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Giving to UNB

About M. Patrick Gillin

M. Patrick Gillin is hooded by President James Downey after receiving his honorary doctorate in 1981. Photo from UNB Archives & Special Collections, Harriet Irving Library.Civil engineer M. Patrick Gillin considered his education at the University of New Brunswick crucial to the development of his ambitions and accomplishments – he believed his friends, studies and surroundings helped form the person he became.

Gillin passed away in Ottawa on July 18, 2009, but not before leaving an enormous legacy to the institution that played such a huge role in his life. Between 1976 and 2008, Gillin donated approximately $2.5 million to UNB for numerous initiatives including, notably, scholarships for engineering students in financial need.

His gifts to the university were recognized in 1988, when the newest wing of UNB Fredericton’s Head Hall engineering complex was named in his honour. A longtime member of the university’s Board of Governors, Gillin was awarded an honorary doctor of science degree from UNB in 1981 and the title of governor emeritus in 2001.

Gillin played a critical role on the Board of Governors, as well as its property committee, where his vast engineering and construction experience lent itself to a great deal of development.

“He had the ideal background to advise the university in this area, and certainly was a significant contributor to the development of both of our campuses, and policies and practices at UNB,” said Susan Montague, who worked with Gillin over her 19 years as UNB’s Director of Development and Donor Relations.

“Pat was a great friend of the university,” said John McLaughlin, former President and Vice-Chancellor of UNB. “His donations made it possible for dozens of students to attend his alma mater, and to have top-notch engineering facilities in which to learn. He was a consummate gentleman and an endless supporter – Pat always had UNB close to his heart.”

Keeping busy

The philanthropist graduated from UNB Fredericton with a bachelor of science in civil engineering in 1949.

As a student, Pat founded the UNB camera club, served as photographic editor of the yearbook, received medals in philosophy and mathematics, and earned a campus leadership award.

Following his time at UNB, Pat began his career as a civil servant in Ottawa, but soon turned his interest in building construction into a business. He served as President and CEO of Gillin Engineering and Construction Ltd. for over 50 years, during which time he was actively involved in the business and professional communities of Ottawa.

He was the founding President of Ottawa’s Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) in 1976, and served as BOMA Canada President in the early 1980s. He was president of Ottawa’s Rideau Club, served as the chairman of the private school Ashbury College, and was a director of the Elizabeth Bruyère Hospital.

Always a contributor to the community, he also spent 15 years as a member of the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa-Carleton, including a number of years as president.

Pat earned numerous accolades along his path. In 1993, he was named a Fellow of the Engineering Institute of Canada (F.E.I.C.) for his community and professional interests. He was also named Ottawa’s businessperson of the year in 2003 by the Greater Ottawa Chamber of Commerce.

Giving back

One doesn’t have to go far to see how Pat made his mark on UNB. His campus survey map, drawn during his undergraduate days, still hangs just outside the dean of engineering’s office – only a few steps away from M. Patrick Gillin Hall.

Giving back to UNB was important to Gillin, whose donations supported numerous projects, including the Engineering Opportunities Fund, the M. Patrick Gillin Ottawa Engineering Scholarship, M.P. Gillin Scholarships & Bursaries, the Gillin Engineering Equipment Fund, and the M. Patrick Gillin Chair in Construction Engineering. He also made a substantial donation to UNB’s Information Technology Centre located next to Gillin Hall.

“It was a combination of the experience he had at UNB and his own personal values and character that led him to making such contributions,” said Montague.

“He was not one to simply sit back and let other people take the responsibility. He felt an obligation to stay involved with the institution, with so many other obligations as well.

“Everyone Pat came in contact with at UNB admired him tremendously,” said Montague.

Gillin, a proud alumnus, was bestowed the UNB Associated Alumni Award of Honour in 1998 alongside Colin Mackay and Sadie Miller.

“Pat believed that for everything he had accomplished since his time here, he owed a great deal to the friendships and surroundings that he was exposed to and any ambitions that were formed at UNB,” said McLaughlin.

Apply for the M. Patrick Gillin Award in Engineering