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Aune Foundation’s gift to Campaign for Concordia supports women in business

Ruth P. Glenen Awards pay tribute to ‘one-of-a-kind’ mentor
August 18, 2021
By Wendy Helfenbaum

Jonathan Aune at his Concordia grad, flanked by his father Brian and step-mother Ruth Glenen Jonathan Aune (centre), director of the Aune Foundation, with stepmother Ruth Glenen, BA 80, MBA 85, and father Brian Aune.

Concordia students pursuing degrees in finance are getting a boost, thanks to a $176,400 gift from the Aune Foundation to the Campaign for Concordia: Next-Gen. Now.

The Ruth P. Glenen Awards at the John Molson School of Business — named in honour of alumna Ruth Glenen, BA 80, MBA 85 — will support women students at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

“We are thankful for this important gesture of philanthropy which comes at an opportune time for women at the John Molson School,” says Dean Anne-Marie Croteau. “It is well aligned with our efforts toward equity, diversity and inclusion, most recently demonstrated by the new Barry F. Lorenzetti Centre for Women Entrepreneurship and Leadership announced in May and our second consecutive Parity Certification from Women in Governance.”

The Aune family has long supported Concordia. Glenen’s husband, Brian Aune, is a governor emeritus of Concordia’s Board of Governors, having served from 1988 to 2002.

“My dad has Alzheimer’s, which put me in control of the family estate,” says Jonathan Aune. “When my stepmother Ruth passed in 2018 and I started a foundation in his name, one of the first things I wanted to do was honour her.

“Ruth started as a secretary at Nesbitt Thomson and worked her way up. She was fearless, whip smart and would always tell you what she was thinking. She was also very generous with her time. Throughout all my stages of schooling, Ruth always took an interest in the things I was learning and was a huge help when I struggled early on — even if it meant studying the curriculum with me.”

A determined trailblazer

Glenen went to night school at Concordia to earn her MBA, adds Aune, and mentored many young women over the years.

“My dad had a house in Magog, and Ruth would invite two or three students up at a time to stay over,” says Aune. “They’d show up at lunch and dinner, and study the rest of the time. I wanted this scholarship to be for women because Ruth championed women’s education.”

Ruth Glenen with her mentor Barbara Timmins “Ruth guided young women with a combination of tough love and pragmatic advice,” says Barbara Timmins (right) of her former mentor, Ruth Glenen.

One of Glenen’s mentees, Barbara Timmins, is now corporate communications director at the law firm Norton Rose Fulbright Canada. Timmins met Glenen in 1993 as a student at McGill University.

“Ruth was a tough cookie and not the maternal type per se, but she guided young women with a combination of tough love and pragmatic advice,” says Timmins.

When Aune decided to launch the awards program in Glenen’s name, the first call he made was to Timmins.

“I wanted Barb to run it. I said, ‘I’ll be the bank and you be the boss,’ which is actually how my dad and Ruth described each other.”

In addition to providing financial support, the awards also have a strong mentorship component.

“Women promoting women and creating a community — that was Ruth’s vision,” says Aune. “The dream is to have women all across the country stay in touch and help one another, the way she did. That’s how we’ll maintain her legacy.”

‘Narrowing the gender gap’

The foundation has distributed six awards since fall 2020. Isabelle Jolin, BComm 18, had the highest GPA in her MSc finance program and received the first scholarship.

“It made a big difference,” says Jolin, who works as an analyst in residential asset management for Ivanhoe Cambridge, the real-estate subsidiary of Quebec’s pension fund. “It gave me the financial comfort to pursue graduate studies without sacrificing my quality of life and mental health.

“I believe that to achieve gender equality in the workplace, we must go back further into the talent and education pipeline so women can access the same opportunities as men,” Jolin adds. “I see this scholarship as a contribution to narrowing the gender gap. In turn, the talent pool becomes more diversified in terms of gender, and women get more access to high-level positions.”

Glenen was a great believer in personal integrity, hard work, straight talk, being financially independent and stepping outside your comfort zone, says Timmins.

“I learned many important things from her. How to use credit intelligently, how to dress for work, how to navigate job offers and compensation discussions — even which utensils to use at a fancy dinner.

“She was a port in a storm who was there when you needed a friend to listen and help you pick up the pieces. She was one of a kind.”


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