Taylor Scholarship

When Malcolm and Violet Taylor arrived in Victoria in 1964, they faced a daunting task. Although the University of Victoria had been established on January 18, 1963 to replace Victoria College, its university stature was still somewhat of a dream. The majority of what is now thought of as UVic—its buildings, grounds, libraries, and surrounding communities—existed almost entirely in the visionary minds of about 125 faculty members.

Having just left the University of Calgary where he played an integral role in helping the young institution earn its independence from the University of Alberta, Malcolm Taylor found a parallel situation in Victoria. Taking over Dr. Hickman’s acting presidency, Dr. Malcolm Taylor became the first official president of UVic on December 18, 1963 (he moved to Victoria in the fall of 1964 to begin this position). He soon discovered that UVic was in need of guidance. Victoria’s new university had become part of a “Tri-Universities Drive,” standing beside UBC and SFU. While this was indeed an honour for UVic, it was also an intimidating reminder of Victoria’s new role in British Columbia’s post-secondary world.  

Aside from shaping UVic into a leading Canadian university in books-per-student and recruiting some of the best talents in the post-secondary world, Malcolm fully supported the creation of an admirable Fine Arts curriculum. In July 1966, UVic was the proud owner of one of Canada’s first integrated Fine Arts programs, which combined art, music, and drama within the classrooms of the MacLauren building. This program helped define UVic as a unique and serious academic institution, a characteristic its students and faculty were more than happy to realize.

Malcolm’s ambitions in Victoria came to an end when, in 1968, he stepped down as UVic’s president to further his career at York University in Toronto. But his impact on UVic was not forgotten. In a symbolic gesture that represented Malcolm and Violet’s love for music and fine arts, dozens of supporters—close friends, university faculty, and members of the community—held an honorary concert to commemorate Malcolm’s UVic career. The donations from this concert established the core of what is now known as the Taylor Scholarship. This scholarship was Malcolm and Violets’ parting gift.

The Taylor Scholarship helps music students whose drive and ambition reflects Malcolm Taylor’s. Whereas most scholarships and bursaries begin with a generous donation, the signing of documents, and a letter of thanks, the Taylor Scholarship began with some music. After 37 years, the music hasn’t stopped. The Music faculty has continued to put on concerts that benefit the Taylor Scholarship and the community of Victoria has continued to attend. Every year at least three deserving music students are given this scholarship and, thanks to ongoing donations and interest that accrues in the endowed fund, every year the gift size increases.

“It has been a joy to attend the concerts and watch the students learn about poise and confidence,” claims Violet Armstrong, now former spouse of the late Malcolm Taylor. “The biggest pleasure is meeting the students after the concert and, in many cases, talking to their families as well,” she recalls.

“The Taylor Scholarship is the accumulation of so many donors that it is, quite literally, impossible to give thanks to them all.   Early pioneers of UVic’s Music and Theatre programs, Malcolm and Violet’s personal friends, and various citizens in the community have donated to the  scholarship.  Aside from being credited as the  founding conductor of the UVic Chorus and Orchestra, Dr. George Corwin is often recognized as one of the driving forces behind the Taylor Scholarship.  “For more than 20 years the UVic Chorus and Orchestra put on concerts whose proceeds went   to the build-up of the Taylor Scholarship,” Corwin recalls. “We definitely set a benchmark for other music scholarships to follow.”   

At donor concerts hosted by the School of Music, talented students have the opportunity to meet donors, and these donors are able to see what their generosity has done for future generations. The Taylor Scholarship recipients are part of this annual gathering. As donors watch UVic’s bright young musicians, they are witnessing the continuation of Malcolm’s gift, a gift that is relived every year through the hopes and dreams of several gifted students.

The Taylor Scholarship is the realization of Malcolm’s vision and our community’s selflessness. It is a timeless scholarship dedicated to those whose ambition, desire, and pride have shaped UVic into a place where old dreams come true and new dreams are created.  

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