A Legacy of Generosity – A Q & A with Dr. Séamus O’Shea
A Legacy of Generosity – A Q & A with Dr. Séamus O’Shea

This notice is from the archives of The Notice Board. Information contained in this notice was accurate at the time of publication but may no longer be so.

January 1, 2007


On Dec. 7, 2006, the Prentice family came together with university officials to make an announcement that will transform the University of Lethbridge.

John Prentice, a Calmar, AB, based agri-business entrepreneur, and his wife, Connie, have donated $8 million to the U of L. This is the largest private philanthropic gift the U of L has received in its 40-year history. The donation will be used to establish the Prentice Institute for Global Population and Economy.

Prior to the announcement, Vice-President (Academic) Dr. Séamus O’Shea and John Prentice worked together to ensure that his family’s objectives for the gift aligned with the institutional interests of the University.

O’Shea recently shared his insight on this incredible act of generosity with the Legend.

Q. What inspired the Prentice family to donate to the U of L?

A. John immigrated to Canada, where he met and married Connie. They worked very hard to be successful. John believes his education had a significant impact on the way he conducted his business and that it informed choices that led to a successful business. Based on that success, they chose to make a donation that will help inform future generations regarding the critical decisions they are facing.

Q. What will the Prentice Institute for Global Population and Economy do?

A. It will hire outstanding academics to study the expected changes in global populations and the impacts of those changes on aging and decline in an economic context. This research will inform the decisions of individuals, organizations and governments.

Q. Can you provide an example of the kinds of issues that will be researched?

A. The issues that will be researched will relate to population and economics and will focus on large-scale, long-term problems. For example, consider the “greying” population in Canada. It is commonly believed that people are more innovative when they are young, and the welfare of a country depends on innovation.

Knowing this, we need to ask what the aging population means for the Canadian economy. This leads to a whole set of questions that need to be examined. What implications does retirement have on productivity? What does it mean to retire? At what age should people retire? Should people have to retire? How should the government structure pensions? What should be included in Canada’s innovation policy?

Q. How will the research impact governments?

A. In general, governments have been investing heavily in science and technology because they view them as a means to increase productivity and wealth. There has not been nearly as much investment in the humanities and social sciences.

The economic and demographic focus of the Prentice Institute will provide inspiration and resources in areas that are not receiving the kind of attention they warrant. The Prentice Institute will help to ensure that governments are given much-needed resources to make informed policy decisions regarding these complex and difficult sets of issues.

Q. What is the Prentice family’s legacy to the U of L?

A. The Prentice family has given the U of L a visionary gift that will benefit many people. In five to 10 years, the Prentice Institute will be distinguished by the quality of its research and will be one of the best-known centres in the country. The Prentice donation will enable research on issues that have both short- and long-term implications and focus on the well-being of our population at large.

The U of L is honoured that the Prentice family trusts us to accomplish extraordinary work through their generous gift, and we are committed to being good stewards of John’s dream.

U of L Communications and Public Relations Contact:
Communications and PR Officer (403) 382-7173

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