The faculty of business administration at Memorial University will receive a $1.13 million donation from the family of the late Melvin Woodward, a Newfoundland business pioneer who founded the Woodward Group of Companies.

The money will be awarded to student entrepreneurs through an annual business competition, now called the Mel Woodward Cup.

The competition, which is a program of the Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship, will award more than $40,000 in cash prizes and offer mentorship and support opportunities for student innovators and entrepreneurs. 

Woodward’s children, Peter, Melvin, and Tana, made the donation in memory of their father, who died in 2015. 

"My father strongly believed that you never know what you're capable of until you go out and try,” said Woodward Group President and CEO Peter Woodward in a press release. “With this donation, we want to give students interested in entrepreneurship that opportunity to try. We hope that this fund sparks potential entrepreneurs to follow in the footsteps of our father and, in doing so, do their own part to contribute to expanding the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador.”

Melvin Woodward began driving a single-fuel delivery truck in 1976, and grew his businesses into key players in the oil and gas shipping industry. The Woodward Group now includes: Woodward’s Oil, Woodward Aviation, Woodward Auto Group, Costal Shipping and Labrador Marine.  The company founder was inducted into the Newfoundland and Labrador Business Hall of Fame in 2001 and won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.

“This generous donation from the Woodward family shows incredible support for, and belief in, our students and their capacity as potential entrepreneurs," said Isabelle Dostaler, the dean of Memorial’s business faculty. “Through this donation and the Mel Woodward Cup, we will be able to provide a tangible investment in our students and support them on their journeys towards becoming the next generation of business leaders.”