$30 million gift to SAIT sets new course for the future

SAIT President Dr. David Ross accepts a $30-million gift from donor David Bissett.
SAIT has received the largest gift in its history – $30 million from Calgary philanthropist, David Bissett.

His extraordinary contribution, his largest gift ever, will help establish a new school at SAIT that will provide the latest in digital education for students, enabling the institution to advance change through technology. The new school will set a new course for the future positioning of SAIT as a leader in digital transformation and education.

Bissett, a Member of the Order of Canada, says he chose SAIT for the gift because it has the flexibility to respond to the changing needs of industry.

“I see every day the importance of technology in every field, whether it is investment management, oil and gas or agriculture. The advance in the associated technologies is breathtaking,” says Bissett. “If we are not fully competitive in these skills in the global economy, we are doomed to be a nation falling behind and will not be able to afford the standard of living and social services which we have enjoyed.”   

Driving forward with industry

Dr. David Ross, SAIT President and CEO says everyone at SAIT and the greater community can share in the excitement of the gift because it will make an enormous contribution to strengthening industry and, ultimately, the Alberta economy.

 “We are honoured David Bissett has chosen SAIT,” says Dr. Ross. “This significant contribution will enable SAIT to support our students and our industry partners, to develop the mindset, adaptability and knowledge to use and create technology to drive us forward.”

Bissett says that, while the $30 million is intended to develop a new school, he knows it will take even more support from other contributors to make it a long-term success. SAIT’s plan for the school will be developed over the next few months, a process that will include consultation with industry partners and community leaders to ensure the design meets employer needs.

SAIT started meeting the needs of industry over 100 years ago when its first students learned to fix early automobiles and farm machinery. Dr. Ross says the new school of advanced digital technology will continue that tradition because digital fluency is vital to the industries we rely on for our continued economic health and prosperity.

This is David Bissett’s second gift to SAIT. He donated $5 million in 2014 to establish the Bissett Bursary Program, providing full tuition annually to high school graduates who demonstrate financial need.