New gift says so long to spurious “science”

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

For the third time since 2000, Lorne M. Trottier, BEng’70, MEng’73, DSc’06, has made a major donation to his alma mater. This time, he’s earmarked $5.5 million for bringing legitimate science to a mainstream audience. Quacks beware.

$3 million will endow the McGill Trottier Office for Science and Society to continue its role as a go-to source for reliable and unbiased science information. (The OSS is headed by Joe “Dr. Joe” Schwarcz, a tireless debunker of modern day snake oil peddlers.) The other $2.5 million makes permanent the popular Lorne Trottier Public Science Symposium Series and Mini-Science Series, which helps bring relevant scientific debate into the public arena. This year’s topic was at the Symposium was “Alternative Medicine Under the Microscope.”

After completing his Bachelor and Masters degrees here at McGill, Mr. Trottier went about co-founding Matrox Electronics Systems Ltd. In 2000, he donated $10-million to help build the Lorne M. Trottier Building (home to Electrical and Computer Engineering and the School of Computer Science) and followed that up in 2006 with a $12-million gift to create the Lorne Trottier Chair in Astrophysics and Cosmology and the Lorne Trottier Chair in Aerospace Engineering (currently held, respectively, by Vicky Kaspi and Stephen Yue). He was awarded an honourary Doctor of Science by McGill in 2006, and became a Companion of the Order of Canada in 2007.

The most recent donation positions Mr. Trottier as the largest donor to the Faculty of Science in McGill history. It also positions his name on a whole lot of great stuff happening around here. So, it’s a pretty sure bet that if a new condition is discovered that leads to increased amounts of generosity and dedication towards science and/or one’s alma mater, “Trottier’s Syndrome” will be at the top of the naming list.

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