York University receives $1M gift from Carswell Family Foundation for graduate student scholarships

On Tuesday, May 31, York University announced and celebrated a $1-million gift from Professor Emeritus Allan Carswell and the Carswell Family Foundation. The donation will create a permanent endowment and an expendable fund to establish Carswell Scholarships for graduate students in the Faculty of Science and the Lassonde School of Engineering.

Addressing the more than 100 guests in attendance at the announcement, York University President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri spoke about the importance of the gift. “In his role as a professor here at York, Allan experienced firsthand the significant contributions that students make to the research enterprise, as well as the financial challenges of being a graduate student,” said Shoukri. “He also understands the challenges of being a faculty member trying to recruit great students. This gift will go a long way to addressing those challenges so that our students and faculty members in the Faculty of Science and the Lassonde School of Engineering have the support they need to continue to conduct groundbreaking research.”

The gift will allow York University to start awarding Carswell Scholarships as early as this September. The endowed component of the donation has been matched by the University with the support of the Provost and the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies to ensure that the Carswell Scholars program continues over the long term.

“This is a very special occasion and opportunity for the Carswell Family Foundation,” said Carswell. “It’s a win-win-win situation: a win for not only students, but also for the professors and their research activities, as well as more broadly for the advancement of science and engineering. The foundation is extremely pleased to be a part of this.”

This is not the first gift that Carswell and his family have made to York University. In 2004, Optech, a global company founded by Carswell during his tenure at York, became a significant supporter of research at the University with a donation of $125,000 to establish what is now called the Optech Lab. To this day, the Optech Lab at York continues to stage a unique-in-Canada course on experimental techniques in laser physics and atom trapping.

At the gift announcement, Ray Jayawardhana, dean of the Faculty of Science, and Janusz Kozinski, dean of the Lassonde School of Engineering, spoke about the impact Carswell’s gift will have for their students moving forward.

“As a pioneering scientist and a long-serving physics professor, Allan understands the transformative potential of research and the vital role that graduate students play in the research enterprise,” said Jayawardhana. “He appreciates that graduate students are not only the `scientists of tomorrow’, but also of today… I can’t wait to see the exciting discoveries and meaningful contributions that Carswell Scholars will make at York and beyond.”

“With this gift we can guarantee that more of our young talent will have the resources and the support to get started on their journeys into the unknown,” said Kozinski. “It will be up to them to show the courage, the skill, the perseverance and the will it takes to get to the top of their fields. We have no idea where their journeys will take them or where they will end. What we do know, is that for many of them here at York – thanks to the Carswell Foundation – it started here today.”

This gift comes at an opportune time in the University’s journey, particularly with the launch of Impact: The Campaign for York University, a $500-million fundraising and alumni engagement campaign. This Campaign celebrates the University’s impact on the world – past, present and future – and acknowledges alumni and donors, like Carswell and the Carswell Family Foundation, whose financial support has contributed to this remarkable success.

“On behalf of York University and all of our students, faculty and staff members, I wish to thank Dr. Carswell and the entire Carswell family for this incredible contribution towards our students and our future,” said Shoukri.