David Strangway, UBC President for 12 years, dead at 82

David Strangway, the only person to be president of both the University of British Columbia and University of Toronto, has died at the age of 82.

The public announcement of Strangway's death was made by current UBC President Santa Ono on Tuesday evening, in a statement on the university's website.

"I know the UBC community will be joined by countless others around the globe in mourning the loss of this extraordinarily inspiring man," he said.

Leader in multiple fields

Before becoming a university administrator, Strangway, who was born in Simcoe, Ontario, was best known for being NASA's chief of the geophysics branch in the 1970s.

He then served as a vice-president at the University of Toronto for a decade, before becoming acting President in 1983.

After leaving UBC, Strangway became president of the Canada Foundation for Innovation, and later founded Quest University Canada in Squamish, B.C.

Credited with UBC's modern transformation

He was hired as UBC's President in 1985, and during his 12-year tenure, the university transitioned from a regionally-important education hub to one that was recognized globally.

Among the initiatives Strangway championed were creating partnerships in the Pacific Rim, focusing UBC's attention on graduate and research studies, developing market housing on land owned by the university, and leading what was then Canada's largest fundraising campaign ever for a post-secondary institution.

Strangway's successors regularly credited him for ushering in a new era for UBC.

"David, the UBC that you see around you today is in many ways a different place from the one you left in 1997: bigger in enrolments, in research awards and contracts, in revenues and expenditures; but in many ways it is recognizably still the university that you built," said Martha Piper, who was UBC President from 1997-2006 and 2015-2016, in a reception honouring him earlier this year.

"Even though I am certain it has far exceeded your wildest expectations, I know that it is the university it is today because of your vision, foresight, and determination; and for that we are all immensely grateful."

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