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This made me very happy. link to article in the Globe:'s+ode+lifts+manitoba+music+faculty


Financier's ode lifts Manitoba music faculty



May 21, 2008

Marcel Desautels made his fortune in business, but his passion for music helped to pay the bills when he was a student at the University of Manitoba.

Back in the 1950s, the young tenor used to sing in local productions of Broadway musicals and at events such as weddings to cover the costs of his undergraduate and law degrees

Yesterday, the Winnipeg native gave some of that back, and more, donating $20-million to the university's music faculty, which will also now carry his name. The gift - the largest received by the university - is the latest in a string of donations by a foundation established by Mr. Desautels more than a decade ago from the sale of his credit reference business.

"It's an historic and a transformative gift. It's amazing," said music dean Edmund Dawe, who came to Manitoba less than a year ago from Mount Allison University.

The donation has two parts. Half will fund scholarships and bursaries for students as well as graduate fellowships and research; the other half will go toward the renovation of a wing of a 90-year-old residence building, which will house the school of music.

The renovation will also include the reopening of a 400-seat concert hall within the building that has been closed for several years.

"It will be wonderful," Mr. Desautels said yesterday, after a reception and lunch to announce his gift and a tour of the school's future home.

He said his foundation, which has given more than $80-million mainly to business and law faculties at the University of Toronto, McGill University and his alma mater, has always looked for projects that will have a major impact on postsecondary education. "We felt that we were big enough to take on some major projects that make a difference," he explained.

This latest gift was appealing because of his love of music, but also because it is the first piece in a major revitalization plan for the university, which has attracted $47-million from the province. "This will be great for the university as a whole, and the province. The most important investment you can make is in education," he said.

University president Emoke Szathmary said that if all goes according to plan, she expects the new music building will be ready in about three years. A modern residence will be constructed to replace the student rooms the building now houses.

The music faculty, which has 250 students and plans to grow to 300 with the addition of a jazz program this fall, is based in a building designed for 65 students, she said, and uses facilities spread across campus. "They are desperate for space," Dr. Szathmary said.

Mr. Desautels, who at 73 still takes voice lessons at McGill University, says he was inspired by the effect a similar gift by businessman Seymour Schulich had at the faculty of music there.

"When I saw what Seymour built there, it sure helped to motivate me," he said. "We are starting in a smaller way, but it can be made into something really, really special."

In recognition of that hope - and the advice of his music teacher who has prodded him to perform - Mr. Desautels capped off yesterday's reception with a song.

His choice: The Impossible Dream from Man of La Mancha.

"I can't help myself," he said, when asked about his decision to sing. "I wanted to give a message to the students there that when you have a gift you have an obligation to share it."
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