Cover Story

Part of the landscape

Crawford Family giving supports myriad of campus projects and resources
By: Laura Dillman Ripley

The last name Crawford really needs no introduction in the Mount Allison Record.

The late Purdy Crawford (’52, LLD ’91) was known throughout his career as a leader, mentor, and friend to many, including his alma mater. With wife, Bea, and their family, Purdy, a former board member, Chancellor, and benefactor, supported many projects at the University. The list includes student bursaries, a teaching centre, faculty and staff awards, and what has become a beacon on campus — the Purdy Crawford Centre for the Arts.

The late Purdy Crawford (’52, LLD ’91)

This connection to campus, and the importance of volunteering and giving back, resonated through his children and grandchildren, with daughters Suzanne ('79) and Sarah ('95) both serving as board members and champions for the University.

Suzanne Crawford passed away in 2023 but, in many ways, continued her family’s legacy by having served on the Board of Regents as a long-time member and Chair. Like her parents, Suzanne was known for her warmth and optimism, along with her savvy business sense and humour she brought to each project. Also a Mount Allison parent (of course this family tradition continued), Suzanne proudly watched her daughter Evelyne cross the Convocation Hall stage in 2022.

The late Suzanne Crawford ('79)

In December 2023, the Suzanne Crawford Harper Hall Fund was established by Suzanne's family, friends, and classmates. The fundraising initiative will provide significant support for the current renovation of Harper Hall, where Suzanne lived as a student. The building, which has been home to more than 8,000 students since its opening in the 1960s, is slated to reopen this September.

The residence’s house lounge will be named in Suzanne’s honour, fitting for an individual who was so known for bringing people together.

“Suzanne, like our dad, loved people. She loved her time at Mount Allison, as a student and then as an alumni volunteer, board member, and a parent,” says Sarah, Suzanne’s sister. “I know she would be delighted to see this investment in residence living for future students at Mount Allison.”

The Purdy Crawford Centre for the Arts (bottom left) and Harper Hall pre-renovation (top left)

The renovation of Harper Hall includes environmentally sustainable designs with a variety of upgraded single and double student rooms, private bathrooms, active and quiet common spaces, and social areas, enriching student life on campus. The building will also get a new roof, windows, flooring, electrical, and plumbing systems.

This latest forward-thinking gift of the Crawford family’s is just across the street from one celebrating a milestone this year — the Purdy Crawford Centre for the Arts (PCCA).

The PCCA opened in October 2014, just a few weeks following Purdy’s death, and is named in honour of his outstanding career and extraordinary contributions to Mount Allison. The first new academic building in three decades at the time of its opening, the 50,000 square-foot centre was greatly supported by many alumni and friends with more than $23 million being raised in private donations.

The Purdy Crawford Centre for the Arts, opened in 2014
Atrium inside the Purdy Crawford Centre for the Arts

Home to the Pierre Lassonde School of Fine Arts and the drama and screen studies programs, the dynamic building has become a hub on campus for all students and community members, welcoming artists, lecturers, and performers from across Canada and beyond.

The official opening 10 years ago this fall saw members of the extended Crawford family, friends, and colleagues gather to celebrate the new space, with a focus on student and faculty accomplishments — just what Purdy would have wanted.

The extended Crawford Family at the Purdy Crawford Centre for the Arts official opening in Fall 2014

Thaddeus Holownia, now a research professor at Mount Allison, was the long time Fine Arts department head when the PCCA opened. He says the impact this investment has made on the program and overall campus community cannot be understated.

“The Purdy Crawford Centre for the Arts project was unique because its end users, the Fine Arts and Drama departments, were involved in every step of the process,” says Holownia. “This investment gave us one of the best arts facilities in the country and really brought opportunities for creativity across the disciplines to another level on campus.”

Current Fine Arts Department Head Leah Garnett, who also taught at Mount Allison prior to the department’s move to the PCCA, agrees.

“Having us [Fine Arts and Drama] all in the same place has enabled students to access facilities more easily and safely and has increased opportunities for their ‘making’ of art,” says Garnett. “It’s brought a significant and positive change for both learning and teaching in Fine Arts over the last decade.”

Through these, and the many other projects on campus, the Crawford family will continue to be part of the Mount Allison landscape, enriching the University experience for students, faculty, and staff — past, present, and future.

Learn more about the Harper Hall Renovation Project and the Suzanne Crawford Harper Hall Fund.