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Upper Canada College Launches Boarding Campaign

Upper Canada College’s boarding fundraising campaign to improve its facilities, enhance residential life, expand recruitment and increase needs-based scholarships was launched September 13, 2011.

UCC aims to firmly establish its boys’ boarding program as one of the best in the world and enable it to comfortably accommodate and educate boys from across Canada and around the globe. Housing a diverse group of boys, who can offer fresh perspectives in the classroom and socially, benefits both boarders and day students.

"Boarding isn't just a strategy at UCC,” says Principal Jim Power. “It’s a part of the school's identity and, in order to make this program all that it was meant to be, we want to make boarding as accessible as possible to as many Canadian and international students as possible. It's all about giving extraordinary boys an extraordinary opportunity."
Upper Canada College
The boarding campaign’s goal is to raise $14 million, of which $9.1 million has already been raised from gifts ranging in value from five dollars to $1.5 million.

Significant funds will go towards renovating UCC’s two boarding residences, Seaton’s and Wedd’s, which haven’t been significantly updated since the 1930s. The remainder of the money will be earmarked for scholarships and bursaries to ensure more boys of exceptional ability have the chance to receive a UCC boarding education, and to expand the range of after-school and weekend programs for boarders.

UCC has already increased its staffing so that each residence of 44 students now has two live-in senior house advisers rather than one, ensuring that each boarder gets more individual attention and that staff members have time to communicate with parents about their boy more frequently.

“As a kid from Huntsville, I learned a lot about life and responsibility as a boarder at UCC, and I’m committed to seeing it continue — better than ever — for other young men who have the privilege of experiencing this same opportunity,” says Blake Hutcheson ’80, CEO of Oxford Properties and Co-Chair of UCC’s boarding campaign. He made a gift in support of the renovation to the facilities. “If I can help, I’ll put my money and my time where my mouth is.”

The future of boarding at UCC was called into question in 2007, but overwhelming support by students, parents and alumni in favour of keeping the program alive convinced the college’s board of governors that it should continue — but only with a significant investment in both programs and facilities in order to keep pace with the rest of the internationally respected school’s offerings.

“There’s so much UCC has to offer, but without the boarding program, the College wouldn’t have the international recognition, as the Canadian hub of excellence in education, that it enjoys today,” says Adam Markwell ’92, Vice-President and Investment Advisor at CIBC Wood Gundy and Co-Chair of the boarding campaign.

“The students’ experiences at UCC are also more profound due to the perspective boys from more than 24 countries and across Canada bring to school. I know I benefited greatly from the boarding program, and I wouldn’t be the man I am today without it. That’s why I was among the many that fought so hard to keep the boarding legacy alive, but we’ll need significant support from our community to ensure it remains a strong and vital program for future students.”

That need for investment has led to this launch of the Boarding Forever campaign. A wide variety of recognition opportunities are open to contributors, including the naming of the program, residence complex, study rooms, lounges, scholarships and smaller items. A $1,000 gift allows donors to have personalized plaques installed in a residence room.

Here are some of the major contributors to the Boarding campaign thus far:
  • Desirée and H. Michael Jebsen (parents of a boarding alumnus) of Hong Kong have committed $1.5 million to establish The Jebsen Family Scholarship for boarding students from western Europe.
  • Anonymous donors from Toronto have committed $1.3 million to establish a scholarship for students from rural Ontario.
  • William Wong ’82 of Hong Kong has committed $900,000 to strengthen The Edward Wong Scholarship for boarding students.
  • Hugh ’01, Max ’07, Kelly and Michael Meighen of Toronto have committed $700,000 to strengthen the Meighen Family Scholarship for boarding students from Quebec and New Brunswick.
  • An anonymous graduate from the United Kingdom has committed $500,000 in support of boarding facilities.
  • An anonymous donor has committed $430,000 to establish a scholarship for boarding students from western Canada.

Blake Hutcheson '80 Rallies All To Put Their Shoulders Into It

For Blake Hutcheson, boarding is more than just fond memories of Wedd’s House in the late 70s when he was Head of House in his final year. As a member of the Boarding Campaign Cabinet, Blake met with former Boarding House master David Hadden ’71 and agreed to spearhead the historic Boarding Forever Campaign as Chair for fundraising, and promptly made a leadership gift himself.

“I think we all have to put our shoulders into this one,” says Hutcheson, who is President and CEO of Oxford Properties (one of Canada’s largest real estate companies) and a graduate of the University of Western Ontario, the London School of Economics and Columbia University.
Upper Canada College

“UCC is a great school and boarding is an integral part of what makes it unique among Canadian independent schools. My wife Susan and I chose UCC for our son Trevor in part because we wanted him to be in a school with students from all around the world, not just Toronto.”

The Boarding Forever Campaign will seek to raise an unprecedented $14 million for boarding renewal, including program, facility, and new needs-based scholarships. “Blake’s volunteer leadership is essential to our success,” says David Hadden who serves as Special Advisor (Boarding) to Principal Jim Power. “He really understands the need to rally our boarding Old Boys and spread the word that the time to step up is now. He’s a generous ambassador and we are lucky to have him at the helm.”

For Hutcheson, who built his career in real estate brokerage, finance and development, residential life at UCC is simply the only means for great kids from all across Canada and around the world to have a UCC experience in a first-class environment. The boarding houses, situated at the centre of the Upper School campus, are, for boarders like him, “at the heart of the College”. Said Hutcheson; “What better use of some of Toronto’s best real estate, than to provide a world class opportunity for bright young people from small towns and big cities everywhere, and thereby enrich the fabric of our entire UCC community. But to do this – we need lots of help - please!”

Jebsen family donates $1.5 million to boarding

Désirée and Hans Michael Jebsen have generously donated a $1.5-million gift to establish the Jebsen Family Scholarship for boarding students at the College.

Their son, Immanuel ’09, had an extremely positive experience as a UCC boarder, which helped inspire the Jebsens to direct their gift to the program.

“His years at UCC were an intellectual turning point for our son Immanuel,” says Désirée, who supports the broader educational mandate of the school. “The values, traditions and dedication to bringing out the best in boys — intellectually, emotionally and as members of civil society — makes UCC an ideal platform for grooming responsible future generations.”
Upper Canada College

Immanuel Jebsen '09 with parents Désirée and Hans Michael Jebsen
The Jebsens who are based in Hong Kong, have directed their scholarship for European students, to enable future generations of boys to benefit from the educational and character-building experience offered by UCC, they say.

"Being able to offer a boy a scholarship can make all the difference in the world to a family's ability to select UCC for their son, " says Struan Robertson, UCC's executive director of recruitment and enrolment. "The Jebsens have made it easier for us to compete with other schools for top students. Bringing outstanding boarders from around the world simply makes UCC a better school."

“This is an extraordinary and generous commitment from Désirée and Michael," says Suzanne Heft, executive director of Advancement. "Gifts like this are an essential part of securing the future of the UCC boarding program. We are very grateful to the Jebsens and hope that their gift will inspire others to create needs-based scholarships for students all parts of the world, including Canada.”

The Jebsens are also members of the Boarding Campaign Cabinet.

Former boarder gives $250,000 to program he ‘strongly believes in’

When Shawn Kao ’79 was a medical intern making house calls, he saw it all, from Forest Hill mansions all the way down the socio-economic spectrum. With the value placed on community service, UCC helped “train” him to be comfortable in all walks of life.

And that’s just one reason the Etobicoke-based paediatrician gave his support to the revitalization of the boarding program, with a $250,000 gift to be divided between structural renovation and a needs-based scholarship (the details of which are still under consideration). Kao's donation is made in memory of his parents Dr. W.T. Kao and Chieh Kao.

After leaving Taiwan at age 6, Kao lived all over North America. His father was a doctor as well, and the family moved to Detroit, New Brunswick and Alberta, before settling in Blenheim, Ont. Population: 2,500.
Upper Canada College

In an effort to have Kao “apply himself” he was sent to UCC where he quickly distinguished himself as Head of Wedd’s and captain of both the First basketball and volleyball teams.

Looking back, Kao says the UCC boarding experience truly “defined” him. His achievements helped fuel a lifelong sense of confidence, and volunteering through UCC’s affiliation with Scouts Canada, as a cub leader in the community, allowed him to develop a strong sense of social responsibility.

“Shawn is a perfect example of Old Boy leadership,” says former Associate Vice-Principal Suzanne Heft, also an ex-officio member of the Boarding Campaign Cabinet, to which Kao belongs. “He is an ambassador in every sense. This donation demonstrates the profound loyalty boarders have to the College. We are delighted with Shawn’s extraordinary gesture and hope this gift inspires other boarders to do the same.”

Kao continues to give back to today’s boarders in other ways. He also donates Leafs and Raptors tickets, “because I remember the thrill of attending games when I was in boarding.”

“If I can change a few boys’ lives with my gift, that’s what I want,” says Kao. “I strongly believe in the boarding program.


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