Google founding investor gives $2M for Nobel laureate-led education transformations at UBC

A University of British Columbia alumnus widely credited for mentoring Google’s founders and helping establish the company is supporting science education transformations with a $2-million gift to the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative (CWSEI).

David Cheriton, a computer science professor at Stanford University, announced the gift today with Carl Wieman, Nobel laureate and director of the CWSEI; David Farrar, UBC Provost and Vice President Academic; and Simon Peacock, UBC Dean of Science. The gift will support the transformation of core, required courses in the Faculty of Science departments of computer science and mathematics over the next five years with the help of the CWSEI, positively impacting thousands of students a year.

“We take great pride in Prof. Cheriton’s accomplishments as an alumnus and philanthropist,” said UBC President Stephen Toope. “His mentorship and foresight 15 years ago fostered the ubiquitous search engine that revolutionized the way people acquire information. His generosity today will help transform basic and applied science education for decades to come.”

“The inspiring professors that I encountered during my undergraduate education at UBC set me on a career path that has been wonderfully rewarding both personally and financially,” said Cheriton.

“Investment in the next generation is the best and most important one I can make, and education has to top the list,” Cheriton added. “It is exciting to be able to support my alma mater, this initiative and the UBC faculty members to make undergraduate education truly transformative for students here and around the world.”

Cheriton received his Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from UBC in 1973 before pursuing his Master’s and PhD at the University of Waterloo. He returned to UBC as an assistant professor in computer science from 1979 to 1982 before moving on to Stanford University, where he currently heads the Distributed Systems Group. The University of Waterloo’s School of Computer Science bears Cheriton’s name in recognition of his $25-million gift in 2005.

“Prof. Cheriton understands the need and impact of undergraduate science education both from a student and educator perspective,” said Wieman. “His generous support, along with his connections to Stanford and Waterloo, will help further the CWSEI’s goal of sharing our experience and learning materials with institutions around the world.”

The CWSEI funds and advises UBC science departments to help them scientifically measure and systematically improve undergraduate education. Since 2007, the CWSEI has helped UBC Faculty of Science departments undergo curriculum and course improvements, including the establishment of learning goals, adoption of new and proven teaching techniques and scientifically evaluating and documenting student achievements. More than 18,000 students will benefit from CWSEI activities this year.

“The CWSEI provides enormous support and guidance to UBC science faculty in making the classroom experience more rewarding for both teachers and students,” said Simon Peacock, UBC Dean of Science. “By improving student learning and helping us graduate engaged, scientifically literate citizens, Prof. Cheriton’s gift will have a lasting impact far beyond our math and computer science classrooms at UBC and partner institutions.”

For more information on the CWSEI, visit

For stories on CWSEI transformations at UBC departments, visit

About the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative (CWSEI)

  • The Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative was established in 2007 after the recruitment of Nobel laureate Carl Wieman to UBC.
  • The CWSEI advises UBC science departments to scientifically measure and systematically improve undergraduate education using proven teaching techniques and the latest information on how people learn.
  • Since 2007, 47 courses in nine UBC science departments have undergone transformations with the help of Science Teaching and Learning Fellows (STLFs).
  • STLFs are termed scholars with expertise in how people learn and their respective scientific disciplines who assist faculty members to adopt proven best practices in teaching and assessment.
  • More than 18,000 UBC students are expected to benefit from CWSEI activities this year.