the third-year law student gave Mr. Schulich a lifetime membership to the social society Domus Legis. Law students get together most every Thursday at the Pogue Fado in downtown Halifax.

“Although the name is changing, the spirit and sense of community remains the same,” she added.

Afterwards, as guests nibbled hors d’oeuvres and sipped wine, other students say they’ve gotten used to the name change too and “it’s not an issue at all,” said Katherine Ng, a second-year law student from Toronto.

“At first, it did make us pause a bit because it is a change,” added Faizal Nuraney, a first-year law student from Vancouver. “But I think it’s going to elevate our status as a law school because the Schulich name has such prestige … We’re not walking away from our rich legacy by any means but we are taking a great step forward.”


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