Early Google investor gives $7.5 million to UBC

David Cheriton | BCBusiness

Donation from UBC alumnus and Stanford professor David Cheriton will fund computer science program

For most students, freshman year is an opportunity to hone reading and writing skills, while (hopefully) avoiding too many bad decisions. But a major donor to UBC—and early investor in Googlewants to add a new set of life lessons to the undergrad curriculum: computational thinking, or the problem-solving skills used by software engineers.

To that end, David Cheriton, a UBC alumnus and professor of computer science at Stanford University, has donated $7.5 million to UBC to fund a new chair in computer science and a first-year course that will help funnel more students into computer science programs. 

The donation “will bolster computer science research and help UBC lead in an exciting and rapidly changing field,” said UBC president Arvind Gupta in a statement. As part of the university’s already well-reputed computer science program, the new chair will facilitate research on systems reliability, privacy and security on mobile devices and cloud computing services.

As for the first-year course, Cheriton said in a statement that it “should make computational thinking accessible to students outside of computer science, a discipline I regard as key to twenty-first century education.”

Four years ago, Cheriton donated $2 million to UBC’s Science Education Initiative, which helps funds the school’s undergrad science programs. UBC’s ongoing fundraising campaign, launched in 2011, aims to net $1.5 billion by 2015.