Gitzel family donates $1 million to create mental health fund for USask students

SASKATOON – University of Saskatchewan (USask) students will have increased access to mental health supports thanks to a family of four USask alumni who made a pact to give back to their alma mater.

The Gitzel family — consisting of Tim, Bonnie, Ty and Bailey — have gifted USask $1 million to establish the Gitzel Family Fund for Mental Health as part of the Be What the World Needs Campaign 

The new funding will provide additional support for counsellors, group therapy delivery, and peer-health programming to ensure that USask students are positioned to thrive with holistic support throughout their educational journey. 

“Mental health is just so important,” said Tim Gitzel. “It’s an issue everywhere ... so there was no hesitation, not even for a minute, that we would step up as a family.”  

Second-year psychology student Bri Giesbrecht said it’s helpful to receive these kinds of mental health supports on campus. Her personal experience with the student centre has helped her confidently look in the mirror and imagine a bright future.  

“When I was younger, I had no idea and thought I would never make it to 16,” said Giesbrecht. “Now I’m 24 and I never thought I would see this day.” 

Jocelyn Orb, director of the Student Wellness Centre at USask, said the Gitzel gift will go a long way to help students like Giesbrecht and will bring stability to the centre’s mental health promotion work, an important way to ensure student success on campus. 

“Since COVID, we have seen an increased demand for mental health support among the university students,” said Orb. “We want to support them and we want to make sure that they are cared for during their time here at university because that is going to affect their academic success.” 

USask President Peter Stoicheff said this donation addresses an important need on campus and highlights the impact that donors have on the university and its students. 

“Mental health is such a critical component of students’ academic success,” said Stoicheff. “The Gitzel family’s generous commitment recognizes that importance and we are deeply grateful for their support today, as well as Tim’s involvement as a valued member of our campaign cabinet and long-time volunteer. His insight and expertise have been crucial as we set out on our journey to achieve the ambitious goals of this campaign.” 

Ty Gitzel said he hopes his family’s donation can allow some students who have been struggling with mental health the chance to embrace their time at USask with the same level of fondness that he has now. 

“It’s meant friendships, it’s meant connections, it’s meant opportunities. It’s been the best four years of my life,” he said. “I think the people that I met will stay with me forever, the best friends I have.” 


For media inquiries, contact:  

Victoria Dinh 
USask Media Relations 

Share this story