Long-time donors build up significant legacy at Mount Allison

27 Nov 2020

Giving Report 2020: Generations of giving

For the past 38 years, Reid (’59) and Marilyn (’61) Harrison have given back to Mount Allison consistently, on an almost-monthly basis. Those many, many gifts, large and small, have added up to a substantial legacy. At last count, the Harrisons have donated more than $86,000 to Mount Allison.

“We were both educators and as educators we realized the value of an education,” Marilyn says. “Both of us feel we obtained a good grounding at Mount A to start us on our careers. We also feel that a well-rounded university education that is not totally focused on academics is setting our young people up to be good community citizens in the future. It is these well-rounded individuals that society will have to rely on as it moves ahead.”

The Harrisons have supported the University broadly, donating to various athletics teams, the Alumni Field project, the Purdy Crawford Centre of the Arts building, the Campbell-Verduyn Fund, and the Mountie2Mountie Financial Aid Fund, among other things. The project closest to their heart, however, is the Harrison Family Bursary, a fund that awards more than $2,000 each year to students in need.

“A number of years ago we were in a position to make a more significant donation and at that point focused on a bursary. That has been the core of our giving. But everything we give to are things that contribute to the needs that arise at different times in the life of the University,” Marilyn says.

Sarah DessureaultThe Harrisons met at Mount Allison in 1958 and began a family tradition that has endured through three generations. Their son, David, graduated from Mount Allison in 1983; their daughter, Janet, followed in 1987; and three of their granddaughters — Lauren, Julie, and Sarah — are current students.

Their commitment to Mount Allison has extended well beyond their impressive financial contributions.

Both of their children were members of the Mount Allison swim team and when the team would travel to Halifax for meets, a stop in at the Harrisons for a meal was a given. Janet Harrison has continued this tradition of hospitality. Her daughters Lauren and Sarah are now members of the swim team and when they travel to Halifax, Janet makes the meal and Reid and Marilyn provide the location.

The couple, as well as their son in Charlottetown, David, have hosted admission receptions for prospective students. Reid always keeps an eye out for students he might send Mount A’s way, those he feels would benefit from what Mount Allison offers and who would make a positive contribution to University life in turn.

“If we come across a student who we think would be a good fit, we always provide them with some information, encourage them to apply, and follow up with them,” he says.

Reid also volunteered as a member of the Board of Regents from 2003-10, while Janet served on the Alumni Board from 2013-19.

For the many, many ways in which they have supported the University, Reid and Marilyn were jointly presented with the Charles Frederick Allison Award in 2011. The award recognizes outstanding contributions by alumni.

The whole Harrison family can often be found on the sidelines, cheering on the Mounties at football and basketball games.

“We love Mount A football, we love Mount A basketball, all of these things are vital,” Reid says. “We are often up to Sackville or over to St. FX or Acadia for games. Mount A just offers a wonderful, warm experience. You have the opportunity to bump into friends and maintain that Maritime connection.”

Marilyn says that is one of the reasons they have stayed so closely connected to the University over the years.

“We look on it as a Mount Allison family. There is this strong connection with people and we are people-people,” she says. “Like a family you support one another and you encourage one another,” — an art the Harrisons have perfected.

Photo captions:

Members of the Harrison Family at Homecoming 2019. L-R: Marilyn (O’Neill) Harrison (’61), Janet Harrison (’87), Reid Harrison (’59), Julie Dessureault (’22), Mount Allison President and Vice-Chancellor Jean-Paul Boudreau, Lauren Dessureault (’21), and David Harrison (’83).

Sarah Dessureault (’24) began her studies at Mount A this fall — the third of the Harrisons’ grandchildren to follow in their footsteps.

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