It’s a gift in memory of a father who defied the odds and spent his life helping others.
And it’s the largest donation the University of Manitoba has received in its history.
Ernest and Evelyn Rady, through the Rady Family Foundation, have donated $30 million dollars to the University’s Faculty of Health Sciences – now the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences.
Ernest Rady, a U of M alum, says the donation is in memory of his father Max, who graduated from the school 95 years ago.
Max came to Canada as a young man after leaving what Rady describes as a “difficult political situation” in Russia.
Despite the language barrier and a cap on the number of Jews admitted to the school, Max got in. He became one of the first Jewish doctors given admitting privileges at St. Boniface Hospital.
Rady says helping people was his father’s passion.
“He loved practicing medicine, loved helping people. He used to tell me, ‘Ernest, when a patient would come and tell me, Doctor, you saved my life, you helped my life’, it was like he made a million dollars. And that was when a million dollars was a million dollars,” he said.
To have the family’s last name affixed to the faculty, and his father’s name to the Max Rady College of Medicine, is very emotional for Rady.
“It’s hard not to cry, frankly, when I think of the difficulty my father had getting to freedom and the struggle he had to achieve the job he eventually enjoyed so much… It’s the most emotional thing,” he said.
As 106 medical students became doctors today, Rady says he hopes they will take with them some of his father’s spirit.
“Hopefully they’ll take the profession that they’ve worked so hard to gain and continue the legacy that my father created by saying ‘I love to help people’ and will improve the lives and health of their fellow citizens,” he said.
Rady says he will leave the decisions about how the money should be spent up to the faculty, but hopes it will be well spent on scholarships and programs that otherwise couldn’t exist.
John Kearsey, the VP External for the U of M says the donation will benefit students, faculty and eventually Manitoba patients.
“This money will be used to support students and scholarships so that students have a better experience as they study here. It will be used to drive discovering through research. It will help us create new places and spaces as well so our faculty and students and staff can learn and work and thrive in this environment.”
Rady says he spent much of Thursday morning remembering his father.
“He was a lovely, loving, kind man and I don’t know that he ever imagined that this circumstance would exist. But the fact that it does exist, he would be very proud,” he said.