Concordia University School of Health receives $5-million donation

The $5-million planned donation will also benefit society “because of the area of focus that Christine (Lengvari) has chosen,” Concordia says.

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A longtime supporter of Concordia University is pledging $5 million to fund nutrition and wellness research at the university’s new School of Health.

The planned donation by Christine Lengvari, who graduated from what was then Loyola College in 1972, was announced on Tuesday.

“Gifts are important at any time,” university president Graham Carr said in an interview Monday. “It’s especially important with the challenges that anglophone universities are facing to have people show their faith in Concordia with a gift of this nature. It’s going to be not just for the benefit of Concordia, but I think to the benefit of society, because of the area of focus that Christine has chosen.”

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Last month, Concordia announced budget cuts, as it expects the 33 per cent tuition hike imposed by Quebec for out-of-province students attending English universities will lead to a decline in enrolment and government funding.

Carr said donations have always been important, allowing the university to support students through scholarships and bursaries. They also help with additional research, such as by allowing the university to purchase equipment it might not otherwise be able to, as well as to create labs and other research spaces.

Lengvari, the president and CEO of Lengvari Financial, an insurance brokerage that specializes in retirement and estate planning, said the planned donation (meaning it will be part of her estate) builds on an earlier $1-million planned gift to promote nutrition research at the PERFORM Centre, which has since become part of the School of Health.

“I’m a big proponent of good eating and exercise and looking after your body and your environment and looking after yourself,” she said in an interview, adding that she chose to support health and nutrition research because she experienced health issues that required her to follow a strict diet.

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“Good nutrition is very, very important for a long, healthy and good life,” she said.

Lengvari, who set up a bursary in 2021 to support the university’s Women and Leadership program, has given her time to Concordia as well. She sat on the school’s board of directors and has had leadership roles on alumni association committees and with the Concordia University Foundation.

She said she has enjoyed being part of Concordia’s growth from two small institutions into a university that’s had an increasing impact in Montreal and across the country.

“It’s been so exciting to see the real growth in 50 years — as you know, we’re celebrating our 50th anniversary — so it’s just been tremendous, and the leaders and the leadership have been so inspirational,” she said.

Carr said the donation is a good statement about what the university is trying to do with its research-driven School of Health, which is focused on preventive health and community health.

As the gift won’t come until the future, Carr said he couldn’t speculate about what specific research will be funded, but said the school is doing research with women who have experienced gestational diabetes and looking at how nutritional management can help certain cancer patients in their recovery.

Lengvari also helped Concordia create a planned-giving program. As a financial planner who works in retirement and estate planning, she said planned giving fits with her professional specialization and allows people to make a donation to a cause they support without affecting their current cash flow. A planned gift also gives donors a tax credit, reducing the taxes owed on their estate, she added.

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