KELOWNA — UBC Okanagan is creating a student centre in honor of UBC alumnus Dr. J. Peter Meekison, made possible by a $2 million commitment from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous.
Peter Meekison is the Public Administrator who this year oversaw the transformation of Okanagan University College to UBC Okanagan and Okanagan College. A graduate of UBC, Dr. Meekison has had a distinguished career in public service, serving as a Deputy Minister in the provincial government of Alberta and a member of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada, and was awarded the Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for Excellence in Public Administration for the Province of Alberta.
“I am very touched by the generosity of this gift to UBC Okanagan in my name,” said Meekison, a distinguished constitutional scholar and former Vice President of the University of Alberta. “This student centre at UBC Okanagan will help ensure that students have a place to meet, access services, and experience a great campus life.”
The gift recognizes Meekison’s many contributions to student life at UBC, including service as president of the university’s student government, the UBC Alma Mater Society, from 1960 to 1961.
The $1 million gift, announced at the UBC Annual General Meeting today at UBC Okanagan, is backed by the donor’s further $1 million commitment to create the Meekison Student Centre, a 35,000-square-foot facility designed to enhance and support a vibrant campus life for students.
The Meekison Student Centre, a $6 million multi-purpose facility, is planned for the UBC Okanagan campus core area emerging north of the Library building. It will provide space for student services, social interaction, and peer support.
“The Meekison Student Centre at UBC Okanagan will build upon one of Dr. Meekison’s great legacies during his career in post-secondary education, the advancement of student participation in university life,” said UBC President Martha Piper.
“A major institutional priority for UBC Okanagan is the commitment to create a culture where students and faculty are empowered and valued as full partners in the learning community,” said Piper. “This new facility will help students recognize their roles in the creation of a civil a society and in the development of global understanding.”
“The need for such a centre becomes clear when we consider that the scope of services and activities will increase dramatically as UBC Okanagan’s student numbers increase — to an anticipated 10,000 students by the 2009-10 academic year,” said Ian Cull, UBC Okanagan Associate Vice President, Students.
“The Meekison Student Centre will be a prominent feature of the Campus Core,” Cull said. “It will contribute to a high quality of life on campus for students and the entire UBC Okanagan community.”
The $1 million gift announced today, and the commitment of an additional $1 million in fund-raising, will combine with other private sector and stakeholder involvement to meet the facility’s total construction cost.
Dr. J. Peter Meekison
Dr. Meekison obtained a Bachelor of Applied Science and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of British Columbia. He served as President of the UBC Alma Mater Society in 1960 and 1961. He went on to earn an MA from the University of Western Ontario, and a PhD in Political Science from Duke University. He served as chair of the University of Alberta’s political science department before moving into government service.
He served as deputy minister of Alberta’s Department of Federal and Intergovernmental Affairs from 1977 to 1984, and participated in the process that led to the patriation of the Constitution in 1982.
After government service, Dr. Meekison returned to the University of Alberta as Vice-President (Academic) from 1984 to 1991. Between 1993 and 1996, he was a Commissioner on the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.
Dr. Meekison served as the public administrator for Okanagan University College. He provided leadership, vision and guidance as that institution closed and gave rise to the new Okanagan College and UBC Okanagan.
He is an Officer of the Order of Canada and a recipient of the 125th Anniversary of Canada Medal as well as the Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for Excellence in Public Administration for the Province of Alberta.
Dr. Meekison is currently an adjunct professor of political science at the University of Victoria.