A prominent donor who gave tens of millions of dollars to the University of British Columbia and whose name adorns the law school is taking the university to court for failing to ensure his name is also on the school’s graduate degrees.
Peter Allard, a lawyer and UBC graduate, gave $10-million to UBC in 2011 in part to fund the construction of a new law school building. In 2014, Mr. Allard made another donation of $30-million and the school itself was renamed the Peter A. Allard School of Law.
The donation agreement signed in 2014 specified that degree certificates granted by the law school would bear the name “Peter A. Allard School of Law.” But graduate degrees (master’s and doctorate) in law have not reflected the name change.
UBC has argued that those degrees are conferred by the faculty of graduate and postdoctoral studies, not the law school, and therefore are excluded from the agreement.
Mr. Allard and his lawyers have tried to get this changed and are now pursuing UBC through the courts. An arbitrator sided with UBC this year, saying that university officials did not address the question of graduate degrees during the negotiations over Mr. Allard’s gift.
The arbitrator found no evidence that UBC’s representatives failed to tell Mr. Allard’s legal advisers of the distinction between graduate and undergraduate degree certificates, “they simply didn’t think of it at the time,” the arbitrator wrote.
Now Mr. Allard has filed a petition in B.C.'s Supreme Court seeking leave to appeal the arbitrator’s decision.
The documents filed with the court state that Mr. Allard doesn’t want the graduate degrees to carry his name alone, but that he seeks “a reasonable reference to the name on such degree certificates.”
UBC president Santa Ono, however, made clear in 2017 that the university would not address the matter further, according to the documents.
“We were pleased to learn in September that the arbitrator upheld UBC’s long-time understanding of the gift agreement,” UBC counsel Hubert Lai said in a written statement.
“We have fully honoured the gift agreement. We continue to be grateful for Mr. Allard’s generous support and the positive impact it has had for law students and faculty over the years.”
The university said it would file its response to Mr. Allard’s petition in due course.
Mr. Allard graduated from UBC’s law school in 1971. He worked as a lawyer in Vancouver for more than 20 years before launching a foundation and becoming more involved in philanthropy in the early 1990s following the death of his father, according to a biography posted to the UBC website. Mr. Allard’s father, Charles, was a physician and businessman with interests in oil, television and professional sports as an owner of the Edmonton Oilers.
The biography further states that Mr. Allard’s commitment to the pursuit of justice reflects a “defining characteristic” of UBC students.
At the time, his donation to the law school was hailed by the university as the largest single gift made to a law school in Canada. His name is also attached to the $100,000 Allard Prize for International Integrity, awarded for battling corruption or protecting human rights.
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