By Laura McCaffrey
Photos by Fangliang Xu
For many graduates, visiting their alma mater brings forth feelings of nostalgia and fond memories from a distant past. For Carleton University alumnus Sau Wang (Alexander) Law, who graduated in 1979 from Carleton’s Bachelor of Architecture program, this is especially true.
On Friday, October 5th, Mr. Law—a registered architect in Hong Kong and the founder of S. W. Law & Associates Architects & Development Consultants Limited—came back to Carleton University with his wife, Iris Law Chan, to tour the campus and to meet with faculty, staff, and senior administration for the first time since his graduation.
Mr. Law was visiting Carleton to join the Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism in celebrating its 50th Anniversary. His visit was the perfect opportunity for Carleton to announce an exciting new development in the School of Architecture: the Law Scholarship in Architectural Studies. Established with the generous support of Mr. and Mrs. Law and matching funds from Carleton, the Law Scholarship in Architectural Studies is a $500,000 endowed scholarship intended to support international undergraduate students from Hong Kong and mainland China.
“[I wanted to create] a scholarship for students, so they can come study at this fine university just like I did,” Mr. Law said. The Law family’s donation will do just that: the endowment will ensure that each year, in perpetuity, two outstanding undergraduate students will receive a $10,000 scholarship. The impact of this incredible gift is significant; it will provide students from abroad the opportunity to gain an international education and in turn will increase Carleton’s ability to recruit students internationally.
During their visit, Mr. and Mrs. Law were warmly welcomed by the Carleton community. Following an introductory lunch with Carleton University’s president, Dr. Benoit-Antoine Bacon, the Laws went on a campus tour. As he strolled through campus, Mr. Law was in awe of the substantial updates and improvements that have been made over the past 40 years. He studied intently the active construction sites and the new buildings that hadn’t existed during his time at Carleton—buildings that, in many cases, were funded in part by donors like him.
Mr. Law’s interest in—and connection to—Carleton students was evident every step of the way. During the tour, he stopped to chat with multiple students, striking up conversations about architecture and trying to learn from his millennial peers. “I’m astonished at what this generation can bring and do,” he said.
That evening, Mr. Law’s impactful contribution was officially announced at a celebratory event in the Architecture Building. Faculty, staff, and students gathered to say thanks and to pay tribute to Mr. Law’s generosity, dedication, and pride in Carleton University. “I want to tell you that I’m touched, Mr. Law, that Carleton is still so close to your heart,” said Carleton president Dr. Benoit-Antoine Bacon. “On behalf of future students—students who haven’t even been born yet—I’d like to say thanks. We are so grateful.”
Dr. Bacon went on to say that Mr. Law is part of the proud and dedicated group that are Carleton alumni. Like so many of his fellow graduates, Mr. Law is using his Carleton experience to do good in the world. Professor Jill Stoner, Director of the Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism, assured Mr. Law that with his support, Carleton and the School of Architecture can continue to nurture their students and empower them so they too can make a difference in their communities.
“When my father, the late David Azrieli, talked about education and philanthropy, he often said that he never considered his support to be charity,” said Naomi Azrieli, who gave an address on behalf of the Advisory Council for the Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism. “He considered it giving back what education had given to him. He said: ‘In every case, I feel I have received more than what I have given.’ Mr. and Mrs. Law, I am grateful that you share this belief.”
Ms. Azrieli noted that the generosity of donors and alumni like the Laws reminds us that the impact of the Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism extends far beyond the campus.
Despite the distance and time that has passed, Mr. Law continues to feel an allegiance to his home university. He was thrilled to reconnect with his former professors, Frank Carter and Greg Andonian, who contributed significantly to the culture of care and support that Mr. Law remembers from his time at Carleton. He excitedly presented the professors with a token of his appreciation—his book of poems and sketches—and thanked them for all that they do as educators and researchers. “I am here to show my thanks to all the professors and teachers who devoted their lives to [us students],” he said. “I, Alexander, am a student of Carleton University always,” he said.