Building the Future of Education

James Boucher

As Building Coordinator for the Faculty of Education at UBC, James Boucher is a busy guy: “I sort, deliver, and stamp the mail,” he says. “And I move things around for the professors and managers, run errands, and generally make sure our main building looks presentable.”

A 1988 alumnus, James began working for UBC two years later. Like many of his colleagues, he donates part of his salary back to it. He never knew he’d earn a place in UBC history by becoming the first donor to a major new project — the Ponderosa Commons Centre, a brand new multipurpose facility. Two of the Faculty of Education’s departments will move into the Centre, leaving behind the aging wooden annexes which have been their home for over 40 years – annexes which had been built as temporary structures!

“I’ve been delivering mail to the annexes every work day for the last 22 years,” James says. “The setting is nice, because they’re right in the middle of an old arboretum, so there are trees all around the buildings, and for years I thought it must be great to be located down there, with that sort of summer cabin feel they have. But one day I said this to a professor with an office in one of the annexes, and I got an earful,” he says, laughing. Complaints ranged from wildlife living under the floorboards to rotting timbers to aging wiring.

“So I thought my donation this year would go to the new building, since it’ll give those two departments a proper home.”

But the Ponderosa Commons Centre will be more than just a new building. It will be a blueprint for a new model of education, and a cutting edge teaching and learning centre that integrates new technologies and different learning styles. It will help UBC revolutionize education. This has made it a leading priority for the Faculty of Education.

“For me,” James says, “I’ll just feel good, going into that beautiful new space with the mail each day, and knowing that in some tiny way I helped create it.”

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