'It can give someone hope': staff and faculty donors on why they give to Arts & Science

November 13, 2023 by Rebecca Cheung - A&S News

Whether they are giving to important initiatives focused on supporting student success, taking on the climate crisis, protecting the principles of democracy or advancing other research projects in the sciences, social sciences and humanities, staff and faculty across the Faculty of Arts & Science are making a monumental difference with their philanthropy.

That’s why Arts & Science is kicking off the annual 30 Days of Giving Campaign for Staff and Faculty on Nov. 15.

With the campaign launching in a few days, some staff and faculty donors reflected on why they give to A&S initiatives — and what giving means to them.

Driving meaningful change and rebuilding

Ana Cardoso gave to an A&S initiative last year because she wanted to transform the lives of students and contribute to the eventual rebuilding of Ukraine. 

She donated $100 to the Munk-Kyiv School of Economics Partnership Fund, which helped bring Ukrainian graduate students, many of whom had their studies disrupted by war, to the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy to continue their education. 

“It became clear to me that we were bringing these students here to study, but many will return to Ukraine, and they’d be taking the knowledge base they acquired with them,” says Cardoso, the manager of the office of the director at the Munk School. 

“This fund is about giving these students an opportunity to continue their learning and to develop a vision for the future, and that’s how they will rebuild the country. I know Ukraine is going to need a well-educated, younger population to remake it into what it once was, and I was inspired to help out.”

Cardoso knows the power of giving and hopes a few of her colleagues will be motivated to give to causes they care about this year.

“I think it's important to support causes within Arts & Science and the University so the people I work with can see I value the programs we offer here and education, overall,” she says.

“I firmly believe if you’re in a position to help, you do what you can. It makes you feel good, and it can give someone hope.”

Paying it forward

Others, like Sandra Kamo, give to Arts & Science to show gratitude to a place that has meant so much to them.

An associate professor in the Department of Earth Sciences and director of the Jack Satterly Geochronology Laboratory, she has consistently contributed to departmental funds since 2011.

Sandra Kamo.
A consistent A&S donor since 2011, Professor Sandra Kamo contributed to the D.H. Gorman Explorers Fund Graduate Scholarship last year.

Kamo, who earned her bachelor of science and PhD in geology, credits the Faculty of Arts & Science for giving her the academic grounding to pursue a rewarding career.

“I have had the opportunity to pursue my chosen field of research, which is an enormous gift. Not many people get to do what they love in their working lives,” she says. “This is one big reason why I give to Arts & Science.”

She also recognizes the University of Toronto’s profound impact on the people closest to her.

“We are a U of T family. My husband and I, as well as our two daughters, obtained our undergraduate degrees from U of T and three of us also completed graduate degrees here,” Kamo says. “I give because my husband and I value the in-depth science and business educations we received that led us into satisfying careers. We appreciate the outstanding undergraduate science education our daughters received and inspired them both to pursue PhDs — and one of those PhDs was at U of T.”

Now, Kamo hopes to provide transformative opportunities to students today.

“I give to specific funds that support our students on geological field trips where they learn what is not easily learned in the classroom but is so critical to their education,” says Kamo, who contributed $200 to the D.H. Gorman Explorers Fund Graduate Scholarship last year.

“I want my gifts to go directly toward supporting this important part of students’ learning.”

Supporting vital studies in the arts and humanities

Catherine Monahan.
A steadfast supporter of the Dictionary of Old English, Catherine Monahan has been a monthly donor since 1993. Photo credit: Kemeisha McDonald.

Catherine Monahan, managing editor of the Dictionary of Old English, gives to A&S initiatives anchored in the humanities to celebrate her deep appreciation for the arts.

“I feel quite strongly about supporting the humanities because writers, artists and performers contribute so much to culture. It is an often overlooked but deserving area when it comes to funding,” she says.

Through the years, she’s contributed to U of T funds that supported international students at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and to tribute gifts to honour her parents and family.

She’s a steadfast supporter of the Dictionary of Old English, an initiative she’s been engaged with as an editor for almost 35 years.

“It’s simple: I give to this project because I think it’s worthwhile,” she says. “There are significant challenges in getting funding for humanities projects. It’s always been a struggle for us.”

Monahan is no stranger to patience and persistent effort. In 1993, she arranged for a monthly $10 deduction from her paycheck. With the exception of one period where she was working part-time hours, she’s steadily increased this monthly amount over the years, now to $35 a month.

“If you’re in a secure financial position, I’d suggest giving a small amount each month,” she says. “If you're giving $10 every paycheck, you might not even notice the difference, but by the end of the year you will have given $120. That’s meaningful.”

She also gives to broader U of T initiatives in recognition of her and her family’s deep connection to the University.

Monahan describes herself as “one of those people who came to U of T and never left.” After earning a bachelor of arts in English in the Faculty of Arts & Science, she completed a master of library science and a master of arts in medieval studies. After rewarding stints at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, she found a permanent home at the Dictionary of Old English.

Staying at U of T felt natural: Monahan, her parents and her four siblings studied at the university and became members of St. Michael’s College. It’s where she became deeply interested in art, music, philosophy and literature.

“I’ve always felt U of T is a top-class university, and education really opens the world up to people. We get to learn about cultures, perspectives and ways of thinking, and that leads to a stronger understanding and acceptance of others,” she says. “I want to support that learning process.”

30 Days of Giving Campaign for Staff and Faculty

There’s a lot to look forward to with this year’s 30 Days of Giving Campaign for Staff and Faculty. In addition to regular updates from Dean Melanie Woodin, Arts & Science will be raffling off prize packs to participating staff and faculty donors.

But that’s not all: our intrepid dean has pledged to bike one kilometre for every staff or faculty donor who makes a gift during this campaign. Join the challenge! A&S staff and faculty can help her cover more ground by making a meaningful gift to advance innovative research or to transform the lives of students.