Prof collected bottle refunds for 25 years, donates $1M to support UBC geology students


A $1.1-million estate donation by geologist Wilbert R. “Ted” Danner will increase support for geology students at UBC, including topping up a scholarship originally funded by the proceeds of returned recyclable bottles and cans.

“We’re truly honoured by this gift,” said UBC Dean of Science Simon Peacock. “Ted Danner cared deeply about UBC and his generosity will continue to benefit students here, and at high schools across the Lower Mainland, for years to come.”

Danner, who began teaching geology at UBC in 1954, established the Beer-Pop Can-Bottle Deposit Refund Award in 1989 using proceeds from the return of bottles and cans collected on weekly scavenging treks on UBC’s Vancouver Campus. Danner’s office was often full of cans ready to be taken to the recycling depot.Danner trophy-cropped

Danner raised $46,000 from collected bottles and cans to support students before he passed away in 2012. The Beer-Pop Can-Bottle Deposit Refund Award continued after his death and has benefited 53 students so far. A trophy made by students from empty cans and bottles is still awarded to each year’s winner.

“Ted taught UBC’s introductory geology course for many years,” says geologist and entrepreneur Ross Beaty, a former student of Danner and executor of his estate. “He was a quirky, enthusiastic professor who inspired many students to go into the geosciences, including myself. What a wonderful legacy he’s now left for UBC and future generations of geologists.”

“Ted was well-known for his infectious enthusiasm for geology and field studies,” said UBC geologist Greg Dipple, who was also a colleague of Danner’s. “He used rock and mineral specimens from his personal collection to teach for many years into his retirement, and shared his passion for rocks, minerals and fossils with younger school children as well.”

Danner’s bequest endows $320,000 for the Beer-Pop Can-Bottle Deposit Refund Award, which provides two awards annually to geology students who have demonstrated aptitude in fieldwork. Another $320,000 will fund the newly established Ted Danner Memorial Entrance Bursary in Geology, provided to a student entering UBC enrolled in at least one geology course, beginning this September.

The estate also includes Danner’s extensive mineral collection, which now resides at UBC’s Pacific Museum of the Earth. It contains more than 2,000 specimens and is worth more than $500,000.

Danner’s estate donation forms part of UBC’s start an evolution campaign, the most ambitious fundraising and alumni engagement campaign in Canadian history.


About Ted Danner

Wilbert R. “Ted” Danner (1924-2012) came to Vancouver and UBC as a professor of Geology in 1954. Danner’s main field of interest was carbonate petrology. He wrote many books on geology and continued teaching for several years after his retirement. Through his fieldwork and world travels Danner collected more than 2,000 specimens of gold, gemstones, meteorites and minerals. The Pacific Museum of the Earth at UBC now houses his collection.


About the Beer-Pop Can-Bottle Deposit Refund Award and the Ted Danner Memorial Entrance Bursary in Geology

The Ted Danner Memorial Entrance Bursary in Geology will provide funds for high school students entering UBC who are enrolled in at least one geology course, with a preference to students who have enrolled in two or more geology courses. Awards are adjudicated by Enrolment Services. The first recipient will be named this September.

The Beer-Pop Can-Bottle Deposit Refund Award provides two scholarships annually to students in the Department of Earth Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences. One award goes to a Geological Engineering student, while the other goes to a Geological Sciences student. The awards are made on the recommendation of the Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences and recognize students with a demonstrated aptitude for geological fieldwork.

See a photo album of Ted Danner throughout the years: