Room to grow

$15 million gift from Taylor Family Foundation will transform Mount Royal University student spaces


A $15 million gift from Don and Ruth Taylor will allow Mount Royal University to increase access to a post-secondary education for Albertans and enrich the student experience. The generous donation complements $50 million in capital funding recently announced by the Government of Alberta and will transform empty and old spaces in the main building into physical spaces for learning and a hub for student services.

“We can’t begin to thank the Taylor family enough for their generosity,” said Mount Royal’s president and vice-chancellor, Dr. Tim Rahilly, PhD. “They have played a pivotal role in transforming our campus to serve the needs of 21st century learners.”

At a time when access to post-secondary education is key to Alberta’s economic recovery, MRU is well positioned to build on its strengths as an undergraduate university focused on graduating students ready to hit the ground running in the new economy.

“I am proud to see this partnership go forward, with the Taylor Family Foundation adding their generous donation to the Government of Alberta’s $50 million capital funding commitment for Mount Royal University,” said the Honourable Demetrios Nicolaides, minister of Advanced Education.

“Partnerships of this kind will be critical to ensuring that our post-secondary institutions continue to offer world-class education, learning spaces and resources to our students.”

The gift from the Taylors is dedicated to Robert Samuel (Sam) Taylor ― Don’s father ―who was committed to helping build the Calgary that is known today.

“My dad was a farmer, which is a respectable way to make a living. He always encouraged me, though, to advance my education, which was quite unusual back then,” said Don Taylor. “He would have been very proud of having his name associated with the education process.”

Taylor built the Calgary-based Engineered Air into a thriving global business thanks to his innovations in air movement engineering. In 2016 he was named an Officer of The Order of Canada. Ruth Taylor is a former teacher, school counsellor and vice-principal. Together they share a deep commitment to education.

The Taylor Family Foundation is a private family foundation that looks to support education, preservation of teaching and history, advancement of the arts and health care. In 2010, the philanthropic Taylor family made a generous $21 million donation — the largest in Mount Royal’s history — to build the Taylor Centre for the Performing Arts, now home of the MRU Conservatory. Its signature Bella Concert Hall was named in honour of the family matriarch, Mary Belle Taylor.

“When we make a donation it is not a one-way street. We get great satisfaction and joy from the results of our gifts. I am sure this gift will give us just that too.”

As a result of the donation and provincial capital funding, over the first year MRU will renovate the former MRU Conservatory space to create four large multifunctional classrooms.

After that, the most significant renovation opportunity lies in the former library space at the heart of campus. Soon to be a welcoming hub for student services, this area will focus on innovation, inclusion and experiential learning programs that use flexible technologies, encourage dialogue and have interactive presentation areas for the broader community.

Mount Royal’s former library space.

Circa 1972, Mount Royal’s former library space was once state-of-the-art.

“The transition from high school to university is a major leap. Many students do it with grace but other students struggle. The services in this space will support students so the education process is more efficient,” Taylor said.

“On behalf of students of MRU I just want to extend my greatest gratitude to the Taylor Family Foundation for their generous donation to our university,” said Spirit River Striped Wolf, president of the Students’ Association of Mount Royal University. “This donation will enhance the student experience by supporting much-needed classroom and gathering spaces, as well as the supports and services provided on campus.

“This year has been a difficult one for all of us and this investment is a great reminder of how much students are valued in our community.”

Find out more about Don and Ruth Taylor’s legacy at Mount Royal at

April 29, 2021 — Peter Glenn

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