New campaign harnesses the power of alumni, donors

UBC launches start an evolution—a new fundraising and alumni engagement campaign

start an evolution is an ambitious $1.5 billion fundraising campaign with the dual goal of doubling the number of alumni engaged in the life of the university to 50,000 annually by 2015.

The campaign was launched in September and ultimately seeks to enhance student learning, expand research capacity and extend UBC’s community engagement initiatives. UBC’s campus in the Okanagan plans to raise $100 million and double its own alumni participation levels.

“The idea behind start an evolution is to show donors and alumni the broad range of work that is already taking place at the university,” says Barbara Miles, Vice President, Development & Alumni Engagement. “If you have a passion about a cause, UBC is likely already doing work in that field. By combining our efforts, change can happen more quickly.”

The website lists faculty and campus projects in need of support at both campuses. The projects range from medical and sustainability research to community activities and new student learning initiatives.

For UBC alumnus Andrew Hughes, receiving a unique scholarship opportunity transformed his post-secondary education experience.  In his third year at UBC’s Okanagan campus, the psychology student received an Undergraduate Research Award.

Undergraduate students don’t usually get the opportunity to work on their own research projects. But with his scholarship, supported by alumnus Irving K. Barber, Hughes had the opportunity to study how the two hemispheres of the brain process emotion differently.

The research Hughes was involved in found that positive emotions are processed more efficiently with the brain’s left hemisphere, while negative emotions are processed more efficiently with the brain’s right hemisphere. His study also showed that positive emotions are processed more efficiently by either hemisphere alone, while negative emotions are processed most efficiently by both hemispheres together.

When he presented his research at a conference in Australia, Hughes won “Best Presentation.” Today the work is being used in research into what happens to people after serious brain injuries.

Hughes is in the process of applying to medical school and says he hopes to complete a MD/PhD so that he can continue to do research. “Donors have the potential to change someone’s life,” he says, noting that he would not be pursuing medicine and research if not for the scholarship he received.

In the planning years leading up to the campaign launch, UBC raised $760 million towards the final goal. In the last three years, the university also made headway in engaging alumni, increasing engagement by 50 per cent.

“Alumni play a vital role in the life of UBC both on and off campus,” says Jeff Todd, executive director of the Alumni Association and associate vice president Alumni Affairs. “If an alumnus has a passion, UBC has a place where they can get involved  – this is the foundation of start an evolution and we love helping make that happen.”

While some alumni may choose to take on more active roles in university life – by mentoring a student or joining the UBC Alumni Association Board of Directors – others may simply want to re-connect and network with other alumni, attend social and professional development events or experience intellectual and cultural activities on campus.

With more than 260,000 alumni worldwide and 51 alumni branches in 33 different countries, including places like San Francisco and Beijing, there are opportunities all over the world to get involved.

Learn more about the campaign at:

Five easy ways for alumni to engage

Update your address with the UBC Alumni Association
Attend an event
Find and meet
your local alumni
Read about UBC
and your fellow alumni in Trek magazine
Join alumni
social networking groups:

Other opportunities to engage include volunteering, mentoring a student, planning a reunion or helping to build the Alumni Centre. For more information, visit:

Ways to give

Cash gifts – you will receive a donation receipt for your gift of cash and your donation is tax creditable.
International giving
– UBC has established three international charitable foundations for donors living in the United States, the United Kingdom and Hong Kong.
Annuity gifts
– a gift that pay you an income. A portion of your contribution is used to purchase an annuity for you while the remainder goes directly to UBC as a gift.
Gift-in-kind donation
 – You can make a non-cash donation to UBC of equipment or supplies the university could use or of valuable collections or real estate.

For more information, visit: