Victor Dahdaleh receives doctor of laws degree from York University
Canadian business leader and philanthropist Victor Dahdaleh attended the recent annual convocation ceremony at York University, Canada, receiving an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.
Recognised for his support for education, research and global health initiatives around the world, Dr Dahdaleh took the opportunity to address the Faculty of Health graduates, encouraging them to strive to make a difference in the world.
“Try your best to be a good citizen, invest in people and, most importantly, when you succeed, give something back,” he said. “Contribute your time, talent, and if you are able, your money, and you will make a difference. I had wonderful opportunities to do just that through philanthropy and volunteering. These things matter to me and I encourage you to find those things that matter.”
Himself a York graduate, Dr Dahdaleh’s relationship with the university stretches back over 40 years. His charitable organisation, the Dahdaleh Foundation, last year funded the Dahdaleh Institute for Global Heath – a new research unit within York’s Faculty of Health.
The institute, which was funded through a record $20 million donation to York, works with a network of national and international partners to reframe the ways in which high- and low-income countries collaborate on global health challenges. The new centre’s specialisms include indigenous populations, migration, human rights and the social determinants of health.
The donation made Victor Dahdaleh the largest alumnus donor to York University in its history.
Dr Dahdaleh has previously outlined the reasoning behind his support for York, and in particular its health programme. Speaking at the Canadian High Commission in London in October last year, he highlighted sound administration, dedicated staff, and dynamic, forward-thinking research as the main factors which led him to back the new facility.
“What they are doing to prepare students to work around the world and improve health outcomes is both impressive and visionary,” he told an audience at Canada House.
In his recent speech at York, Dr Dahdaleh spoke of his pride at playing such a pivotal role in expanding the work of the Faculty. “The new institute has a great objective to become the world’s leading institution for education, research and innovative thinking in its field,” he said.
Victor Dahdaleh’s support for education and medical research dates back 30 years and stems from his close relationships with leading universities – in particular in Canada and the UK.
A governor and Honorary Fellow of the London School of Economics, he has been one of the school’s leading donors, funding a range of new programmes and securing significant outside funding. The Dahdaleh Foundation has also backed the Chevening Scholarships, a joint initiative with the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office to give underprivileged students the opportunity to study at LSE.
In Canada, Dr Dahdaleh is also an active supporter of McGill University in Montreal, one of the world’s leading centres of medical-doctoral research. In 2007, the Dahdaleh Foundation partnered with the William J Clinton Foundation to establish the Victor Dahdaleh-Clinton Foundation scholarship programme – an endowment in perpetuity for 16 annual scholarships at the university. The endowment was last year doubled by the Dahdaleh Foundation and now funds 32 scholarships, also in perpetuity. The awards are aimed at outstanding full-time undergraduates from low-income countries.
Expanding on this support for McGill, the Dahdaleh Foundation last year made a donation to found a new Chair in Neuroscience at the university. Building on McGill’s existing world-class research in this field, the new Chair will develop an integrated approach to the study of chronic brain disease, incorporating diverse clinical disciplines including neurology, psychiatry and rehabilitation science.
Both contributions are matched dollar-for-dollar by McGill and other funders.
In the UK, Victor Dahdaleh is a long-time supporter of research into cardiovascular disease, and has funded grants for numerous academic studies at Imperial College London and at Royal Brompton Hospital in London andMiddlesex – the UK’s largest specialist heart and lung centre. He is also a Fellow of the Duke of Edinburgh Award World Fellowship, a global network of supporters established in 1987 to extend the Duke of Edinburgh Award to young people around the world.
The Foundation’s support for education also extends to Africa, where it is a donor and partner to the Northwood African Educational Trust – an Ethiopia-based charity which in 2014 opened a school for orphaned children in Azezo, Gondar in the northwest of the country. St George’s School is an independent co-educational school providing free, high quality education for more than 200 children in the area.
Stressing the need for young people to look further afield, Dr Dahdaleh told York graduates: “Preparing students to work in the far corners of the world is a noble vision. Improving health and life expectancy in poorer countries is a moral imperative and one which the Dahdaleh Foundation has been supporting over the last 30 years.”
The business magnate also reflected on his commercial successes and urged graduates to do their utmost day-in, day-out. “Never give up on your dreams and ambitions,” he told the class of 2016. “The future belongs to you.”
Victor Dahdaleh, who also received a Doctor of Laws degree from St Francis Xavier University in December 2015, is the owner and chairman of Dadco, a privately owned investment, manufacturing and trading group established in 1915. A lifelong promoter of closer collaboration between Canada and the UK, he served as president of the Canada-United Kingdom Chamber of Commerce from 2004 to 2009.