How many, among the thousands of students who stream through the doors of Concordia’s Hall Building, are familiar with the name and historic importance of Sir George Williams, the university’s founder?
Given recent trends toward renaming the downtown campus area ‘Quartier Concordia,’ Sir George Williams’ name and legacy may indeed be threatened with extinction, the gradual erasure from the collective memory, unless a determined effort is made to preserve it for future generations.
This is just one of the many concerns facing Concordia’s oldest graduates, the Association of Alumni of Sir George Williams University, whose president, Alex Farrell, former editor-in-chief at Reader’s Digest Canada, is leading a collective effort to enshrine its founder’s name.
It must be said, however, that active members of this association are by no means strictly focused on the past. On the contrary, they are keenly involved in the day-to-day life of the university, and have been since 1988.
“[We want] to make student life better and to form a strong liaison with the student body,” says Farrell. “[We also want] to raise funds for student scholarships, to make ourselves a conspicuous part of university life and as strong a force as we can be.”
Farrell goes on to profile typical members as former Concordia graduates, generally aged somewhere between 40 to 60, very active, either established in a profession or business, or retired and who feel a strong sense of commitment to the university.
“There is a prevailing concern among Sir George Williams’ alumni over the ongoing climate at the university, as well as a desire to guard and protect Concordia’s reputation as an institution of higher learning in the city,” says Farrell.
At the heart of the association is the success of the Scholarship Endowment Fund.
The two main goals of the fund are to assist students and to maintain in perpetuity the name of Concordia’s founding father, Sir George Williams.
Since 1988, when the fund was initiated with a balance of $10,000, raised chiefly through the joint efforts of long-standing members of the Board, it has provided scholarships and bursaries, to a total of 64 students deemed in need.
Eloquent letters of gratitude have been received from some of these students over the years, which is heart warming and clearly motivates and encourages the association to keep going.
It takes money and that means fund raising. The association’s principal fund-raiser, the eleventh annual Bowlathon, will be held at Laurentian Lanes, 5250 Par