A rare donation to the College of Montreal

The news made little noise on Tuesday, but the announcement was nonetheless immense. The University of Montreal has received a 159 million grant from the Jacques Courtois Foundation for the creation of a new institute dedicated to fundamental research in science. This is the largest donation to the institution in history and the third largest donation ever made to a Canadian university, no less.

Posted on April 23

“A donation like the big universities of Harvard or Oxford can receive and that sends an important signal. We hope that this announcement will have an effect of emulation”, exclaimed Daniel Jutras, dean of the Université de Montréal, on the phone.

The rector was even more pleased with this announcement, as just a few weeks ago the university had received a historic donation of 40 million from Quebecor and Pierre Karl Péladeau’s Chopin-Péladeau Foundation.

This US$40 million donation will enable the creation of the Millénium Québecor program to train the next generation of Quebec entrepreneurs and the construction of an innovation center, the new Pierre-Péladeau pavilion, in honor of Québecor’s founder.

“We are living in good times. In just a few weeks, we just received two historic donations. We still have a lot to do and that gives us the resources to achieve them.

“The donation of 159 million from the Courtois Foundation will allow the University of Montreal to carry out fundamental research in science and carry out phase II of the Scientific Complex and the creation of the Courtois Institute”, underlines the rector Daniel Jutras.


Illustration of Phase II of the UdeM Scientific Complex

While this philanthropic fever is most welcome, it is expected to become more contagious to reach an ever-increasing number of donors within Quebec’s wealthy community.

The Courtois Foundation’s $159 million grant is the third largest donation in the history of Canadian university philanthropy.

Three years ago, the John and Marcy McCall MacBain Foundation donated $200 million to McGill University to launch a graduate scholarship program.

Two years ago, the University of Toronto School of Medicine received a $250 million grant from the Temerty Foundation for research, innovation and construction of a building dedicated to teaching and research.

The Courtois Foundation’s donation is therefore in line with this high patronage that has historically been practiced for a long time in English Canada.

But there is still a long way to go before we can one day reach the size of Anglo-Canadian university endowment funds. Thus, McGill University’s endowment fund is currently on the order of 1.9 billion, that of the University of Toronto exceeds the 4 billion mark, while that of the University of Montreal does not reach 350 million.

The Courtois Foundation

Little known in Quebec, Jacques Courtois, who created the Courtois Foundation in 2011, made his fortune in Latin America where he co-founded Quala, a South American leader in the manufacture and distribution of mass consumer products (beverages, personal care, food, snacks… ).

Son of well-known Montreal attorney Jacques Courtois, who was notably president of the Montreal Canadiens from 1972 to 1979 and winner of five Stanley Cups, the financial entrepreneur resolutely decided to give back to the community.

American universities like Harvard can count on endowment funds of 50 billion. Although I studied at McGill, I wanted to give back to the University of Montreal so that French-speaking students could access funds to go further.

Jacques Courtois

Fact to be specified, Jacques Courtois was accused and sentenced in the United States, in the early 1980s, to six months in prison for insider trading, committed between 1975 and 1978, when he was vice president of the mergers and acquisitions department at Morgan. Stanley.

In an interview, Mr. Courtois declined to comment on these events that took place over 40 years ago and the University of Montreal confirms that it was aware of these facts since the beginning of its relationship with the philanthropist more than two years ago.

Its foundation was created 11 years ago and grew significantly between 2016 and 2019, going from 7.8 million to 23 million, then 41 million to reach 190 million in 2019.

“In 2018, we sold one of our mass products divisions to the multinational Unilever, which had long sought to acquire us. I still receive dividends from that transaction which is why we have over 300 million today.

“Quala remains very active, especially our personal care division. Shampoos are still number 1 in Mexico and in several Latin American countries”, emphasizes Jacques Courtois.

for basic research

Although the Quala co-founder has been running his business in Montreal for several years, he has become increasingly interested in environmental issues and has established ties with scientists from a variety of disciplines.

I am in favor of basic research. Governments do not dare to fund this research because we are not sure of the results. I can take risks and that’s why I wanted to make a significant donation. There will be others.

Jacques Courtois

The Courtois Foundation has decided to grant 100 million for the construction of a new research institute and 59 million for the creation of six chairs in the areas of chemistry, artificial intelligence, new materials and physics and quantum computing.

Entrepreneurs finance art and culture, but science is part of culture, so I decided to get involved in it to allow young researchers to develop their projects and not expect to be recognized. one year philanthropist

Also involved in funding university projects at McGill and UQAM, Jacques Courtois intends to continue making grants to make the world of tomorrow more livable. Obviously, he decided to reciprocate.

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