Johanne McKee establishes Student Opportunities Fund

In celebration of National Philanthropy Day (November 15th) we are pleased to share the story of Mount alumna Johanne McKee and her special donation to Mount Saint Vincent University. This story appears in the latest edition of Folia Montana, the Mount’s alumnae magazine.

Our sincerest thanks to all those who give in so many ways in support of the Mount and our students.

Johanne McKeeOften when people hear the words “philanthropy” or “philanthropist,” they think of grand-scale charitable giving by individuals, families, foundations or successful companies. However when one Mount alumna thinks of philanthropy, she thinks of you.

“Anyone can be a philanthropist. You don’t have to donate huge sums of money. The act of giving within your means and ability – whether that be time or money – that makes you a philanthropist,” says Johanne (Zwicker) McKee, BScHEc ’54.

McKee embodies the Mount’s spirit of caritas (meaning “charity” or “giving back”). Upon graduating from Mount Saint Vincent College with her Bachelor of Science in Home Economics she returned to teach in that department while beginning a rewarding career in family nutrition, working with low-income families. Between raising four sons, supporting her husband’s military career, and her own career aspirations, McKee always found a way to meaningfully give back to her community.

“Johanne has donated her entire life. To start, when we didn’t have much, she donated her time,” says Ian McKee, Johanne’s husband. “She sat on the board of the Halifax Grammar School, ran the school’s activity group while at the same time chairing the Home and School Committee at Gorsebrook Elementary School. She has looked after the flowers at our church for over 40 years, and she organized the IWK Kermesse book sales for 25 years.”

For McKee, giving back is an inherent part of what it means to be a Mount Saint Vincent alumna. “As students of the Mount we were taught to do for others,” she says. “It is part of who we are.”

In 2013, McKee wanted to do something for Mount Saint Vincent University that would not only enhance the academic experience of students, but also further cultivate a culture of philanthropy. This desire was realized with the establishment of the Student Opportunities Fund, a gift-matching endowed fund that will provide financial support to students who wish to enrich their academic experience. Once matured, this fund will provide students with financial support so they may attend workshops and/or conferences that will contribute to their academic success, present their research at conferences, or study abroad.

McKee’s initial gift of $50,000 has seeded the fund and she will match donations to this fund up to an additional $50,000. The purpose of the matching contributions is to cultivate a culture of philanthropy at the Mount from new donors, alumnae and friends, particularly those who considered their gifts too modest to be important.

McKee hopes that this fund will encourage all alumnae, regardless of the size of their gift, to start giving back. “Every [Mount] student has benefited from someone else’s philanthropy,” she says. “There is a reason for us to give back – so that future students can benefit from their university experience, just as we have.”

“We thank the McKee’s for this generous gift and are excited for the opportunity to build this fund through its matching component, creating a more robust culture of giving at the Mount,” says Dr. Ramona Lumpkin, president and vice-chancellor of Mount Saint Vincent University. “It is through initiatives such as the Students Opportunities Fund that we can offer a truly unique and rich education experience.”

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