May 2014

UBC names the Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre

A new $18.5-million alumni centre will open at the University of British Columbia's Vancouver campus in spring 2015. The centre will be named after prominent B.C. business leader and philanthropist Robert H. Lee in honour of the many contributions he has made to the life of the university.

Located centrally on the Vancouver campus at the corner of University Boulevard and East Mall, the Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre will serve as a resource for UBC's 300,000 alumni, providing a welcoming place to network, meet with students, and participate in intellectual, cultural and social programs.

The 3,870 square metre building will include a centre for innovation, a large celebration venue, classrooms, social spaces and high-tech meeting rooms, plus a cafe and library.

"The Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre will become the heart of campus," says UBC President Stephen Toope. "When we first imagined its creation, Bob was the obvious person to name it after. He brings people together and we thought that was the perfect symbol for the alumni centre."

Lee has served on the UBC Board of Governors and as Chancellor of the University. One of his greatest contributions was envisioning and establishing the UBC Properties Trust of which he served as chairman for more than 20 years. The Trust was among the first in Canada to build market housing on university land to fund its endowment, which supports teaching, research and community engagement. UBC Properties Trust has added more than $850 million in value to the university endowment.

The Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre is a collaboration between UBC and alumni UBC. It is a priority project for UBC's start an evolution campaign, the most ambitious fundraising and alumni engagement campaign in Canadian history.

Born and raised in Vancouver, Robert Lee graduated from UBC in 1956 with a Bachelor of Commerce degree. He also met his wife Lily (BSN'56) at UBC. He co-founded Wall Financial Corp. in 1966 before setting off on his own to found the Prospero Group in 1979, where he now serves as chairman. He has built a strong real estate presence in western Canada and the U.S., including extensive real estate holdings in the Lower Mainland.

Lee has not only left a mark on his home city of Vancouver through a remarkable career in real estate, but he has also set the bar for community involvement through his tireless commitment to numerous boards and foundations.

He joined the UBC Board of Governors in 1984 and served as chancellor from 1993 to 1996. He founded UBC Properties Trust in 1988, served as chairman until 2011 and is now chairman emeritus. He was chair of the UBC Foundation and a member of the Leadership Committee for UBC's World of Opportunity Campaign. He received an honorary degree from UBC in 1996 and was appointed honorary chair of the current start an evolution campaign. He was also instrumental in creating the Robert. H. Lee Graduate School at the Sauder School of Business in 2006.

Lee's four children (Carol, BCom'81; Derek, BCom'82; Leslie, BCom'84; and Graham, BCom'87) and his son and daughters-in-law all graduated from UBC. There are nine alumni in his immediate family and three of his grandchildren are currently enrolled at UBC.

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