Justice Burnyeat has served as a member of the UBC Senate for six years, was the founding Director of the law school’s Alumni Association and the president of the UBC Alumni Association. His accomplishments have garnered him many accolades, including being named one of 75 outstanding alumni in UBC’s first 75 years (in 1990), the Queens’ Golden Jubilee Medal (2002), and the UBC Alumni Achievement Award (2009).
To say Justice Burnyeat is an active member of the UBC community would be an understatement. Over the years, Justice Burnyeat’s commitment to the university through his countless hours of volunteer work and fundraising efforts have benefited generations of students and has helped shape the university’s success.
Justice Burnyeat’s impact on UBC began even before graduation, when he served as the president of the university’s student group from 1971 to 1972. During that year he was instrumental in advocating for two very important referenda that would have a lasting impact on UBC. One proposal was to fund the Pit Pub inside the Student Union Building and the other was to fund a much needed aquatic centre on campus.
He recalls the struggles and challenges of pursuing his education: “During my time in university, my parents were not able to help me financially and so I had to rely on grants and loans to get me through. There were many rainy nights of hitchhiking home from campus because I did not have the funds for a bus. I ran up a considerable amount of debt to pay for my education.”
Justice Burnyeat recently decided to help current and future law school students who may face similar circumstance using a creative approach involving both an estate gift and a current award. First, Justice Burnyeat established an annual award to provide the yearly tuition fee of a student enrolled in any year of the JD program who has demonstrated academic merit, has shown significant leadership skills and faces financial challenges that would prevent pursuit or completion of legal education.
Second, Justice Burnyeat established a $1.5 million estate gift to the Allard School of Law to support student financial aid. The gift eventually will provide multiple student awards that have the same criteria as the current award.
“The university has done a great deal for me and other people should benefit from it. This gift is about supporting deserving people who otherwise could not afford to attend law school or to continue their studies”