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Why Give | Impact stories

UBC alumni couple “paid it forward” with gifts of securities

By donating publicly traded securities, these generous alumni supported both the Faculty of Medicine and the School of Music.

Husband and wife Glen and Margaret Carlson had much in common during their time together. They were both graduates of the UBC Faculty of Medicine and shared a passion for helping students pursue their dreams.
Before Glen passed away in 2019, he had fond memories of student life at UBC and those who helped him.

“Going to university was probably the best decade of my life,” said Glen, who had given back to UBC since graduating in 1960. “As a third-year medical student, I literally ran out of money. I couldn’t even afford to pay my landlady.”

Thanks to some assistance from the Dean of Students, Glen received a small loan of $300—enough to pay his landlady and complete the year. It was a small kindness that has stayed with him all his life.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve been students,” said Glen. “I don’t think we really appreciate how much it costs to get a higher education today. The fees aren’t small, the cost of accommodation is not small, and a lot of young people are running up tremendous debt.”

After Glen graduated, he practiced in Burnaby while Margaret, whom he married in 1961, completed her medical degree. Glen accepted a position in Merritt, and Margaret joined him after graduating in 1964. For the better part of their 45-year career, she was the only female doctor in the area.

Because of Glen’s experience, the Carlsons always felt a responsibility to help others. In 2006, they made their first of several gifts of securities to the newly established Glen and Margaret Carlson Bursary in Medicine. By donating shares that had appreciated value instead of cash, the Carlsons could eliminate all taxes that would otherwise be due on the shares’ accumulated capital gains. Their gifts have generated over $215,000 for students facing financial need.

To date, 60 students have benefited from Glen and Margaret’s gift, but their generosity didn’t stop there. In 2009, Glen and Margaret became the first major supporters of the Old Auditorium Renewal Project with another securities gift.

As a self-proclaimed “opera-nut,” Margaret travelled the world to attend performances while Glen joked that he “carried the bags.”

“We saw the potential of the Old Aud,” said Margaret. “A modern facility will provide students with professional experience that they can use around the world.”

For Glen and Margaret, education was the best way for students to broaden their horizons and experience all the world has to offer. Glen especially felt that education was the key to everything.

“That’s why we did what we did,” says Margaret about her late husband. “We wanted to ensure that young people today have the same opportunities we had in our day.”