Thompson family gift delivers 'unique engineering education'

By Communications Staff
June 03, 2013

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Western Engineering and Ivey Business School will now offer engineering students an education like no other in Canada, thanks to a $3-million gift from John M. and Melinda Thompson.

The donation will strengthen the academic experience of Western’s engineering students by incorporating business and entrepreneurial education into the engineering program. New courses will incorporate Ivey’s proven case-method learning and build on the success of the BESc/HBA dual degree program as well as Ivey’s expertise in developing leaders of high-growth entrepreneurial firms.

“This significant gift allows Western to offer a truly unique engineering education that prepares students for dynamic careers in their chosen field,” said Amit Chakma, Western’s president and vice-chancellor. “With an improved understanding of business fundamentals, Western’s engineering graduates will gain a competitive edge, be in higher demand by employers and possess the skills needed to develop into the engineering and business leaders of tomorrow.”

Western’s Integrated Engineering program will now be unmatched in Canada. Engineering students will learn all areas of engineering as well as management, leadership and innovation.

A $1.5 million portion of the gift will be matched by the university to create a $3-million endowment to establish the John M. Thompson Chair in Engineering Leadership and Innovation, housed at Ivey’s Pierre L. Morrissette Institute for Entrepreneurship, and jointly appointed by the Ivey Business School and Western Engineering. The chair will lead the development of a Centre for Engineering Leadership and Innovation and the creation of a Certificate in Leadership and Innovation within Western Engineering.

The remaining $1.5 million of the gift will provide for the John M. Thompson Visiting Industry Fellowship in Engineering and Leadership, a total of seven student awards, and the John M. Thompson Case Studies & Curriculum Development Fund. 

“I have personally experienced the benefits of combining a Western Engineering degree with the business education offered by Ivey Business School,” Thompson said. “Enabling Western’s engineering students to build their business knowledge as part of their engineering education will provide them with a significant advantage. Melinda and I are enormously pleased to be able to support this initiative.”

John (BESc’66, LLD’94) and Melinda (BA’64) Thompson are enthusiastic longtime supporters of Western students, funding student awards and facilities that support excellence and advance innovation in engineering and business. Their philanthropic contributions include a lead gift in support of the Thompson Engineering Building, which stands as a testament to their commitment to helping Western provide an exceptional learning environment.

Thompson most recently served as Western’s 20th chancellor from 2008-12, in addition to serving on the President’s Council, chairing Western Engineering’s advisory board and co-chairing Western’s Renaissance Campaign from 1989-94.

He has enjoyed an active career since graduating from Western. He was appointed president and chief executive officer of IBM Canada, Ltd. in 1986 and later served as vice-chairman of the Board of IBM Corporation. He also served as non-executive chairman of the board of Toronto-Dominion Bank Financial Corporation from 2003-2011. In 1991, he was the inaugural recipient of the Ivey Business Leader Award.

This gift is part of Western’s $750-million Be Extraordinary fundraising campaign, which has surpassed $400 million to date.























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