Vancouver Island University (VIU) has raised $7.3 million over two years, exceeding its original goal of $5.5 million.
The additional funds will go to new equipment, increased research opportunities and dozens of new student scholarships, according to a press release from the institution.
The original goal was to complete and equip three new buildings on VIU’s Nanaimo Campus. The Dr. Ralph Nilson Centre for Health and Science, the Windsor Plywood Trades Discovery Centre and the District Geo-Exchange Energy System opened in 2018.
“We are delighted by the support for VIU’s most ambitious fundraising campaign to date and are grateful to our community who have allowed us to dream. Each donor should know that they have made a difference in the lives of our students,” said Dr. Deb Saucier, VIU president and vice-chancellor.
The campaign raised $2 million for new student scholarships and awards. Another million was raised for new equipment and other program supports in the trades, sciences and health-care areas. More than $1 million went to new research projects.
“I would love to go to med school and become a paediatric neurologist. Going to a place that has a very strong chemistry program is really important to me and the fact that VIU has this building was an important factor for me coming here,” said Katrin Hanneson, a bachelor of science student. “The labs here are great and all the technology we have is so cool.”
The new buildings have also helped VIU respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The facilities allow for physically distanced, hands-on training opportunities for students.
The labs in the new Centre for Health and Science enable VIU to become a designated manufacturing site for topical hand sanitizer. It also houses the Applied Environmental Research Laboratories (AERL), which focus on measuring the chemical determinants of environmental and human health.
Some research in the AERL focuses on helping people affected by the opioid crisis, as well as developing methods to detect chemical spills in bodies of water quickly.
“Moving to the Centre for Health and Science has been a huge opportunity for me in the AERL,” said Joseph Monaghan, a bachelor of science alumnus and PhD student at the University of Victoria, who conducts his thesis research in the lab. “The improved infrastructure has let us work faster, more safely and gives accessibility to more students.”