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An extraordinary legacy

By Jason Winders

Richard M. Ivey, HBA '47, LLD '79, the visionary Western University graduate, philanthropist and champion who helped elevate the university and its business school to international prominence, died on December 28. He was 94.

Tributes have been flowing in since the news became public.

Western President Alan Shepard said Richard Ivey has supported Western for almost 70 years, from providing leadership at the Board of Governors table to investing to ensure the best student experience in the classroom.

"Mr. Ivey will be remembered among Western's greatest champions and one of Canada's leading philanthropists," said Shepard. "Building on his father's legacy, Dick believed passionately in the power of higher education and the impact of investing in excellence. Though the business school was a focal point, his contributions as a volunteer and a donor benefited students and researchers across our campus. He was a true gentleman whose presence and altruistic spirit was felt by so many.”

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Richard M. Ivey, a great leader and friend of the School. His enduring support has been a huge factor in growing the Ivey Business School into Canada’s premier centre for the development of business leaders,” said Sharon Hodgson, Dean, Ivey Business School. “He was an invaluable advisor and champion of the School and a true role model for our students. He will be missed dearly.”

Born in London, Ont., Ivey attended Ridley College in St. Catharines, Ont., and then completed an HBA degree at Western’s business school in 1947.

It was in his first weeks at Western that Ivey met his beloved wife, Beryl. The couple dated on and off for three years and by the fourth year, their relationship turned serious. After graduation in 1947, they both moved to Toronto. A year later, after Beryl had completed teacher’s college, she moved back to London. Ivey drove to see her almost every weekend.

In 1949, once Richard had completed the first two years at Osgoode, he and Beryl were married.

In 1950, he was awarded a bachelor of laws from Osgoode Hall Law School at York University. He then joined the law firm of Ivey and Dowler in London, where he was a partner from 1960-88.

Ivey served as President and then Chairman of Allpak Products, a family holding company for businesses primarily in the packaging industry throughout North America, as well as in Europe. He also served on many boards including Bank of Montreal (for 25 years), EllisDon, F.W. Woolworth Co. and Union Gas Ltd.

But it’s his – and his family’s – affiliation with Western that has drawn numerous accolades.

“I think back on those four years (at Western) as probably some of the best four years of my life,” Ivey said in a 2010 interview. “It was a very enjoyable time. … The education I received at that time certainly contributed a great deal to my future life.”

Ivey was a member of Western’s Board of Governors from 1968-1978, including three years as Chair. He also served as university Chancellor from 1980-84, sat on what is now the Ivey Advisory Board from 1966-91, and served as director of the John P. Robarts Research Institute prior to its merger with Western. He helped establish Foundation Western and was a director from 1980-86, also serving as the Board’s Chair.

Western awarded Ivey an honorary Doctor of Laws in 1979.

The Ivey family’s support for Western represents one of the most significant philanthropic relationships between a family and a Canadian university. The Ivey family, both personally and through the Ivey Foundation, has donated $50 million to Western, including gifts to the business school, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Robarts Research Institute, Faculty of Arts & Humanities and Western Libraries.

In 1995, the Ivey family donated $11 million to the business school, which honoured its half-century relationship with the family by renaming the business school in 1996 after Ivey’s father, Richard G. Ivey. In 2012, the Ivey family supported the name being changed to the Ivey Business School.

Richard G. Ivey became interested in the business school when his son enrolled in the HBA program. As the new faculty was being organized, Richard G. became active in its development. He believed “education for business” was of vital importance to Canadian business and industry, as well as to the whole Canadian economy.

In 1948, he became the first Chair of the Advisory Committee.

Richard G. led the fund drive which made the original Richard Ivey building on campus possible. He financed the first Canadian MBA program, the first management training course, and the first PhD program in business. He also donated to the School’s Research Fund, as well as to the continuing Plan for Excellence which placed Western’s Business School in a leadership position in Canada.

Richard G. Ivey, LLD ’54, died in 1974.

Richard M. Ivey was proud of his family’s affiliation until the end. He continued to be active in many aspects of Western, maintaining relationships across campus. His philanthropic legacy includes several endowed chairs, numerous scholarships and the family archives available at Western Libraries. In 2002, Ivey and his children made donations to create the Beryl Ivey Garden located in the centre of campus, a place he often visited after his wife’s passing.

Ivey Building

The Richard Ivey Building - a lasting legacy of the Ivey family's many contributions to Western.

At the celebration of the business school’s 90th anniversary and grand opening, Ivey and his family oversaw the official naming of the new Richard Ivey Building on Sept. 9, 2013. The new 270,000-square-foot building on Western Road brought together the school’s HBA, MBA, MSc, and PhD programs under one roof. An $8-million gift from the Ivey family was used to help to pursue LEED Gold certification for the building.

“It’s just a tremendous honour to have our family name attached to the school,” he said. “It’s been an outstanding school over the years and accordingly it’s just a great honour for us to be associated with it. (The) leadership of the school itself has been terrific and as a result it’s produced great leaders in the business world.

“And that’s my feeling about it because of knowing the individuals and knowing the staff, a lot of them through the years, I feel very much a personal connection to it.” 

Carol Stephenson is one of those people.

Stephenson served as Dean of the Ivey Business School for 10 years from 2003 to 2013 and is currently Chair of the Fundraising and Donor Relations Committee of Western's Board.

“Dick always provided me with wise counsel. He was intelligent, dignified, and a true gentleman,” said Stephenson. “He was always interested in other people and what their ambitions were. His support for the business school was unwavering. Dick also cared about the community. He and Beryl made an impact on the city of London through their support of many initiatives in London."

Ivey’s philanthropy did extend well beyond Western as he volunteered for a number of causes, including many in London.

In 1947, Richard and his father incorporated the Ivey Foundation. The fifth oldest private family Foundation in Canada, making charitable grants of $100 million since inception. Richard served as a director for 50 years and President for 30 years; in 1998 he and Beryl passed the reigns to their four children.

Richard also served many community organizations. He served in governance capacities with the Royal Ontario Museum, WWF Canada, St. Joseph’s Hospital (London), Robarts Research Institute, The Wildfowl Trust (UK), and World Wide Fund for Nature in Switzerland, amongst many others.

Ivey’s philanthropic spirit was established at a young age and has been engrained in his family.

“At a very young age I became a very wealthy man. For me it was almost embarrassing and I felt in many ways I’ve got to give this money away,” he said in a 2013 interview. “As our businesses’ success carried on throughout the years that became the source of the money that was donated to the Ivey Foundation and ultimately, with my family involvement, it’s getting passed on.”

In 1989, Ivey was honoured as a Member of the Order of Canada; in 1995, he was promoted to an Officer of the Order of Canada; and in 2000 he received the Companion of the Order of Canada.

Ivey received many accolades throughout his career and life but he would be quick to note that all of these achievements were shared with Beryl. The couple, married for 58 years, were a powerful force in business and in philanthropy.

Beryl Ivey died on Christmas Day 2007.

They are survived by their four children – Richard, HBA ’72, LLB ’75, LLD ’13; Rosamond, HBA ’82, LLD '18; Jennifer; and Suzanne.

“It’s sort of a hackneyed phrase – giving back,” Ivey said in 2010. “I think that hopefully people feel when they’ve had a great experience at a location, it’s more than just giving back. It should be more of a feeling of really wanting to do something to help the institution. Because you want it to carry on and do for others what it did for you. And so I think it’s important to have that feeling and accordingly be as helpful as you can to the institution.”

Remembering Richard M. Ivey

If you have a fond memory of Mr. Ivey or would like to express your condolences to the Ivey family, please send us a note at:

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