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Glenn Andrews believes education is the road to a virtuous life — and should be available to everyone

By creating the Melville Kerfoot Andrews and Margaret Ellen Buchanan Bursary in honour of his parents, Glenn is carrying on a family tradition of lifelong learning.

Glenn Andrews performing with his daughter

When UBC alumnus Glenn Andrews (BA ‘67) received inheritances after his parents’ passing, he decided it should not only benefit his own large family. As a secondary school teacher, he often saw the struggles some students had moving on to post-secondary education — usually for financial reasons. To this end, Glenn created a bursary in honour of his parents and to help young people who may never have thought UBC was an option.

“I think the opportunity [for post-secondary] should be available to all people who have at least a certain level of competence and interest to be able to go. And I believe that economics is a barrier.”

Glenn’s belief in the value of education comes not just from his work as a teacher, but from an epiphany of sorts, while visiting the ancient Library of Celsus in Ephesus, Turkey.

“The Greeks and Romans had their muses embodied as statues in four niches in the front of the library: Episteme, the Greek word for knowledge, Ennoia means thought, Sophea, which is wisdom and you ultimately get to Arete who personifies virtue. In this foursome, I found a wonderful metaphor — that knowledge leads to thought, where we come to wisdom, and wisdom will lead us to lead a virtuous life.”

Glenn is now retired from teaching, living near nature in Barriere, in central British Columbia. He has many grandchildren and has a tradition for their birthdays that speaks about education as a road to a virtuous life. They receive a book for each birthday, starting as children with books like Aesop’s Fables, progressing as adolescents to authors like Tolkien. Once they reach young adulthood, Glenn treats them to more advanced authors — such as historical ethnobiologist Yuval Noah Harari. Glenn hopes this sparks interest in further study and lifelong learning.

“Maybe, something will light a match, or something will open a window,” says Glenn. “Sort of like going into the light, out of the cave — like Plato’s allegory.”

For Glenn, education creates skillsets for the student, which are not only for their central area of study, but a lifelong toolkit for anything new.

“Those skills don’t go away just because we’re not using them specifically for those four years of university,” says Glenn. “The tools acquired can be applied to a study of literature or the sciences.”

A gift in will to create a bursary might seem unaffordable with a large family of beneficiaries. Glenn feels it’s not as problematic as some might think.

“It doesn’t have to be a big gift percentage-wise,” says Glenn. “I think mine’s around 60/40 — 40 for the charity, 60 for the family. You know, I could see someone dividing it 30/70 or 20/80, depending on one’s circumstances and what one values.”

With his gift of books to his grandchildren and financial support for UBC students, Glenn Andrews helps them start their education, wherever their interests and virtues may lead them.