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Remembering Barry Kay

Three images of Barry Kay

A treasure to his colleagues, a rockstar to his students, a wise mind for his country

How do you even begin to describe the difference a man like Barry Kay makes in his lifetime? A highly engaging political science professor, his teaching turned his students into fans, who took every class with him they could, and credited him with their future success. His colleagues, who he regularly invited over for barbecues and to Jays’ games, describe him as a treasure. As an elections expert and media commenter, Kay was an important source of knowledge and clarity to his country. He was part of the Laurier community for 41 years and contributed immensely to the intellectual climate on campus.

Kay, who passed away last December at the age of 73, was also a philanthropist. With his wife Betty Leventhal, Kay set up several scholarships for political science students. The Lillian & Harry Kay Scholarship was named to honor Kay’s parents’ love and support, and The Sherry Palmer Scholarship was named for the Department of Political Science’s administrative assistant, whom Kay considered the “heart and soul” of the department. Knowing Kay was planning to set up a third scholarship, Betty fulfilled his vision after his passing through The Barry Kay Memorial Scholarship in Political Science. Together, these three scholarships grant $3,000 to three students annually.

“Barry loved teaching and had a high regard for his students,” shares Betty. “He wanted his legacy to reach them by acknowledging their achievements, so he requested that scholarships be established to recognize exceptional students in Political Science.”

$75,000 endowed by Barry and Betty

"He made the effort to get to know each student."

Melody Greaves is currently a student in the Master of Applied Politics Program and a past recipient of the Lillian & Harry Kay Scholarship.

I knew Professor Barry Kay through the Political Science program. He was always a highly respected professor as well as a kind, friendly face to see in the department. He was someone I greatly admired as he seemed to know a great deal about any subject you could ask him. Despite how many students were in the department and took his classes over the years, he still made the effort to get to know and recognize each student. During the Canadian federal election in fall 2019, Professor Kay offered me the opportunity to accompany him to the Global News Studio in Toronto, where he sat on the live Decision Desk, to act as an election data analyst behind the scenes. This was a fantastic opportunity for me.

During my fourth year, I was awarded the Lillian and Harry Kay Scholarship, which had a major impact in helping me finish my studies that year. My mother passed away from cancer when I was in first year and then during my third year, my father was diagnosed with cancer. My dad had to reduce the hours he spent working. With two siblings also in postsecondary education, it was a stressful time. Receiving the Lillian and Harry Kay Scholarship meant that funding my education was less of a worry for my family. I was able to continue my degree during my fourth year and graduate on time, thanks to Professor Kay and his wife Betty’s generous contribution. I am so grateful to them for helping support me through my studies.

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