It’s been a half-century since Bernard Forster first came to Conestoga College. Now he’s giving back in a big way.
The 68-year-old graduate of the broadcasting program donated $250,019.70 to the School of Creative Industries – the largest gift the college has ever received from an alumnus. The donation took on a special meaning for Forster as the last four digits represent the year he first came to Conestoga.
Even though Forster went to multiple post-secondary institutions during his education – including Concordia University – it was Conestoga he wanted his first donation to go towards.
“I really did feel out of all the school’s I attended, they were the most helpful,” he said. “I’m very grateful to the people who were there back in 1970 who taught me and then eventually helped me get placed at the CBC.”
Forster said he’d like to see the money go towards establishing a capital campaign for a new digital media facility; there’s also a secondary element to his donation.
“One of the things I hope to do is encourage other alumni to start giving,” he said. “I think it’s important that when students graduate from Conestoga that there be a message somewhere during the graduation ceremony, ‘please keep Conestoga in mind as your career flourishes.’”
Forster said his donation was “seed money” but it could be a first step towards further donations from his fellow alumni.
Heather Ryall, chair of the School of Creative Industries, called the donation “a historic gift from the college perspective.”
“But it’s also a testament to our industry and the future of it and Bernard’s faith in it and the school and our students,” she said.
Ryall added that what she found moving about the donation was the way it was tied into Forster’s life.
“He speaks of the influence that his professors and the college had over his life for a long period of time,” she said. “The fact that he wanted to recognize it in this way is incredible.”