Dr. Dan Andreae

Assumption benefactor brings faiths together

  • November 12, 2023

Educator and philanthropist Dr. Dan Andreae has been a friend and champion of Assumption University in Windsor, Ont., for more than 15 years.

It’s a relationship he cherishes and one that led Andreae to be feted with an Honorary Doctorate of Laws in 2007 and named the recipient of the school’s Faith and Culture Gold Medal in 2011. He earned the medal for advocating in his work as a social worker and professor at several Ontario universities that a person’s physical, psychological and social health is enhanced if their life incorporates spirituality.

This past spring, he felt called to give more to the Catholic university federated with the University of Windsor.

“I wondered, ‘what can I do here,’ ” said Andreae. “I really wanted to focus, as I thought about it, on inter-faith education, building bridges and inter-faith dialogue. Another thing I did was serve on the international board of something called The Weizmann Institute of Science, which is one of the world’s top research and scientific institutes. It happens to be in Rehovot, Israel, and they are doing amazing work. I thought to myself, ‘Is there some way I could encourage a bridge between
the Christian and Jewish community?’ ”

Manifestly, Andreae chose the right higher-education centre as Dr. John Cappucci, the principal and vice-chancellor of Assumption University, is deeply passionate about inter-faith learning and discourse. The former respects the latter “for being a great leader and his dedication to bringing these groups together.”

In June, Andreae donated $30,000 to fund scholarships for students enrolled in the courses Jerusalem and Rome: Jewish-Catholic Relations (began in fall 2023), Catholicism and Dialogue (debuting in winter 2024) and The Holocaust (winter 2024). Over the next three years, 18 recipients will have the full costs of attending one of these classes financially covered by Andreae.

“What is really gratifying is that these scholarships allow students to attend who may not be able to otherwise for financial reasons,” said Andreae. “They can now, and they have an opportunity to work with other people to advance this bridge.

“People have asked me, ‘why are you doing this?’ I believe at any time in our history we need to bring people together. I know that when we do meet face-to-face to talk about our similarities and differences, we find out we have much more in common. Not to do this guarantees one thing: nothing will happen. I’d rather help to launch something that will reverberate in the community and hopefully lead to more projects.”

At the time of the donation’s announcement, Cappucci praised Andreae, stating his “generosity has made a tremendous impact at Assumption and in the Windsor-Essex community,” and expressed appreciation that he “is devoted to building bridges between communities to promote understanding.”

The International Association of Top Professionals (IAOTP) named Andreae its humanitarian of the year in 2020. He has devoted over two decades of his life to teach more than 45 different university courses. He has especially been devoted to the field of psychology. For many years he has researched and educated people experiencing neurodegenerative diseases.

In the community, Andreae served as the Alzheimer Society of Toronto’s first executive director, was the longest-tenured president of the Ontario Association of Social Workers (OASW) and launched a free community lecture series to educate the public about the future of work in the health-care field.

Donating to higher-ed pursuits has become intrinsic to Andreae because he believes “continuing education is so necessary.” Because of our rapidly changing world, Andreae said it is possible that some concepts and techniques he taught his students in a course could “become obsolete, or in need of an upgrade, five years later.”

“Continuous learning is no longer a luxury, it is essential no matter what field you are in,” said Andreae.

Knowing the power of financial assistance to help under-privileged students in their ascent to become impactful societal contributors, Andreae encourages Canadians to contemplate bestowing a monetary legacy to Canadian higher education.

“I feel so grateful for the response of these students. Like winning an Oscar, (financial giving) can change lives. Whatever we can do to change lives for the better is worth doing. I think giving back to society in any way we can is going to benefit the community and benefit yourself in making you feel good about yourself. I encourage everyone to do it, whatever the cause may be.”

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