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Lois and Charles Macdonald

The gift of opportunity: the Lois and Charles Macdonald Music Bursary

Typically, a student who receives a bursary or scholarship award sends a letter of appreciation to the donor, but the Macdonald Music Bursary isn’t typical.

In the case of the newly established Lois and Charles Macdonald Music Bursary, it is the Laurier student who will first receive a letter from the donors.

“Congratulations on being named a recipient of the Lois and Charles Macdonald Music Bursary,” opens the letter Lois and Charles Macdonald send to every student who receives this bursary. “On behalf of my wife Lois and myself, I want to share with you how important this bursary is to our family.”

With their generous gift of $500,000 to establish a bursary fund and to support priority needs within Wilfrid Laurier University’s Faculty of Music, the Macdonald family has meaningfully aligned their philanthropy with many aspects of their own life story.

Their donation celebrates Lois’ long history with Laurier, and her profound love of music. Lois worked as the secretary to the dean of the (former) Faculty of Romance and Languages for many years, a role in which she thrived, establishing lasting relationships and making an impact. Lois is also an accomplished pianist and has taught piano. She had hoped to make a career in piano performance, but financial challenges and family obligations prevented her from doing so. Now, she seeks to provide current and future students the opportunity to pursue the career that she could not.

“This award was created from a deep love of music, and a desire that the gift of music be widely shared,” says Lois. “I want the students of tomorrow to have more opportunity than I did. But the award also recognizes my deep love of Laurier, and how much I enjoyed working in the Department of Romance and Languages.”

The Macdonald’s bursary will support full-time Faculty of Music undergraduate students in years two, three or four and full-time graduate students who meet all academic program requirements and demonstrate financial need.

“We wanted to find a way to acknowledge how much Laurier has done not just for us, but for so many generations of students,” adds Charles. “We hope to help students who, like Lois, may be struggling financially to preserve and pursue their career in music.”

Closing their letter to bursary recipients, Lois and Charles write: “Please accept our genuine encouragement to continue pursuing greatness with your music and your studies.”

“I’m so inspired by Lois and Charles and their gift to the Faculty of Music students. Meeting them, I learned how deeply they both feel about the transformational power of music and the importance of supporting students who believe in that power," said Cynthia Johnston Turner, dean of the Faculty of Music. "And isn’t that why we do what we do? I share this belief in music and our students. The Macdonalds' gift is not only inspiring but a beautiful legacy and an affirmation of music’s power to unite and enrich us all.”

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