Barry Zekelman surprised everyone in attendance by announcing a $1M donation to St. Clair College at the official opening of the Zekelman Centre of Business & Information Technology.
The Executive Chairman and CEO of Zekelman Industries, who had previously pledged $5M towards the $23M, 40,000 square-foot expansion of the southwest wing of St. Clair’s main campus, said after seeing how responsibly the College had allocated the use of his initial donation, he added an additional $1M.
“I have seen how they have used the money – not only what we have given, but what many others have donated as well … they have used it wisely and have used it to perfection,” Zekelman said. “Look what it has done with the College? I think they have placed the dollars in all the right spots. The plan that they laid out should be a case study for a great business plan.”
St. Clair President Dr. Patti France said the College is honoured to have the Zekelman name representing the Schools of Business & Information Technology and was admittedly surprised by the $1M donation.
“The Zekelman’s are pillars in our community, they are wonderful role models for our students, and I want our students to be able to dream and say, ‘That’s what I want to do when I grow up,” so we’re thrilled for today,” President France said.
The Zekelman Centre will be home to thousands of St. Clair business students of various disciplines such as Accounting, Marketing, Human Resources, Finance, Networking and the new Honours Bachelor of Business Administration degree program. The Zekelman Centre features 13 new classrooms, student study areas, a multi-purpose computer lab, two small lecture halls, meeting rooms, a coffee shop and offices for faculty. A large auditorium called Alumni Hall, and Canada’s first Esports arena, named Nexus, will be the centrepieces of the Zekelman Centre.
Gid Sovran, Chair of the Board of Governors, also announced that a new annual scholarship for students of the Honours Bachelor for Business Administration degree program would be named after the Zekelman family in recognition of their generous support of St. Clair College.
“This newly renovated space will house the business leaders of tomorrow. We personally thank you for your family’s investment in our College, which has transformed our footprint on this campus and our downtown campus,” Sovran said. “With your continued support, Mr. Zekelman, St. Clair College has become the destination college of Ontario.”
Zekelman said he is proud his family name is linked to the new Schools of Business & Information Technology at St. Clair, which he described as a platform for students to achieve their dreams.
“You are providing a platform to dreamers, a platform to people who go into business or whatever else. And that’s what we expect from you. We are going to lean on you,” Zekelman said about the College. “We need your graduates, we need your next generation of dreamers, we need those students. We have many working for us now, some of which have moved to the U.S. and are running big divisions. We have St. Clair Alumni that have done an outstanding job for us. That’s the reality. I need this school, I need this College, I need the next generation of leaders and dreamers.”
Funding for the Zekelman Centre of Business & Information Technology came from the College, student fees administered by the Student Representative Council, the St. Clair College Alumni Association, and the Zekelman family, for whom the school is named.