Bill Rickers (BA ’77) remembers being a student and can only imagine what his Brock University experience would have been like had the COVID-19 pandemic hit when he was in school.
The University Board of Trustees member is a partner at Crawford, Smith and Swallow Chartered Professional Accountants and has learned first-hand what the past year has been like from the Brock co-op students working for him.
“I appreciate how difficult it is for them in part because I know how difficult it would have been for me,” said Rickers. “When I was attending Brock, the ability to attend lectures and interact with my fellow students was really integral to my Brock experience.”
While many Board of Trustee members like Rickers are able to support students through work placements and job opportunities, a Board committee led by Rickers also launched the Board of Trustees Impact Fund in early 2020 as a way to assist students through personal donations trustees are making.
“As a Board, we’re always looking for other ways to support the University and it occurred to me that this would be a relatively easy way to do that,” he said.
At the time of its launch, the trustees had no idea just how important their contributions would become. Today, that fund is being used to support the COVID-19 Emergency Bursaries, student mental health services, food security and other areas.
“It’s a cliché, but giving is far more rewarding than receiving,” said Board of Trustees Chair Gary Comerford. “I get so much enjoyment out of giving — whether it’s time or financial resources — than probably anything. I can’t think of a better place to spend my giving donations than to further education. It can benefit our students, the community and society in general.”
Comerford said Board of Trustee members — who represent a wide range of sectors and backgrounds — were invited to donate whatever they’re comfortable.
“It really is a manifestation of the commitment of trustees to the success of the University,” he said. “It reinforces the idea of giving back to the community. We can all give back in different ways. For some it’s money and for others, it’s time.”
For Rickers, the contributions from trustees also reinforces that the Board, like Brock itself, is student-focused.
“It really does reflect the reality of how important our students are to the members of the Board,” he said. “Sometimes the Board, by its nature, is perceived as being business-like and financial- or data-driven, but the empathy and concern the Board feels for students is real.”
Gord Arbeau, Associate Vice-President, Advancement and External Relations, said the University is grateful for the ongoing, generous support of the Board.
“Over the years, a defining characteristic of Brock is that we have been so well-served by a community of volunteers who provide superb leadership in many ways,” Arbeau said. “Our trustees generously commit their time and expertise to help advance Brock. The donations to the Impact Fund are one more way our community helps one another.”
The five-year Brock Trustees Impact Fund will support the following key priorities:
- Student bursaries and scholarships
- New academic programs and capital infrastructure
- Strategic research leadership
- Student health and wellness
- Indigenous student support