Gifts of land that keep on giving
Contained within every gift to the University of Alberta are bigger, more important gifts—gifts ultimately destined to benefit the broader community that lies far beyond the university’s borders. Scholarship winners become tomorrow’s leaders. Research endowments give talented people the support they need to advance knowledge, make discoveries and find solutions that change lives for the better. Tangible gifts of space and equipment provide the tools that are instrumental to far-reaching learning and discovery.
In December 2010, alumni Edwin and Ruth Mattheis donated their 5,000-hectare southern Alberta ranch to the University of Alberta. The largest gift of land ever received by a Canadian university, the Mattheis Ranch adds significantly to the agricultural research infrastructure of the university, propelling the U of A into a leadership position in rangeland ecology and management research.
The newly named University of Alberta Rangelands Research Institute – Mattheis Ranch is a microcosm of diverse southern Alberta ecosystems and habitats. A rich variety of plant life, different riparian areas along the Red Deer River and the Matziwin Creek, plus several created wetlands will provide outstanding research and teaching opportunities in rangeland and pasture management.
Under the leadership of the Mattheis Chair in Rangeland Ecology and Management, research that promises to bring long-term benefits to Alberta’s environmental, agricultural and energy industries will be conducted, including studies of carbon sequestration and storage, the impact of climate change on mixed-grass prairie, livestock husbandry, land reclamation and water optimization.
When Sandy and Cécile Mactaggart gave their beloved Edmonton home, Soaring, to the university in the same month that the Mattheises announced their gift, the Mactaggarts capped a philanthropic legacy they began building many years ago. Their remarkable gifts, including the $35-million Mactaggart Art Collection and the resulting matching funds from the Alberta government, equal an unprecedented $100 million in donations and gifts in kind for the university.
As President Indira Samarasekera noted: “Sandy and Cécile Mactaggart are among this university’s greatest friends, supporters and benefactors. Indeed, they have made an indelible mark on post-secondary education in Canada—especially in the advancement of China studies in Canada. The Mactaggarts have simply transformed us, and their relationship with the university is a dynamic force as the U of A continues to grow.”
The Mactaggarts’ philanthropic leadership is, according to Sandy, an obvious way to give to the broader community. “Cécile and I were always convinced that the University of Alberta could become the internationally recognized university it has become—a place of respected learning and discovery, a place of culture. So we turned to making sure that long-term vision became a reality, and our gift is another way we hope we can continue to help build Edmonton and the University of Alberta.”