Charles Fipke: It’s payback time (BScG Honours, 1970)
“It was my graduating year and I was out of money. I had a wife and a six-year-old son, Mark, to support and there were still two months to go before graduation. So I went to Dean Walter Gage (also UBC’s president at the time) and asked him if there was a bursary or an award I could apply for. He told me that with only two months left, everything was gone.
“He asked, ‘How much do you need?’ I said, ‘I need something like $300.’ He brought out his chequebook and wrote me a cheque for $300. That’s what got me through those last couple of months.
“I wanted to give him a little bit of a return on his investment. The thing is, it’s good Karma. If you give, you get it back.
“I love to help out students, because I was in their shoes once. Sometimes you need help to get up the ladder and somebody lends you a hand. Once you get to the top, you want to help others get there, too.”
About Charles Fipke
Born in Edmonton, Charles Fipke grew up in Alberta and the Okanagan before attending the University of British Columbia. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree in Geology in 1970.
In 1977, he founded CF Mineral Research in Kelowna, which is among the leading heavy mineral and diamond exploration research laboratories in the world. Fipke’s passion for exploration led him to the spectacular discovery of the first diamond pipe in North America in 1988, where the Ekati Diamond mine was established.
His extraordinary generosity to UBC includes a $6-million gift from the Charles E. Fipke Foundation to establish the Charles E. Fipke Centre for Innovative Research and the Fipke Laboratory for Trace Element Research (FiLTER) on the Okanagan campus.
A new gift of $3-million will establish the Fipke Professorship in Alzheimer’s Research in the UBC Faculty of Medicine. An additional $2-million will fund an advanced trauma room in the Emergency Room at Kelowna General Hospital, and provide a new electron microprobe for the FiLTER Lab at UBC Okanagan. The Charles E. Fipke Foundation has also made a significant contribution to a scholarship fund established by his former professor, the late Dr. Ted Danner, a highly respected UBC geology professor and teacher who inspired generations of students.
In January 2013, Charles Fipke was honoured with induction into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame.