President Wesbrook

The Presidents
of UBC

“The people’s University must meet all the needs of all the people. We must therefore proceed with care to the erection of those Workshops where we may design and fashion the tools needed in the building of a nation and from which we can survey and lay out paths of enlightenment, tunnel the mountains of ignorance and bridge the chasms of incompetence.”

— Frank F. Wesbrook, the Founding President of UBC
President, 1913–1918

Frank Wesbrook became UBC’s first president in 1913. A noted scholar and accomplished university administrator, Wesbrook worked tirelessly to attract internationally distinguished faculty and develop the Point Grey campus. Despite his failing health and the outbreak of World War I, he created the foundation for the university to thrive for the next 100 years.

Frank F. Wesbrook
Leonard S. Klinck
Norman A.M. MacKenzie
John B. Macdonald
F. Kenneth Hare
Walter H. Gage
Douglas T. Kenny
K. George Pedersen
David W. Strangway
Martha C. Piper
Stephen J. Toope
Arvind Gupta
Frank Wesbrook

Frank F. Wesbrook

1st President, 1913-1918

Dr. Frank Wesbrook graduated from the University of Manitoba in 1887 and later received his M.D. in 1890. In 1895 he was appointed Professor of Bacteriology at the University of Minnesota and in 1906 became its first full time Dean of Medicine.

In the fall of 1913, together with the Board of Governors and the Senate, Wesbrook ensured that the University opened on time. Until 1915 UBC’s predecessor, McGill University College of B.C., instructed students at the Fairview site (now occupied by Vancouver General Hospital). The campus was located at the Fairview site until 1925.

In addition to his UBC activities, Wesbrook was Officer Commanding the Officers’ Training Corps. He helped establish the Vancouver Institute, toured British Columbia examining its resources, and was active in the Patriotic Fund Drive in autumn 1915.

Leonard S. Klinck

Leonard S. Klinck

2nd President, 1919-1944

Professor Leonard Klinck received his first degree at the Ontario Agricultural College in 1903 and continued his studies at Iowa State College (M.S.A., 1905). Professor Klinck then assumed responsibility for the Cereal Husbandry Department at Macdonald College in Quebec.

In 1914 Professor Klinck became the Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture at UBC and, after the sudden death of President Wesbrook, accepted appointment to that office. Professor Klinck was President during a difficult 25-year period in the University’s history; however he successfully oversaw the building of the Point Grey campus and the formation of a renowned and spirited faculty.

Norman A.M. MacKenzie

Norman A.M. MacKenzie

3rd President, 1944-1962

In 1913, Professor Norman MacKenzie enrolled at Dalhousie University and two years later joined the Canadian Army. After returning from overseas service, he studied law at Dalhousie, Harvard, and Cambridge universities and rose to prominence as an International Lawyer. He later joined the University of Toronto to teach law, and then was President of the University of New Brunswick before becoming President of UBC in 1944.

During his 18 years as President of UBC, Professor MacKenzie oversaw tremendous growth in enrollment and in the complexity of the University’s operations. After leaving UBC in 1966 Professor MacKenzie became a Canadian Senator.

John B. Macdonald

John B. Macdonald

4th President, 1962-1967

In 1942 Dr. John B. Macdonald graduated from the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of Toronto. In 1948 he received his M.S. in Bacteriology from the University of Illinois and his Ph.D. in the same field from Columbia University in 1953.

In 1963 Dr. Macdonald issued the groundbreaking Report on Higher Education in British Columbia. The ‘Macdonald Report’ advised new organizational structures, more decentralization, and laid the groundwork for the Province’s current higher education system, including the establishment of Simon Fraser University, University of Victoria, and British Columbia’s network of community colleges.

After leaving UBC Dr. Macdonald worked with a variety of governments, colleges, and universities across North America; he was CEO of the Council of Ontario Universities, and is a Past-President of the Addiction Research Foundation, a research affiliate of the World Health Organization.

F. Kenneth Hare

F. Kenneth Hare

5th President, 1968-1969

Dr. Fredrick Kenneth Hare received his university education at King’s College, University of London, the University of Montreal, and the University of Manchester. At McGill University he held the position of Geography Professor while earning his Ph.D. as an arctic climatologist. In 1959, he was instrumental in the formation of McGill’s highly successful Department of Meteorology. Dr. Hare was Professor and Dean of Arts and Science at McGill University and Master of Birkbeck College at the University of London.

After leaving UBC, Dr. Hare became Chancellor of Trent University and later went on to chair the national Climate Program Planning Board.

Walter H. Gage

Walter H. Gage

6th President, 1969-1975

Professor Walter Harry Gage, the Dean of Everything, served UBC for more than 50 years. Professor Gage began his career at UBC as a student, graduating with a B.A. in 1925. After earning a M.A. in 1926, he taught mathematics at Victoria College (1927-1933) and also served as registrar for that institution (1929-1933).

He returned to UBC in 1933 and became a Professor of Mathematics in 1943. Professor Gage served as Dean of Administrative and Inter-Faculty Affairs in 1948 and later as Dean of Inter-Faculty and Student Affairs. He served as Acting President for two years ahead of his official acceptance of that office in 1969.

Douglas T. Kenny

Douglas T. Kenny

7th President, 1975-1983

Dr. Douglas Kenny received his B.A. and M.A. from UBC before attending the University of Washington for his Ph.D. His academic interests were in teaching and research in the areas of personality and learning, developmental psychology, and patterns of child development.

At UBC, Dr. Kenny was a member of Senate from 1966 to 1983. He assumed the headship of the Department of Psychology in 1964, became Dean of Arts in 1970, and then President and Chair of Senate from 1975-1983.

In addition to his service to UBC, Dr. Kenny was a member of the Governing Board of the Canada Council (1975-1978) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (1978-1983).

K. George Pedersen

K. George Pedersen

8th President, 1983-1985

Dr. George Pedersen gained his university education at UBC, University of Washington, and the University of Chicago.

In addition to being President of UBC, Dr. Pedersen was President or Vice-President of five other Canadian universities. He is the founding President of Royal Roads University and has been active in community, provincial, national, and international organizations. He is currently the Chancellor of the University of Northern British Columbia.

David W. Strangway

David W. Strangway

10th President, 1985-1997

Dr. David W. Strangway earned his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Toronto in 1960. During his 12-year tenure at UBC, Dr. Strangway worked extensively to position the University as a world-class academic institution.

Previous to his presidency at UBC, Dr. Strangway was with the University of Toronto from 1973-1985, where he held a number of positions including Acting President, Vice-President, and Chairman, Geology Department. In addition, he has also worked with the UN, NASA, and for a number of leading world companies.

After leaving UBC, in 1998 he became the President and CEO of the Canada Foundation for Innovation and is the Founder and President of Quest University Canada in Squamish, BC.

Martha C. Piper

Martha C. Piper

11th President, 1997-2006
Interim President, 2015-2016

Dr. Martha C. Piper has the distinction of being UBC’s president twice during her distinguished career. Dr. Piper received her B.Sc. in Physical Therapy from the University of Michigan, M.A. in Child Development from the University of Connecticut, and Ph.D. (1979) in Epidemiology and Biostatistics from McGill University.

Prior to her arrival at UBC in 1997, Dr. Piper served as Vice President of Research and External Affairs at the University of Alberta.

Stephen J. Toope

Stephen J. Toope

12th President, 2006-2014

Professor Toope earned his PhD from Trinity College, Cambridge, (1987), his degrees in common law (LLB) and civil law (BCL) with honours from McGill University (1983), and graduated magna cum laude with his AB in History and Literature from Harvard University (1979). Prior to joining UBC, Professor Toope was President of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, a position he held since 2002. He has written, lectured and consulted extensively in the areas of public international law, legal theory, human rights, international dispute resolution, and family law.

During his eight years as President and Vice-Chancellor of UBC, Professor Toope made a number of instrumental changes, including the development of the Place and Promise strategic plan and launching the start an evolution campaign, which has resulted in $1.3 billion in funds for the university. Professor Toope will be joining the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs as its next director January 1, 2015.

Arvind Gupta

Arvind Gupta

13th President, 2014-2015

President Arvind Gupta joined a legacy of leaders at UBC that began in 1913 with Frank Wesbrook and has been built upon by each subsequent President ever since. Prior to becoming the President and Vice Chancellor of UBC, Dr. Gupta was the CEO and scientific director of Mitacs, a national organization with headquarters at UBC. He has been a UBC professor of computer science since 2009.