Media Release | Oct. 13, 1998
UBC grad donates $50 million to alma mater
University of British Columbia graduate Dr. Stewart Blusson has
donated $50 million to the university, a gift believed to be the
largest single donation ever made to a Canadian public institution
by an individual or corporation.
"It is an extraordinary gift not simply because of the amount,
but because Dr. Blusson has granted us the privilege of allocating
the money specifically to research and academic excellence," said
UBC President Martha Piper.
Dr. Blusson, who completed his Bachelor of Science degree at UBC
in 1960, said he was motivated in part by the federal government's
creation last year of an $800-million fund known as the Canada Foundation
for Innovation (CFI). Designed to help universities, colleges and
hospitals upgrade their research facilities, the CFI covers 40 per
cent of the cost of facilities with the remainder coming from the
public and private sectors.
"The most important research is often the most basic research,
which the public often does not get excited about because it, by
itself, is simply another piece of the puzzle. However, its significance
will only be recognized later when a different researcher in a distant
laboratory builds on this advancement of knowledge to ultimately
make a major scientific breakthrough," Dr. Blusson said.
In response to the need for private sector participation, Dr. Blusson
wants a substantial portion of the $50 million used to attract CFI
funding. Accordingly, Piper said the donation will not be used for
salaries, administration, or on-going operations, but rather will
support the funding of infrastructure and equipment that will help
take UBC "to a whole new level of research and academic excellence
in the 21st century."
"Dr. Blusson fervently hopes that his gift encourages others to
make donations not only to UBC but to universities and research
institutions in Canada," Piper said. "It is his firm belief that
collectively we can and must improve the level of research and academic
excellence across the country."
Piper added that Dr. Blusson was aware of UBC's public awareness
campaign which urges people to "Think About It -- UBC Research."
"He has obviously done some serious thinking and has translated
his thoughts into dramatic action," she said. "This gift is a bold
and decisive commitment. We at UBC will respond in kind as we set
about our goal of becoming the leading research institution in Canada
and one of the world's finest public universities."
Biographical information on Dr. Stewart Blusson follows.
Biographical information: Dr. Stewart Blusson, BSc, PhD
Born in Vancouver, Dr. Blusson completed his Science degree at
the University of British Columbia and received his PhD from the
University of California at Berkeley in 1964.
For the next 15 years he displayed extraordinary skills in field
work with the federal Geological Survey of Canada, leading regional
geological mapping and research programs in the central Yukon and
parts of British Columbia.
He married Marilyn in 1980. She shares his enthusiasm for the wilderness
and the stimulation of discovery, and together they planned to explore
In 1981 he left the Geological Survey to explore the modes of formation
of mineral deposits from Mexico to the Arctic, piloting his own
plane and helicopter over vast areas.
He discovered a number of important occurrences of gold, copper
and other metals in Canada and the U.S. A gold mine was developed
from one of these discoveries in Manitoba by Pioneering Metals Corporation.
His authoritative knowledge of Canadian and global geology led
him to conclude that conditions for the occurrence of diamonds in
Canada were favourable, and accordingly, he developed an exploration
plan using highly refined scientific methods.
In 1981, he and fellow geologist Chuck Fipke began searching in
geographically appropriate regions of the Northwest Territories,
concentrating their search on indicator minerals commonly associated
By following the trails left when the glaciers melted 10,000 years
ago, a diamond-bearing kimberlite pipe was discovered in 1991 in
the Lac Gras area north of Yellowknife. This and similar discoveries
in the area are expected to result in the development of a diamond
mine industry in Canada.
Dr. Blusson continues to conduct arduous scientific field work
in the mountains of Northern and Western Canada and in the Canadian
Shield. Energetic, determined and innovative, he quietly pursues
dreams of new discoveries.