Walking the walk: The Lynches’ philanthropy enables better engineering safety and risk management

David and Joan Lynch have made a major gift to the Engineering Safety and Risk Management program.

(Edmonton) David Lynch, former dean of engineering, and his wife Joan Lynch, an iconic Edmonton realtor, announced a major gift to the Faculty of Engineering. They made the announcement at a Sept. 22 Alumni Weekend reception. David Lynch said they were inspired by the philanthropic acts of others to make their own gift.

In 2015, then-Dean Lynch kicked off a $15-million fundraising campaign for the faculty’s Engineering Safety and Risk Management program, while serving his final year leading the faculty. September’s major gift was the couple’s way of demonstrating their own personal support of the program.

David credited Fred Otto, another former dean, with planting the seeds of the ESRM program in the late 1980s, and added that the friends and alumni gathered at the reunion were the Lynches’ inspiration. Many of Joan’s clients in the real estate world had also enabled them to make the gift, he added.

Help create better engineering safety and risk management

“The thanks belongs to all of you gathered here tonight,” he said. “Our ability to do this is due to the people who have supported Joan and the people in the community I’m involved in, through their transformative acts.

“I could mention everybody in this room for inspiring us,” he said to a crowd of nearly 350 alumni and friends of the faculty. “There is no other way of putting it: you have inspired us.”

The Lynch contribution consists of a $1-million donation, plus a planned gift from their estate, to the David and Joan Lynch School of Engineering Safety and Risk Management.

Lynch, who raised hundreds of millions for the faculty during his two decades as dean, put his own fundraising skills to work on the crowd, explaining why, in addition to a gift from their estate, he and Joan chose to make an additional $1-million gift immediately.

“If nobody benefits until you’re dead, how do you know it worked?” he said, to a roar of laughter. “You don’t get to enjoy all of the good feelings when you’re dead.”

The U of A Faculty of Engineering is one of a very few engineering schools in the world providing an education that focuses on safety and risk management. The U of A program has been growing and now provides every graduate with a safety and risk management course.

The program’s long-term goal is to spread this educational focus to engineering schools across the country and around the world, safeguarding people and the environment.