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Jim Hartley and Karen Valovich, BA ’86

A love of reading inspires a legacy of literacy at Laurier

When Karen Valovich (BA ’86) passed away in 2007 at the age of 44, her husband Jim Hartley wanted to do something special to honour her life, her connection to Laurier and her love of reading, so he set up the Karen Valovich Literacy Outreach Scholarship. This scholarship recognizes outstanding full-time students who are actively involved in formal, student-centred initiatives to promote literacy and reading, both on campus and in the wider community.

“I wanted to give back to the Laurier community that had meant so much to Karen,” says Jim. “Karen spoke often of Laurier, the friends she met there. She loved to support the sports teams and enjoyed the Turret and Wilf’s. She just really enjoyed university life and did quite well academically, too.”

As an alumna, Karen stayed in touch with Laurier, playing squash at the Athletics Complex and bringing people together in small, intimate gatherings to connect through a shared love of books.

Jim is a graduate of the University of Toronto. Now retired, he worked at U of T in the Department of Medicine in a long and interesting career primarily as the executive assistant to the chair of Medicine. Jim met Karen through a political group; he sometimes gave her and others a ride home. Their first date came about a year after they met. They enjoyed bicycling, going to galleries and museums, watching the Toronto Blue Jays and Maple Leafs on television and attending Blue Jays home games. They also enjoyed reading and cooking together.

In 2014, Jim chose to put Laurier in his will to eventually endow his scholarship so that generations of Laurier students would be able to share the joys of literacy with others.

“Today’s graduates are tomorrow’s leaders,” says Jim.

Although Jim is not an alumnus himself, through his marriage to Karen and his subsequent generosity, he is certainly a member of the Laurier family.

“The Laurier community makes its donors feel special,” says Jim. “The warmth within the community shines throughout.” He also appreciates the opportunity to meet with student recipients. “I remember so well past recipients of the award that I met during award ceremonies. The students were genuinely humbled at receiving a scholarship and their parent(s) were so proud. I experienced moments of authentic joy.”


If you are interested in making a bequest to Laurier, please contact Cec Joyal, Development Officer, Individual & Legacy Giving, Development & Alumni Relations 519.498.4168 |

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