Though it was pouring rain outside, the thunderous sound emanating through the halls of the Rowe Building were actually coming from inside the atrium.
It was the cheering and applause following President Tom Traves’ announcement that the man after whom the building is named, Kenneth C. Rowe, was announcing a $15-million commitment to the School of Business.
The major gift, the latest in Dalhousie’s Bold Ambitions campaign, is the largest donation ever to Dalhousie from a Nova Scotian.
“I think our audience has said it all, Ken,” said Dr. Traves with a smile, when the roar of approval had died down at this morning’s celebration event.
Mr. Rowe, prominent Nova Scotia businessman and executive chairman of IMP Group International, is no stranger to Dalhousie: not only was he the lead donor towards the building that brought together the Faculty of Management’s four schools, but he has served on the School of Business’ Advisory Council for more than 20 years – 10 of them as its chair.
“Almost the day I arrived on campus, Ken immediately impressed on me the importance of maintaining and strengthening business education at Dalhousie – a point on which, I’m happy to say, we totally agreed,” explained Dr. Traves. “And ever since that day, over the years, Ken has worked steadily, vigorously, to support and encourage the development of our School of Business.”
Leadership through business education
Taking the mic to another round of thunderous applause, Mr. Rowe—a celebrated philanthropist alongside his business endeavors—explained his enthusiasm for supporting business education.
“We have a standard of living in Canada second-to-none, in my opinion, but we are facing unprecedented economic challenges in the world economy,” he said. “The only way we are going to maintain this living standard for ourselves, and our children, is through education and productivity. Canada, and particularly our region, needs to be more innovative in expanding our global trade in an increasingly-competitive world.”
To that end, the gift will be used for a variety of projects across the School of Business – with new scholarships, funding for student competitions and conferences, enhancing opportunities for faculty research and increasing the school’s profile all on the list.
Dean of Management Peggy Cunningham noted that the values with which Mr. Rowe leads his IMP Group align with those that the School of Business works to enshrine in its students: commitment to quality, creating value for customers and managing with integrity.
“This is what we are trying to mimic here in the School of Business: that level of excellence and creating great business leaders for the future,” she said.
“I can’t think of anybody that I would rather have as somebody to give us the credentials that we need to really prove something that I’ve been saying for the past few years – that Dalhousie’s school of business is one of the best-kept secrets in the country, and that is just about to change.”
Raising the bar
David Hall, an MBA student, shared his thoughts with Mr. Rowe and the attendees on what the donation will mean for students, in particular highlighting the scholarship support.
“In this way, your gift will not only have a huge impact on the school of business itself, but individual students,” he said. “This support will raise the bar towards reaching a new standard of excellence here at the school.”
Indeed, for Mr. Rowe, raising the bar seemed to be a key inspiration behind his generous donation.
“Through this gift, they now have the money to encourage both students and faculty to strive to be the very best – not only for higher recognition and achievement for Dalhousie, but for the economic benefit of our region and for Canada.”
Read more: Bold Ambitions campaign
Addendum, January 2021: At the time of the Rowe Gift announcement, Dalhousie and Mr. Rowe agreed to break the total $15-million commitment down into two components: a written, formal agreement concerning the first $10 million and a verbal agreement regarding the remaining $5 million. The first $10 million was to be paid over 10 years. With respect to the remaining $5 million, there was a verbal agreement made by Dalhousie and Mr. Rowe to defer any decisions about how that money would be directed until after the initial 10-year term ended.
In 2018, Dalhousie and Mr. Rowe agreed to pause to reconsider the school’s strategy, after having spent just under half of the initial $10 million commitment. The Faculty of Management, under the leadership of Dean Kim Brooks, has undertaken a strategic review focused on strengthening the Rowe School and have it take its place as one of the top business schools in the country.
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