Irving K. Barber

Dr. I. K. (Irving) Barber (1923 – 2012)


Dr. Irving K. Barber

Dr. I. K. Barber (1923 – 2012), the principal donor for the Learning Centre, first came to The University of British Columbia in September of 1945 and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Forestry degree in 1950. In 1952, he qualified as a Professional Registered Forester. He was involved in the forest industry in British Columbia for 57 years, working with people at all levels and throughout the province. In 1978, at the age of 55, he founded Slocan Forest Products Ltd. and over the next 23 years built it into one of the leading lumber producers in North America. Dr. Barber retired as Chairman in February 2002.

Dr. Barber’s leadership has been recognized throughout his career, including, in 1996, being awarded the Forest Excellence Award in Communications for his involvement in the publication of The Working Forest of British Columbia. In 1997, he was presented with the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for the Pacific Region.

Dr. Barber was named the Distinguished Forester of the Year in 1999 by the Registered Professional Foresters Association. In May of 2002, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Law degree by the University of Northern British Columbia.

As well as being a pre-eminent BC forester and entrepreneur, Dr. Barber was a visionary thinker. His focus was to direct funding to projects to strengthen BC and improve the quality of life for BC residents. He had a strong commitment to support and worked with the community to pursue positive growth and development to benefit as many people as possible in BC and beyond. Dr. Barber was instrumental in the establishment of programs to promote research with the creation of the I. K. Barber Enhanced Forestry Laboratory at the University of Northern British Columbia and with the establishment of the Irving K. Barber Diabetes Research Endowment Fund at The University of British Columbia, and the Ike Barber Human Islet Transplant Laboratory at Vancouver Hospital in partnership with The University of British Columbia.

Dr. Barber’s gift of $20 million is largely responsible for the development and construction of the Learning Centre and the realization of its mission: a facility dedicated to the intellectual, social, cultural and economic development of the people of British Columbia and beyond.

Dr. Barber and his wife Jean have three children, nine grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren.