The Calculus of Giving


Drafting her estate plans to include funding for a series of U of T Engineering scholarships seemed like the most natural thing in the world to Nancy Hill (CivE 8T1). But then she began working out the details and found it strange to be contemplating her mortality.

“Being a lawyer, I knew how I would structure my will, but I hadn’t focused on exactly who would benefit,” recalls Hill, who holds a degree in Civil Engineering from U of T.

But the patent and trademark agent with Hill & Schumacher quickly decided she wanted her legacy to include Leaders of Tomorrow (LOT) scholarships, with a special focus on women and entrepreneurs.

“I think supporting women in engineering strengthens the profession. And entrepreneurship drives our economy,” she says. And she likes the thrust behind the LOT scholarships, which go to students who not only excel academically, but who are involved in their communities and show boundless leadership.

Hill understands that student needs can change over time and so has asked her two nieces – both chemical engineering grads from U of T – to act as advisors regarding how to manage the scholarship after her death.

“One of them received a Leaders of Tomorrow scholarship which was very helpful to her. I think she graduated debt-free. That affected the calculus of my giving,” says Hill.

Her firm, Hill & Schumacher, in conjunction with her partner Dr. Lynn Schumacher, who is also a graduate of U of T, is also donating a scholarship to the Faculty. The five-year scholarship of $5,000 a year will support an undergraduate engineering student whose fourth-year project is deemed to have the best prospects for commercialization.

Given Hill’s family history with the university – her mother, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and uncle are all graduates – there was strong incentive for her to follow suit.

“My parents didn’t give me a lot of choice,” she laughs. “They said, ‘Go to U of T and we’ll pay. Go anywhere else and you’re on your own.”

Now that she’s used her education to launch a successful career, Hill is making sure others are not on their own.