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Date: December 22, 2000

Early Christmas Gift for UVic Astronomers

John Criswick, a Victoria-raised software developer with a background in astronomy, has provided the UVic astronomy and astrophysics group with its largest ever private donation -- stock options and cash totalling $272,000, the University of Victoria announced today.

The donation will support the research of astrophysicists such as Dr. Arif Babul, a specialist in theoretical cosmology who tests theories about the origins of structure in the universe and the evolution of galaxies like our Milky Way. The UVic astronomy and astrophysics group includes 17 members (faculty and adjunct professors) who are recognized world leaders in their respective areas of specialization.

"The UVic program is drawing a lot of attention internationally and leading researchers are coming back to Canada to get involved," said Criswick, a resident of Ottawa. "I am very happy to be able to support Arif and his colleagues' dedication and to help maintain the momentum they have created."

While $192,000 of Criswick's donation will support astrophysics research, an earlier gift of $80,000 is providing bursaries and travel subsidies for astronomy students attending international conferences and symposia.

"On behalf of my colleagues, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to John for this generous gift," said Babul. "Over the past three years we have been working hard to consolidate our leadership position by establishing cutting-edge research programs and world class facilities.

"This gift gives a tremendous boost to our efforts," added Babul. "With possible matching funds from government granting agencies, John's gift can be leveraged to secure nearly $1 million for our planned national Institute for Cosmological Science."

Media contacts:

Dr. Arif Babul, UVic Physics and Astronomy (250) 721-8844 or 881-4159 babul@uvic.ca

Mike McNeney, UVic Communications (250) 721-7642 mmcneney@uvic.ca


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