He knew all about me before I got in the door

Donna Willard-Jones met Professor Gage for the first time in 1961. Although she was a freshman and part of a different faculty, her experience was remarkably similar.

“I think his title was Dean of Students at the time,” says Donna. “Back then when you applied for a bursary, you met with the Dean. I’ll never forget walking into his office. He knew all about me before I got in the door.”

Donna was taken aback by the concern and genuine interest she received from Professor Gage. “He was just very interested in what I was doing—and what I wanted to do. He had seen my grades and felt everything was going well. And he gave me a little bit of money, which I needed desperately. I went to see him several more times over four years, all with my hand out. And he never failed. He absolutely never failed to give me some money to help me get through.”

Donna began contributing to the Walter Gage Bursary Fund in 1970, as soon as she completed her law degree. Now as head of her own Alaska-based firm, she is pleased that her bequest will help future generations of students who could be facing their own tough times.

“I remember Dean Gage as a relatively small man in stature, but to me he was an emperor. Without him, I doubt I would have graduated. Money was that tight for me. I chose to leave a gift to the Walter Gage Bursary Fund because I remember how he helped me. I wanted to support UBC in a way that carried forward his ideas and criteria for assessing need. And if my money can help students and make a difference to their continuing education, that’s exactly what I want to do.”

Donna Willard-Jones
BA 1965