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Date: June 30, 2005

UVic Students Benefit from $3.6 Million Surprise Gift

Phyllis with her father Maurice SummerhayesPhyllis with her father Maurice Summerhayes. A daughter’s love and devotion to her father has resulted in the single largest donation for student awards ever given to the University of Victoria.

The University of Victoria’s faculty of engineering has received an unexpected $3.6 million donation from the estate of the late Ms. Phyllis Henrietta Summerhayes, who died at Victoria on October 3, 2004 at the age of 96.

Her gift will establish the “Maurice William Summerhayes Memorial Fund” which will provide bursaries and scholarships in perpetuity to engineering students in memory of her father, the late Maurice William Summerhayes, one of Canada’s leading mining engineers during the first half of the 20th century. The donation will provide financial aid and awards to about 50 engineering students every year.

“This endowment will enrich our student financial awards immeasurably,” said Dr. Michael Miller, dean of the faculty of engineering. “While there is still an unmet need, we’ll be able to create significantly more bursaries than we do now, and we hope to create one very prestigious $20,000 scholarship that will attract some of the most talented students to the engineering faculty.

“This donation came as a total surprise. It was completely unexpected and is a bit of a mystery. Phyllis Summerhayes was clearly a woman of great vision and generosity, but sadly, we don’t know enough about her.”

Phyllis Summerhayes spent her youth in California, where she lived with her mother and older sister Dorothy. Following their mother’s death in 1940, they moved to Canada. Phyllis Summerhayes worked in the banking business in Toronto for a short time and then moved to Duncan to be with her father. When he died in 1953 she moved to Victoria. Phyllis Summerhayes liked playing bridge and reading, traveled extensively and dressed impeccably. A meticulous bookkeeper and a highly successful investor, she amassed a substantial fortune over the years.

The gift was bequeathed in honour of her father, Maurice William Summerhayes, a mining engineer who came to Canada in 1911 to work in the Porcupine Crown Mine, and later, for Write-Hargreaves Mines Ltd. at Kirkland Lake, where he rose to the position of managing director in 1937. He retired from active management in 1949, but continued in a consulting capacity until his death in 1953, at the age of 81. He was a member of the Canadian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and of the American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers, and was former president of the Ontario Mining Association.
Media contacts:
Norma Cameron (Manager, Planned Giving) at (250) 721-8967 or ncameron@uvic.ca
Chris Thackray (Development Communications) at (250) 721-6247 or thackray@uvic.ca

Photos page:
UVic Students Benefit from $3.6 Million Surprise Gift Images

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