Construction magnate donates £8m to University of St Andrews

A Canadian businessman and his wife have gifted almost £8 million to the University of St Andrews, believed to be one of the biggest pledges ever made to a Scottish university, in an effort to help it lead international marine research.

This major commitment to Scotland’s oldest university comes from US-based couple Frank and Beverley MacInnis whose son Robert graduated from St Andrews with a PhD in 2010, which followed his BSc in computer Science in 2005 also from St Andrews.

Frank and Beverley MacInnis with St Andrews Principal Sally Mapstone and Professor Vincent Janik, director of the Scottish Oceans Institute, at the site of the Institute’s new £16 million home at East Sands

After two decades in the international engineering and construction sector, Frank MacInnis joined New York-based construction group JWP Inc. in 1994, successfully managing the company’s emergence from bankruptcy and subsequent renaming to EMCOR Group, Inc. With Frank at the helm, EMCOR was transformed into a global leader in construction, infrastructure and building services.

Frank and Beverley, who are both natives of Alberta, Canada, have been connected to St Andrews through their son’s double degree at the University, and while resident in Connecticut, their love of St Andrews, the University, golf, and the town’s special environment, led them to build a multi award winning new home on The Scores, completed in 2016, which they visit regularly.

Their son Robert is based in New York; he is an expert in distributed systems and pioneer in Fog Computing.  He is CEO & Co-founder of FogCoin and ActiveAether, CEO & Founder of AetherWorks LLC, and Partner at BlueBear Capital.  In 2017 he was married to Abigail Armstrong in St Salvator’s Chapel, St Andrews.

Mr MacInnis said: “Beverley, a former teacher, and I recognise the transformative powers of education, and the important difference philanthropy can make. When we spoke to Principal Mapstone about her vision for St Andrews, we had an immediate sense of engagement with her plans for the University.

“We are delighted to make our family’s support known at this time, and it brings us pleasure to help enable world leading research at St Andrews, both in marine science and in the latest neurological research in physics. It is also important to our family to make our commitment to St Andrews in a public way, to encourage others to support the University in whatever way they can.”

The generous donation will specifically support St Andrews’ new Scottish Oceans Institute and a PhD scholarship in Physics and Astronomy.

SOI represents a £16m investment for St Andrews and will place Scotland at the forefront of international marine research.

St Andrews Principal and vice-chancellor, Professor Sally Mapstone, said: “This wonderfully generous gift from Frank and Beverley MacInnis enables us to launch the new Strategy for the University of St Andrews with confidence and strong belief. Frank and Beverley share our commitment to education, to our community, local, national, and international, and to transforming lives for the better. They are our friends and our advocates in equal measure.”

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