Portrait of a donor: Rowland Marshall

NSCAD donor Rowland Marshall is pictured at a solo exhibition of his paintings. (Photo courtesy of Dee Dee Morris)

Sixty-five years later, Rowland Marshall smiles to remember that box of oil paints he bought when he was a teenager.

You might say that box of paints coloured his determination to live a creative life. He applied that thinking to his teaching as a philosophy professor at Saint Mary’s University, as a father and grandfather, and as a philanthropist.

“I do strive to be a creative person in all aspects,” says Dr. Marshall, originally from Windsor, Ont. He first landed in Nova Scotia as a 16-year-old sailor in the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War. “I want to do something where I might have some impact and create a legacy before I leave this scene.”

Dr. Marshall has always had a fondness for that other Halifax university—NSCAD—where he tried his hand at printmaking, sculpture, portrait painting, bookbinding and pinhole photography during various night classes over the years. His name, and that of his late wife Margó, is attached to a number of scholarships at NSCAD, including awards for excellence in printmaking, sculpture, painting, product design and textiles. Just recently, Dr. Marshall established a new bursary for a mature female student taking classes through the School of Extended Studies with plans to enter a degree program.

“There is something quite amazing about getting your hands into some clay or starting work on a plate for a print and that’s what we wanted to recognize with these scholarships,” he says. “At NSCAD, what I’ve admired is the encouragement to try things out, to experiment, to really think.”

The Marshalls have never been what you can call wealthy, but the endowments they created were possible by putting money aside a little at a time. And their support is by no means exclusive to NSCAD; they also set up awards at Saint Mary’s and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

“These awards aren’t as substantial as I’d like, but maybe they’ll give encouragement to the recipients, help them to be confident in their abilities,” says Dr. Marshall. “And that means the world to me.”