When I was asked to join the efforts of the Alumni Association board in 2009, it was an easy decision to accept the role. As well as the personal affection I have for UBC (with many fond memories from student days that would take up this whole column if I were to list them now), I am particularly keen to support it as an organization that practices community outreach in order to enrich the lives of citizens.
I was City Manager of Vancouver for 10 years and worked closely with UBC at a time when it was expanding its capacity to serve the community through innovative partnerships and programs. Initiatives such as The Learning Exchange and the Humanities 101 program in the Downtown Eastside, for example, are now thriving and making education accessible to those with a passion for learning who might not otherwise have the opportunity. They also create a space for dialogue around social issues affecting the area. Other excellent examples of public service are the student-run health and dental clinics that are not only valuable to community members, but also a hands-on, real-life learning experience that impresses upon students the importance of making a contribution.
Partnership and collaboration were key to making these and many other ventures work. During my tenure at the City, the university was both ally and asset in helping to develop impactful public programming. It provided the expertise, research and assessment that underpin any successful social endeavour to build the capacity of individuals and organizations.
One partnership leads to another, and for a number of years I have been serving on the President’s Strategic Advisory Council. It keeps me involved in the administration’s ongoing commitment to embrace the broader community, including key groups such as UBC alumni. In fact, knowing the importance placed on engaging alumni was a critical factor in my decision to serve the Alumni Association board. My two volunteer roles at UBC are exceptionally harmonious and I look forward to helping facilitate an even richer and more productive partnership between UBC and its grads.
I’m confident in the enthusiasm and professionalism of the Alumni Affairs staff team, and the commitment of the board. UBC is a valuable social asset worthy of our attention and support. Helping to galvanize its considerable alumni base into a sense of pride, ownership, and ultimately involvement in its pursuits to improve society is, for me, time well spent. Committed people fought to establish UBC in the first place. Now our university has had a century to mature and prove its worth as a major community investment, it is even more important to support its activities in any way we can.