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Katharine Borgen

$17,816.09 (raised so far)

About Katharine Borgen

Katharine Borgen was an alumna with a long connection to UBC. She obtained both her Master’s and PhD from the University, before becoming an adjunct professor and serving as president of the Faculty Women’s Club. She is remembered by all who knew her as an energetic, generous and positive person, who was an inspiring mentor, a gifted mathematics educator and an insightful and supportive colleague.

Katharine was born in Empress, Alberta on July 12, 1946 and was raised on a farm near Acadia Valley. Early in life she developed a strong sense of the importance of family and involvement in the community. She completed high school in Calgary, and earned her Bachelor of Education in mathematics at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. She began teaching in the Edmonton Public School Board in 1968.

Katharine married Bill Borgen on August 22, 1970 in Edmonton. They moved to Vancouver in 1976 when Bill was offered a position at UBC. After devoting time away from teaching to focus on being a mother to their three children, Katharine resumed her teaching career in 1987 with the Vancouver School Board. She obtained her Masters of Arts degree in Mathematics Education from UBC in 1998 and her PhD in 2006. She was always interested in making mathematics meaningful and interesting for students, and in helping new and experienced teachers enhance their approaches to teaching. This led her to a position as a Math Mentor with the Vancouver School Board, and then, from 2008 to 2013 she was an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy.

Katharine had a longstanding involvement with the Faculty Women’s Club at UBC that continued until her passing. She was the club’s President in 2004-05 and, for several years, she created the menus and organized the Christmas dinners for the club. She took her love of food into the classroom too, baking cakes for all of her classes on Rene Descartes’ 300th birthday, and each year on March 14, Pi day, allowing her students to discover the geometric properties of pizza.

Katharine was a strong and independent woman who was known for her enjoyment of life and her professional and personal generosity and love. She passed away peacefully in the presence of her family on April 3, 2014 at Vancouver General Hospital at the age of 67, after a courageous battle with cancer. She will be lovingly remembered and sadly missed by her husband Bill, her family and many colleagues and friends.

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The impact of your support

In memory of Katharine’s wonderful life and career, and her connection to UBC, her family invite you to make a gift to the Faculty Women’s Club Katharine Borgen Memorial Award Fund. In keeping with Katharine’s own interests and talents, the award will be for a graduate student within the Math Education Program at the Faculty of Education Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy.

Your gift will provide a fitting tribute to Katharine’s life, by providing assistance to a graduate student who is following in Katharine’s footsteps here at UBC.

Messages of Remembrance

All Messages
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  • A memory of our beloved teacher. The picture was taken at her house on Saturday evening (December 10th 2011)

    Hung Dang Le, Former student - Education Program 2011
  • I was taught to live life without regret. Dr. Borgen, as I've always known her, would hate to see me fret over the fact that I never had the chance to say thank you - thus making me a failed student of that mantra. Some feared her. Some loved her class *because* of her - despite mediocre grades. I was of the latter company. Some stories: [x] She shared about how she would make a photocopy of the document she was about to fax... for fear of losing the original copy when it went into the machine and subsequently dissolved - only to re-materialize "Star Trek"-style on the other side. She quickly learned that this was not the case. [x] She shared about driving prairie roads and how one could fall asleep and resume driving with no change in scenery whatsoever. Or, spotting a car rounding the bend on a distant hill and thinking they would pass by going in the opposite direction - albeit an hour later. [x] She told my girlfriend at the time that if she ever hurt me, she would be in *so* much trouble. I never did become well-versed in mathematics - in fact, I would go on to achieve the same mediocre scores at UBC in a required calculus course I absolutely dreaded. However, learning "or" loving maths never seemed to be Dr. Borgen's goal. She seemed to be trying to teach us something else, entirely. I did, by chance, bump into Dr. Borgen once on campus at UBC as a student. With her trademark smile, hands on hips, neck craned slightly forward as if she were inspecting something of extreme interest, she lovingly exclaimed, "What are *you* doing here, young man?" I wish I could say I responded with words of equal humourous temperament, but I just muttered - an embarrassed teenager - that I was attending school and that I had no idea she taught at UBC. She continues to teach - giving "higher" education a brand new meaning as she smiles at us from above. Learning the news of her passing was an absolute shock; I recount hilarious antics under Dr. Borgen's care with my best friend to this day - few teachers have impacted us with the genuine care and grace she bestowed upon her students. She was tough, but fair. Now, I can almost picture her in the classroom saying, "I've just faxed myself onward. Here, Hansel - photocopy this lesson to everyone around you. The topic? Blessing others!" Because of her, I have begun to reach out to other teachers in my past that have left their fingerprints on my journey - in hopes that I will not have missed my opportunity. Thank you Dr. Borgen for teaching your students to live without regret and thank you for giving me this chance to properly thank you. Maybe I'm not a failed student after all! [*] Attached picture is taken from the Prince of Wales High School yearbook.

    Hansel Yu, Lifelong student of Dr. Borgen's stories
List of Donors
  • Hilda McLennan

  • Faculty Women's Club

  • Dr Sylvia Carr

  • Dixon Mitchell Investment Counsel

  • Dr. Sylvia Palmer

  • The Borgen Family

  • Lynne Bezanson

  • Dr John Allan

  • Mrs. Shirley Paterson

  • Dr. David Paterson

  • The Special Education Faculty, ECPS

  • Anonymous Donors

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