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The Loyola Alumni Association Refectory Campaign Committee, at the mid-Campaign renaming announcement of the building as the 'Loyola Jesuit Hall and Conference Centre' (from left to right Jim Donaldson, Rod Rousseau (late), Father Marc Gervais, John Collyer and John Lemieux Campaign Co-Chairs, Rick McConomy and Brian Marcil ).

Ryan Blau/PBL Photography/Ryan Blau/PBL Photography

The Donors: Alumni of Concordia University's Loyola College

The Gift: $4-million

The Cause: To refurbish the Refectory building

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When Montreal's Loyola College and Sir George Williams University merged in 1974 to create Concordia University, not everyone was thrilled.

Loyola College had been founded in 1896 as a Jesuit institution and many of the college's alumni felt the school should have been granted university status on its own.

So when a group of Loyola College alumni started a campaign in 2005 to raise $4-million to refurbish the college's Refectory building, they knew they faced a serious challenge.

"There was a strong sense of non-affiliation with Concordia," explained John Lemieux, a Montreal lawyer who graduated from Loyola in 1966 and co-chaired the campaign. Some alumni "felt it was kind of a forced merger."

With only about 3,000 graduates of Loyola College still around, Mr. Lemieux wasn't sure the campaign had a chance of succeeding. "The question was, could we really get graduates who were prepared to donate to a project which in the end was really a donation to Concordia? We had real question marks about that."

Mr. Lemieux and others began reaching out and over the next six years they managed to raise the entire $4-million. Roughly 600 alumni contributed to the project, an indication that much of the resentment had subsided. The money will transform the Refectory building, one of the oldest on campus, into a conference centre with state-of-the-art equipment. The university is planning a grand opening on Dec. 1 and many alumni are expected to attend.

"It will be a proud moment for everybody," Mr. Lemieux said. "There will be a lot of people cheering, and deservedly so."

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