Former Dean Expands Scholarship Opportunities

Thanks to the generosity of Clark Binkley, former Dean of the Faculty of Forestry, graduate students in course-based Professional Masters programs have another potential means of supporting their studies.

With a gift of $380,000, Clark has established the Binkley Family Graduate Scholarship, which made its first awards to three students in Professional Masters degree programs in the 2017-18 academic year.

Recently retired from his position as Chief Investment Officer and Managing Director of GreenWood Resources, Clark also stepped down from the Board of Directors of West Fraser Timber. “I had some deferred stock units that allowed me to make this gift to UBC,” he says.

The first three recipients of the Binkley Family Graduate Scholarship are grateful for the support.

Renata Moura da Vega came to UBC the long way. Originally from Brazil, she completed her undergraduate degree in forest engineering in Brasilia. In her final year she did a student exchange at the Australian National University in Canberra.

This experience focused her career goals on sustainability and environmental conservation. “I looked at UBC for my graduate education because it’s known for excellence,” she says. “The Masters in International Forestry program is exciting because we are trying to solve complex environmental, social and economic problems through a forestry lens.”

Renata appreciates the recognition that comes with this scholarship. “It tells me that I am on the right path, that I should continue doing what I love and keep going,” she says.

Tyler McDivitt-Vandermolen is completing his Masters of Sustainable Forest Management and starting a new job with BC Timber Sales. “I was studying forestry at University of Toronto when I got a job opportunity with Silverwood Consulting in Terrace, “ he says. “I learned a lot about how thoughtful forestry is out here, how developed it is. I was intrigued by the depth of knowledge and complexity of the practice.”

With his Masters degree completed, Tyler will spend the next year under the guidance of Practices Foresters at BC Timber Sales, and hopes to obtain his RFP the following year.

“I am honored to accept the scholarship,” he says. “It renews my focus and intent to make an impact on the industry.”

Anne Hervieux completed an undergraduate degree at University of Alberta, but felt uncertain about pursuing graduate studies. “It felt out of reach; I just didn’t feel capable,” she says. Instead, she took a seasonal job as a wildlife management technician and field biologist in Vancouver, where she learned a lot about biology in practice but felt underemployed.

“I felt there was potential for geospatial analysis to help us understand conservation ecology issues,” she says. I was very lucky to find the Masters of Geomatics for Environmental Management program at UBC.” The MGEM program is a relatively recent addition to the Faculty’s suite of nine-month intensive Professional Masters programs, and aims to equip students with remote sensing and GIS skills.

Anne says that receiving the scholarship improved her confidence. “It removed any of those lingering fears that I wasn’t capable of the work I want to do,” she says.

Clark Binkley wanted to create some equity between scholarships for professional graduate programs and those for thesis-based ones. “These Professional Masters programs are extremely important,” he says. “The world is more complicated now.”

Clark’s belief in equity also underpins the Emily and Francis Binkley Scholarship, which he established in 1996 to support under-represented students such as indigenous students, refugees, transfer students and those from rural communities. He recently enhanced this award with a further gift of $120,000.

“I feel a moral obligation, as someone who has made money in British Columbia, to support important BC institutions, and UBC is one of them,” he says. “There’s no better way to secure the future than to have really strong and well-educated young people.”