Why Giving Matters


June 11, 2019

McGill Principal and Vice-Chancellor Suzanne Fortier, BSc’72, PhD’76, and Santa Ono, PhD’91, President of the University of British Columbia.

It’s a friendship that dates to the beginning of the last century. And while they may be separated by 4,500 kilometres, McGill and the University of British Columbia have always found ways to bridge that distance in the pursuit of knowledge and discovery.

Now a newly launched scholars program will create opportunities for students from McGill and UBC to take part in academic exchanges and study at both universities.

The Peterson-Wesbrook Scholars Program builds on an existing partnership between McGill and UBC and paves the way for the exchange of students for scholarly work. Students will benefit from the rich academic offerings at each university and from the chance to live and study in another part of Canada.

“McGill and the University of British Columbia share a long history of collaboration,” said McGill Principal and Vice-Chancellor Suzanne Fortier. “We are pleased to provide these enriching opportunities to our students. Together, we have a greater impact – and there is no telling what we will accomplish in the future!

Principal Fortier, BSc’72, PhD’76, and Santa Ono, PhD’91, President of the University of British Columbia and a McGill alumnus, announced the new program in April during her visit to UBC campus.

Ono also welcomed the reciprocal exchange of students, saying, “I’m so grateful for the long history of collaboration between our universities.”

The program is named after Sir William Peterson, McGill’s Principal from 1895-1919, and Frank F. Wesbrook, founding President of the University of British Columbia who served in that role from 1913-1918.

The ties between McGill and UBC date back more than a century. McGill University College of British Columbia operated from 1906 until the launch of the University of British Columbia in 1915, when it transferred its assets and responsibilities to the fledgling institution.

McGill’s former official historian Stanley Brice Frost noted the final letter of gratitude sent to Peterson from UBC Chancellor Francis Carter-Cotton: “The benefit our Province has derived from your University’s connection with it would be impossible to estimate. Many young people have received a university education for whom otherwise it would have remained an unaccomplished dream.”

Donors play key role in expanding program

McGill and UBC have collaborated on providing students with exchange opportunities between the two universities for more than two decades.

Now they will look at potential avenues for boosting the flow of students between the universities, such as allowing students to study for one or two terms on exchange or participate in faculty-to-faculty exchanges in a research assistant capacity.

The aim, wherever feasible, is that visiting exchange students in good academic standing would not pay fees at the host institution, aside from student activity fees. The hope is to accommodate approximately equal numbers of exchange students at McGill and UBC.

Donors will play a key role in allowing McGill and UBC to enhance and extend this enriching learning experience to more students.

You can contribute to the Peterson-Wesbrook Scholars Program here.