Volume 92, Issue 24

Friday, October 16, 1998

arresting developments


UBC gets a whack of cash from alumnus

By Dave Yasvinski
Gazette Staff

The University of British Columbia's research program just got a whole lot richer thanks to a $50 million donation announced Tuesday.

The donation was made by Stewart Blusson, UBC alumnus, who was jointly responsible for making one of the world's largest diamond discoveries. The donation consisted of a transfer to the university of 10 million shares worth $5 each from Archon Minerals Ltd, of which Blusson is the principal shareholder.

"As far as anyone can tell, this is the largest single donation made in Canadian history," said Steve Crombie, UBC spokesman.

The only stipulation accompanying the donation was that it go towards funding research projects at UBC which have been proposed to the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, a federal government initiative which matches up to 40 per cent of the cost of approved projects.

"[Blusson] wanted to give something back to his Alma Mater and to the public," Crombie added.

Blake Bromley, Blusson's lawyer, said Blusson would have preferred the donation remain anonymous but it was impossible because it involved the exchange of a large number of shares. Bromley added there is a condition to the donation which guarantees UBC will still receive $50 million even if the shares decrease in value.

"He will have a role in determining when the shares are sold to avoid flooding the market," he said.

UBC director of research services, Rick Spratley, said because of the CFI's matching program and a provincial matching program, the money will likely be at least doubled – maybe even more.

"We have about 20 proposals in the first [CFI] competition, we're expecting some announcement on Monday," he said.

Spratley added this donation will help finance research at UBC through the five-year lifetime of the CFI. "It gives science a big advantage," he said.

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Copyright The Gazette 1998