Chancellor Debra Deane Little and Robert Little give $2 million to King’s

Chancellor Debra Deane Little and Robert Little give $2 million to King's

A charitable gift in the amount of $2 million from the King’s Chancellor’s family foundation, Alpha Aquilae Foundation, led the way to a comprehensive restoration of three of King’s five historic student residences, known as “bays.” The iconic stone buildings were designed by Halifax architect Andrew Cobb and have been home to generations of King’s students since 1929.

The overall cost of the restoration, which came in on time and under budget, was $4.5 million. The Alpha Aquilae Foundation gift–one of the largest in the history of King’s–became a cornerstone of the project’s funding. However, it is not lost on Debra Deane Little that $800,000 still needs to be raised to help King’s reach the project’s fundraising goal.

“This is an occasion where we’re happy to publicly announce our gift,” says Debra, who operates the Alpha Aquilae Foundation with her husband, Robert Little. “Should our helping to publicize this effort succeed in alerting others that this project is in need of a last surge of support–that’s one more way we can help.”

This is the second major gift from the Alpha Aquilae Foundation in two years. In 2019, Debra and Robert established the Debra Deane Little and Robert Little Academic Scholarships for Varsity Athletes at King’s with a gift of $1.4 million over five years that awards academic athletic scholarships to up to 56 King’s students annually.

“We are again enormously grateful to Debra and Robert for sharing our vision of King’s and for seeing the crucial significance of the bays to our collegial model of living and learning in community,” says William Lahey, President and Vice-Chancellor. “Their gift gave us the encouragement needed to tackle this massive restoration during the lock-down phase of the pandemic, on an unprecedented time-line and under extraordinary conditions. We are pleased to say–we did it!”

In September, students finishing their self-isolation in Alex Hall crossed the Quad to join students arriving from within the Atlantic Bubble to be the first of a new century of students to call these newly restored buildings home.

In February 2020, Debra Deane Little was appointed as King’s 15th Chancellor an appointment that signals a committed relationship with King’s, a relationship that Debra, a champion of the classic Liberal Arts education, looks forward to.

“The kind of undergraduate education King’s provides only enhances other areas of your career and life. It enables you to take communications and critical thinking to the next level, which is so important today. I know from my own talks with faculty and staff, that it’s a special place. I was touched to learn that not just the faculty get to know the students, but so do the administrative staff. King’s is that rare university community that truly nurtures the student. These days, that’s unique. We look forward to helping King’s continue to flourish on the national and international stage.”

Work has been ongoing

Throughout the summer, King’s has been restoring and fundraising simultaneously.

While technically sharing a stone building and one roof, the three bays comprise distinct residences: Chapel Bay, Middle Bay, and Radical Bay. They have each been upgraded with modern conveniences through a true restoration that includes many loving touches, such as custom cut baseboards for the building’s gently sloping floors.

“The walls look pristine but run your hand over them and you can still feel the sways of the original plaster,” says Lahey. “The century of living and learning that has happened here is still embodied in the space.”

Built after a great fire raised their predecessors in Windsor, Nova Scotia in the middle of one pandemic, restored amid another pandemic, these King’s residences are ready to welcome the next century of King’s students. Friends of King’s like Debra Deane Little and Robert Little are leading the way to ensure this happens.

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