Transformational giving at the University of Victoria
Give Canada facilitated +$25 million in naming donations

In 2002, University of Victoria President David Turpin engaged Give Canada to raise the bar on the level of giving at the institution. The University was seeking a philanthropic donor for the soon to be renovated McPherson Library and Give Canada was engaged to assist in the process.

After success with the Mearns Centre for Learning, in 2005 the University once again looked to Give Canada for guidance on the achievability of leadership gifts for a number of facilities and school that it considered worthy.

Give Canada employed its unique methodology and conducted an extensive strategic feasibility study that included confidential interviews with more than 40 of U Vic’s stakeholders — both internal and external to the university. The outcome pointed U Vic on a clear and targeted roadmap to success, including prioritizing naming opportunities and identifying advisors and prospects for each individual project.

Working hand in hand with the leadership team at U Vic to develop cases for support and important external advisory groups, Give Canada assisted the University in attracting and cultivating aligned and engaged donors who were motivated to give not just their financial resources, but also to lend their names and reputations to the University.


The Mearns Centre was created after a $5 million gift from the William C. Mearns family, in conjunction with $5 million of matching funds from the Government of British Columbia and funds from other University donors. Construction of the facility represented a significant expansion in the University Library’s ability to meet advances in technology. It also serves as a gathering space and media/education commons for the school. Mearns (1909-1998) was a Victoria native who rose through the ranks at BC Hydro from a meter-reader to executive director. He is recognized as a leading figure in the commercial and industrial development of British Columbia and was a founder of U Vic, being instrumental in the assembly and purchase of the Gordon Head lands upon which the University was built.



In 2007 Dr. Bob Wright (1930-2013) made a historic $11 million gift to the Centre for Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. Wright, head of the Oak Bay Marine Group, had a passion for the oceans and protecting them from climate change. As such, Give Canada’s research clearly pointed to Wright as the optimal partner to advance the University’s vision to be a world leader in this area.

UVic Leadership Gifts Case study Give Canada main building
Give Canada recognized that the existing friendship between Turpin and Wright would provide the best foundation for the presentation of a proposal. Working behind the scenes, Give Canada provided strategic counsel that culminated in a pivotal lunch between the two men, on Wright’s turf at the Oak Bay Marina. A few weeks later, Wright called his friend Turpin to advise him that not only would he be donating the requested $10 million to the school, but he would add an additional $1 million for student scholarships. Wright’s $11 million gift remains the largest cash gift in the history of the University, and a wonderful example of how strategic marketing and teamwork can create exceptional results for clients.


UVic-Leadership-Gifts-Case-study-Give-Canada-uvic-logoGive Canada’s final project at the University of Victoria was for the naming of the business school. After identifying Victoria entrepreneur Peter Gustavson as one of the most ideal prospects for the naming, Give Canada worked closely with the Associate Dean, Pat Elemans to facilitate a $10 million gift to the School of Business. Gustavson, founder of Custom House Global Foreign Exchange, sold his business in 2010 and made the donation soon after. As an exceptional and respected community and business leader, Gustavson’s association has helped the school refine its brand, moving it from a remarkable business school to a renowned centre of excellence for global business education.


At the end of his tenure as President of U Vic in 2013, the U Vic Torch, U Vic’s Alumni Magazine, identified the three gifts facilitated by Give Canada as three key “Highlights from the Turpin Era.”

I know Give Canada well. I would give the process 9 out of 10… I liked their direct approach.

Dr. David Turpin – President and Vice Chancellor, University of Alberta, Former President and Vice Chancellor, University of Victoria