Back in 2008, Sarah Morgan-Silvester, BCom’82, became the youngest person to be elected Chancellor in the history of the university. I was already a big fan of Sarah – knowing her through the local business community and the various organizations in which we were both active. Along with many others who were similarly impressed with her credentials and community focus, I was delighted to support her appointment.
At that time, it was crucial to secure the sort of leadership that could propel the university forward despite a particularly challenging financial landscape and a context in which the business of delivering quality education was in a continual state of flux.
Sarah did not disappoint. Over the course of her two terms, she has provided thoughtful, quiet, steady leadership – and has used her connections and influence to facilitate rich linkages between UBC and the community. She is generous with her time. She listens. She is genuine. She knows when to ask the right questions and embraces diverse opinions. She became the voice of many stakeholders and has been particularly effective at establishing consensus.
After I became chair of the alumni UBC board of directors, I experienced her skilful negotiation first-hand and remain grateful for the guidance she has provided to our organization – as one of its most committed UBC volunteers. Under her and Stephen Toope’s watch, alumni UBC and the university entered into a new phase of their partnership, with the aim of creating a stronger and mutually beneficial relationship between UBC and its grads. Grads can now take advantage of an ever-evolving menu of programs and services to enrich their lives and careers. In turn, UBC enjoys growing support and involvement from its alumni – whether it comes in the form of volunteering, providing work placements for students, making a donation to support research, or simply recommending UBC as the next stop for their friends’ bright high school kids. In fact, more than 50,000 of you engaged with UBC in some way over the 2013-14 year.
After six years as UBC Chancellor, Sarah steps down from her role at the end of June. We cannot thank her enough for the great service she has provided to the university and to her fellow alumni. As chair of the committee tasked with finding her replacement, I knew we had our work cut out. But we have found a very worthy successor in Lindsay Gordon, BA’73(Economics), MBA’76. Mr. Gordon is a community and business leader with long-standing ties to UBC. In fact, he is co-chair for the university’s start an evolution campaign. We’re very lucky to have him as a colleague. I welcome him to his new role and look forward to another fruitful collaboration that will continue to strengthen both the university and the alumni experience.