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A true friend of the Library

Katherine Smalley went from ‘living in the stacks’ to shaping them for the next generation

Photo of Katherine Smalley, BA'67

As a McGill student pursuing an honours degree in political science and philosophy, Katherine Smalley, BA’67, had “a lot going on.”

Outside the classroom she was involved in student politics, joining McGill’s civil rights movement and campaigning against tuition fee increases. Inside the classroom, she attended classes led by philosophy professors Charles Taylor and Raymond Klibansky, both of whom would influence her later career as an award-winning journalist and documentarian.

In between, she could be found in the McGill Library. “That’s where I did 90 per cent of my studying,” she recalls. “I spent many late nights there – sitting in very uncomfortable little chairs, in dark corridors where you could barely see.”

Thanks to Smalley, its future looks brighter. She’s leaving a legacy gift – a bequest in her will – to generously support the McGill Library for future generations. Her gift will count towards the 200 for 200 Legacy Challenge.

“If you’re giving a legacy gift, you want it to endure, and the Library has many ways of doing that very effectively. It’s not just about the continuity of the Library itself, but the preservation of knowledge, information, and the freedom of thought.”

Those ideas were central to her McGill education, and her 25-year career in journalism. She covered war zones in Lebanon, dictatorships in Latin America, and social justice issues all over the world.

“One could say that my degree in political science and philosophy was very impractical, but I’ve used it every day of my life,” she says. “Prof. Raymond Klibansky’s focus on tolerance and human rights was the underpinning of a lot of my work, as was Prof. Charles Taylor’s parameters of political philosophy. Their work helped me understand the forces and elements that drove these political, social, and humanitarian crises.”

Smalley is now based in Toronto, where she transitioned from journalism into corporate finance and founded her own financial services firm, Allied Capital Corporation. “Having McGill’s cross-disciplinary understanding in your DNA is very helpful.” She remains an active McGill volunteer, serving on the Toronto Faculty Advisory Board as well as the Friends of the Library.

“It’s very rewarding. I’ve met McGill grads around the world, and I have yet to meet one who doesn’t have some sort of dedication or interest in the University. I have good faith that McGill – and the Library – will be around for many bicentennials to come.”

What will your legacy be?
McGill is celebrating its 200th anniversary with the goal of securing 200 legacy gifts. For more information, please contact us.

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