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The Beaverbrook Scholarships

A century of changing young lives

Alumni News Magazine | Fall/Winter 2020

In 1920, Sir William Maxwell “Max” Aitken, Lord Beaverbrook (left photo), established the Beaverbrook Entrance Scholarships, and with them, a legacy of philanthropy and excellence in education that is an indelible part of UNB’s identity.

Sir Max Aitken was a generous philanthropist in the province of New Brunswick, most especially to UNB where he served as the first and longest-serving modern-day chancellor, launching a period of increased beneficence to the university.

Born in Ontario in 1879, and moved to Newcastle, NB, when he was just a year old, Sir Max Aitken forever considered New Brunswick his home. Although he did not attend UNB, he felt strongly about the importance of education, and of the wide-ranging benefits of broadening the experience of his home province’s young people.

Because of his generosity, Beaverbrook Scholars have gone on to become doctors, scientists, lawyers, engineers, teachers, writers, business tycoons, politicians and community leaders.

Among the most notable of former Beaverbrook Scholars is UNB’s chancellor emeritus, Dr. Richard J. Currie, O.C., O.N.B. C.B.H.F, P.Eng. (Class of ‘60, LLD’87) (right photo), former chairman of Bell Canada and one of Canada’s top chief executives.

“The Beaverbrook Scholarship meant so much to me, and so much to many of the students and their families that I decided to create a scholarship to help young people pay for their education,” says Dr. Currie when asked why he established the Currie Undergraduate Scholarships. Like his former benefactor Lord Beaverbrook, Dr. Currie’s generosity to UNB will have an impact on students forever.

This inspiration to pay it forward has carried on through the decades of scholars, including the founding group of alumni who established the Beaverbrook Scholars Award 40 years ago. The group remains active today in raising funds for the award and welcoming new recipients into the family of past and present scholars.

Lord Beaverbrook made a positive impact on many people in his day. But his greatest achievement continues in perpetuity through his gifts to UNB students. More than 1,000 have been able to pursue their dreams and better their communities.

1920 Beaverbrook Scholar became one of Canada’s first female psychologists

The success stories of the Beaverbrook Scholars begin with the very first scholars, including one of Canada’s first female psychologists Florence Snodgrass (BA’24).

Florence Thompson Snodgrass had a remarkable academic career that spanned more than five decades, beginning and ending at the University of New Brunswick.

Born in Young’s Cove, NB, in 1902, Dr. Snodgrass arrived at UNB in 1920 as one of the first cohorts of five Beaverbrook Scholarship recipients. Without the scholarship, which she considered to be a “fluke” in a time when women were not encouraged to attend university, she later said that she would not have considered pursuing a degree.

Dr. Snodgrass excelled as a UNB student, winning the Governor General’s Gold medal and graduating with a bachelor of arts in 1924. While her intention was to teach school  after graduation – which she did for  several years – it was a course taught  by Wilfred Keirstead that inspired in her a lifelong passion for the study  of psychology.

After teaching high school mathematics in Michigan and  New York, Dr. Snodgrass earned a master’s degree in education from Harvard University in 1927, having filled her course roster with as much psychology as the education curriculum would allow.

She soon accepted a position in the department of psychology and education at Washington College in Maryland. Unwilling to give up a paid career during the Depression in order to further her studies in psychology, she stayed at Washington College for 12 years, pursuing graduate studies on weekends at nearby Johns Hopkins University. In the early 1940s, she enrolled in a doctoral program in psychology at Yale University. Although her studies were interrupted by five years spent in New Brunswick caring for ailing parents, she earned a PhD in psychology from Yale in 1949.

In 1950, Dr. Snodgrass returned to UNB as head of the department of psychology. Under her leadership, the department saw tremendous growth - introductory psychology enrolment, for instance, grew from fewer than 20 people to more than 450. Despite many obstacles and great difficulty in attracting high-quality scholars during her 17-year tenure, she persevered - and succeeded in establishing a modern department with an excellent reputation. With her direction, the psychology department gained a new, state-of-the-art home in Keirstead Hall in 1968.

Florence Snodgrass was named UNB’s first female professor emerita in 1974. UNB is home to several bursaries and awards established by and in honour of Snodgrass; among these is a fund established by Snodgrass in support of New Brunswick students in need, to which she left what was, at that point, the university’s largest-ever bequest by a faculty member. In 1991, a newly renovated lounge in Keirstead Hall was dedicated to her. Snodgrass died in 1997 at the age of 94, having set a high bar for generations of Beaverbrook Scholars to follow. 

40 years of paying it forward

Early in 1980, a group of Beaverbrook Scholars came together to repay a portion of Lord Beaverbrook’s generosity by establishing a new scholarship in his name – the Beaverbrook Scholars Award – with the motto, To Support Others As We Were Once Supported.

The driving force behind the award was Uffe Blok-Anderson (BSc’45, LLD’90). Born in Denmark, Dr. Blok-Anderson’s family immigrated to rural New Brunswick when he was four years old, and like many families throughout the 1930s, they struggled to make ends meet. In 1941, Dr. Blok-Anderson came to UNB as a Beaverbrook Entrance Scholar. He went on to become a successful researcher and entrepreneur, and was forever grateful for Lord Beaverbrook’s support. As early as 1958, he set a goal to establish a scholarship, “to provide unto others a scholarship by those who earlier had benefitted by Lord Beaverbrook’s generosity.” 

By 1980, with assistance from  Dr. Garnet Copeland (BScEng’36, DSc’74) and Beaverbrook Scholar Professor Robert H.B. McLaughlin (BScEng’43, MScEng’59), Dr. Blok-Anderson’s idea of a scholar-led scholarship finally gained traction with the university and his fellow scholars. Dr. Arnold McAllister (BSc’43) was approached to help form a local committee that would administer the proposed scholarship program.

Joining Dr. Blok-Anderson and Dr. McAllister on the committee were Beaverbrook Scholars E. John Bliss (BScEng’55) (left photo); Ray Dixon, Q.C. (BA’60, BEd’61, BCL’65) (right photo); Harold Gunter (BScEng’54); Dr. Barbara Pepperdene (BA‘59); and Dr. Harold Touchie(BSc’62). Together, the committee established the aims and objectives for the award and reached out to around 600 Beaverbrook Scholarship alumni.

The response from scholars around the world was overwhelmingly positive. Many expressed that their own Beaverbrook Scholarships had been a lifeline in their university education. By the fall of 1980, Beaverbrook Scholars had raised enough funds to support an award that would cover both tuition and residence fees for four years of university. The first Beaverbrook Scholars Award, presented in 1981 to Lianne M. Smith (BBA’85), was valued at $3,500 annually for four years – the largest scholarship at UNB at the time and for many years thereafter.

In the years that followed, more Beaverbrook Scholars joined the community of supporters – a community that not only supports the fundraising, but welcomes new scholars to a family whose roots stretch back a century. Currently, three Beaverbrook Scholars Awards are presented annually, each valued at $12,500 per year for four years. Truly, the legacy of Lord Beaverbrook lives on, and Beaverbrook Scholars continue to “support others as they were once supported.”

Foundation extends support for Beaverbrook Scholars award

The Beaverbrook Canadian Foundation announced in August that it will continue its support of UNB’s Beaverbrook Scholars Award for another two years, matching donations from alumni and friends to a maximum of $100,000 per year. This will bring the foundation’s total contribution to $500,000 over five years.

“Beaverbrook Scholars are consistently among the most promising students in New Brunswick,” says UNB President Dr. Paul Mazerolle. “Over the last three years, this matching gift program has inspired alumni and friends to generously support the next generation of Beaverbrook Scholars. We are so pleased and thankful that the foundation continues to honour Lord Beaverbrook’s legacy of support for the university and province.”

The Beaverbrook Canadian Foundation was created by Lord Beaverbrook in 1960 to continue his philanthropy to the causes he had championed during his lifetime. The foundation funds organizations seeking to improve the quality of life for the next generation, through activities in the fields of education, health, social welfare, and culture.

“As president of the foundation that bears my great-grandfather’s name, I am delighted to continue supporting Beaverbrook Scholars as he first did 100 years ago,” says the Hon. Maxwell Aitken. “Lord Beaverbrook cared deeply about New Brunswick and UNB, and it is our mission to carry on his legacy of philanthropy.”

The 2020 Beaverbrook Scholars

This year’s Beaverbrook Scholars are Julia Dupuis, Riverview High School, bachelor of science Program; David Fox, Harbour View High School, bachelor of science in engineering program; and Rose He, Fredericton High School, bachelor of science in engineering program.

Find more information on these scholars, visit


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