An integral part of the university community functions behind the scenes to keep things running smoothly while students learn, eat and sleep. This campus vigilante corps is Dalhousie Facilities Management, and they recently added student financial support to their long list of responsibilities – in a manner of speaking.
Dal’s first Facilities Management Employee Scholarship was launched in May 2011 as part of Dalhousie's Bold Ambitions campaign and is now available to the dependents, children, grandchildren and spouses of facilities management employees.
Jeff Lamb, the assistant vice-president for facilities management, proposed the idea for the scholarship in January 2011, after having found success with a similar initiative at Mount Allison.
A group effort
The scholarship matured under the direction of the Facilities Management Team Building Advisory Group, which is comprised of representatives from Dalhousie’s 23 different facilities departments.
Jeff Sawler, instrumentation foreperson, and Peter Gardiner, the custodial services supervisor for Sexton campus, are two of these representatives. They helped voice the opinions of Dal’s almost 500 facilities employees when it came to deciding on fundraising methods and scholarship distribution.
“Often staff would like to help each other, but do not know how to go about it, and I think the scholarship helps give them a sense of helping,” says Mr. Gardiner.
In addition to providing financial assistance for undergraduate students, the scholarship aims to foster teamwork among facilities management employees by providing a common focus outside of work.
Every dollar counts
“Staff can contribute any amount they wish. We were more concerned about total participation than quantity,” explains Darrell Boutilier, director of operations for facilities management and facilitator for the advisory group.
Advisory group members began encouraging donations in March 2011.
“You look at the way people spend money on coffee and donuts in a day—a one-time donation of five dollars goes a long way to giving someone an opportunity,” says Mr. Sawler.
Staff members have now committed over $27,500 to the scholarship fund. Two scholarships of $600 each will be awarded annually, starting in the 2012-13 academic year.
While the scholarship may seem small in comparison to other awards, it is significant because it has been completely funded and developed by facilities management staff and it will be returned directly to the family members of the donors.
Making education more accessible
Suzanne Strowbridge, a working foreperson for custodial services, has a daughter who is applying for admission to Dalhousie in the fall.
“Money is always an issue, but it shouldn't mean you don't deserve a great education because of it,” she says, hoping her daughter will have access to the high quality education that Dalhousie has to offer.
The Dalhousie Awards Office will handle applications for the scholarship, and applicants will be evaluated based on financial need, academic merit and community involvement.
Supporters of the scholarship believe it’s important for the fund to continue and hope to see it grow over the next years. Some contributors have even arranged to donate a dollar a day.
“I would like to see more scholarships be given out yearly to well-deserving, hard-working students who earned the right to get a good education,” says Ms. Strowbridge. “It takes some pressure off them and gives them an opportunity to grow as young adults.”
The Facilities Management Employee Scholarship can be found on the Money Matters website.
This article is part of the Dalhousie Difference series, exploring what the power of philantrophy means to the university and introducing and showcasing some of the 50 innovative projects in development. Learn more at boldambitions.dal.ca.
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