Western Chancellor’s $5-million gift supports Engineering, honours President

Jack Cowin, BA’64, LLD’00, Western University’s 22nd Chancellor, and his wife Sharon, BA’64, have generously donated $5 million to support Western Engineering and to name Western’s newest building in honour of the University’s 10th president, Amit Chakma.

Inspired by Chakma’s leadership and vision to grow Western’s competitiveness on the world stage, Cowin named the Amit Chakma Engineering Building – formerly known as the Three C+ Building – today at the building’s official opening.

“I’m incredibly proud to support Western Engineering and honour my colleague and friend by naming this fantastic new building,” said Cowin. “President Chakma’s leadership in developing and implementing a focused international strategy has increased partnerships with educational and research institutions, attracted the best and the brightest students from all over the world, and developed innovative curriculum and research initiatives that prepared students to become global citizens. I’ve long been inspired by his hard work.”

Under Chakma’s leadership, Western has increased its first-year full-time international enrolment from less than three per cent in 2009 to approximately 15 per cent in 2018, seen its global engagement grow to include more than 500 international research collaborations, and expanded its overall first-year enrolment while maintaining one of the highest average entering grades in the province. The university’s endowment has tripled, growing from $266 million in 2009 to more than $765 million today, which will enable Western to continue to invest in teaching and research excellence well into the future.

An expert in petroleum research and energy management who earned his PhD from the University of British Columbia, President Chakma holds a faculty appointment in Western’s Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering.

The building dedication stands as a testament to the relationship between the two leaders and to the ongoing success of Western University. The building itself was designed by Perkins+Will with Cornerstone Architecture and construction was managed by London’s Norlon Builders.

Located on Western Road, the building offers a unique space that will inspire students and faculty to learn, innovate and advance. Designed in a collaborative process with input from students, faculty and staff, it has been built by engineers, for engineering students, and brings to life a vision set by Andrew Hrymak — former Engineering Dean and now Provost and Vice-President Academic.

As a potential Platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building, the Chakma Engineering Building’s intelligent design is environmentally sustainable. Features include a rainwater collection/harvesting system, electric vehicle charging ports, and a renewable solar energy system. If certified, it will be only the third academic building in Canada to achieve Platinum LEED status.

The building also addresses the critical need for additional space. Engineering enrolment has grown from 1,500 in 2009 to 2,700 enrolled across undergraduate and graduate programs today. The building adds 100,000 sq. ft. of work spaces that integrate classroom theory with collaborative hands-on learning, so students can now design, build and test their concepts and ideas all under one roof.

“The demand for Western Engineering’s programs continues to grow and to meet the challenges of today’s society, this Faculty had to keep pace,” said Hrymak. “Graduating engineers with technical skills has always been a priority but providing them with a broad set of skills including team and leadership development, communication, ethics and equity, entrepreneurship and business has become increasingly important. Students will get all this and more with this incredible new space.”

The building is a result of Western’s own contributions, and generous support from donors and the Federal and Provincial Governments.

MEDIA CONTACT: Jeff Renaud, Senior Media Relations Officer, 519-661-2111, ext. 85165, 519-520-7281 (mobile), jrenaud9@uwo.ca, @jeffrenaud99

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