News Release

REF NO.: 28

SUBJECT: Memorial University and RBC Foundation partner to confront fresh water challenges

DATE: September 29, 2009

An historic donation from RBC Foundation will enable Memorial University to strengthen its role as a leader in sustainable initiatives by enhancing outreach and fresh water research activities in communities throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.

The $800,000 donation, which is the largest philanthropic contribution RBC Foundation has ever made to an educational institution in Atlantic Canada, was announced this morning on Memorial’s St. John’s campus. Dr. Christopher W. Loomis, Memorial’s president and vice-chancellor, pro tempore, and Greg Grice, RBC regional president, Atlantic provinces, were joined by special guests, representatives from RBC, senior university administration, faculty and students. The donation will be directed to Memorial’s Leslie Harris Centre of Regional Policy and Development.

"This is the largest gift we have made to an Atlantic Canadian university," said Mr. Grice.  "It will help provide research and regional targeted ‘water’ workshops on issues relating to municipal drinking water needs in rural and remote communities. We liked the approach of the centre in that it not only brings the resources, knowledge and expertise of the university to communities throughout the province, but also brings the knowledge and information held by those communities back to the university."

Dr. Loomis said the support of RBC Foundation will enable Memorial to facilitate invaluable research opportunities involving faculty and students, and to further advance the rural and regional development goal in Memorial’s strategic plan. “The university is integral to the social, cultural and economic development of Newfoundland and Labrador. Through this generous gift, Memorial will continue to partner with the provincial government and other community stakeholders to fulfill our shared vision of a prosperous and sustainable future.”           

Dr. Robert Greenwood, director of the Harris Centre, noted that RBC Foundation’s support is recognition of the Harris Centre’s ability to link Memorial with the needs of Newfoundland and Labrador communities. “This funding will enable the Harris Centre to continue its regional workshops, and initiate a whole new focus on the critically-important fresh water needs of the province,” he said.

“We are doing great work in our province in terms of drinking water quality, and we look forward to working closely with the Harris Centre to share expertise, resources and water-related information,” said Environment and Conservation Minister Charlene Johnson. “This funding will help strengthen the knowledge base of municipalities, and assist with our ongoing efforts towards drinking water safety and sustainability.”

The $800,000 funding commitment will be paid in $80,000 installments over 10 years.



Founded in 1925 as a living memorial to Newfoundland’s war dead, Memorial University College was elevated to degree-granting status in 1949 as Memorial University of Newfoundland. Today, the university is the largest in Atlantic Canada, with about 18,000 students. Memorial provides excellent undergraduate, graduate and professional programs in virtually all disciplines.


With locations in St. John’s and Corner Brook in Newfoundland, Happy Valley-Goose Bay in Labrador, the French island of St-Pierre, and Harlow in England, Memorial is committed to experiential learning. Outstanding research, extraordinary teaching and a focus on community service are the university's hallmarks. Many teaching and research activities reflect our mid-North Atlantic locations; these unique settings and our cultural heritage have led to the creation of highly-regarded academic programs in areas such as oceans, natural resources, culture and heritage, energy and the environment, and health and well-being.




The Harris Centre is tasked with co-ordinating and facilitating Memorial University’s educational, research and outreach activities in the areas of regional policy and development. It works with all faculties and departments within the university and serves as the point of access for all stakeholders seeking to work with the university in activities related to regional policy and development. The Harris Centre was officially launched in October 2004. It is named in honour of Memorial University scholar and former president, the late Dr. Leslie Harris.

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