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Generous SFU alumni couple fell in love with economics, and each other
Doug and Sandra Cramen met while studying economics at Simon Fraser University in the 80s. This year they give back to the Department of Economics by donating $40K to support the next generation of SFU undergraduate economics students.
The Doug and Sandra Cramen Bursary Endowment provides one or more bursaries annually to support undergraduate economics majors in financial need. “We want to give people a stepping stone,” says Doug. “If you are lifting yourself up, we want to help you.”
“Our families were not in a position to help us when we went to university. We had to pay our own way and came out with student debt,” Doug explains. “We would like others to be able to start their careers without that burden, which is our intention for creating this bursary.”
Initially they planned to establish an endowment through a bequest in their wills, but in May they decided to begin supporting the endowment now. “My mother passed away in late 2021 and left me a bequest. I passed half to our daughter and felt that it would be nice to begin giving grants while I was alive to hear who was receiving.”
“You have to be able to deal with your own needs, and those of your family.” Doug continues, “after that you have to ask yourself, What do you want to do for society? What impact do you want to have on other people in the world?”
The Cramens recognize the great value of an economics education. “Economics is really a life skill,” Doug says. “To learn about the economy, markets, and how society uses its resources gives people a strong foundation for work and for life.”
“Economics is really a life skill,” Doug says. “To learn about the economy, markets, and how society uses its resources gives people a strong foundation for work and for life.”
Along with their shared interest in economics, the Cramens share a passion for learning and a strong belief in the transformative power of education.
After graduating from SFU in 1990, they pursued careers in banking and then as financial advisors, where they found fulfillment in ensuring clients have the tools and knowledge to achieve their financial goals.
“So many people wait until they near retirement to educate themselves about tax, cash flow, debt management and the like,” Sandra says. “The earlier we educate ourselves, the less financial stress we will have in our lives.”
Though it has been many years since they earned their degrees, the Department of Economics still holds a prominent place in their hearts. Doug Cramen fondly remembers professors Kevin Wainwright and Denton Marks who influenced his career.
The Department of Economics is fortunate to have the support of many economics alumni who choose to give back to the program.
"Supporting talented people to access an excellent education is one of the most direct ways to make a difference to the world,” says department chair Anke Kessler. “We are so fortunate to receive Doug and Sandra Cramen’s generous donation. This bursary will remove some financial stress for students and allow them to focus on their studies. Access to a quality education is a true gift.”