UBC Faculty Couple Transforms Life Insurance into Education Legacy

Pharmacy alumni share tradition of giving back to UBC

When Marion Pearson and Jim Orr decided to make their first major gift to UBC, they felt donating a joint life insurance policy was the way to go.

“The insurance policy made sense, because it allowed us to donate a sizeable gift, and it hadn’t cost us that much,” explains Marion, a UBC alumna (B.Sc. Pharm 1982, MA Higher Education 2008, PhD Curriculum Studies 2014) who is a Professor of Teaching in the Division of Pharmacy Practice. “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 first met Jim, an Associate Professor Emeritus, in the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences at UBC, and the University is where they’ve spent the better part of their careers. They both passionately believe in the power of education and have donated their time and money to UBC.

Besides creating a generous legacy gift, this UBC duo also recently established the Marion Pearson and James Orr Bursary, which will be available to pharmacy undergraduate students in any year, with preference given to first-year students from rural communities.

When Jim and Marion pass away, the funds from their joint life insurance policy will be put towards teaching and learning activities in the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences. These funds will allow the school to support best practices, and advance in areas such as teaching, learning, and curriculum design.

“This is a wonderful institution, but we need people’s energy to maintain it,” says Marion, an active UBC fundraiser who also sits on the Pharmacy Alumni Board of Directors.

“I was once discussing business with the former Dean, and told him that I was surprised he paid me,” adds Jim. “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’s generosity will impact generations of students who attend the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences at UBC. As these students graduate and take their knowledge and achievements out into the world, the benefit of these gifts will be felt in communities across BC and around the world.

“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.”