Trent University Receives $1.2 Million Estate Gift to Assist Students in Need


The late Fern Rahmel of Peterborough supports women in education through a total matched endowment of $2.4 million

Thursday, March 18, 2010, Peterborough

Generations of Trent University students will benefit from a generous $1.2 million bequest from Fern Rahmel, a leader in education, the arts and culture in the City of Peterborough, Ontario who passed away in late November 2009.

The third largest bequest in the history of Trent University, the gift will focus on Trent University’s campuses in both Peterborough and Oshawa, leaving a remarkable legacy in support of women pursuing higher education. When matched by the Ontario Trust for Student Support, the total endowment will equal $2.4 million. Over and above the $1.2 million gift, a separate and specific gift of $5,000 was also directed by Ms. Rahmel to the Bata Library.

At Trent University in Oshawa, $1 million will be endowed in perpetuity, and will generate approximately $40,000 annually. According to the wishes of Ms. Rahmel, the funds will be used for bursaries for female students over the age of twenty-five who have demonstrated financial need as they work toward earning a Trent degree. An additional $1 million will be endowed, and the income made available to third- and fourth-year students of proven academic ability who have demonstrated financial need, studying at either the Peterborough or Oshawa campuses. An additional endowment of $200,000 will also be created for graduate students who meet similar criteria. It is expected that $100,000 in new funds for bursaries will be available annually as a result of this extraordinary gift.

“This gift is a demonstration of the ability of a single individual to have a lasting impact on the lives of many,” said Dr. Steven E. Franklin, president and vice-chancellor of Trent University. “In addition to years of support to women in need of financial assistance to complete their education at various levels, Ms. Rahmel’s gift helps us to meet the strategic needs of Trent University, with a current focus on building out our 35-year presence in Oshawa with a brand new building opening in September 2010.”

Ms. Rahmel was well-known in the Peterborough community, as a school teacher and head of the Department of English at Peterborough Collegiate Vocational School (PCVS), an active volunteer in many community organizations, as well as a talented writer, editor, playwright and director. Born and educated in Peterborough, she graduated from Queen's University in Kingston in 1940, and was one of the first women to receive an honorary LL. D degree from Trent University in 1970. Interested and supportive of the arts, she trained both vocal and speech choirs, and in recognition of her work was made an Honorary Life Member of the Kiwanis Music Festival. A founding member of the Peterborough Little Theatre and Theatre Guild, she directed for both groups as well as producing and directing for the Junior and Senior Drama Clubs at P. C. V. S. She wrote over 60 scripts for school broadcasts, which were produced by both CBC and CBS. For three years she worked in Toronto as the Editor's Assistant of Saturday Night magazine. A loyal member of Park Street Baptist Church, she taught in the Sunday School for over 25 years and frequently arranged the sanctuary flowers. A keen gardener, she was a Life Member of the local Horticultural Society and was for some years the Regional Director for the Canadian Rose Society. After her retirement, she served on the local Public Library Board as well as the Regional Library Board. She established the Fern A. Rahmel Bursary at Trent University for mature women students in 2002.

“Staff here at Trent knew Ms. Rahmel simply as Fern, a kind person, an enthusiastic community member, a passionate promoter of higher education and supporter of Trent,” says Dianne Lister, vice president of External Relations and Advancement. “Fern used to enjoy reading letters from the women at Trent who benefited from the bursary she established here years ago. Her life story is about the power of one person to make a difference”.

Making a Legacy Gift to Trent University has given many friends, alumni, and parents the satisfaction of knowing that future generations will benefit from the gift of knowledge. 

“Fern was a member of the Trent University Legacy Society, which recognizes those who have remembered Trent in their wills or through a planned gift,” said Eileen Madder, chair of the University’s Planned Giving Advisory Committee. “Her gift to Trent is about the power of philanthropy to transform lives – and it was achieved by a school teacher right here in our own community.”

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For more information, please contact:
Dianne Lister, vice president, External Relations and Advancement, Trent University,
(705) 748-1011 ext. 7246