'Double-double' gift helps students in need
By Nancy Dorrance, Senior Development Writer
After graduating from Queen’s in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, Elise Reel Idnani wanted to stay connected with her alma mater. She also wanted to help other students – particularly those with limited financial resources – advance in the profession she loves.
Setting up a student award with her husband, Vikas Idnani, proved the perfect solution to both wishes. The fact that Vale Canada Ltd., the Sudbury mining company where the Idnanis work, will match their contribution serves to double – or in their case, quadruple – their gift to Queen’s.
Awarded on the basis of demonstrated financial need and academic achievement, the new Idnani and Reel Award will be open to students from any year in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, with preference given to Aboriginal students.
“Overall we wanted to help students in need,” says Ms. Reel Idnani, who chairs the Sudbury chapter of Professional Engineers of Ontario. “Since engineering has higher tuition than many other programs, we decided it would be a good focus.”
Attending an Aboriginal symposium and feast while at Queen’s had a lasting impact on Ms. Idnani. That, plus the fact she and Mr. Idnani – who is a contract administrator at Vale – often work with Aboriginal Peoples convinced the couple to include this designation in their student award.
When Mr. Idnani, who has a commerce degree from the University of Mumbai and a business diploma from Sudbury’s Cambrian College, heard about their company’s donor matching program, he decided to combine his giving with Ms. Idnani’s to maximize the benefits.
“Once our Queen’s award is fully funded, we intend to do the same thing at other institutions,” he says.
Gifts toward student assistance reduce the financial pressures that some students experience, and recognize their academic excellence and perseverance during their studies at Queen's.
— Ann Tierney, Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs
More than one-third of Queen’s undergraduate students currently receive financial assistance from the university through scholarships (merit-based), bursaries (need-based) or some combination of the two.
“All donations for student financial aid are greatly appreciated,” says Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs Ann Tierney. “Gifts toward student assistance reduce the financial pressures that some students experience, and recognize their academic excellence and perseverance during their studies at Queen's."
In addition to their monetary value, awards can provide a “vote of confidence” in a student’s ability to succeed at Queen’s, Dean Tierney adds. “These awards express in concrete terms the university’s recognition of student achievement and the value of investing in the potential of our students.”
In 2012-13, 35 per cent of the funding for Queen’s undergraduate student assistance – more than $7 million – came from donor-sponsored funds. The goal of Queen’s Initiative Campaign is to raise funds for all forms of student assistance for undergraduate, graduate and professional programs. To date, $50 million has been donated toward this purpose.
The Initiative Campaign is the most ambitious fundraising campaign in the university’s history. The goal is to raise half a billion dollars to ensure Queen’s future as a destination for exceptional people. The campaign will nurture a supportive campus community, enhance the student learning experience, and secure a global reputation in discovery and inquiry.