Canadian Consulting Engineer

Queen’s renames engineering faculty following record-breaking donation

November 7, 2023

Queen's University Campus

Photo courtesy Queen’s University.

Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., has renamed its faculty of engineering and applied science in honour of a new $100-million gift from philanthropist and entrepreneur Stephen J.R. Smith, who earned a B.Sc. (Hons) in electrical engineering there in 1972.

Smith’s gift is the largest ever made to an engineering faculty in Canada, one of the largest ever to Queen’s and, indeed, one of the largest to any university in Canada. The school will now be known as the ‘Stephen J.R. Smith Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science at Queen’s University’ or, more commonly, as ‘Smith Engineering.’

“Queen’s is grateful for this gift from such a distinguished alumnus,” says Patrick Deane, principal and vice-chancellor. “It will benefit faculty and students for generations to come. The significance of this investment and the renaming of the faculty signal the beginning of a new era that builds on a foundation of 130 years of excellence.”

After graduating from Queen’s, Smith studied economics and went on to become a highly successful financial entrepreneur. He co-founded mortgage lender First National Financial in 1988, served as CEO until 2022 and is now executive chair. He is also chair and CEO of Smith Financial, a family holding company with equity investments in various financial services businesses. When he donated $50 million to Queen’s in 2015, the university named the Stephen J.R. Smith School of Business in his honour.


“The education I received as a student at Queen’s was foundational to the success I’ve achieved in my professional and personal life,” he says. “I have long admired the university’s commitment to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and research. I am proud to contribute as it transforms engineering education to prepare graduates to address the greatest challenges facing our people and our planet.”

“The majority of the gift will be endowed to provide talent and resources from around the world,” says Smith Engineering dean Kevin Deluzio. “The balance will enable the development and implementation of new programs and investments in research, technology and equipment.”

Stephen J.R. Smith

Stephen J.R. Smith. LinkedIn photo.


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