Anne McLaughlin

Anne McLaughlin
Anne at 90-years young. Her connections to UVic stretch back to 1948. Photo: JBird McLaughlin

Ties that bind

Anne McLaughlin’s ties to the University of Victoria run deeper than most. She enrolled in Victoria College in 1948 at the age of 17 and began her long career in the Faculty of Education on the same day UVic became a university in 1963. In fact, she remembers living on Henderson Road not far from campus and walking around Ring Road “when it was just straight mud.”

“So I watched it grow,” says the feisty 90-year-old Oak Bay resident, who is also a past president of the Alumni Association Board of Directors and has sat on UVic Senate. Anne served as the Director of the Faculty of Education’s Advising Centre until her retirement in 1991, but her dedication to UVic did not end there.

For the past 33 years, and counting, Anne has generously donated to the endeavours of students and university life, and has established five endowed student awards that, to date, have had a direct impact on the lives of more than 40 students.

I remember talking to one man, married with kids, who was really very thankful for the scholarship money. That makes you feel good, of course, supporting students. When I went to school, many students were able to make almost enough money in their summer jobs, in fishing, tree planting and other forestry jobs. But that doesn’t happen anymore… It’s a heck of a lot more expensive.”

‘Life beyond the classroom’

This year was no exception. Recognizing the unique challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Anne spread a large contribution over several areas, including the Centre for Outreach Education, the Faculty of Education Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Fund, the Fine Arts Dean’s Opportunity Fund, the Anne McLaughlin Legacy Scholarship in Theatre and the Theatre Department. The latter helped fund essential livestream equipment used by the Phoenix Theatre to instruct students, as well as stage productions in front of live audiences, albeit virtually.

“[The pandemic] was really tough on students because a lot of university is the life beyond the classroom,” says Anne, adding, “You’ve got to keep the Phoenix going, and if they aren’t able to have people in person in the audience, you have to help them do what they have to do.”

Read how theatre students are learning livestream technology

Problem Child set
Anne's donation to the theatre helped purchase professional-quality livestream equipment, giving students chance to learn skills that will take them into the future of theatre.

‘We pay it forward’

Anne says her lifelong involvement in education and assisting students is rooted in her love of school. “I had fabulous teachers,” she says. “Not many duds at all.”

She especially likes hearing from students who’ve benefitted from her many years of giving. It’s just one more tie that strengthens her bond with the university.

“I like the letters from the students. They send me very nice thank-you letters and tell me what they’re doing and what their goals are. And I find that very interesting.”

As for why she gives, and why she encourages other alumni to do the same, Anne says it’s simple. “Undoubtedly they were fortunate to go to the school, and the school wouldn’t have been there without help from donors. So they should follow up. We pay it forward.”