Our Benefactor - Marcel A. Desautels

A visionary business leader who understands the power of music

One of our fundamental strengths is the support of Marcel A. Desautels, who in 2008 pledged a $20 million gift to the University of Manitoba’s music faculty -- one of the largest gifts in Canadian history to a department, school or faculty of music.

Dr. Desautels’s contribution allows us to offer student and faculty support that is among the most generous in the country. Half of his $20 million contribution powers an endowment fund that generates millions of dollars of support for music scholarships and innovative research and creative works by our professors.

Their achievements are a testament to the vision of this Manitoba-born business leader, who also happens to be a passionate and highly gifted musician. It is great honour for our faculty to bear his name.

About Marcel A. Desautels
OC, OOnt, B.A., LL.B., LL.M., C.A.E., F.C.I., LL.D., C.M.

Dr. Marcel Desautels is widely recognized as a leader and early visionary thinker in the financial services industry. Born in the Winnipeg neighbourhood of St. Boniface, he graduated from le Collège Universitaire de Saint-Boniface with a Bachelor of Arts (Lat. Ph.) in 1955. In 1959 and 1965 respectively, he received Bachelor of Law and Master of Law degrees from the University of Manitoba. He was appointed an Honorary Life Member of the Manitoba Law Society in 2000.

After successful private law practice in Winnipeg, he held senior positions in government and industry until 1970, when he became President and General Manager of Creditel of Canada Limited. Under his leadership, Creditel grew into Canada’s largest business credit information and debt recovery organization. Dr. Desautels also organized and chaired major professional conferences for the credit management industry in cities across North America, and has been called upon as a key advisor and negotiator by both industry and government.

Dr. Desautels has long held an interest in the field of professional and post-secondary education. For 15 years, he served on the National Council of the Credit Institute of Canada, which offers professional designation courses in credit management and is closely affiliated with several Canadian universities. In 1984, in recognition of his many years of service to the credit and financial management profession, he was named a Fellow of the Credit Institute, F.C.I., the highest honour conferred by the Credit Institute of Canada.

In 1996, with proceeds from the sale of Creditel, he established the Canadian Credit Management Foundation to fund innovative new programs at Canadian universities. A partial list of gifts includes:

  • $1 million to the University of Manitoba for fellowships in Finance at the I.H. Asper School of Business
  • $5 million to the University of Manitoba Faculty of Law to establish the Marcel A. Desautels Centre for Private Enterprise and the Law
  • $1 million to establish a scholarship endowment at Collège Universitaire de Saint-Boniface
  • $1 million to provide scholarships at the Joseph L. Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto
  • $40 million to date in additional gifts to advance the Rotman School’s stated goal of becoming one of the 10 largest and best faculties of management in the world
  • $33 million in total to McGill University for new courses and programs at the Marcel Desautels Centre for Integrated Management at the Desautels Faculty of Management
  • $20 million to the Desautels Faculty of Music at the University of Manitoba for student and faculty research support, and for new facilities

Marcel A. Desautels is a ninth-generation Canadian. His roots go back to 1653 when le Sieur de Maisonneuve returned to France to recruit more colonists for Ville-Marie. Pierre Desautels, Marcel’s ancestor, was one of the 100 or so who formed “la grande recrue de 1653,” which is widely recognized as being the group that truly founded Ville-Marie. In the mid-nineteenth century, both of Marcel’s great grandparents homesteaded in Western Canada because their very large families could not survive on the small farms in Quebec.

Marcel’s deep roots have shaped his strong commitment to the support and advancement of students through gifts to post-secondary education. In 2009, he became a member of the Order of Canada, our country’s highest civilian honour. In 2012, he was honoured with the Order of Ontario.

60% of our students receive financial support.

$1.9 million awarded since 2009 from Desautels Endowment alone.

170+ music students assisted every year.


Your gift can be directed to the Taché Arts Project or a bursary or scholarship of your choice. Learn more.