David Sobey telling the story of the Sobey connection to Saint Mary’s and announcing an $18M investment to the Sobey School of Business.

Elevating the Sobey School of Business Through Transformational Philanthropy

By Kate Elliot | spring 2019

On March 21, more than 500 people in the McNally Auditorium burst into applause when they heard David Sobey announce the largest philanthropic gift ever made to Saint Mary’s University. There were audible gasps and a full standing ovation when he confirmed the amount of the gift: 18 million dollars. It was truly a day for the history books.

Since the announcement, campus has been buzzing with excitement. A gift of this size is monumental for any organization, but for our university, its impact will be extraordinary. But this gift didn’t happen overnight. In fact, some would say it was more than 50 years in the making.

Foundations of the future

The Sobey family’s legacy stretches back to the grocery giant’s founder Frank H. Sobey. Not having access to post-secondary education, he instilled a belief in the transformative power of education in his family and his company.

The Sobey family and Sobeys Inc. have longstanding ties to Saint Mary’s. In 1975, Frank H. Sobey donated to the university’s development fund and the family has been contributing to our philanthropic endeavours ever since. In 1992, the Faculty of Commerce was named after Frank H. Sobey, eventually becoming the Sobey School of Business in 1997. In 2015, the David Sobey Centre for Innovation in Retailing and Services was established.

The future is here

Today, the Sobey School of Business is recognized nationally and globally as a top business school. We proudly prepare citizens of the world to lead sustainable, entrepreneurial businesses and communities. Not only does this gift reaffirm our commitment to these strengths, but it will also help us enhance them through the introduction of many new initiatives:

  • The Sobey Innovators Scholarship Program: this program will support 150 students over the next ten years with the goal of attracting the brightest, most entrepreneurial, and most fearless business students in the country to Saint Mary’s University and the Sobey School of Business.
  • Substantial faculty growth: this includes two endowed chairs, five professorships (one for every department of the Sobey School for 10 years), and two new post-doctoral fellows, furthering a commitment to attract and keep the highest-quality faculty and researchers.
  • The Sobeys Entrepreneurship & Innovation Hub: a 43,000-square-foot expansion to the Sobey School of Business building that will be dedicated to entrepreneurship and research innovation. This building will be named in recognition of the company’s gift.
  • Alumni Engagement Program: this program will bring together alumni and current student recipients of Sobey Scholarships with faculty members supported through this gift as a special alumni cohort for engagement, mentorship and other networking opportunities. This will include an annual event to celebrate and showcase the collective work and accomplishments of the Sobey-supported students and faculty.

The future is now

As a university, we look forward to stewarding the Sobey family’s substantial legacy by driving innovation in teaching, research, and business education, with a particular focus on the university-wide impact of supporting entrepreneurship and innovation in every discipline. 

For students, the Sobey gift means more opportunities for world-class education and significant business opportunities. For alumni, this type of investment adds to institutional pride and increases the value of our business degrees. This philanthropic support also has an impact on the community, inspiring the giving mindset.

As alumni, you represent the Sobey family’s philanthropic legacy at Saint Mary’s and their commitment to helping students succeed. Please join us in sharing this exciting news with your personal and professional networks and share your pride in the strength, experience, and vitality of your university and the Sobey School of Business.″

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