Donors show support for students during pandemic

It has been an extraordinary few months. Yet in the midst of so much disruption and uncertainty, we see the face of philanthropy as members of our community come together to support each other in myriad ways.

Students have volunteered to assist front-line health workers and patients who are isolated from their loved ones. Health-care providers have risked their own safety to care for others. Researchers are racing to develop new treatments and vaccines.

That support extends to the incredible generosity we see time and time again from donors to the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences. The depth and breadth of that generosity is reflected in the Donor Honour Roll you see in this issue of the magazine. Thank you!

When the University of Manitoba closed its campuses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in March, alumni and donors rallied to support students affected by the massive disruption.

The COVID-19 UM Student Emergency Fund provided immediate short-term financial support to more than 2,100 undergraduate and graduate students directly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, including nearly 250 students from the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences.

Then, as we looked toward the fall term, we became acutely aware that many students cannot afford the essential tools to support online learning. We sent out another call for help to ensure that all UM students have the technology tools they need to continue their education.

Once again, our community stepped forward. Already, 154 students have been approved for $500 grants toward the purchase of new or refurbished laptops.

Within the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, we are working on a couple of special initiatives.

We are raising funds in memory of Dr. Frank Plummer, the renowned infectious disease expert and distinguished professor emeritus who passed away suddenly in February. His death was an immense loss. As the world continues to struggle with COVID-19, it can be easy to forget that we’ve been here before. SARS, H1N1 and HIV/AIDS were all unknown pathogens at one time. In each case, Plummer and his colleagues were there on the front lines.

His legacy is a reminder of the crucial role scientists play in addressing these health crises. To celebrate his achievements and ensure that his work continues, the University of Manitoba is creating the Dr. Frank Plummer Chair in Global Infectious Disease.

In January, we marked the 50th anniversary of Ongomiizwin – Health Services, celebrating the University of Manitoba’s leadership in Indigenous health. In recognition of this milestone, and of the continuing need to increase the representation of Indigenous people in the health-care workforce, we created the Ongomiizwin – Health Services 50th Anniversary Legacy Fund. Gifts to this fund support and expand opportunities for Indigenous people to enter careers in the health sciences.

President and Vice-Chancellor David Barnard said farewell to the University of Manitoba on June 30. Over the 12 years of his presidency, the university celebrated many accomplishments, among them the historic Front and Centre Campaign.

Through the generosity of 62,075 donors, the campaign raised more than $626 million to support students, researchers, programs and state-of-the-art learning spaces. The impacts of these gifts will endure far beyond our current crisis.

None of us know what the coming months will hold, but in the face of so much uncertainty, I want to assure you that one thing is certain: donors like you make a profound difference. Thank you!

Your support of our students, researchers and faculty makes a difference every day. I invite you to think about how you can help them fulfil their goals and advance the future of health care.

If you would like to discuss any of the projects above, or learn more about other priorities at the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, feel free to contact me at 204-999-3441 or