A lifetime of giving back

Allan McKenzie’s legacy gift is the culmination of a lifetime of investing in student success at Sask Polytech.

From his days as a high school Phys Ed teacher to his days as dean of Student Services at Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s Saskatoon campus - then known as Kelsey Institute of Applied Arts and Sciences - Allan McKenzie remained focused on student success.

Allan graduated with a degree in Physical Education, where he was a member of the Huskies Football and Junior Basketball teams. He carried his interest in sports and recreation forward into his career, starting as a physical education teacher in 1963. He married in 1965, and he and his wife Jan moved to Honolulu, where Jan nursed at Queen’s Medical Centre and Allan completed a master’s degree in Education at the University of Hawaii.

The couple returned to Saskatchewan in the summer of 1967. “We were planning to begin new jobs waiting for us in Edmonton, but once word got out that we were back in Saskatoon, we were pursued with great vigor to remain and work at Kelsey, me as the department head of Recreational Services and Jan as an instructor in the new diploma nursing program,” Allan says.

Allan spent the rest of his career at Sask Polytech, advancing from Recreational director to dean of Student Services before retiring as senior policy advisor to the president and board of directors at Sask Polytech head office.

“My passion was the students with whom I worked,” Allan says. As dean of Student Services, he was responsible for student registration, recreation activities, student counselling and career services, housing, student wellness and community relations. “This broad mandate enabled me to develop strong relationships with members of the community as well as with the program heads and their departments.”

The 1980s and 90s were busy years. In addition to his day-to-day duties, he established and chaired a Canadian University Service Overseas (CUSO) branch at Kelsey, co-founded the Kelsey Alumni Association and was instrumental in establishing the Kelsey Institute Foundation. A non-profit charity, the foundation helped increase student scholarships, equipment donations/purchases and program projects that provided student training opportunities while generating revenue for the institution.

“I always believed in the relevance of the ‘hands on’ education and training we provided, and I wanted to ensure a high standard of education for the future,” Allan says. “We had an excellent relationship with local businesses and industry, and I saw a great opportunity to strengthen these relationships and promote fundraising through the establishment of a foundation.”

After his decades-long investment in students, it seemed fitting when Allan made a legacy gift that will support future generations at Sask Polytech.

“As a donor, I prefer to give where I am convinced there is a real need and where I believe my donation will help make the world a better place,” Allan says. “My motivation in leaving a life insurance legacy was to contribute to the sustainability of the Saskatoon Campus as a centre of excellence. I believed my donation would ease the financial burden of future students, so they could successfully complete their chosen programs, and encourage others to apply for their education.”

“I also hoped my lead would influence other staff and community members to leave legacy gifts. Working at Kelsey Institute was a crucial part of my life and I felt fortunate to have had the opportunity to show my appreciation,” he says.

Looking back on a lifetime of giving back to his profession and his community, Allan has a simple message for others considering a planned gift to Sask Polytech. “Do not put it off,” he says. “The gift can be dedicated to an area one is passionate about and the contribution can be transformative and long lasting.”

Learn more about making a lasting impact.

Published November 2021