MSVU builds for future

Institution nears end of fundraising campaign for building

Mount Saint Vincent University may be only months away from breaking ground on a new academic

Construction of the Mount’s new academic building, shown in this drawing, is slated to begin within months. (Contributed)
Construction of the Mount’s new academic building, shown in this drawing, is slated to begin within months. (Contributed)

building, its first in 40 years. 

Ramona Lumpkin, president and vice-chancellor of the Mount, has been spearheading an effort to raise money for the Margaret Norrie McCain Centre for Teaching, Learning and Research since taking office in October 2010.

Lumpkin started Project TWENTY12 in May 2011. Its goal, to raise $12 million in 20 months, is the most ambitious fundraiser the school has undertaken.

Lumpkin says the university is in need of new academic space. The Institute for Women, Gender, and Social Justice and the Nova Scotia Centre on Aging occupy space in old, detached residential houses. The new centre will “bring a whole wonderful cluster of elements together on campus.”

“Students need more classroom space,” adds Trevor Corkum, a spokesman for the school. “They need it to be collaborative and flexible.” Besides classrooms, labs and seminar rooms, the new building will feature a learning commons, energy efficient fixtures and a rooftop garden.

Project TWENTY12 raises money in two ways – through the “inspiring women initiative” and the “women’s wall of honour.” The wall of honour allows donors to pay tribute to women who are special to them. For $1,200 the woman’s name will be placed on a panel outside the entrance to the new building.

Ramona Lumpkin, the Mount’s president and vice chancellor, has spearheaded the Project TWENTY12 campaign. Photo: Daniel Campbell
Ramona Lumpkin, the Mount’s president and vice chancellor, has spearheaded the Project TWENTY12 campaign. Photo: Daniel Campbell

For larger donations, the inspiring women initiative allows individual donors or companies to sponsor a woman of their choice for a $200,000 donation. The sponsored women will be immortalized in the building’s foyer in a woven graphic montage.

Janet MacMillan, a graduate of the Mount and partner with MT&L Public Relations in Halifax, served on the original fundraising team. She helped find potential donors.

MacMillan, who has served on and chaired the board of governors, has a personal connection to the new building. It will be the first permanent home for the communications program she completed as a student. 

“I care very much about seeing this capital campaign succeed for so may reasons, among them, for student success.”

When MacMillan found out she was being sponsored as one of the inspiring women, she was thrilled but humbled.

“Each woman and her story is unique, each quite moving and inspirational.”

MacMillan was sponsored by two local philanthropists, Elizabeth and Fred Fountain, who will have the main foyer named after them. MacMillan met Elizabeth Fountain when they were students at the Mount, and have stayed friends.

“I feel very grateful to be honoured in such a way.”

The project hasn’t been without its challenges. Lumpkin says the Mount has had trouble finding big donors.

“The school doesn’t have much of a history of major donors. Most graduates from MSVU come from fields that aren’t traditionally high income: education, communications. We haven’t had those wealthy businessmen to give.”

Despite the difficulties, Lumpkin is confident they’ll reach $12 million soon. As of October, donations totaled $10.2 million.

Lumpkin says the school plans to break ground on the new building in the spring.