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Anonymous gift guarantees long life for Seniors Program

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Dr. Alan Aberbach, Director, SFU Seniors Program director, 604.268.7973,
Erica Branda, SFU Advancement, 604.291.3353,
Marianne Meadahl, PAMR, 604.291.4323

December 11, 2006

SFU’s Seniors Program has received an early Christmas gift worth $1.5 million from an anonymous donor.

The planned gift, one of the largest to a continuing studies program in Canadian university history, will be matched by SFU to establish a $3 million endowment to fund the salaries of the program’s director and program assistant in perpetuity.

Observes Seniors Program director Dr. Alan Aberbach: “Non-credit courses like ours do not receive operating funds from the university or any governmental body. We have to rely on course fees and donations for all instructional and operating costs. By ensuring that the program’s administrative costs are covered, this gift will ensure the longevity of a very popular and important program and help to keep course fees down for seniors.”

The SFU Seniors Program is unique in Canada. All of its courses are intellectually significant and academically challenging. Each year, more than 1,800 seniors register in non-credit courses such as The Emergence of the Muslim State: The Caliphate and its Institutions;  Modern, Antimodern and Postmodern Art: Or How a Urinal, a Box and a Dead Shark Became Art; and Through a Glass Darkly: Evil Through the Eyes of Visionaries.

“Our students are eager to keep their minds going,” says Aberbach. “I remember the first day of the big transit strike in 2001. Many people didn’t make it to work that day, but every senior made it to class. That is how important learning is to them.”

Says SFU President Michael Stevenson: “As the baby boomers hit retirement age, we anticipate increasing demand for this program.  This very generous gift will ensure that we can meet this demand for years to come.”