As the second of four generations of his family to attend the University of British Columbia, Ross Fitzpatrick’s history with UBC is linked inextricably with his own family history. Born in the Okanagan, Fitzpatrick gained his Commerce and Business Administration degree from UBC Vancouver in 1958. Things have changed dramatically on campus since then.
“It has grown into a city — I get lost when I drive out there now,” says Fitzpatrick, “But I still have great memories of being there. When I began, there were 5,000 students, and when I left, it was only up to 15,000 students. Now, look at it!”
Ross Fitzpatrick’s mother was a UBC student before the Great Trek, attending from her home in Chilliwack, BC. Fitzpatrick’s son Gordon attended UBC Vancouver and continuing the long family tradition, his grandchildren enrolled at UBC Okanagan as well.
“I’ve been a great supporter of UBCO since it was originally established,” says Fitzpatrick, “I was a big proponent and worked with former university president Martha Piper when the campus became part of UBC. I have long been an advocate of having a university in the Okanagan, and I think the way it’s worked out, particularly being associated with UBC, is the best of all worlds.”
Ross Fitzpatrick and his wife Linda have been generous with their philanthropy at UBC Okanagan. A recent $1.25 million donation by Fitzpatrick, toward the new Commons building, features an expansive two-storey hall on the ground floor with about 6,400 square feet of flexible, multi-use space, appropriately named the D. Ross Fitzpatrick Great Hall.
“Fitz Hall has an open feel and creates a positive, encouraging space right at the heart of campus to help UBC’s brightest minds gather and study,” says Fitzpatrick. “I remember having to study in the library stacks when I was a student at UBC, so I’m very happy to participate in bringing a much more collaborative and vibrant space to today’s generation.”
With an additional $250,000 donation, matched by the university through the UBC Blue & Gold Campaign for Students, the Fitzpatricks also created the Ross and Linda Fitzpatrick Centennial Scholars Endowment Fund.
“I was fortunate to be able to go to university,” says Fitzpatrick, ”and I want to make sure students have that same opportunity now. I think it’s essential we have a first-class institution for them to be able to attend without having to travel to the coast.”
When asked what he might say to others considering giving to UBC, Ross Fitzpatrick adds, “UBC is a great institution to support, and I’ve received a lot of personal satisfaction doing so. I don’t think there’s anything more rewarding for me — growing up in the (Okanagan) Valley, where there was no university, and very few went to university — to have been able to participate and see others have that same opportunity I did.”