Remembering SFU supporter Ross McLeod, 1952-2011

Feb 01, 2012

Last September, the Simon Fraser University and BC business communities were saddened to learn of the passing of Ross McLeod, a longtime SFU supporter.

McLeod was chairman and chief executive officer of Richmond-based Great Canadian Gaming Corp., operators of River Rock Casino, Boulevard Casino, Hastings Park and about 20 other casino and hospitality venues in Canada and Washington state. The company is the largest gaming and entertainment operator in Western Canada.

Under McLeaod’s leadership in 2005, Great Canadian Gaming Corporation donated $1 million to support the creation of Simon Fraser University’s Segal Graduate School of Business.

The donation funded both renovations of the former Bank of Montreal Western Canada headquarters, and the naming of a policy room in the heritage building on the corner of Pender and Granville Streets in downtown Vancouver. Today, the state-of-the-art campus houses all of SFU’s graduate business studies programs, as well as several new business and financial research centres and specially designed meeting space for downtown business education events and activities.

“As a young boy growing up, I can recall riding my bicycle up Burnaby Mountain and watching Simon Fraser’s first campus being built,” said McLeod, who grew up in North Burnaby and East Vancouver, at the time of the donation in 2005. “It is an honour, over 45 years later, to be a part of the university’s important expansion with this donation.”

Ross is remembered by SFU’s Beedie School of Business for his philanthropy and support of the Segal Graduate School, his creativity and innovation, and his leadership role for the British Columbia economy.

An article published in the December issue of Canadian Gaming Magazine, written by Howard Blank, VP of Great Canadian Gaming, eloquently captures McLeod’s personal spirit and inspired business legacy.

“Ross’s many achievements,” the article points out, “include receiving the Outstanding Contribution to Canadian Gaming Industry Award, presented to him at the 1999 Canadian Gaming Summit in Windsor, Ontario. In 2007, Ross was also honoured with the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award (Hospitality and Tourism–Pacific Region) for his achievements in the British Columbia hospitality industry. In 2010, Ross was again honoured by the C.H.I.L.D. Foundation with the prestigious Doorman of the Year Award for his unsurpassed service to countless BC charitable organizations.”

“Without question, Ross was a great philanthropist. He promoted and helped introduce the charity gaming model in BC, and personally gave countless dollars to education, the arts, and health care. He was a gentle giant of a man; one who placed everyone ahead of himself. His passion for philanthropy assisted thousands of organizations and helped raise billions of dollars to make this province and our country so great. Ross believed that service to our community and province was truly a noble undertaking.”

To read the article in its entirety, visit the December issue of Canadian Gaming Magazine online.