About David Bissett
Founder of Bissett Investment Management & Philanthropist
David A. Bissett’s success in the financial services industry has been a prologue to his distinguished tenure as a leading philanthropist for a range of causes — education in particular.
He was educated in Halifax, Nova Scotia and received a Bachelor of Law degree from Dalhousie University in 1962. He attained his Chartered Financial Analyst designation in 1975. Mr. Bissett has had a long and successful career in the financial services industry. Commencing as a trust officer with a national trust company in Halifax and Montreal, he moved on to roles in the mutual fund management and brokerage industry with Power Corporation and Vice-President, Investments of a national life insurance company in London, Ontario.
In 1977 he moved to Calgary, Alberta where he managed the western operation for a major Montreal based investment manager. He founded Bissett & Associates in 1982. The firm invested over $5 billion for a broad group of private and institutional investors and sponsors its own family of mutual funds. It employed over fifty individuals including seventeen investment professionals when it was acquired by Franklin Resources Ltd. of San Mateo, California in 2000.
After selling the company, Mr. Bissett became a Director of Templeton Growth Fund, and embarked on his vocation as a supporter of education, community organizations and wildlife habitat preservation.
In 2002, Mr. Bissett donated $5 million to Mount Royal College — a transformative gift that led to the naming of the Bissett School of Business. And on May 5, 2006, David Bissett donated a further $7 million to the Bissett School of Business, the largest gift to a college in Canada, citing his desire to support “a business school that is creating a large pool of skilled people with a strong grounding in business practices.”
Never forgetting his Maritime roots, David Bissett — who received an honorary doctorate from Dalhousie University in 2003 — contributed over $450,000 to establish an endowed scholarship fund so that promising students from Halifax’s Cole Harbour High School could attend Dalhousie. With his wife Leslie, he gave $2 million in 2003 to create the David and Leslie Bissett Student Learning Centre at Dalhousie. Mr. Bissett also gave over $400,000 to establish the Alice Peake Bissett Residency in Companion Animals at UPEI’s Veterinary College, in memory of his mother.
Giving to community causes has been a hallmark of David Bissett’s philanthropy. In 2001, he and his wife gave an $8.2 million gift to the Calgary Foundation. Mr. Bissett chaired a successful fundraising campaign for the Calgary Millennium Park and has donated to a wide range of community cultural organizations. His passion for wildlife conservation has led to his support of Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever and the Delta Waterfowl Foundation.
Mr. Bissett has been active in several business and community organizations including the Canadian Council of Financial Analysts, the Calgary Society of Financial Analysts, Templeton Growth Fund Ltd., Pembina Pipelines, PFB Corporation and Express Pipelines Ltd.
In June 2006, Mr. Bissett was presented with the prestigious Friend of Education Award by the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education (CCAE). The Clearsight Wealth Management Friend of Education Award honours outstanding service or commitment to post-secondary or independent school education by a volunteer, organization, foundation, corporation or publication. Recipients have made a significant contribution in a leadership role to the cause of institutional advancement or education in Canada.
In 2007, Mr. Bissett was selected for induction into the Calgary Business Hall of Fame. Established in 2004, the Calgary Business Hall of Fame honours the lifetime achievements of southern Alberta's most distinguished individuals, who have helped shape our province through their business success, entrepreneurial spirit and philanthropic contributions – role models for our youth. Nominated by their peers, inductees are chosen by an independent selection committee. Members of the Calgary Business Hall of Fame serve as inspiring role models for all Canadians and are featured in a permanent exhibit located in Bankers Hall East Tower lobby.
At the 13th annual National Philanthropy Day luncheon hosted by the Association of Fundraising Professionals in Calgary & Area in November 2009, David Bissett was named “Individual Philanthropist” for his generous support of numerous organizations including conservation group Western Sky Land Trust, Mount Royal University, the Calgary Foundation and Dalhousie University.
David Bissett has stated his wish to see the culture of corporate philanthropy develop further in Canada. He has certainly done his part to move that culture to a new level.
In 2002, Calgary financial guru and philanthropist David Bissett and his wife Leslie made an unprecedented $5 million donation to the business school at Mount Royal College. At the time, their donation equaled the single largest individual gift to a Canadian college. In recognition of their generosity, Mount Royal renamed the 50 year business program The Bissett School of Business.
In May 2006, David Bissett and his wife Leslie offered a second substantial gift, and donated $7 million directed to support the continued growth of the Bissett School of Business.
Mount Royal renamed the building housing the School of Business Bissett. The School of Business Building was purpose built in 2003 to house the Bissett School of Business and support its accompanying programs, as well as house offices of Continuing Education and Extension and International Education.
Through the allocation of approximately $5.5 million of this tremendous gift, the Bissett School of Business is positioned to grow into space currently occupied by the other departments. Plans are underway to incorporate Continuing Education and Extension into a new Mount Royal College Library which is planned for the Lincoln Park Campus.
Since 2000, the Bissett School of Business has grown from 1,100 to almost 1,800 full-time students enrolled in 14 Bissett programs, including the nationally respected Aviation diploma program. Approximately 45% of these Bissett students are enrolled in four year applied degree programs.
Following the donation of David Bissett and his confidence in the business program, Bissett students have extended the demonstration of their academic excellence, community outreach, and national and professional recognition. His contribution and influence have been extraordinary in the success of the program.
- Each year 50 to 100 students of the flagship Bachelor of Applied Business and Entrepreneurship launch their own business ventures as part of degree completion. Launched in 1995, this is still the only program of its kind in North America. In a survey completed in 2005, 52% of graduates of this program are running their own business ventures – a statistic that leads other programs of its kind in North America.
- The first graduates of the Bachelor of Applied Business Administration Accounting have, in addition to their College credential, met all requirements for their professional designations for the CA’s CGA’s and CMA’s. There are now 350 students in this sought after program.
- Six new programs have been launched by the School of Business since Fall 2000, including innovative and successful four year programs in Supply Chain Management, Financial Services, and Nonprofit Management.
- Bissett student societies have won or been finalists each year in regional and national business student competitions. In addition, Bissett team members have been asked to present specific outreach projects to international business student conferences
- Accolades have been received for international outreach programs in which students have involved themselves.
- The number of international student exchanges has increased as well as there has been significant growth in the universities and colleges around the world offering positions to Bissett students in Europe, Mexico, China, the USA and several Scandinavian countries.
- Growth in scholarships since 2000 has grown from annual gifts of approximately $90,000 to an unprecedented $240,000 in scholarships and bursaries presented to Bissett students at a recent Bissett School of Business Scholarship and Awards ceremony.
Mr. Bissett’s most recent generous gift will also support two other programs housed in the Bissett School of Business:
- Funding in the amount of $1 million will support the Social Innovation Program and Institute of Community Prosperity – both of which reside within the Bissett School of Business. Funding will enhance current nonprofit sector education and research and support the Institute of Community Prosperity as it strives to become Canadian centre of excellence for the voluntary sector.
- Funding in the amount of $500,000 will be used for reinvestment in the legacy Mount Royal Aviation Diploma Program – a program launched in 1970 and an integral area of study in the School of Business since the 90s and a program with a national reputation for excellence.