April 21, 2022
Longtime philanthropist posthumously named recipient of Schulich Leadership Excellence Award
It started as a simple tribute to her late husband, but over nearly six decades of financial support, Margaret Clarke ended up as a champion to generations of engineering students at the University of Calgary.
“I wanted there to be something so that Robert would be remembered,” Clarke explained in a 2016 interview.
The young engineer passed away in 1963, spurring his widow to establish the Robert B. Paugh Memorial Bursary in Engineering, using some money her father had given her. The following year, students at what was then the University of Alberta’s Calgary campus were the first to benefit.
Clarke, who passed away in 2021, went on to help more than 100 future engineers, and in 2007, she also created the Robert B. Paugh Memorial Scholarship for graduate students.
Clarke was posthumously named the recipient of the 2021 Schulich Leadership Excellent Award and, over the years, had become known as the university’s longest-standing donor.
Bu the recognition was never the point. Her son, David, says she never wanted any of the limelight, as she quietly made her contributions each year, even if money was tight.
It was an important part of who she was, he says, even after marrying Malcolm Clarke and raising seven children.
“They not only financed the bursaries, but even more importantly, they looked forward to hearing the stories of the recipients,” David says. “They often invited them home for dinner and conversation, as they recognized the value of an education, knowing that it was sometimes out of reach, financially.”
Margaret also enjoyed reading the many thank you letters, which she kept over the years.
“When I started this, I had no idea the impact (the bursaries) would have,” she said in a 2016 interview. “I wanted there to be something so that Robert would be remembered.”
Going into his second year at the university in 1964, Gwyn Morgan was the first undergraduate recipient of the bursary, receiving $500 — an incredible amount for the time.
Coming from the family farm north of Calgary, he was facing a difficult decision at the time.
“Could I defer, go work for a little while and then come back?” recalls Morgan, Hon. LLD’07, who went on to become a global energy industry leader, including becoming the founding CEO of Encana.
I was thinking about all of these things when I got the letter that I had the Robert Paugh Memorial Bursary, which at that time was only $500, but one has to realize that that paid my whole tuition and part of my room and board for a couple of months.
A later recipient of the bursary was Dr. Michael Kallos, BSc (Eng)’95, PhD’99, now acting department head of the new Department of Biomedical Engineering at the Schulich School of Engineering.
“I was really touched that an individual would care enough and be interested enough in what I was doing, even if they didn’t know me,” Kallos says. “So, from that point of view, it was very meaningful for me to be awarded the support.”
While Kallos received other scholarships during his post-secondary studies, many were from government, so he “definitely remembers this one.”
Keeping the legacy alive
Clarke’s generosity wasn’t the only thing that stayed close to Schulich, as many in her family were bitten by the engineering bug.
David graduated from the School with a Bachelor of Science in 1980, while Margaret’s grandson, Erik, is also a BSc (Eng) alumnus from 2010. Several other family members have connections to UCalgary and engineering.
“It meant a lot to my mom, and so it means a lot to me and the rest of the family,” David says. “Mom was a real philanthropist, even though she wasn’t particularly wealthy.”
Margaret and Malcolm supported many charities over the years, including Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders and STARS. She also volunteered at the Alberta Children’s Hospital for more than 30 years, making her one of their longest-serving volunteers.
“The list goes on and on,” David says. “But the relationship and connection at Schulich was always special, because it was personal.”
An inspiration to others
At the Schulich Connects event on Feb. 24, Dean Dr. Bill Rosehart announced that Margaret was the recipient of the 2021 Schulich Leadership Excellence Award.
“Margaret has made an incredible impact on the community with her determination and leadership,” Rosehart says. “This award will allow for her legacy to continue to live on here at UCalgary.”
In accepting the award on her behalf, David reiterated that his mother never sought out recognition, but would have been deeply honoured.
“I know she would have been thrilled to know her small gesture was appreciated,” he says.
I would hope that her quiet faith, her generosity, and her caring spirit would not only enable engineering students, but be an inspiration to others.
David has committed to funding the scholarships for the next three years, and is looking to change the name of the awards to the Robert Paugh/Margaret (Paugh) Clarke Memorial Bursary to make sure his mother’s legacy lives on.
You can support that effort with a contribution to the bursary through UCalgary Giving Day 2022. Between April 11 and April 21, all eligible donations to the University of Calgary will be matched dollar-for-dollar.
UCalgary Giving Day is April 21. Whether you support student awards, critical research or any one of UCalgary’s innovative funds, your gift will help change lives and shape the future. All eligible gifts made between now and midnight on April 21 will be matched up to $2,500 per gift, while matching funds last. Make your gift today.