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McGillians on a million-dollar mission

Faith and Kendall Wallis are on track to make a major philanthropic impact on McGill students

Photo of Kendall and Faith Wallis

Dr. Faith Wallis, BA’71, MA’74, MLS’76 and Kendall Wallis, BA’69, MLS’71, have spent much of their life together – over 50 years of marriage – on McGill campus.

They met at McGill. Built their careers at McGill. And thanks to some forward thinking, they’re on track to make a major philanthropic impact at McGill.

The couple met as undergrads and “grew up together,” says Kendall. Both dedicated their careers to the University. Kendall, now retired, was a reference librarian at the McLennan Library. Faith is a history professor with the Department of History and Classical Studies and the Department of Social Studies of Medicine. The couple has close ties with the Faculty of Arts, and a soft spot for graduate students in History and Classical Studies.

“The Department attracts excellent students who take on very ambitious and challenging research projects,” says Faith.

Master’s and doctoral students inspired their decision to establish the History and Classical Studies Graduate Excellence Fund, which provides scholars with financial support for study, research, training, and professional development. “Language training, conference trips, special equipment – anything they need to complete their thesis,” explains Faith. “A lot of it goes to filling in the little cracks that would otherwise really damage the student’s performance if they didn’t have them,” adds Kendall.

The Fund is their passion project, and they contribute to it in multiple ways: they make annual donations to endow the Fund. They make additional annual donations to support expendable funds. Faith’s department colleagues donate as well. But their most powerful contribution is their legacy gift: a life insurance policy. McGill University is listed as the beneficiary, and upon maturity it will result in a $1-million gift.

If you’re serious about supporting McGill, consult with your financial advisor and do it while you’re still with us.”

The insurance policy was a suggestion from their “terrific wealth manager,” says Faith. “He knew that we intended to leave a lot of our estate to McGill, so he said ‘Why don’t you do this? There are tax advantages, and it could be an even bigger gift.’ So we pay the premiums and then deduct them as charitable donations.”

Their goal is to support graduate students as well as the Department of History and Classical Studies. “The department’s historical strengths are our size, our depth, our range,” says Faith. “But I’m even more excited about its emerging strengths: a department that is much more diverse, more inclusive, and with a more imaginative approach to history. A historian’s education gives you a toolkit of critical skills to look at the past, and that’s why supporting graduate students is so important.”

With McGill now in its bicentennial year and the 200 for 200 Legacy Challenge in full swing – it aims to secure 200 legacy gifts for the 200th anniversary – the Wallises encourage others to consider making a legacy gift to support McGill and its students.

“If you’re serious about supporting McGill, think about it, consult with your financial advisor, and do it while you’re still with us,” says Faith. “I think everybody who’s in a position to do so should take part.”

Support McGill’s Third Century. Leave a legacy gift today.