Largest gift in the history of Saint Mary’s University

David Sobey and The Sobey Foundation lead donation of $18 million
to boost business education in Atlantic Canada

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Saint Mary’s University and the Sobey School of Business have received the largest gift to date in the 217-year history of the institution, an $18 million philanthropic investment from members of the Sobey family, The Sobey Foundation and Sobeys Inc.

The gift, one of the largest donations ever to a university in Atlantic Canada, enables Saint Mary’s Sobey School of Business to expand its role as a top educator of entrepreneurs and business leaders and advance its standing as a leading centre of research innovation, growth and support for aspiring start-ups and established businesses and entrepreneurs.

“Our gift is a deliberate reinvestment in the Sobey School of Business and Saint Mary’s University inspired by our belief and confidence in the University, its leadership, its students and its bright future,” said former Saint Mary’s Chancellor, Dr. David Sobey. “Our shared ambition is that this gift will advance the Sobey School of Business for the next generation of innovators, creating new knowledge and standards that will have a ripple effect nationally and globally.”

The gift allows the Sobey School of Business, recognized nationally and globally as one of the top business schools, to introduce many new initiatives, including:

  • The Sobey Innovators Scholarship Program: this program will support 150 students over the next ten years with the goal of attracting the brightest, most entrepreneurial, and most fearless business students in the country to Saint Mary’s University and the Sobey School of Business.
  • Substantial faculty growth: this includes two endowed chairs, five professorships (one for every department of the Sobey School for 10 years), and two new post-doctoral fellows, furthering a commitment to attract and keep the highest-quality faculty and researchers.
  • The Sobeys Entrepreneurship & Innovation Hub: a 43,000-square-foot expansion to the Sobey School of Business building that will be dedicated to entrepreneurship and research innovation. This building will be named in recognition of the company’s gift.

For its part, Sobeys Inc. is looking forward to working with an academic partner with a shared vision for values-based education, excellence in business disciplines, diversity in perspective and a laser focus on innovation.

“Sobeys is inspired by the leadership of David Sobey and the Sobey Foundation and we are proud to join the Sobey family once again in their 112-year legacy of community building in Atlantic Canada,” said the Chief Executive Officer of Sobeys Inc., Michael Medline. “This gift is a demonstration of the Sobey family’s long-standing belief in the transformative power of education. The roots set down by Frank H. Sobey are as strong as ever, and the corporate culture that has been central to our success will continue to be at the center of our future.”

The new Sobeys Entrepreneurship & Innovation Hub will bring together students and faculty from across all disciplines with businesses and entrepreneurs from our region to collaborate on entrepreneurship and business innovation. Also supported through an $11 million investment from the Province of Nova Scotia, the Sobeys Hub will include an expanded Saint Mary’s University Entrepreneurship Centre, a research innovation floor, and the tools, people, and resources to develop and test new products and ideas. The province’s contribution marks an important contribution toward meeting the funding requirements of the Sobeys Hub.

“This game-changing investment in the Sobey School of Business and Saint Mary’s University builds on our acknowledged strength of interdisciplinary collaboration across the university and creates new opportunities for enterprises, entrepreneurs and innovators,” said Saint Mary’s University President Robert Summerby-Murray. “Saint Mary’s is incredibly proud to be a part of the Sobey family’s legacy and the positive impact of its deep business and community connections in Atlantic Canada and our country as a whole.”

“This gift represents the next stage for the Sobey School of Business and our distinctive approach to business education, entrepreneurship and innovation,” said Harjeet Bhabra, the dean of the Sobey School of Business. “We have a shared commitment to investing in the resiliency, vitality and strength of the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Atlantic Canada. This gift will support the people that have come to the Sobey School of Business and Saint Mary’s because of its global relevance and reputation.”


Media Contact:

Cale Loney
University Communications Officer
Saint Mary’s University
Phone: 902-420-5051