Insurance gift inspires young researchers

It would have been a special year for former Lethbridge mayor, the late Andy Anderson (LLD '85), and his wife Rheta.

Not only did the University of Lethbridge – which Andy played a key role in establishing – celebrate its 45th anniversary, 2012 also marked the inaugural presentation of the Andrew and Rheta Anderson Scholarship.

The scholarships are the first of a legacy gift Andy and Rheta left to the U of L after their deaths.

"It's nice to know someone is going to benefit from their generosity," says their son, Murray Anderson.

Rheta and Andy Anderson's legacy gift to the University of Lethbridge will benefit research for generations to come.

The gift came in the form of a life insurance policy Rheta set up with the University of Lethbridge as the owner and beneficiary. During her lifetime, Rheta received tax deductions for premiums she paid on the policy and when she passed away in 2011, the University received a monetary gift. The endowment fund created with that gift will allow the University to give a scholarship each year in the Andersons' name.

Murray says he has no doubt his father – a pharmacist who served four terms as mayor – would be thrilled to know he continues to make a difference at the U of L today.

"The University was close to my father's heart. As mayor in the 1960s, he worked alongside the citizens of Lethbridge to hand-pick the institution's west-side location," says Murray.

While Anderson Hall is already named for his father, Murray feels the scholarship is the ultimate way to honour Andy's commitment to the U of L.

"This is another vehicle which allows us to say he was integral to starting the University," says Murray. "And the scholarships will help further the institution. If one student who receives the scholarship goes on to do something big, that's another feather in the U of L's cap."

When he helped his mother set up the policy after his father's death in 1996, Murray says there was no doubt a scholarship was the right place for the money. He knew his parents would proudly support those pursuing a higher education at the U of L.

"There's not always a lot of money around for scholarships," he notes. "I know my mother was quite enthusiastic it was going to students, and I know my dad would have been as well."

Because Andy battled Alzheimer's disease prior to his death, the family chose the Department of Neuroscience to receive the scholarship money. Equipping students in the field to continue to work towards a cure, notes Murray, is also a legacy he's certain his father would like to leave.

U of L neuroscience majors LeAnna Kalvi and Nolan Murley are the first recipients and they could not be more grateful.

"This award means so much to me, especially as a fourth-year student," says Kalvi. "I am honoured to be one of the first two recipients and am thankful to the Anderson family for providing neuroscience students like Nolan and I the opportunity to receive such a generous award."

The scholarship, Kalvi says, will help offset the cost of her education, which she plans to continue after completing her undergraduate degree.

During his life, Andy demonstrated a strong commitment to the U of L and passion for post-secondary education. Today, he and Rheta leave a legacy that will live on well into the future through the continued support of students.