$1.25 million gift helps establish disability and rehabilitation research chair at Oshawa university

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Published April 11, 2024 at 2:08 pm

Ontario Tech donation
Dr. Steven Murphy (left), Beth Kelly, Dr. Pierre Côté and Astrid DeSouza at Shawenjigewining Hall at Ontario Tech University

Advancements in disability and rehabilitation research got a major leg up at Ontario Tech University this week, thanks to a $1.25 million donation from one of the school’s “dedicated champions.”

The Oshawa university established the Hann-Kelly Family Chair in Disability and Rehabilitation Research after receiving the donation from the family, key philanthropic contributors to the school since 2008.

The gift marks a milestone as the first donor-named research chair at the university’s Health Sciences faculty. Dr. Pierre Côté, who leads the Institute for Disability and Rehabilitation Research (IDRR) at Ontario Tech, was appointed Chair and will continue to advance access to rehabilitation and improved functioning for those in need of care.

“I am deeply honoured to serve as the first Hann-Kelly Family Chair in Disability and Rehabilitation Research,” Cote said, “The generous gift from the Hann-Kelly family will cement the IDRR’s position as a global leader in rehabilitation research, and as a leading hub for the training of the next generation of disability and rehabilitation scholars.”

Through a unique partnership between Ontario Tech’s Faculty of Health Sciences, the Faculty of Social Science and Humanities and the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, the IDRR takes an interdisciplinary approach to disability and rehabilitation research. This helps unite health scientists and social scientists to address health-related issues as well as broader challenges related to social justice, discrimination, inclusion, and equity of delivery of services.

Individuals with disabilities face discrimination and significant obstacles to participation in society, a truth particularly evident for those in underserved communities, and the Hann-Kelly’s family’s donation will provide the institute with the resources to make new progress in this area.

Beth Kelly, speaking on behalf of her family, said there is an “urgent need” to address obstacles impeding access to disability and rehabilitation services.

“We strongly believe that every individual living with a disability deserves unhindered access to the support and care essential for a productive and fulfilling life,” she said. “We are excited by the impact our support will have, ushering in a future of tangible, positive change for countless lives.”

Thanks to her family’s investment, the IDRR will also help uncover new strategies to create effective, accessible and equitable rehabilitation services through their support of graduate students and additional research positions.

“I extend my sincere gratitude to the Hann-Kelly family for their visionary generosity and support,” said Ontario Tech President Dt. Steven Murphy. “The Institute for Disability and Rehabilitation Research is embarking on an important journey toward inclusivity, equity, and social justice. The Hann-Kelly family’s remarkable contribution will play a key role in helping break down barriers, improve the lives and well-being of people with disabilities, and foster a future where every individual has access to the care and services they need.”

Beyond this latest contribution, the Hann-Kelly family has also removed financial barriers and sparked opportunity for 23 Ontario Tech students by supporting them through the Bob Hann Memorial Bursary and Deb Clarke Award.

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