Markin donates $18 million

By Chris Beauchamp

Thanks to a donation of $18 million, the University of Calgary announced the launch of an innovative public health institute. The donation–the largest single contribution in the 38-year history of the U of C–was provided by Allan Markin, Chairman of Canadian Natural Resources Limited, and will fund six new research chairs at the institute.

The Markin Institute for Public Health will focus on research and education in health promotion and wellness as opposed to disease treatment.

U of C President Harvey Weingarten announced the donation during his first U of C report to the community on Tue., Sept. 19.

“The focus is on keeping people healthy, not just treating disease,” Weingarten told the assembled academics and members of the community at the Roundup Center. “The university is taking a significant step forward in its activities related to public health.”

Weingarten commented that current health care funding focuses billions of dollars on improving diagnostic capabilities, new drugs and improving access to treatment, but doesn’t do enough prevention.

“This is not just a gift of money, but a gift of insight and understanding of our community,” he said.

The institute will incorporate researchers from varied disciplines, including medicine, kinesiology, philosophy and urban design.

Markin’s donation is the latest in a series of contributions he has made to the university including research grants, awards, scholarships and research chairs, such as the Markin-Flanagan Distinguished Writers endowment. Markin and his ex-wife Jackie Flanagan were jointly honored in 2002 with the Recognition Award by the U of C Faculty Association for their extensive contributions to the school.

Dr. Penny Hawe, Markin Chair in Health and Society in the Faculty of Medicine, also added that the donation is not a gift, but an investment in different ways of looking at and teaching public health.

“To me, wellness is about community,” said Dr. Hawe, whose chair will be integrated as the first of six into the new institute. “Wellness is bigger than you think. We want to learn from studies of the community.”

The institute will concentrate on population health, and will study trends in schools, workplaces and neighborhoods, said Dr. Hawe.

“I’m here to prove that prevention is better than a cure,” she said.

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