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Why I Give: Dr. James Currie

Mon. Jul. 6, 2020

Why I Give

My name is James Currie. I’m a Professor of Mathematics at The University of Winnipeg, where I have worked for more than thirty years. In addition to my teaching and research, I’ve had the opportunity to serve in a variety of roles: for example, as Department Chair, Faculty Dean, Provost, and now, as Interim President and Vice-Chancellor.

James Currie

Why did you decide to support UWinnipeg?

I was raised to give back, and I note that across cultures and religions, giving is generally recognized as a spiritual practice. Many of us know that eating less, drinking less, getting less screen time, or holding on to fewer possessions can be liberating exercises. Financial donation has the same benefit. In addition, it gives us a way to commit concretely to the things that we believe in and to put our money where our mouth is. Faculty members believe passionately in their individual disciplines, their students, and their departments – and surely also believe that the public needs to support universities! Professors form a very privileged segment of that same public, and as one such, I’m glad to give. 

Why do you give, and what motivates you?

For a long time I preferred to make anonymous donations, although as Dean I began pinning thank you notes from the UW Foundation to my office bulletin board, as a subtle encouragement to others. Later, President Annette Trimbee pointed out to me that in a leadership role, I should move away from anonymous giving. When the University is seeking the support of the government and the public, it’s important for those outside to know that our leaders are themselves committed to supporting and advancing the University. Imagine: if we could say that 90% of faculty and staff members donate to the UW Foundation (even if only token amounts) that would be a huge statement to government and to external donors!

What are your areas of interest?

Like many, I began with donations to student scholarships, in my own academic department. However, as I began to take on different roles at the University, I saw broader needs and many initiatives that deserved support, such as the Opportunity Fund. I actually have a preference for unallocated giving, but the Liberal Arts are often underappreciated, so that is why I was pleased to donate to the excellent Axworthy lecture series. Out-of-pocket donations have also sometimes given a boost to worthy scholarly projects where University budgets processes didn’t allow institutional support.

What would you say to a peer or colleague who is considering donating?

As you can guess, if a colleague was thinking of donating, I would strongly encourage it! Donations have a personal benefit, as well as supporting the ideals and interests of the University community. Finally, donations by our own faculty and staff are politically powerful, and will resonate in our community in a way that magnifies their impact.