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Former Laidlaw owner provides generous donation to McMaster University

Approximately 1,000 students gathered in the McMaster University Student Centre on December 17, 2003 to hear Canadi...


Approximately 1,000 students gathered in the McMaster University Student Centre on December 17, 2003 to hear Canadian businessman and philanthropist Michael DeGroote announce he is giving McMaster $105-million, the largest single cash gift in Canadian history. Mr. DeGroote is a highschool dropout who purchased and grew Laidlaw Transport Ltd., a company that became the largest school bus operator and third largest waste management company in North America before it was sold in 1988.

The 70-year-old suffers from a rare condition called thalamic pain (a result of a stroke), which leaves him in constant pain. The focus on supporting pain research is not a coincidence. In tribute of the donation, the School of Medicine will now be known as the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University, the first Canadian medical school to bear the name of a benefactor.

Mr. DeGroote, formerly of the Hamilton area but now residing in Bermuda, said that his nearly 20-year friendship with the University reflects his belief in and support of McMaster’s vision and its commitment to quality education and outstanding research. His earlier gifts have benefited the business school, the McMaster Museum of Art, epilepsy research, literary criticism and the new student centre.

A noted entrepreneur, Mr. DeGroote’s other business ventures have included U.S. companies such as Republic Industries, AutoNation Inc., Century Business Services, Capital Environmental Resource Inc., and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League. However, there have been setbacks for Mr. DeGroote; a tangle with securities regulators resulted in a $23-million fine to settle allegations of insider trading in Laidlaw shares.

The $105-million donation will be divided between a $64-million endowment fund, supporting education, health care and medical research in perpetuity and a $41-million capital fund directed to construction and outfitting of laboratories and hospital units.

For further information, contact Veronica McGuire, Media, McMaster University Health Sciences, at 905-525-9140 ext. 22169 or vmcguir@mcmaster.ca


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