Colin Glassco: Inductee into McMaster’s Alumni Gallery

Leah Rosenthal, Advancement Officer | Hamilton, ON | June 1, 2015
 Colin Glassco, MBA '67 stands in front of four of the residences his foundation built at the orphanage they support. Three students can be seen returning from school.

Colin Glassco, MBA ’67 stands in front of four of the residences his foundation built at the orphanage they support. Three students can be seen returning from school.

Q: Share with us some memories of your MBA and your time at McMaster University.

A: I did the MBA in two stages. The first was taking evening classes for a year and then I went full-time. The evening classes were the best as there were many people enrolled who were working and were able to translate the theory into reality. While there full-time it was more intense and certainly more academically inclined. I do not have any real memories except hard work and some difficult subjects, although I  do recall Dr. Litvak who was a lively entertaining teacher.

Q: How did DeGroote prepare you for your career in finance and in oil and gas?

A: On graduation I returned to The Hamilton Group where I had been working while attending evening classes and I recall the President saying to me he had no idea what the salary would be for an MBA but whatever it was they would pay it. I was very excited. Just for your interest it was $9,500 per year! It was 20 or years later I went into the oil business. Like the other businesses, it was the degree that gave me an understanding of the business world.

Q: Share with us your desire to take an active role in philanthropy and start your own charity.

A: I retired, a bit early, and had the opportunity to go overseas with Sleeping Children around the World to help distribute bed kits and this got me thinking that perhaps if I had my own foundation it would give me a focus. That was the inspiration. But, what really got me fired up was the first trip to Zambia when I went into the bush to be part of an eye clinic where we examined 1100 children for a disease called Trachoma which causes a very painful blindness. 50% of the children had it and as part of the cure is clean water that started us drilling wells. Over 500 to date. Another event on that trip was watching the doctor perform surgery on a  little boy who had congenital cataracts (blind from birth) and then experiencing the bandage come off and watching the little boy looking around the room ‘seeing’ for the first time. It was amazing! Both of these events turned the trip from just being an adventure into one with meaning. This was in 1998!

Q: What has the Colin B. Glassco Charitable Foundation for Children meant to you? 

A: It has been a very humbling experience with all sorts of very emotional moments. These occur in Canada, for example, when someone says ‘let’s do it’ when I describe the need for something. And, of course in Zambia, when we visit the projects and are met with very grateful people usually showering us with wonderful presents. We have received many chickens, ducks and even goats.

Q: What are your hopes for the foundation?

A: We have some projects, such as the orphanage, which need to be sustained. My hopes that our plans for the future will allow this to happen. Further, we hope to continue to be able to add to our projects to make them more effective. For example, reading materials for our schools, medical supplies for our clinics and agricultural initiatives for the water wells.

Q: On June 3 you will be inducted into McMaster University’s Alumni Gallery. What does this honour mean to you?

A: It is a wonderful honour indeed to be recognized by my University. It gives me inspiration to keep going!

Q: Any advice for current DeGroote students and our alumni?

A: It would be that they try and find time in what is becoming a busier and busier world. To have the fun of experiencing the satisfaction of getting involved with helping others. This can be done with a simple donation but the best is to try and experience the impact. Also, to not fall into the trap of saying ‘my little contribution will not make a difference so what is the point.’ A very small donation, for example, can give someone sight!

Colin Glassco, MBA ’67, is the founder of the Colin B. Glassco Charitable Foundation for Children. On June 3 he will be inducted into McMaster University’s Alumni Gallery.

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