Edmonton-area Agribusiness Leader Funds New Institute

Thursday, December 7, 2006

University of Lethbridge Receives $8 Million Gift to Found an Institute for Global Population and Economy Research

The University of Lethbridge is the recipient of a minimum $8 million gift from John Prentice, a Calmar, Alberta based agri-business entrepreneur, award-winning agrologist and industry leader.

The funds will allow the University to launch the Prentice Institute for Global Population and Economy, a multi-disciplinary, cross-faculty institute which will research big-picture issues relating to global population change, demographics, and economic factors as they relate to global population change.

"I have chosen to endow the Prentice Institute for Global Population and Economy at the University of Lethbridge because I believe that long-term demographic and economic cycles are under-researched, and that improved knowledge in these areas would inform the public and cause both individuals and governments to make better decisions, thus changing the course of history for the better," Prentice said. "I hope that the Institute will encourage people to take a more global approach when setting policy and making personal decisions."

The University will create an endowment with Prentice's gift. The interest gained by the endowed funds will allow the University to hire top-tier researchers in the areas of global population change, demographics, and economic factors as they relate to global population change. Additional background information is attached.

U of L President Bill Cade said that the gift, the largest donation received to date from an individual, will be transformational for the University.

"Attracting top researchers is always a challenge, and we now have the opportunity to bring the best of the best here to Lethbridge so they can continue their work in an environment that allows them to think big. We can't express enough to John, his spouse Connie, and the Prentice family our gratitude for this most generous donation."

Family spokesperson Heather Prentice said that her father John believes strongly in the value of education. "He believes that while education does not guarantee success in life, it does improve the probability of success. My Dad's commitment to education is evident in his philosophy that it is everyone's responsibility to advance their education to their greatest potential."

"Education creates intellectual capital that is portable and can never be expropriated. Education improves one's chances of survival, both individually and as a society. It is for this reason that John and our family hope the Prentice Institute will improve the world's understanding of global demographics and economics and, in turn, allow us to use this information to survive and prosper."

A brief biography of John Prentice is attached.

Biography -- John Prentice

John Prentice came to Canada in 1959 from the United Kingdom, where he was born in 1936, attended school, served in the military and worked at his family's grain merchant business.

He attended Olds College in central Alberta, worked on several farms and, after furthering his education at the University of Alberta, started Standard Hog Farms, a business that he grew to a point where, in 1987, he was able to turn it into a jointly owned corporation with a full-time manager and began a new career in the cattle feeding business.

When asked to describe himself in one word, John is fond of saying "irreverent." He is well known as a source of advice to many, about both agriculture and business.

John was the first to import bulk soybean meal at the farm level. He also co-developed the Swine Technicians Course at Lakeland College, spearheaded a program to develop high-lysine barley for the swine industry, and successfully lobbied both Federal and Provincial governments on many occasions to make policy changes or correct flawed programs that led to inequality and market distortions.

John also volunteered for a number of organizations over the years, from the University of Alberta Ag Club and Progressive Conservative Student Federation while still on campus, to a number of farm finance, community, hog, and cattle groups.

He served as President of the Western Hog Growers' Association, as a Panel Member of the Farm Debt Review Board, was a Charter Member of the Bank of Montreal Agricultural Advisory Panel, a Member of Alberta Agricultural Products Marketing Council, and Director of organizations such as Unifarm, the Alberta Pork Producers Marketing Board, Canadian Pork Council, Fletchers Fine Foods, and various government research-granting bodies.

John also sat on the Edmonton Airports Task Force / Edmonton Regional Airports Authority for five years, becoming its Finance Committee Chairman. John also served in a variety of capacities with the Alberta Institute for Agrologists and received their Distinguished Agrologist Award.

In his later years, John’s involvement turned exclusively to cattle, and he became involved in a variety of capacities with the Alberta Cattle Commission, Canadian Cattleman's Association, Canada/Alberta Beef Industry Development Fund, Beef Cattle Research Council, and Cattle Feeder Council.

John's family is extremely important to him. He and his wife Connie have three children -- Heather, Maureen and Fergus -- who continue to value his honesty, strong sense of ethics, intelligence, hard work, high expectations and generosity.

John and Connie were involved with the IAEA (International Agricultural Exchange Association) program for several years, hosting international students.

As well, John expressed his love of track and field by becoming a high jump official and supporting his wife in her role as manager of the Leduc Track and Field Club. His other hobbies include history, finance and investing, Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, golf, birding, arboriculture, and bridge.

Prentice Institute for Global Population and Economy – Background Information

It seems possible that a society in which the proportion of young people is diminishing will become dangerously unprogressive, falling behind other communities not only in technical efficiency and economic welfare, but in intellectual and artistic achievement as well. -Extract from the Report of the Royal Commission on Population (United Kingdom, 1949)

The International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the United Nations, and other international organizations all have expressed serious concerns about demographic changes and their impact on economic, social, cultural and environmental wellbeing.

A major shift in the world's population is under way, leading to the biggest aging of the working population that the developed world has ever experienced. Fertility rates in most of these countries have dropped well below the replacement level, which would have caused populations to drop sharply but for the fact that life expectancy has increased quickly in most countries. The developing world is following a more familiar path with higher birth rates and lower life expectancies, but those countries in the grip of the AIDS/HIV epidemic face special difficulties; in some, life expectancy has dropped by as much as 25 years in a decade.

These changes will create novel challenges for the world in the next century, with substantial economic, social, political and cultural consequences. The aging of the workforce will pose huge challenges to the major economies. The established pattern of work and retirement will change, as will those of investment and consumption. The patterns of migration are likely to change, with significant social and cultural consequences.

The Prentice Institute for Global Population and Economy will focus on the long-term challenges of the cluster of demographic, economic and social issues related to changes in world population patterns. By recruiting world-class social scientists to work on these issues, the Institute will contribute to the development of policy options to guide Canadians and their governments. It will cooperate with other researchers in Canada and elsewhere to address some of the most difficult challenges of the next generation.

Our understanding of the dynamics of the economy is slowly improving. Standards of living have risen in the developed world because of technological innovation. The fluctuations that cause "boom and bust" cycles have been managed better in recent decades. Nevertheless, we probably do not know how to manage the consequences of the coming demographic changes. To provide individuals, businesses and governments with useful advice and options will require much greater understanding than we now have.

In the first stage, the Institute will recruit three leading researchers, together with graduate students and post-doctoral students, to begin work on demographic and economic aspects of global population changes. The members of the Institute will seek support from provincial and federal research agencies, and collaborate with international partners working on related matters.

About the Legacy of Leadership Campaign

The Legacy of Leadership Campaign is the largest fundraising initiative in the history of the University of Lethbridge. Led by Campaign Chair and University of Lethbridge alumnus Dan Laplante, the campaign has a goal of $20 million. The campaign was publicly launched in November 2005 with a $3 million commitment from Calgary philanthropist Allan Markin and a $2.5 million commitment from the Students of the University of Lethbridge.

The Campaign is comprehensive and is in support of all areas of the University of Lethbridge - endowment, capital, and research. Priority projects include the Centre for Sport and Wellness, a new facility to house the School of Health Sciences and the Faculty of Management and support for Student Awards. The Campaign has met with great success to date and has attracted the support of alumni and friends of the University, and many, many corporate and foundation donors from across the country.

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