Pierre Lassonde CM, OQ, PhD (Hon), PEng
Pierre Lassonde is the founding donor of the School that bears his name. In 2011 he donated $25-million to create the Lassonde School of Engineering, the largest single gift in York University’s history. As part of his support for the School he has endowed the most generous scholarships in Canada designed for engineering and computer science students worth up to $80,000.
“My projects are all about students – giving them a tremendous university experience and a life experience so they are able to go out there and fulfill themselves. But my gifts are also about helping the next generation of Canadians fulfill their dreams and continue to make Canada one of the best places to live in the world. The most important natural resource of our country is not its oil or minerals or forests, but our young people” - Pierre Lassonde
Born and raised in St-Hyacinthe, Quebec, Pierre Lassonde received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Séminaire de Saint-Hyacinthe before going on to study Electrical Engineering at École polytechnique de Montréal.
After graduation he moved with his wife, and fellow engineering student, Claudette MacKay to Salt Lake City where he studied for an MBA at University of Utah. He graduated in 1973 alongside his wife, who was awarded a Masters degree in Nuclear Engineering in the same year.
Lassonde began his career at the engineering firm Bechtel, headquartered in San Francisco. He later moved to Toronto where he joined mining firm Rio Algom, followed by a stint as lead portfolio analyst for precious metals at Beutel, Goodman & Company Ltd.
In 1982, he founded the Franco-Nevada Corporation with his business partner Seymour Schulich. The pioneering venture was based on the royalty model used in the oil and gas industry, which they applied to gold for the very first time. Never before has this concept been applied to any segment of precious metals mining sector.
Twenty years later in 2002, Newmont Mining Corporation acquired Franco-Nevada for US$3.2 billion to form the world's largest gold-mining company, with Lassonde serving as its President.
In 2008, Lassonde, along with David Harquail and the Franco team who had followed him at Newmont, acquired Newmont’s royalty portfolio and revived Franco-Nevada as the largest gold royalty company on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Lassonde was appointed Chairman of the Board of the new Franco-Nevada, a position he still holds.
Alongside his stellar business career, Lassonde served as Chairman of the World Gold Council from 2005 to 2009 and is a member of both the American and Canadian Mining Halls of Fame. In 1990 he published The Gold Book: The Complete Investment Guide to Precious Metals.
Watch Pierre Lassonde address students and their families at Convocation in 2014
A committed and generous philanthropist, Lassonde is an active supporter of the arts and education in both Canada and the United States.
Lassonde serves as Chairman of the Board of the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec and Chair of the Board of Directors of the Canada Council for the Arts. He was also Chairman of Opera Colorado's Board of Directors from 2003 to 2008.
In 2011, he announced a $25-million donation, his largest to date, to create the Lassonde School of Engineering at York University.
Previously he established the Lassonde Chair in Mining Engineering at the University of Toronto in 1996, followed by the Lassonde Mineral Engineering Program and the Lassonde Institute for Engineering Geosciences in 2000.
In 2001, he gave $1-million to the College Marie-Clarac, in honour of his late wife Claudette MacKay-Lassonde for the creation of the Campus Claudette MacKay-Lassonde, and the next year he donated $8 million to his alma mater École Polytechnique for the Pavillon Claudette MacKay-Lassonde and Pavillon Pierre Lassonde engineering buildings. In 2006, his $5-million gift to the University of Western Ontario funded the construction of the Pavilion Claudette MacKay-Lassonde.
At the University of Utah, where he obtained his MBA, he founded the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute in 2002 with an investment of over $13-million, with an additional $12-million of funding in 2014 to build the Lassonde Studios, a unique residential complex for budding entrepreneurs.
Watch friends, colleagues and family members pay tribute to Pierre Lassonde as he received his honorary doctorate in 2014
In recognition of his many accomplishments, Lassonde was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 2002 and an Officer of the Order of Quebec in 2008.
Lassonde holds Honorary Doctorates from York University (2014), Western University (2015), University of Toronto (2001), University of Montreal (2002), Ryerson University (2006) and University of Utah (2006).