Dr. Irving K. Barber, the principal donor for the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre and a passionate supporter of education and research in British Columbia, passed away on April 13, 2012.
Dr. Barber was a visionary thinker with a strong commitment to strengthening BC, improving the quality of life for its residents, and providing an enriched university experience for students. His gift of $20 million was largely responsible for the development and construction of the Learning Centre and the realization of its mission: a facility dedicated to the intellectual, social, cultural and economic development of the people of British Columbia and beyond.
Dr. Barber’s generosity has been instrumental in establishing programs to promote research, including the creation of the I.K. Barber Enhanced Forestry Laboratory at the University of Northern British Columbia, the Irving K. Barber Diabetes Research Endowment Fund at UBC and the Ike Barber Human Islet Transplant Laboratory at Vancouver Hospital in partnership with UBC.
“We are ever grateful for the generosity of Ike and his wife Jean,” says Ingrid Parent, UBC’s University Librarian. “Their support was crucial to the success of the Learning Centre, which has connected with lifelong learners and students at UBC and beyond. And his support for, and belief in, the transformative role of libraries was inspiring. He will be greatly missed, but his legacy will live on at the Learning Centre, and in the other worthy projects that he backed. Thank you, Ike, for your vision, passion, humour and dedication.”
Simon Neame, Director of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, concurs, adding that Dr. Barber never forgot the people in communities across BC who made a difference in his own life. “Dr. Barber’s passion and commitment to student learning and the people of British Columbia never wavered. With their gift for the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, Dr. Barber and his wife Jean created a place where all are inspired to learn – about themselves, and about the world around them. The Learning Centre’s programs and services reach out beyond campus to connect communities with learning opportunities, fulfilling Dr. Barber’s vision of a facility dedicated to lifelong learning for the citizens of BC and beyond.”
Dr. Barber was born on February 14, 1923 in Edmonton, Alberta. He first came to UBC in September of 1945 and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Forestry degree in 1950. In 1952, he qualified as a Professional Registered Forester. He was involved in the forest industry in British Columbia for 57 years, working with people at all levels and throughout the province. In 1978, at the age of 55, he founded Slocan Forest Products Ltd. and over the next 23 years built it into one of the leading lumber producers in North America. Dr. Barber retired as Chairman in February 2002.
Dr. Barber’s leadership has been recognized throughout his career. He received numerous forestry and industry awards, and has been appointed to the Order of Canada, the Order of British Columbia and the Canadian Business Hall of Fame.