$5M donation dedicated to helping U of Manitoba become hub for human rights

The University of Manitoba's Front and Centre campaign received a major gift Friday to help develop the city as a centre for human rights and social justice.

Philanthropist Arthur Mauro's donation to establish a multi-disciplinary chair in human rights, social justice

Philanthropist Arthur Mauro gave $5 million to the University of Manitoba's Front and Centre campaign . (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

The University of Manitoba has received a major financial gift to help develop the city as a centre for human rights and social justice.

Philanthropist Arthur Mauro gave $5 million to the university's Front and Centre fundraising campaign to establish a new multi-disciplinary chair in human rights and social justice, and to support local and international peace-building initiatives.

"This city, to me, represents the best people can do when good people get together with goodwill and seek solutions," Mauro said during the announcement on Friday. 

The gift brings the university closer to its $500 million campaign goal — now sitting at more than $456 million. The money from the campaign will be used to support graduate students, improve the campus, fund research and help the university become a centre of excellence for Indigenous education and research.

Mauro, a U of M alumnus who was the university's chancellor from 1991 to 2000 and was CEO of Investors Group before that, said he has always seen Manitoba as a hub of human rights. 

"Historically, we have gone through some very difficult problems in the social structure of the city," he said. 

"But over those years we concluded that reconciliation was better than discord, and we concluded that diversity was positive in society." 

The gift is just the latest from the Mauro Family Foundation, which also helped establish the Arthur V. Mauro Centre for Peace and Justice at the U of M.

University president and vice-chancellor David Barnard said the donation will create an invaluable role for a scholar dedicated to human rights and social justice, who will supervise students, teach classes and stimulate debate. 

"Mauro has a vision for what this city can become, as a city that expresses the inherent humanity of people, the rights that people have as human beings and the search for peace and justice in the world more generally," he said.