Development & Alumni Relations Office 



PHILANTHROPY FORTNIGHT 2021 – QUEEN'S UNIVERSITY CELEBRATES DONOR GENEROSITY   Philantrophy Fortnight logo inset on images of The McClay Library, The Great Hall, and the InterSim Centre among others

18 May 2021

The eighth annual Philanthropy Fortnight – a celebration of altruistic giving in Northern Ireland – is taking place from 17-28 May 2021, when the enormous impact of charitable giving to Queen’s and in our community is being marked.

In the first of two articles we reflect on the generous impact of graduate and supporter giving to Queen’s University Belfast, as exemplified through the funding of capital projects. Next week, we look at the impact of philanthropic gifts on student scholarships.

Northern Ireland is widely recognised as one of the most charitable regions in the UK, and gifts to Queen’s University Foundation – which is a registered charity – make an enormous impact on the physical campus and on the lives of students and staff at the University. 

The University’s Director of Estates, Damien Toner, is clear that it’s not just about the campus looking good:

“Queen’s estate includes more than 250 buildings, some 120 of them listed as being of architectural merit. Over the past decade the University has invested in excess of £350m – a substantial proportion of which was raised philanthropically – in the improvement of facilities, including the Patrick G Johnston Centre for Cancer Research (formerly the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology), The McClay Library and The Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine.

“It’s an investment not just in the physical buildings of the University but in the future generations of the students and staff who will use them.”

As Nathalie Trott, the University's Director of Development and Alumni Relations explains, that investment is underpinned by generous benefactions from individuals, trusts and foundations:

“The University campus has been truly transformed in recent years by donations from so many graduates, current and former staff, individual legators and companies, and by grants from charitable trusts and foundations. We are hugely grateful to all of our wonderful donors for making such an impact on the University landscape – maintaining our historic architecture and building for the future.

“Philanthropy Fortnight allows us to showcase the importance and impact of giving, and to say a very sincere ‘thank you’ to all those who are making it possible for Queen’s to deliver a world-class education, in world-class facilities.    

“Whatever their motivations, donors are providing our students – now and in the future – with the best experience possible, and are advancing the research which will benefit so many.”

Reflecting on the impact that philanthropy has had on the campus over the last two decades, Helen Carrick, Head of Major Gifts, said:

"One of the most notable buildings at Queen’s – The McClay Library – opened in 2009 at a cost of £50m, raised primarily from philanthropic sources and all before construction got underway.

"Other flagship capital projects of the last 20 years include the refurbishment of the old telephone exchange in the main Lanyon Building which, in 2001 became the Naughton Gallery. Now it is one of Belfast’s most sought after and exciting visual arts platforms. The following year the complete renovation and restoration of the University’s Grade A listed Great Hall was completed and in 2004, the Brian Friel Theatre on University Square opened its doors – though it wasn’t officially opened by Brian Friel until five years later – and now forms the centre piece of the Drama and Film Centre at Queen's. 

"Queen's is hugely proud of its campus. It provides the very best environment for thousands of students - now and in the future - to avail of the very best education the University has to offer. Without such transformative philanthropy, much of this would not have been possible."   

The redevelopment of the former Sir Bernard Crossland Building – completed in just nine months in 2017 at a cost of £14m, underpins the University’s commitment to the development of STEM subjects, including computer science.   

Other capital projects that have helped transform education delivery in recent years include The Graduate School (in what was the Lynn Library), the School of Law (in the Library stack next door) on the main site, and Queen's Management School and the William J Clinton Leadership Institute at Riddel Hall on Stranmillis Road.

Head of Health Fundraising, Teresa Sloan, is acutely aware of the importance of philanthropy in the delivering of world-class education and research:

“It is only by providing state-of-art facilities that our researchers can hope to seek and find cures for diseases such as cancer, Cystic Fibrosis and asthma.

"In this respect, a number of more recent scientific state-of-the-art buildings have totally changed the campus, including the Patrick G Johnston Centre for Cancer Research (formerly the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology and opened in 2008), and The Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine (opened in 2018), both of which have been central to the University’s response to the current COVID-19 pandemic. 

"And the refurbishment of part of the medical campus to accommodate the new KN Cheung SK Chin Intersim Centre will provide a cutting-edge simulation facility for all Queen’s Medical, Pharmacy, Dentistry, and Nursing and Midwifery students. Thanks to the generosity of alumni and friends of the University, £2m was raised to fund this new clinical skills training centre, which has already been pivotal in equipping our students for working in the NHS.

“Philanthropy Fortnight gives us the chance to highlight the role of philanthropic giving in the day-to-day life of the University. The substantial investment in facilities has not only developed our historic campus into an innovative research environment but it has also transformed learning for our students and staff. Without the support of donors, so much of our research and so much of that learning would be impossible.”

To support capital fundraising at Queen’s, please contact Helen Carrick, Head of Major Gifts; for more on supporting health fundraising at the University, visit the Development and Alumni Relations Office website or contact Teresa Sloan, Head of Health Fundraising.

For general enquiries about this story, or to submit graduate news items, please contact Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Development and Alumni Relations Office, Queen's University Belfast.

Caption: KN Cheung SK Chin Intersim Centre (left), McClay Library (centre, top), Naughton Gallery (centre, bottom left), Friel Theatre (centre, bottom right), Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine (top right), The Great Hall (middle right), Computer Science Building (bottom right).

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