$2.5 million gift for study of Canadian history at Mac

Call it a case of history repeating itself — or, more accurately, a fan of the study of history repeating something he did five years ago.

On Tuesday, philanthropist Red Wilson will officially sign over a second $2.5-million donation for the study and promotion of Canadian history at McMaster University.

The gift from the Wilson Foundation, along with $1.5 million from the university, will keep the L.R. Wilson Institute for Canadian History going for the next five years — just like a similar gift he made five years ago to get the project off the ground.

Wilson — a former McMaster chancellor, a 1962 McMaster honours bachelor of arts graduate and recipient of an honorary doctorate from the university — says a liberal education “helps prepare young men and women for leadership.

“You can’t make good decisions unless you understand the context of things,” he said. “A broad education is important. You may have a great medical student, but it is also important that the aspiring doctor know something about history and psychology and other areas of liberal arts.”

In addition to his donations to the institute, Wilson previously pledged $10 million toward Wilson Hall, which is under construction at McMaster. The institute will operate out of the hall.

Wilson has worked as the former Ontario deputy minister of industry and tourism. He has also been the president and CEO of Redpath Industries; vice-chairman of the Bank of Nova Scotia; president and CEO and chairman of BCE Inc. and chair of Nortel Networks.

“Red’s generosity and his advocacy for the importance of the liberal arts have invigorated not just our department of history, but our entire faculty of humanities,” McMaster president Patrick Deane said in a statement.

Wilson says he has been impressed with Professor Viv Nelles’ leadership of the institute, which is the main reason he decided to repeat his donation. Nelles authored the book “The Little History of Canada.”

Each year, the institute brings in several junior faculty members to teach and conduct research. The institute offers grants for Canadian history books, hosts symposiums and gives out scholarships, among other things.

McMaster’s dean of humanities, Ken Cruikshank, says a key component of the institute is to teach Canadian history in “a new and exciting way” by focusing on Canada in a global context.

Check out the full article at the Hamilton Spectator.

David Sweet: ‘McMaster is at the forefront of so many innovations’

A new research network led by McMaster’s Paulin Coulibaly will receive significant support from the Government of Canada to help develop flood forecasting systems.

McMaster will receive $5 million over five years to support the FloodNet network, which will develop advanced warning systems to help protect Canadians from the often devastating effects of floods.

Currently, no advanced flood alert system is available in Canada.

David Sweet, Member of Parliament for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale, on behalf of the Honourable Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology), made the announcement at McMaster on Friday.

“McMaster University is at the forefront of so many innovations. The network being supported here today for flood forecasting is another excellent example,” said Sweet.

“It will help address the critical issue of river flooding in Canada while also spurring innovation — a key to continued economic growth. Through initiatives like this, Canada is translating knowledge into practical applications to improve our wealth, wellness, and well-being.”

Coulibaly, a McMaster professor jointly appointed in the School of Geography & Earth Sciences and Department of Civil Engineering, will work with University of Guelph, Université Laval, University of Manitoba, Université de Moncton, University of New Brunswick, University of Saskatchewan, Trent University, University of Waterloo and University of Western to fill this gap by developing flood forecasting systems.

“The direct benefits of enhanced flood forecasts and management for Canadians are tremendous and include the reduced cost of damages, the protection of people and livestock, the reduction of socio-economic impacts and human distress and the protection of community water systems,” said Coulibaly.

“In Canada, floods are recognized as the most common, largely distributed natural hazard to life, property, economy, and community/industry water systems. There is critical need to enhance flood forecasting and management capacity in Canada especially in a context of climate change.”

Mo Elbestawi, vice-president of Research and International Affairs at McMaster, praised the new government partnership:

“The NSERC Strategic Partnership Grants reflect the McMaster brand of research — that is working together with private and public sector partners to ensure our work is relevant, adds value and improves the quality of life for Canadians. FloodNet, under Paulin Coulibaly’s leadership, will not only deal with the devastating effects of floods, but will train the next generation of leaders in this critical area of research.”

Also announced on Friday, the University of Toronto will receive funding for the Industrial Biocatalysis Network. This network will explore new ways to use enzymes to produce more environmentally friendly chemicals, plastics and other products.

Other network partners include AeroScribe Consulting, Corrugated Steel Pipe Institute, Credit Valley Conservation, Deltares USA Inc. DHI (Canada), Hydro-Québec, Manitoba Hydro, Ontario Climate Consortium, Ontario Power Generation Inc, among others.

NSERC Strategic Network Grants support large-scale, multidisciplinary research projects that require collaboration between academic researchers, organizations and companies across Canada to address challenges facing a particular industry over the next 10 years.

Provided by McMaster Daily News.