December 18, 2009

CANADA: Hong Kong donor gives $1m for Chinese aging study

. HAMILTON, Ontario/ The Hamilton Spectator / December 18, 2009 By Wade Hemsworth, The Hamilton Spectator An anonymous donor from Hong Kong is helping McMaster University with a $1-million gift for the study of aging in Chinese culture. The university will use the money over seven years to support a new Chair in Aging and Chinese Culture. McMaster will hire an expert in the field to do research and teach students about the cultural aspects of aging, both in China itself and among immigrant Chinese families in Canada. "There are often quite big differences in cultures of aging, and in particular between the role of the elderly in Chinese society and culture and the way in which aging is dealt with in North American culture," said McMaster's dean of social sciences Charlotte Yates. The gift was finalized during university president Peter George's recent 12-day trip to China, where he visited McMaster alumni and Chinese government and university officials in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Since becoming president in 1995, George has typically visited China once or twice each year. The gift is the first donation of its size from McMaster alumni in China, and George said he hopes other major gifts will follow. "These are long periods of relationship-building," he said. "There are no quick returns in this stuff." The donor has asked to remain anonymous, but George confirmed the person is a McMaster graduate. From the 1950s until the turn of the millennium, students from Hong Kong made up the largest group of foreign students at the university, when students from mainland China took over top spot. The donation is considered as part of the broader Campaign for McMaster, a four-year, $400-million fundraising project set to end June 30, 2010, which is also the last day of George's 15-year tenure as university president. Roger Trull, the university vice-president responsible for fundraising, told McMaster's board of governors yesterday that despite the economic climate, the campaign has commitments of nearly $383 million from 35,000 donors. McMaster's profile in the field of aging research and education has been rising in the last several years. "It's high and we're rising very, very quickly ... ," Yates said. Earlier this year, the federal government announced McMaster is the base for a 20-year, $30-million national study in aging. [rc] Wade Hemsworth © Copyright Metroland 2009