Paying it forward with a legacy gift
Thanks to the generous funding he received as a student, Blair Eavis (BA’86) was inspired to set up his own scholarship to help future Dalhousie students pursue an undergraduate education.
“It wasn’t until after I finished law school in my late-30s that I looked back and realized that my life was pretty good,” says Blair Eavis (BA’86). “And I remember thinking that what probably helped me most was the scholarship that brought me to Dalhousie in the first place.”
“Why the donor put up the money for the award, I’ll never know,” adds Eavis, a Cape Breton native who had enjoyed an earlier career as an officer in the Canadian Navy. “Looking back, it was a small scholarship—but it made a big difference for me at the time.”
“I thought then I’d like to establish an award at some point so that others could benefit as I did.”
Ten years ago, while practicing insurance law in Calgary, Eavis saw an invitation to potential donors on the Dalhousie University website. He responded to the Office of Advancement and, on their next trip to Calgary, Advancement staff members sat down with Eavis for a get-to-know-you chat.
“Initially you’re apprehensive about giving money, as you really don’t know if you’ll need that money later in life,” Eavis says. “But the Advancement Office staff members were great: they simply asked me questions about why I was interested in establishing a scholarship and how I’d like to see my money spent.” Together, they looked at a range of funding options for Eavis to consider on his own time.
“They were so friendly and there was never any pressure,” adds Eavis, who’s now semi-retired and back on the East Coast, living in Sackville, NS.
Working closely with Advancement staff, Eavis decided to start building his scholarship fund right away with annual donations, to be supplemented ultimately with a legacy gift from his estate. “I tell people the first payment is always the most difficult one,” says Eavis, who directs his federal tax rebate to the endowment. “After that, you start looking forward to making the annual gift, especially as you watch the fund grow year over year.”
The future Blair Eavis Scholarship will be open to high school students from across Atlantic Canada who plan to pursue a bachelor’s degree at Dalhousie University. “I’d like to see my award go to well-rounded students who participate in a range of campus societies and projects,” says Eavis, who was first introduced to community leadership through his own extracurricular activities at Dalhousie and, in 2019, was named Sackville’s “Volunteer of the Year.”
“Next to academic pressure, the biggest source of stress for university students today is financial,” says Eavis. “I’m hoping my scholarship will help lift some of this pressure off students who want to go to Dalhousie and try hard.”
Want to learn more? Contact Siobhan Doherty at Siobhan.Doherty@dal.ca or 902.494.6853
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