Kwantlen Polytechnic University receives largest donation ever to increase student success rate

Sun, Apr 25, 2010

Dr. Irving K. Barber (centre) donates $2.5 million to create The Irving K. Barber Endowment for Educational Opportunities at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Also pictured Kwantlen President David Atkinson (left) and Kwantlen Foundation Board of Director Peter Podovinikoff (right).


For immediate release

April 26, 2010

(METRO VANCOUVER, B.C.) The largest private donation to Kwantlen Polytechnic University was made today by BC philanthropist Irving K. Barber. Barber’s gift to Kwantlen Polytechnic University of $2.5 million will help students who might not otherwise succeed at university, through programs in study skills, language and math skills and career exploration.

Named a full university two years ago, Kwantlen is committed to open access and to providing an opportunity to students who might not otherwise consider going to post-secondary education. A Student Transitions and Mobility study conducted in 2009 showed that almost 58 per cent of BC high school grads in 2007 who enrolled at Kwantlen in 2007/08 did not meet the admission requirements to attend a traditional university.

“Kwantlen is unyielding in our pledge to absolute accessibility. We welcome students with the determination and desire to learn,” says Dr. David Atkinson, Kwantlen’s president and vice chancellor. “With this pledge comes an obligation to support our students in ways that traditional universities do not.”

The Irving K. Barber Endowment for Educational Opportunities will bridge this challenge. The endowment will provide the additional assistance that undergraduate students traditionally do not receive. The endowment will fund programming and services that make it easier for students to make the transition to university-level study, from an academic assessment upon entering Kwantlen to monitoring and follow-up assessments, tutoring, supplementary instruction and seminars.

“I want this money to open the doors of post-secondary education to a segment of our society that would never otherwise attend university,” says Irving K. Barber, whose own challenges in getting a post-secondary education have shaped his significant educational donations. “I’m one of those ‘second chance’ people,” he says. He dropped out of school in grade 11, but because of his service in World War II, he was given the opportunity to continue his education. Barber graduated at the age of 27 with a Bachelor of Science degree in forestry from UBC in 1950. He credits this second chance at education as his starting point for the success he has enjoyed both personally and professionally.

Kwantlen Polytechnic University is committed to absolute accessibility, and provides for its students in a way unlike traditional universities. Through its Faculty of Academic and Career Advancement and Division of Student Life and Community, Kwantlen can provide an environment that encourages and supports all its students. Programs include: Qualifying Studies, Access Programs for People with Disabilities; Academic and Career Preparation, Career Choices and Life Success, English Language Studies, Family Childcare, and University Transitions as well as assessment and testing services.

As a new university with open access admission, Kwantlen serves a wide range of students, from Aboriginal students, international students, mature students, students in financial need, student athletes, students with disabilities, transfer students, trades students and professional program students.

“The community we serve has historically been underrepresented in its post-secondary participation. This generous donation will make academic success a more reachable goal for many of our students and expand Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s support to our students and the community we serve,” says Atkinson. Interest from the $2.5 million endowment, donated over five years, will begin supporting programs in 2011.

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For more information, contact:
Jeff Norris
Chief Advancement Officer, Office of Advancement
Tel: 604.599.2264


Audrey Wang
Manager, Communications
Tel: 604.599.2385


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Irving Barber (top right) articulates his reasons for choosing Kwantlen for the endowment.
David Atkinson, Kwantlen president and vice chancellor (top left); Peter Podovinikoff,
Kwantlen Foundation Board of Director (bottom left) and Kwantlen alumna Suzanne Barton
(bottom right) express special thanks for the establishment of the endowment. 

Plaque presentation to honour Irving K. Barber's generous contribution.

Jeff Norris, Kwantlen chief advancement officer accepts cheques from Irving Barber for the endowment.

Irving Barber and his wife, Jean, pose for a photo with the plaque.

Kwantlen students and faculty celebrate with Irving K. Barber.