Royal Roads University has received its biggest financial gift ever.
A $5-million cheque, more than double the next biggest donation to the university in the history of the school, was presented to the university Wednesday by Sherman Jen, an entrepreneur and founder of educational systems and schools in China.
The major donation took RRU president and vice-chancellor Allan Cahoon somewhat by surprise.
“It came out of the blue. In most fundraising you have an agenda, you establish a relationship, you do some cultivation and get ready,” he said.
“It is expected at some point. This was none of that. There was no (preparation) other than it felt clearly an indication of someone who wanted to invest in the institution because he believes in it.”
Jen, who holds an honorary degree from the university, presented the cheque inside a hand-carved maple box at a ceremony at the Centre for Dialogue, Learning and Innovation Centre at the university. He said the gift was all about building global understanding.
“I believe in the educational model that brings people together, valuing language, culture and traditions. This model helps to develop global citizens and shared understandings that can contribute to conflict reduction this is a belief and educational model that I see in RRU,” Jen said in making the presentation. “It is based on these common values in my role as proud RRU alumnus that I am very pleased to announce my gift in the amount of $5 million to establish a centre of global understanding through education.”
Jen’s 40 schools in China, which all run under the Maple Leaf umbrella, offering the Dogwood curriculum for approximately 15,000 students. He founded the first offshore school accredited by the B.C. Ministry of Eduction and the first to blend the Chinese and B.C. high school curriculum and offer dual Chinese and B.C. government graduation diplomas at his schools. He said 13 more are coming in the next two years.
Cahoon said the hope is to use the new funds as a start for a new building on campus.
“We are delighted and honoured to be the recipient of this generous gift to establish a Centre for Global Understanding at Royal Roads University, and allow us to use the education process for bridging understanding for our students and the ways that they can make a contribution,” he said.