Several generous gifts and donations in 2004 provided strong support for furthering research and innovation at the University:
The University had leased the Petro-Canada Research Laboratory Building since 1991; in 2004, in the 2nd largest donation then received by the University, Petro-Canada donated the building in its entirety. The building is home to the teaching and research activities of the Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering including (in 2004) 550 undergraduate and graduate students, 33 faculty and 17 staff. Ongoing research projects included Thermo Fluids and Energy Systems, Automation Control and Robotics, and Bioengineering. The building was officially named the Petro-Canada Building to honor the donation.
In the largest single donation by an individual, Allan Markin of Canadian Natural Resources gifted $18 million to the University to endow several research chairs and establish the Institute for Public Health. Dr. Penny Hawe, the Markin Chair in Health and Society, defined the scope of public health: “we try and understand health by looking at larger and larger processes…how things like schooling, housing, and the economy might have an impact on health.” The Institute kickoff was an international symposium on “21st Century Public Health.”
Harley Hotchkiss donated $10 million to create the Hotchkiss Brain Institute. Hotchkiss’ vision for the Institute was as a “centre of excellence in neurological and mental health, integrating research, education and discoveries into innovative health care for Albertans while creating the neurological and mental health enterprise of the future.” The Institute was designed to leverage existing core competencies in stroke, brain repair, regeneration and functional recover, neural cell signaling and mental disorders and brain imaging.
Chancellor Emeritus James Palmer donated $2 million for the establishment of the James S. and Barbara A. Palmer Chair in Law and Public Policy. The vision for the Chair was as a truly interdisciplinary position: based in the Faculty of Law, a Distinguished Research Fellow with the Institute for Advanced Policy Research, with research and teaching across the spectrums of Law, Social Sciences, Humanities, Economics, Energy, and Environment.