Five faces of philanthropy

People give to the University of Calgary in infinite ways, from student awards to legacy pledges, research fellowships and family-named lecture series, programs and buildings. Still, supporters at every level have one thing in common: the root of every gift is, invariably, deeply personal. And it’s that energetic collision of individual passion and institutional priority that ultimately makes a philanthropic gift meaningful to both giver and receiver. These five donors share the motivation at the heart of their contributions. 

Mavis Clark

“In a somewhat naïve way, I decided to publicly step forward to become a vocal advocate for lung cancer, and to push for the advancement of lung-cancer research. I knew that, unless the situation changed, I would be forever haunted by the public’s dismal knowledge about lung cancer and the low empathy toward the disease — I knew I couldn’t change my own circumstances, but perhaps I might be able to make a tiny difference for someone else.”

— Mavis Clark, MEd’82. Mavis is a University of Calgary Senator. In honour of her husband, who died from lung cancer in 2010, Mavis established the Paul Clark Lung Cancer Research Fellowship; as well, she has pledged a legacy gift in support of the establishment of a lung-cancer research centre. Read The Changing Story of Lung Cancer to learn how precision medicine at the Cumming School of Medicine is transforming the detection and outcomes of lung cancer.

Dan Joo

“My gift is rooted in that common immigrant story of hard-working people seeking to create a life with better opportunities for their children. My parents were limited in their careers in Soviet-occupied Hungary and wanted a country where hard work, ingenuity and creativity are rewarded. They escaped to Canada and, through their determination and work ethic, were able to launch the three of us [children] through university and into successful careers. I thought the best way to honour them would be to help others overcome barriers to a solid education and, hopefully, a meaningful career.”

— Daniel Joo, MD’08. Dr. Joo is an ER physician at Foothills Hospital and South Calgary Health Campus. His Andras and Margaret Joo Bursary, first awarded in 2012, provides financial help to an undergraduate medical school student with a disability.

Colton Lewis

“Basically, right after I woke up from the coma and learned everything that happened that night, I knew we had to set up a scholarship in Brett’s name. It was such an obvious thing to do: he would have been such a proud alum. I asked eight of his other friends, from residence and from Ponoka, to write about what Brett meant to them. Their descriptions of him — respectful, determined, positive, balanced — became the criteria for the award.”

— Colton Lewis, BComm’14. Following a stabbing incident that left him in a coma for three days and took the life of his friend and classmate, Brett Wiese, Colton established the Brett Wiese Memorial Scholarship Fund to support students in the Haskayne School of Business. To read more about Colton’s story and his $1-million dream, visit

Dennis Sumara

“As a classroom teacher and later a university professor, I worried about students who were made to feel they did not belong, that they did not fit in. For those students, school became an unsafe place. My legacy gift to fund human-rights education research supports my belief that university teacher-education programs play a big role in the development of leaders, who learn how to make everyone feel included and valued in our schools and communities.”

— The legacy gift that Dennis Sumara, dean of the Werklund School of Education, made with his husband, Tim Friesen, will fund human-rights education research.

Manju Kapoor

“I thought a gift of this nature would have lasting value for the university. A lecture series gives the chemistry department the opportunity to invite outstanding scientists to have interactions with students and faculty. Michael would have appreciated that because organic chemistry was his lifelong passion.”

— Manju Kapoor, professor emerita, Biological Sciences. Professor Manju began teaching at UCalgary in 1964. She honours her late husband, Professor Michael Benn, with a gift to establish the Michael H. Benn Distinguished Visiting Speaker Series in chemistry.