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Propelling diversity and innovation in higher education

Students from universities and colleges across B.C. benefit from UWCV’s generosity and enjoy events at Hycroft.
Students from universities and colleges across B.C. benefit from UWCV’s generosity and enjoy events at Hycroft.

Founded in 1907 and based since 1962 in the exquisite Hycroft Manor, the University Women’s Club of Vancouver (UWCV) was one of the first university clubs for women in Canada. Its members are dedicated to education and lifelong learning, supporting women's rights and issues, and promoting social and cultural exchange.

UWCV is also one of Simon Fraser University’s most loyal and longstanding donors, generously supporting students at SFU since 1965. UWCV has established vital awards and bursaries for students in nearly every faculty at SFU. These include funds not only for women but for other equity-deserving groups, such as students who have hearing impairments.

Supporting diversity and adaptability in higher education has long been a priority for the club, according to Charlotte Burns, chair of UWCV’s Trust Fund for Education and former club president.

“Women are a determined lot,” Charlotte says. “Whether funding an award to propel women in science or to support women at different life stages (as a mature student or single parent, for example), we pride ourselves as a ‘can do’ organization, so when there is a need, we are committed to helping answer that need.”

Abigail, a fourth-year student in SFU’s School for Interactive Arts and Technology, attests to the difference UWCV’s support has made to her.

I was so grateful to receive [the UWCV] bursary because during the pandemic, our family's financial situation was impacted, and my cost of living in Canada also became higher than before.

Because of the UWCV bursary, Abigail says her stress decreased, she was better able to focus on her studies and pursue her dream of becoming a communications and media professional.

As Charlotte notes, UWCV contributes to a variety of awards, not only at SFU but at institutions across B.C.  

“One of our newest awards supports students in farrier science (or equine hoof care) at Kwantlen [Polytechnic University]. We are very committed to innovation, and I think that’s something we’ve had in common with SFU for many years.”

While supporting innovation and removing barriers to education is a vital facet of UWCV’s mission, they are also deeply committed to creating community amongst their members. They organize myriad activities like guest lectures, cultural excursions, a book club, and community service opportunities. In March 2023 they hosted Dr. Bonnie Henry for their 2023 Hycroft Lecture

“You never know who you will meet and interact with as a member of UWCV,” says Charlotte. “Also—and this surprises some people—you do not have to have a university degree to be a member here. Our members have all different kinds of skills and expertise they contribute and share. That creates a very dynamic atmosphere and reach.”

With its rich history, vibrant community, and enduring belief in higher education, the UWCV is an invaluable resource for women and committed partner for SFU.

This story is part of our summer 2023 edition of Engage, our magazine celebrating the impact of SFU’s donor community.
To read more stories, please visit the Engage landing page.