Veteran’s $2.4 million donation supports underrepresented students from MRU Aviation program
By Riggs Zyrille Vergara, Publishing Editor
Ken Lett, a veteran pilot from World War II, is donating $2.4 million to Mount Royal University’s (MRU) Aviation Diploma program. The focus will be on scholarships and bursaries intended for the participation of underrepresented groups in the aviation industry including Indigenous Peoples and women.
Aside from that, the donation will also help develop MRU’s flight simulator, aircraft maintenance and technology and other needed infrastructures.
“The Mount Royal Aviation Diploma stands out as it offers students the opportunity to graduate with both the academic qualifications and the in-flight training needed for careers in the aviation industry. This gift will help us reach even higher and let more students achieve their dreams.” said Deanna Wiebe, chair of the MRU aviation department.
“We are so grateful to Ken for this gift. It is testament to his generosity, but also to the strength of the program and its important role in the future economy of Alberta,” Dr. Elizabeth Evans, PhD, MRU interim provost and vice-president academic said.
Lett was attracted to the business side of flying, which is part of MRU’s desire to transform the aviation diploma to a four-year degree with added curriculum on business and managerial training for more career choices for graduates.
“In my opinion, this will provide great value to the students in their careers so they can go beyond being pilots if they wish. The aviation sector’s greatest deficiency is in people who can manage, at all levels. Every airline, every airport, every aviation services operation needs good business leaders who understand flying.” Lett added.
As a pilot during the Second World War, Lett flew Spitfires in combat. He also served during the Cold War and even survived the Normandy Invasion.
“Aviation has been my life. I just love flying… My heart is full of joy when I think of helping young people have careers in aviation.” Lett said.
MRU is not the first institution to receive donations from Lett. Back in 2015, Lett donated $1 million towards the Military Museums’ exhibit marking the 40-year Cold War in which Canadian airmen roamed the skies.
When Lett came to Calgary in 1978, years after the war, he took advantage of the booming oil industry of Western Canada at the time. Lett and his partners took the task of refuelling operations and other services through the Executive Flight Centre Fuel Services.