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REF NO.: 8

SUBJECT: Johnson Geo Centre: A gift that rocks

DATE: Sept. 24

Today Memorial officially celebrated and thanked the Johnson Family Foundation and members of the Johnson family for their unprecedented gift of a world-class science centre to the university.

The former Johnson Geo Centre Foundation’s board of directors, government officials, along with friends and supporters, were also present at the Johnson Geo Centre on Signal Hill Campus for the event, acknowledging the largest single gift ever received by Memorial University.

“We are pleased to have been asked to ensure the sustainability of this important facility,” said Dr. Kachanoski, president and vice-chancellor, Memorial University. “We are committed to its sustainability and success, to a Geo Centre that will continue to serve the province and beyond well into the future. Already at the intersection of learning and community outreach, the Johnson Geo Centre has great potential to complement and expand current and future research and public engagement work happening at Memorial.”

'Long-term vision'

The Johnson Geo Centre, including the Geo Park and adjacent lands under lease from the provincial government, are estimated to be valued at more than $20 million. The property officially became part of Memorial University in April 2019, specifically joining  Memorial’s newest campus on Signal Hill.

Bruce Grant, chair of the former board of directors for the Johnson Geo Centre, says the board is happy with the transition and is looking forward to the future of the centre as part of Memorial.

“The board members decided to look toward a long-term continuance plan that involved an organization with a proven track record of excellence,” Mr. Grant said. “The synergy possible by entrusting the Johnson Geo Centre to Memorial University was ideal — education, public engagement and economy of scale. This donation also realizes Paul Johnson’s long-term vision for this natural history facility, which he cared about so much that it bears his name.”

David Johnson, son of the late Paul Johnson, says the family was receptive to the idea when the board approached them about donating the centre to the university.

“My father was always a great enthusiast of Memorial University and it was agreed by all the family that the gift was a wonderful idea and fully in line with his wishes,” Mr. Johnson said. “For years he had been considering linking this world-class museum with the powerhouse of education.”

Cost-neutral basis

Memorial University accepted the generous donation after completing an assessment of the operation and developing a business case premised on the university being able to operate the centre on a cost-neutral basis. The acceptance was made possible by approval of the provincial government.

“Dr. Paul Johnson’s legacy includes many great contributions that have enriched the lives of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians,” said Premier Dwight Ball. “I applaud the Johnson Family Foundation and the Johnson Geo Centre Foundation for this generous gift to Memorial University. As part of Memorial’s new Signal Hill Campus, the Johnson Geo Centre will continue to provide valuable outreach and education related to geoscience.”

The Johnson Geo Centre is operating under Memorial’s Office of Public Engagement. The science centre is currently operating status quo, with work in progress towards integrating it fully with the university. Under the terms of the gift agreement, the name of the centre will continue as Johnson Geo Centre, recognizing the important legacy of its founder, businessman and community benefactor, Dr. Paul Johnson.
About Johnson Geo Centre
The Johnson Geo Centre is a geological interpretation centre located on Signal Hill at Memorial University’s Signal Hill Campus. Most of the centre is located underground, in an excavated glacial formation that shows the exposed bedrock of the hill. The centre offers educational programming and is also a rental facility hosting conferences, events and meetings. The Johnson Geo Centre is named for philanthropist Paul Johnson and opened in 2002.

About Memorial University
Perched on Canada’s North Atlantic coast, Memorial University of Newfoundland is a destination for discovery. A beacon for the 21st-century explorer, Newfoundland and Labrador’s university is a unique learning community founded as a living memorial to those who lost their lives in the First World War — “that in freedom of learning their cause and sacrifice might not be forgotten.” Today more than 18,000 students from nearly 110 countries come together to discover. From the classics to advanced technology, the university offers certificate, diploma, undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate programs across five campuses, numerous locations and online. A global network of almost 95,000 accomplished alumni throughout the world strengthens Memorial University’s capacity and reputation for leadership in world-class research, teaching and public engagement. 

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For more information, please contact David Sorensen, manager, communications, Marketing and Communications, Memorial University, at, (709) 864-2143 or (709) 685-7134.


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