Dear UBC community members,
As UBC alumni and donors, we are particularly pleased to serve as Campaign Co-Chairs for the start an evolution alumni engagement and fundraising campaign.
It has been a full year since the campaign’s public launch and the momentum has continued to build. In our first public year, we have already engaged more than 35,000 alumni and raised $226 million for students, research and community partnerships. This engagement and philanthropic support is making exciting initiatives possible. We are proud to share with you the stories below about how our alumni and donors are getting involved with the university and changing our world.
We hope that you are inspired, as we are, by these stories, as there is still a long way to go. Our campaign goals are ambitious. If you would like to get involved, please visit startanevolution.ca, where you will find many compelling projects that need your involvement. We urge you to join us on this journey and look forward to updating you on the campaign in the months and years ahead.
Lindsay Gordon, BA’73, MBA’76
President and CEO of
HSBC Bank Canada
Phil Lind, CM, BA’66, LLD’02
Vice-chairman of Rogers
Honorary Alumna’07, BA’68 (Queen’s)
Vice-chair of the McLean
Group of Companies
(Click to Enlarge)
Using Art to Build Community
UBC’s Learning Exchange was created more than 10 years ago to make connections between the university and Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. A recent mural project led by a UBC alumna allowed a group of residents to improve their surroundings while building a stronger sense of community.
The mural project had two distinct goals – to tackle the issue of social isolation identified among tenants living at the Oasis building on East Hastings Street and to address the graffiti in an alley behind the building, a scene of frequent drug use.
Kim Villagante is a recent grad who has encountered a lot of street art on her travels. Her interest in murals made her a natural choice to coordinate and direct the project. Kim led tenants and other volunteers in designing and creating three murals for the alley.
She set up monthly art spaces in the housing unit so that tenants could drop in, participate in the design process, draw, or sometimes just sit and chat. It was this ongoing, longer-term investment that really helped this project succeed for all involved.
“I was humbled to have been a part of this project,” says Kim. “I came into it thinking I’d just be contributing my art skills, but I’m walking away with the love and stories shared with me by the tenants at the Oasis. I have a renewed respect for the real community that is so evident here in the Downtown Eastside.”
Oasis housing staff reported an enhanced social atmosphere, triggered in large part by the creative process itself. “When several people are adding paint strokes to a mural, they
have to work with each other’s differences. I remember a lot of encouragement happening between all the artists – tenants and volunteer student artists – to get up and paint regardless of self doubts or ability,” says Kim.
People who walked past the murals while they were being created stopped to show their appreciation. Neighbouring condominium owners even approached Kim to create similar murals on their garage doors, immediately seeing the long-term value in such public art.
“Art is a huge community builder,” Kim says. “I wish there were more opportunities for visual art students to share their skills and educate themselves about community issues.”
Donations to the UBC Learning Exchange support innovative programming that bring together diverse people to achieve shared goals, offering transformative learning experiences for students, community members and volunteers alike.
Sharing the Path to Success
Tom Pallan was the first person of Indo-Canadian heritage to graduate from the forestry program at UBC. Today, at age 80, he is one of the first alumni volunteers to get involved in the university’s new Broad Based Admissions (BBA) process, which assesses prospective UBC students not only on high school grades, but also on life experiences and aspirations. Tom is reading and ranking the application forms.
“Part of the reason forestry students are required to submit an essay with their application is because UBC wants to attract well-rounded people who will be helpful to society,” says Tom. “You can tell a lot about an applicant by the way they express themselves, their interests, and commitments. For example, if they embark on something – do they stay with it? People from all over the world apply to UBC. Sometimes the writers are not proficient in English. You have to look past the words and try to understand what the writer is saying. You have to be so careful not to hurt someone’s chances.”
Helping students along the pathway to higher education is very special to Tom. “Canada was a different place back when I was young,” he explains. As part of a minority group, his family endured a lot of adversity but was determined to rise above it. Tom’s father worked as a labourer before he started a small business selling firewood. “He put five of us through university,” says Tom proudly.
After earning a master’s degree in forestry, Tom started Pallan Timber Products Ltd. with his father in 1959. Today, his sons now run the Pallan Group’s three divisions – forestry, custom lumber cutting, and real estate – while Tom enjoys life as the partially retired CEO.
“I have had a very busy and productive working career that was made possible by the education I received at UBC. Now, it’s time for me to start giving back,” he says. Besides volunteering as a BBA reader, for the past two years Tom has participated in the spring and fall convocations, presenting the gifts the university gives to each forestry graduate.
“All alumni should ask themselves the following: what small gesture can I make that, in some way, will help a deserving student obtain a university education?” says Tom. “Any university graduate, young or old, if you have time and are concerned about education and youth, should consider becoming a BBA reader.”