$800,000 Gift from Anonymous Donor Establishes Alan Wilson Graduate Student Entrance Scholarships at Trent University


New Scholarships in Honour of Founding Chair of Canadian Studies and History to Support Future Graduate Students at Trent

Friday, November 13, 2009, Peterborough

At a special dinner held this evening, Trent University gratefully acknowledged a generous $800,000 gift from an anonymous donor to establish the Alan Wilson Graduate Entrance Scholarships in support of Trent graduate students in the Canadian Studies Ph.D., History M.A., and Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies M.A. graduate programs.

“Trent is so pleased that our anonymous donor chose to recognize one of the University’s most distinguished professors emeriti in this way,” said Dr. Steven E. Franklin, president and vice-chancellor. “This new endowed fund will provide Trent University with the tools required to recruit the best and brightest graduate students for years to come.”

The new Alan Wilson Graduate Entrance Scholarships will be offered to multiple students across the three graduate programs as top-ups to other grants and bursaries. The first scholarships will be awarded in the 2010/11 academic year.

"When you've been retired for over 20 years, something like this is enough to call you back from the dying, if not the dead. I am deeply honoured and very happy for Trent and its future graduate students in Canadian Studies and History,” said Dr. Wilson, who retired from Trent in 1989 after 25 years of teaching. “Building both programs was a cooperative experience, and I hope that in acknowledging the extraordinary generosity of this donor, that my old colleagues will realize how gratefully I think of them. These scholarships will indeed make a difference."

 Dr. Alan Wilson is the founding chair of both the History and Canadian Studies Departments at Trent University. He started teaching at Trent when the University opened in 1964. In 1988 he was presented with the Symons Award for Excellence in Teaching. During his time at Trent he also served on Trent's Senate, Board of Governors and Faculty Association charter executive. He also acted as Senate-elected advisor in establishing the Indigenous Studies Program.

Born in Nova Scotia, Dr. Wilson earned degrees in English and History at Dalhousie and a Ph.D. at the University of Toronto. In addition to teaching at Trent, he taught at Prince of Wales College, Charlottetown, Acadia, and the University of Western Ontario. He has lectured across Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, at Canada House, and at the Universities of London, Oxford, Edinburgh, Nantes, Rouen and Moscow. Since retiring, Dr. Wilson has been associated with St. Mary's University's Institute in Atlantic Studies; has chaired the Helen Creighton Folklore Foundation and the South Shore Regional Library Board; is past president of the Library Boards Association of Nova Scotia; and is an adviser to the Nova Scotia Ministry of Education. Dr. Wilson has written scripts for CBC Radio, CBC Television, and for the History Channel. The editor of 10 volumes of the 'Canadian Biographical Series' for the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, he has also published two books and over 50 encyclopaedia and academic articles.

Currently, Dr. Wilson is in the midst of completing a novel set on the South Shore in the 1970s, and a life of Rev. P. G. MacGregor, a leading Halifax social reformer and co-founder of the national Presbyterian Church. He has been married to writer Budge Wilson, who was also in attendance at the event and has spoken at Trent several times, for 56 years and has two daughters, Glynis (Trent '79) and Andrea, and two grandsons.

Graduate Studies at Trent University

Both the Canadian Studies Ph.D. and the Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies M.A. programs are offered through the Frost Centre for Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies at Trent University. The interdisciplinary M.A. program was established in 1982 with the first student intake taking place in 1986. To date, 177 students have graduated from the masters program and 48 students are currently enrolled. The Canadian Studies Ph.D. program, which was established in 2001, is jointly-sponsored with Carleton University in Ottawa. Twenty students are currently enrolled in the doctoral program and six have already graduated.

The History M.A. program is one of Trent’s newest graduate programs. Introduced in 2007, 28 students are currently enrolled in the masters program and seven have already completed the program.

For more information on any of these programs and others offered at Trent University, visit the Graduate Studies website at


For more information, please contact:
Dianne Lister, Vice President, External Relations & Advancement, Trent University, (705) 748-1011 x7207 or (705) 750-8668 (cell)