Alumni, People

Leaving a legacy

July 25, 2023

Education alum Doug Flanders.

Doug Flanders has long been grateful for the solid education he received at Western, and for this reason he has remembered the university’s Faculty of Education with a gift in his estate plans. It’s a way of saying thank you. It’s a way of giving back.

Flanders’ future gift will be directed to the Faculty’s Mary J. Wright Child and Youth Development Clinic. The gift is to be endowed with the income used in perpetuity to help children with their mental health and well-being.

For Flanders, creating a legacy gift was an easy decision to make.

“The idea of leaving this gift resonated because I recognized the need from my own life experiences,” Doug said, adding that he’s long known about the lasting devastation that mental health challenges can have on children and their families.

“Looking back, I can see now there were young people I went to school with – and later students that I taught – who had what I’m sure were mental health challenges.  They could have benefited from some help.”

Flanders wants his legacy gift to benefit children through early intervention, which will ultimately enable them to live happier, more fulfilling lives. 

This is Doug’s second gift to Western. He left his first gift to the university over 30 years ago when he created a bursary for graduate students in Canadian history.  Since then, his estate has grown, which meant he could expand his initial gift to include the Faculty of Education.

Purple and proud

Doug received his undergraduate and Master’s degrees in history as well as a Bachelor of Education degree at Western.

At first, he found university life a bit daunting. He was young and away from home for the first time, but he soon settled in and found each academic year to be more rewarding than the last.    

Doug credits Western with confirming his love of history and helping him learn how to research, be a better analyst and to write clearly and succinctly.

At the Faculty of Education, he learned how to be an effective teacher and presenter. Flanders looks back fondly on his practicum, which he says was a great experience for an aspiring teacher like himself. 

“You learn on the job, but the ideas and approaches given to me were extremely helpful in learning the fundamentals of good teaching. I've always been grateful to the Faculty of Education for that,” Flanders added.

“It prepared me well for teaching, but also laid the groundwork for my subsequent career in business where I often had to write resources and lead seminars and workshops.” 

Later in his career, Flanders became a professional fundraiser and taught fundraising management for many years at Toronto Metropolitan University.

Outside of his relentless philanthropic work, the Ingersoll, Ont., native is an avid walker who enjoys reading, writing and entertaining.  Flanders volunteers with the Metropolitan United Church in downtown Toronto, where he has chaired its governing board and led various groups and committees. He also heads up a team of volunteer gardeners who maintain the gardens both at his condominium and at the church.

For Flanders, being a fundraiser highlights how leaving a legacy can help others. Because of the tremendous impact it can make, he encourages all those who are able to do so to leave a gift to the Faculty of Education.

“When you do something to benefit children, you will make a lasting difference.”