Pharmacy Alumni Share Tradition of Giving Back to UBC

Pharmacy alumni share tradition of giving back to UBC

Marion Pearson and James Orr have always been outstanding supporters of UBC, generously donating their time and resources to the institution where they met and spent the better part of their careers. Their first major donation was a unique legacy donation—a joint life insurance policy. Recently, this couple once again demonstrated their passionate belief in the value of education by gifting the University with a new bursary.

The funds from the insurance policy will be put towards teaching and learning activities in the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences where Marion works as Senior Instructor and Director of the Entry-to-Practice program in the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

“The insurance policy made sense,” explains Marion, “because it allowed us to donate a sizable gift, and it hasn’t cost us that much. We would never have been able to make the donation in cash—our estate will never have that kind of money. But our life insurance policy made it possible.”

Marion and James, an Associate Professor Emeritus in the same faculty, also recently established the Marion L. Pearson and James M. Orr Bursary, which will be available to pharmacy undergraduate students of any year, with preference given to first year students and students from rural communities in British Columbia.

“Some students struggle financially to be in school,” says Marion. “So we wanted to establish a gift for students in need. When I grew up, my family didn’t want for anything. But James’s family wasn’t wealthy, and going to school was a struggle. We have both benefitted from bursaries.”

Marion explains that she also wanted the bursary to benefit underserved areas of the province. “The project I did for my M.A. thesis had to do with where our graduates take jobs and why,” she explains. “It became very clear to me that the only students who take jobs outside the lower mainland are students who come from outside the lower mainland.”

“I was once discussing business with the former Dean, and I told him that I was surprised he paid me,” adds James. “I got more from the students than they got from me. It’s such a joy to watch them grow and go out and see what they can do. I wanted to help this along. Even though I don’t work there anymore, I thought I could still do something.”

Marion and Jim are also important advocates of volunteering for the University.

“This is a wonderful institution, but we need people’s energy to maintain that,” says Marion, who also sits on the Pharmacy Alumni Board of Directors and was recently distinguished as one of UBC’s most engaged alumni.

Marion calls volunteering “a family tradition,” and explains that she takes the time to contribute because it brings greater depth and joy to her job: “I could work all the time,” says Marion. “I am happy with my work. But volunteering enriches that. It brings something a little more fun into it.”

Marion has also helped organize numerous reunions for her class. She was recently approached by the University to become a “Class Leader”, and galvanized classmates to help raise $25,000 for the new Pharmaceutical Sciences Building.

“I love seeing our graduates and helping them stay connected to the University,” says Marion. “The idea of giving where it’s needed is important. The idea of being generous with what you’ve got is important.”