“For my legacy gift I wanted to address what I saw as one of Concordia’s greatest needs,” Roland says. “I wanted to help enhance this university’s reputation because Concordia deserves it.”
The fellowships will be awarded to graduate students from Concordia’s four academic faculties: Arts and Science, Fine Arts, Engineering and Computer Science and the John Molson School of Business (JMSB). The gift will primarily support Concordia’s strategic direction of doubling its research by attracting and retaining the best and brightest students.
Roland points out that top universities around the world are known for their graduate programs, research and professors.
“Top researchers choose schools that have good graduate students and graduate students elect to go where there are top professors in their field — that’s a good symbiotic relationship. By helping the students I’m also helping the faculty.”
Her endowment will pay a minimum of five per cent annually, adjusted for inflation every four years.
The first awards will be given for the 2018-19 academic year. The fellowships will be granted through competition, based on academic merit, to students pursuing a doctoral degree in areas that will enhance Concordia’s research profile and reputation and encourage interdisciplinary cooperation.
“Miriam Roland is an incredible advocate and champion for our university,” says Concordia President Alan Shepard.
“Her generosity will help propel our research and encourage our talented students to experiment boldly to answer some of the most urgent questions facing our society.
"We are deeply grateful for her gift and we take great pride having Miriam as a leader in our Concordia community,” says Shepard.
A history of philanthropy
Roland’s parents, Laura and Barney Aaron, instilled in her a strong sense of generosity and giving has always been an important part of her life.
“I think I grew up with it. The same way we eat three meals a day, we give to those in need. It was just the ethos of the family. It was never put into words, it was just always what was done,” Roland says.
“There are many different reasons why people give and many of them are different from my reasons, but it doesn’t matter. My father always said, ‘As long as people give, perhaps one day they’ll give for the right reasons.’”
She sees her role as a donor as one that allows promising students to fulfill their potential. “I’m giving opportunity. There’s no guarantee people who receive support through my graduate fellowships will have success,” Roland says.
“Yet for most graduate students, they’ve proven that they have a passion for learning. They have the spark. I find that admirable and I’m happy to give them the chance.”
From California to Concordia