Thank you very much. Thank you. It is really wonderful to see all of you here in this beautiful arena. We’ve been waiting for you to join us for several months. And we know that you represent the best and brightest of your generation. We know from looking at your applications and studying them very carefully that you have impeccable grades, that you have served your communities well, and that you are passionate about the areas of study that you will choose. Some of you may not have yet chosen what you will actually focus on in your faculty. Some of you may actually be thinking about an interdisciplinary degree. And all of that is okay because you are just beginning your journey with us and we can’t wait to traverse that journey together with you. You are the newest members of this community. You add so much energy and spark to everything that we do, that we are just as thrilled to have you here as I hope that you are thrilled to be here.
Now, the University of British Colombia, as you know, is highly esteemed around the world. One of the things that I get to do as president is actually to meet with over 360,000 alumni around the world in every city. And everywhere you go, there are individuals, alumni, that proceeded you. That are at the very top of their game. Three graduates have gone on to be prime minister of Canada. Multiple graduates have gone on to be supreme court justices and even to serve as the chief justice of the supreme court of Canada. A number of you will become, like your predecessors, heads of multinational companies. Many of you will become renowned scholars, creating new knowledge and sharing that knowledge with the next generations of students that will follow you. There is so much that is in you that makes us want to wake up every day, each and every one of us. You’re a stunning class, this is a stunning institution, and we can’t wait to see what lies ahead for you.
Now, I understand, because I just arrived here three years ago, that in addition to your excitement, some of you might actually be a little bit nervous. I’m actually nervous right now that I might fall off the stage. But think back to that very first time when you were a little kid. Remember that very first time that you went up to that swimming pool, walked down that diving board, and your parents were there encouraging you, your neighborhood friends, maybe your grandparents, and you stood at the very edge at that diving board, sort of like this. Don’t worry, I won’t jump on you! Remember the feeling then? But you did it. You believed in yourself and look what has happened. You can now jump off a diving board, you can now swim, you can now ride a bicycle. So just think back and remember that feeling. Whenever you feel a little bit nervous, it means that you’re about to do something very brave. Let’s hear it for all of you 7,000 brave people who have joined UBC!
Now, when I arrived at UBC, the chancellor of the university, by the way, he’s a great guy, I’d like for him to stand up. This is his fifth or sixth year. Lindsay Gordon, let’s hear it for Chancellor Lindsay Gordon. Stand up. By the way, Lindsay is a graduate of this — double graduate of this institution. He got a bachelor’s degree in economics and then an MBA and went on to be CEO of HSBC Canada. Not too bad, right? He also met the love of his life here in the halls of residence. Who knows, you might meet the love of your life here too. That would be pretty cool. And then, he went on to be, as I said, CEO of HSBC Canada and he was also co-chair of the “Start the Evolution” campaign that brought $1.6 Billion into this institution and made possible facilities such as this. Let’s hear it for Lindsay Gordon.
Now, when I arrived at this university, Lindsay said, “You know, there’s one thing that I have a dream of and that is that we can provide more scholarships for our students. We have some of the best students in the world. We disperse about $100 million a year in financial aid, but we can do even more. Let’s raise some more money. Let’s have a campaign called the Blue and Gold Campaign.” So, we set out to do that. We hoped we would raise a big number in three years. And I’ll tell you about that number in a second. We were actually able to do it almost one year early. And the reason for that is because we want to raise as much money as we can to provide students such as your scholarships. Right now, we admit students in a need-blind fashion. We want to raise as much money as possible so that we can support you because you are the best and brightest around the world.
So, I have an announcement to make. I have a couple of friends to come out and help me I think. And how much money do you think we were able to raise to support you? Got any guesses? Just shout it out.
Alright, I heard a million. How about here?
One million. How about over here?
Four million. Okay, those are good guesses, but wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Wait, wait, wait, wait. Drum roll, please. We were not able to raise $100,000. That’s not what we raised. We were not only going to raise $1 Million. We didn’t only raise $10 Million. We raised $100 Million in new scholarships for you!
And we have a lot of people to thank. 58,000 people contributed to that $100 Million and they did it in record time. And do you know why they did it? Most of them have never met you. They gave money because they believe in this university, because they believe in you, because they believe that the future of planet earth depends upon supporting you. So, let’s hear it for all those people who gave, paid it forward for you.
Now, my buddy, Thunder, here. Hey, Thunder, how you doing, man? You know, I said that we reached that $100 Million goal early. Well, we don’t rest on our laurels here at the University of British Colombia, do we, Thunder? We’re going to reset our target and we’re going to raise not $100 Million. We’re going to raise $200 Million in scholarships for you! The largest amount raised in scholarships in the history of this nation. Let’s hear it for UBC!
By the way, you got Thunder here. Can you see up there, see that banner, “Go Thunderbirds”? I’m proud to say I’m a Thunderbird. You’re a Thunderbird. We’re all Thunderbirds, regardless of what faculty you are in. Come together and cheer for the Thunderbirds. You’ve heard about the fact that there are so many national championships, the most decorated athletic department in this whole country with many, many Olympians, some of which are also outstanding students and even Rhode Scholar winners. Let’s hear it for the Thunderbirds!
Now, I hear that you might have gotten a little present from us, a UBC Thunderbirds T-shirt. Wear it. That’s your ticket to any of these games. Come join us. It’s a lot of fun and these amazing scholar athletes deserve your support.
Now, the last thing I’m going to do is talk a little bit about what I’d like to see you do while you’re here. I know you’re going to study hard. I know you’re going to get involved. I know you’re going to give back to your communities just like you have. But I want you to be comfortable stepping outside of your comfort zone, just like you’ve done up until this very point. And one thing I want you to know is that it’s not always going to be easy. My life hasn’t always been easy. But don’t ever forget that we believe in you and that you should never stop believing in yourselves.