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This article was published 8/12/2017 (849 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Arthur Mauro hopes the $5 million he donated to the University of Manitoba’s Front and Centre campaign Friday will put Winnipeg on the international map as a leader in human rights research.
More than half the money, $3 million, is to start an endowment fund for a cross-faculty Chair in Human Rights and Social Justice, while $2 million will go toward supporting local and international peace-building.
The 90-year-old philanthropist and U of M alum isn’t a stranger to donating large sums of money: in 2001, he donated $1 million to the U of M to found the Arthur V. Mauro Centre for Peace and Justice.
With this new donation, made through the Mauro Family Foundation, he hopes to not only help further the research the U of M already does, but establish Winnipeg as a hub of human rights knowledge.
"We can build on what we already have," said Mauro, adding he wants to see a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) office in Winnipeg.
"We’ve got so much to contribute on the national and international scale."
His vision may sound lofty, but it’s doable, said John Kearsey, U of M’s external vice-president.
"It’s not outside of our reach — we already have some of the top scholars in the world... we’re capable," he said.
By establishing a human rights chair, the U of M is one step closer to starting its planned graduate program in human rights, said Karen Busby, law professor and academic director of the U of M’s Centre for Human Rights Research.
"There are lots of Canadians who go overseas to do masters in human rights," she said, noting universities in the United Kingdom and the United States have graduate programs in human rights, but none of Canada’s post-secondary institutions do.
By establishing the endowment fund, the U of M will be able to draw in some of the world’s best academics to teach in the masters program, suggested Kearsey.
For Mauro, he’s just putting his money where his mouth is: he’s been championing human rights and social justice for decades.
"My sense is, we’ve done something in this city to deal with injustice, but we’ve not corrected everything. It’s always been on my mind — what’s next?" he said.
Hopefully, what’s next is Winnipeg-educated scholars influencing political decision-making through their research, Mauro said.
"There are moral imperatives in approaching poverty and injustice — U of M is the ideal centre to research these injustices," he said.
Mauro has contributed plenty already, said Kearsey.
"His commitment has been unwavering — he’s consistently been a champion for social justice. He recognizes the strength of our community."
Mauro’s foundation already donated $3 million to human rights research at the U of M before the Friday announcement, he noted.
Friday’s donation brings the total funds raised for the Front and Centre campaign to $456.925 million — within striking distance of its $500-million goal. But the total includes a $150-million commitment from the former provincial NDP government — a promise yet to be committed to by the current provincial Conservative government.
Updated on Friday, December 8, 2017 at 5:46 PM CST: updates story
December 9, 2017 at 10:48 AM: Edited