Canadian businessman gifts “wonderfully generous” $10 million to St Andrews University

© DC ThomsonSt Andrews University
St Andrews University

A Canadian businessman has gifted $10 million to St Andrews University.

The donation — around £7.8m — by Frank and Beverley MacInnis from Alberta, is believed to be one of the biggest pledges ever made to a Scottish university.

Frank and Beverley MacInnis, centre, with Professor Vincent Janik of the Scottish Oceans Institute and Professor Sally Mapstone.

Their son Robert graduated with a BSc in computer science from St Andrews in 2005, then stayed at the Fife university to complete a PhD.

Until his retirement three years ago, Mr MacInnis was a director at construction giant EMCOR Group, which is headquartered in Connecticut.

The pledge was made with the condition it is used to help realise the vision in the university’s new strategic plan, which aims to consolidate St Andrews’ position among the top five universities in the UK.

It will specifically support the Scottish Oceans Institute (SOI) at St Andrews and a PhD scholarship in physics and astronomy.

The SOI’s new £16 million Gatty Laboratory, due for completion next year, is being developed to put Scotland at the forefront of international marine research.

Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the university Professor Sally Mapstone, said: “This wonderfully generous gift from Frank and Beverley MacInnis enables us to launch the new strategy for the University of St Andrews with confidence and strong belief.

“Frank and Beverley share our commitment to education, to our community, local, national, and international, and to transforming lives for the better.

“They are our friends and our advocates in equal measure.”

As well as being connected to St Andrews through their son’s studies, Mr and Mrs MacInnis were drawn to the town as the home of golf.

They even built a new home on The Scores, which they visit regularly.

Robert is now based in New York, where he is an expert in distributed systems and a pioneer in fog computing.  In 2017 he married Abigail Armstrong in St Salvator’s Chapel in St Andrews.

Mr MacInnis said: “Beverley, a former teacher, and I recognise the transformative powers of education, and the important difference philanthropy can make.

“When we spoke to Principal Mapstone about her vision for St Andrews, we had an immediate sense of engagement with her plans for the university.

“We are delighted to make our family’s support known at this time, and it brings us pleasure to help enable world leading research at St Andrews, both in marine science and in the latest neurological research in physics.

“It is also important to our family to make our commitment to St Andrews in a public way, to encourage others to support the university in whatever way they can.”