Student projects fund needs injection

A fund that has helped finance extracurricular activities for UBC students for nearly 20 years is seeking to increase its endowment so it can continue to offer much-needed support.

The Walter H. Gage Fund is named for the former UBC president who established a tradition of student aid programs and often used his own resources to assist students in crisis.

Gage served UBC for more than 50 years, five as president. The fund was established after his death in 1978 to provide grants of $500 to $2,000 for special student projects and initiatives that are not part of the academic curriculum.

"The innovative projects that students do on their own time can be as important as their class work. It's fascinating to see what the students do," said Jo Hinchliffe, chair of the committee that administers the fund.

Some recent projects it has funded include:

Until now, the Gage fund has generated about $26,000 each year, but that's far from what is currently needed.

The need has been made all the more urgent by the depletion of the President's Allocations Committee fund and the John M. Buchanan Memorial Fund, which has left Gage as the sole source of support for this type of project.

"Budgets are so tight on campus and many departments are reluctant to fund these projects because they are not academic or directly related to a course," Hinchliffe said. "It is more important than ever to continue these grants because other sources of funding are drying up."

The fund is administered by a volunteer committee that includes alumni and students, which hopes to increase the Gage endowment through alumni donations and student assessments.

In last month's Alma Mater Society elections, for example, a referendum question asked students to pay $1.50 more in AMS fees, of which 50 cents would go toward the Gage fund. The referendum failed for lack of quorum, however.

The Development Office has also made the Gage fund part of its Annual Fund appeal to alumni.

For more information about the Walter H. Gage Fund, contact Jo Hinchliffe at 822-9173.