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The donor: Jalynn Bennett

The gift: $1.13-million

The cause: Trent University

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The reason: To fund campus projects.

Jalynn Bennett built her career in the financial world as a careful strategic planner who wasn’t afraid to break a few glass ceilings.

She started as a secretary at Manulife Financial Corp. in 1965 and went on to become the insurer’s vice-president of corporate development. She also served on numerous corporate boards including the Bank of Canada, where she became the first female director in 1989.

Jalynn Bennett earmarked a $1.13-million gift for Trent University to do something "bold, audacious and effective."

Patti Gower/The Globe and Mail

Ms. Bennett took that same careful approach to her estate planning and she spent years quietly pushing several charities to come up with innovative ideas for her to fund with donations. The estate plan wasn’t supposed to take effect for many years, but Ms. Bennett died in an accident at home in 2015 at 71.

Trent University, where Ms. Bennett chaired the board of governors for five years, was among the charities she earmarked with a $1.13-million gift and she challenged the university to do something “bold, audacious and effective." Last month, the Peterborough, Ont.-based university announced that it will use her donation to enhance its natural setting, create a crime scene training centre, fund a public sculpture project and create an outdoor performance space.

“Jalynn Bennett was a trailblazer,” Trent president Dr. Leo Groarke said in announcing the projects. “I think she would be pleased to see that her gift will make an enormous difference in very tangible ways.”

pwaldie@globeandmail.com

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