University of British Columbia, 1974, BSc, Agriculture
Graeme Hutton Vance was born in New South Wales, Australia in 1939. He came to Canada in 1960 to study farm engineering and economics, subjects not then available in Australia. He enrolled in Agricultural Sciences but quickly turned his interests toward student affairs, becoming the first foreign-born Aggie rep on the AMS Council. Like many student leaders of the day, Graeme pursued two “degrees” – one in a formal academic field and the other in student leadership. In the 1960s, the student building was Brock Hall. Although a facility with great traditions, it was too small to adequately serve the university’s 20,000 students. The AMS took on the challenge of funding a new student building. Graeme became so involved in the development and building of SUB (Student Union Building) that he left his studies and position of AMS student rep to manage the construction and administration of the new facility. After returning to studies he received the BSc (Agr) degree in 1974.
In 1977, Graeme married fellow UBC graduate Sally Gregson. They moved to Australia where Graeme, Sally, and his parents purchased a 5,000 acre sheep and cattle station in New South Wales. For 12 years they raised fine wool merinos and Hereford cows. In the years following, Graeme continued to use the knowledge gained at UBC to improve farming in Australia.
Graeme was an active volunteer. While in Vancouver he learned to scuba dive and for many years taught diving courses as a volunteer. The water, with its spectacular vistas, attracted him almost as much as the land. Graeme spent most of 2000 in Sydney volunteering with the Olympic and Para Olympic games. Prior to his death in 2003 in New South Wales, he devoted his volunteer activities to the Salvation Army.
In the years since Graeme left UBC, successive generations of students have made SUB their out-of-class home. Graeme managed SUB during the day and spent evenings talking with students using the new building to better ascertain their service and program needs. SUB remains the largest building built and run by students in Canada. The building is a testimonial to the role that students have played over the years to improve the quality of student life at UBC.
Graeme Vance made a significant contribution to the quality of life enjoyed by students of both his, and later, generations at the University of British Columbia.
R Blair and C R Nichols, 2005, from Trek, Winter 2