BC Business Magazine - - Leadership -

Spend enough time in any space and you be­gin to feel re­spon­si­ble for its up­keep. That stew­ard­ship was es­pe­cially true for Trin­ity Western Uni­ver­sity alum­nus Garry Skid­more, who at­tended the school in 1990 and grad­u­ated with a BA in Busi­ness in 1994. More than 20 years later, the Pres­i­dent of Skid­more Group no­ticed that his shoes were touch­ing the same car­pet as he passed the same fur­ni­ture in the same rooms of Dou­glas Hall where he once spent his time study­ing and so­cial­iz­ing. Al­though he has fond mem­o­ries aplenty—he and his wife, Kirsten, even met and mar­ried as TWU stu­dents—skid­more knew the next gen­er­a­tion should have the op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence a mod­ern­ized, up­dated space that evokes a sim­i­lar sense of pride.

“Like any­thing in life, styles change,” he says. “Stu­dents want to live some­where that looks ap­peal­ing and has newer ameni­ties.”

The build­ings that need the most love are the dor­mi­to­ries, which Skid­more says haven't changed in over two decades.

“We all know the old cliché, `don't change some­thing if it isn't bro­ken,' but when it comes to dorms, I think you have to mod­ern­ize. The uni­ver­sity has started this process and many floors have been ren­o­vated.”

Fur­ther ren­o­va­tions in­clude the car­pets, mill­work, desks, tiles, and glass; in the kitchen there are new cup­boards, a sink, stove­top and oven. Stu­dents spend a lot of time in these spa­ces, in­clud­ing Skid­more's son, who is in third year at the uni­ver­sity.

“I know since my time in the early '90s, the school has built a new com­muter col­legium, an ex­ten­sion to Fraser Hall, a full ren­o­va­tion of the gym­na­sium and ath­letic depart­ment, a new Reimer Stu­dent Cen­tre, and most re­cently a newly built dor­mi­tory, Skid­more Hall, to house an ad­di­tional 130 stu­dents,” he says.

Even with the up­grades, it was im­pos­si­ble to avoid the ar­eas of the school that still needed some TLC. Skid­more took it upon him­self to fund the ren­o­va­tions, one of the ways he gives back to the school that gave so much to him (he is also a men­tor through TWU'S busi­ness pro­gram).

“TWU taught me how to think out­side the books, how to think crit­i­cally, and form my own opin­ions.”

As for why other alumni should con­sider giv­ing back—ei­ther fi­nan­cially or with their time—skid­more thinks it's a no-brainer.

“You want the next gen­er­a­tion to have an even bet­ter ex­pe­ri­ence and op­por­tu­nity to be in­spired. Lots of uni­ver­si­ties fundraise to keep their fa­cil­i­ties and de­part­ments grow­ing so that the legacy of learn­ing will con­tinue to strengthen,” he says. “I love the new look and feel. Ev­ery time I step on cam­pus I get flooded with mem­o­ries and I'm full of pride, but also I'm ex­cited for all the stu­dents who are chas­ing their dreams. Se­cretly, I wish I could do it all over again.”

This is the Skid­more fam­ily's se­cond ma­jor phil­an­thropic ven­ture, in­clud­ing a re­cent do­na­tion to BC Chil­dren's Hos­pi­tal. The Alex Skid­more Re­nal Dial­y­sis Unit ac­knowl­edged the gift in the name of Garry's son, who has had two kid­ney trans­plants at the hos­pi­tal.

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