Students at the University of Victoria’s Gustavson School of Business will be the beneficiaries of a $5-million donation from Victoria businessman Sardul S. Gill. The gift will establish a permanent endowment that will disburse funds for scholarships and financial awards, international projects, teaching and research. The university will recognise the gift by naming its graduate business program the Sardul S. Gill Graduate School.

“Mr. Gill’s generous donation will do a great deal to strengthen graduate level business education and allow us to reward outstanding academic achievement and foster excellence in teaching,” says UVic President David Turpin.

“This magnificent gift will benefit generations of business students and advance our teaching and research programs,” says Dr. Ali Dastmalchian, dean of the Gustavson School of Business. “We are delighted to honour Mr. Gill in this way; he is a person who exemplifies the values of hard work and integrity.”

Gill attended UVic’s predecessor Victoria College (Class of ’53) and is the president and secretary of Gill-AM Investments Ltd, a Victoria-based real-estate holding company. He was born in Victoria in 1931, the son of Sikh immigrants from Punjab, India. Gill graduated from Victoria High School and attended Victoria College before completing his commerce degree at UBC.

“I made this gift to honour my parents. My father immigrated to Canada from the Punjab in 1906,” says Gill. “He laboured all his life and encouraged me to pursue my education at a time when there were significant barriers to people of Indian descent in this country.”

Gill’s father, Bhan Singh Gill, came to Canada with a fifth grade education and had to settle for labouring jobs in Vancouver Island sawmills. His wife, Hardial Kaur Gill, came to Canada in 1926.

“My father could not get a job for nine, 10 cents an hour,” Gill recalls. Bhan Singh Gill toiled in saw mills up and down Vancouver Island; the younger Gill worked in those same mills as a young man supporting himself through college and university.

“As a result, I never had much of a social life,” Gill relates, “but I knew the value of hard work from a very young age.”

In 1953 he was admitted to the commerce program at UBC and after graduation, completed his CGA. Over the years, Gill worked diligently to build up a considerable portfolio of real-estate holdings.

“I owe the fact that I got this far to my parents,” he says. “My parents were staunch believers in education, and now I want to honour them, and the value they placed on higher education by giving something back to the institution that gave me a start in life.”

The naming of the Sardul S. Gill Graduate School at UVic represents the first time in Canada that such an institution has been named after a philanthropist of Sikh Indian descent.

This gift has other historic benchmarks: it is the largest gift ever from an alumnus to the university and may be the largest gift to a Canadian university by a person of south Asian heritage. It is the largest gift ever to a graduate program at the University of Victoria.

“My greatest hope,” says Gill, “is that this gift inspires others to give back to their own communities – perhaps just as my father and mother inspired me.”

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Media contacts:

Dianne George (Gustavson School of Business) at (cell) 250-882-6411 or (office) 250-721-6411 or dgeorge@uvic.ca
Chris Thackray (Development) at 250-721-6247 (after 2 p.m. on Oct. 7) or thackray@uvic.ca

Media advisory: Mr. Gill and his family respectfully wish to decline media interviews. On Oct. 7 UVic President David Turpin is available for interviews between 3 and 3:15 p.m. and Gustavson School of Business Dean Ali Dastmalchian is available for interviews between 3 and 3:30 p.m.