Peter Wall and UBC launch new program awarding up to $4 million per year to help create sustainable solutions in B.C.

Today, Peter Wall and UBC announced the launch of the Wall Research Awards and Wall Fellowships, which will be supported by the Peter Wall Legacy Fund, for a total of up to $4 million each year.

Photo credit: Hover Collective / UBC Brand & Marketing

Today, Peter Wall and UBC announced the launch of the Wall Research Awards and Wall Fellowships, which will be supported by the Peter Wall Legacy Fund, for a total of up to $4 million each year.

These Wall Research Awards and Fellowships will be offered to UBC faculty members and students. They will initially focus on research relating to sustainability in the areas of urban development, water, energy, transportation infrastructure, environmental protection of oceans and waterfronts, and resource-intensive industry. A celebration will also accompany the announcement of the awards and fellowships each year.

“UBC has been at the forefront of sustainability work for many years, making it the right partner to work with to create the meaningful solutions I hope to see for Vancouver and our magnificent province.” said Peter Wall. “I have no doubt that the recipients of these new awards and fellowships will help move B.C. and the world forward in sustainable approaches to pressing global issues that affect us deeply here in this province.”

In 1991, UBC received a gift of 6.5 million Wall Financial Corporation shares from Peter Wall, then valued at $15 million, to establish an institute for advanced studies1. At the time, the gift was the largest donation by an individual in UBC’s history and it has since generated over $140 million in value, establishing the Peter Wall Endowment as UBC’s largest-ever donor-funded endowment. Peter Wall’s love of UBC and academic community motivated him to donate what was, at the time, one-third of his wealth.

This gift, which established the Peter Wall Institute Institute for Advanced Studies, has supported over 100 international visiting scholars, almost 100 Wall Scholars and reached more than 10,000 people through the Wall Exchange Public Speakers Program2.

“We are so grateful for Peter’s continued commitment to the future of this province, and its impact on our global community,” said Deborah Buszard, UBC’s Interim President and Vice-Chancellor. “Peter’s legacy of inspiring the brightest minds to come together and collaborate on the grand challenges of our time will continue through these new awards and fellowships.”

UBC will also create the Wall Collaboration Centre – a flexible space within the University Centre, which will serve as a venue for members of the UBC community, Wall Fellows, and Wall Research Awardees to congregate, exchange ideas, and collaborate on solutions. UBC will also reinvigorate the Wall Ideas Lounge in the University Centre.

UBC will also host a celebration, at a date to be determined, to recognize the incredible work of the Peter Wall Institute of Advanced Studies over the years since its inception, and to look forward to a renewed and sustained capacity to support UBC scholars in their quest for solutions to some of the greatest challenges of our times.

Historical background:

1In 1991, UBC’s President Dr. David Strangway was in the midst of UBC’s largest to date capital campaign focused on revitalizing the university’s buildings and infrastructure. Peter Wall was introduced to Dr. Strangway and they engaged in multiple conversations and outdoor walks to discuss the vision for the future of UBC.  Through this dialogue, Wall and Strangway generated the idea of creating an Institute that would provide an opportunity, not found elsewhere in Canada, for UBC scholars to engage in research that would have the potential to catapult UBC to the top tier of universities in North America. This idea led to the establishment of the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies at UBC. UBC’s Dr. John Grace, a group of UBC scholars and representatives from the Wall  family together considered various models for an institute for advanced study in developing a proposal for the initial mandate for the Institute.

2The Wall Exchange Public Speakers Program has featured some of the world’s most prominent researchers and thinkers, including Judith Butler, Bruno Latour, Sir Martin Rees, and Cedric Villani. The Institute’s mandate was to fund and support excellence and interdisciplinarity in basic research. This was exemplified in the appointment of the Nobel Laureate Michael Smith as the first Peter Wall Distinguished Professor and with Brett Finlay, the current Peter Wall Distinguished Professor. The exploration in research between disciplines was unique to the Institute and resulted in groundbreaking discoveries that will forever enrich UBC, Vancouver and the world. From the Institute’s initial research funding to the Wall Scholars, they have further received millions of dollars in government research funding.