Written by: Carla Wilson, Times Colonist Reporter, March 19, 2010
Link to video:  UVic Business Video

When Victoria businessman Peter Gustavson gave $10 million to the University of Victoria’s faculty of business Friday he described himself as the “happiest guy here today.”

That’s because Gustavson remembers his own days as a student, working full-time while attending the University of Manitoba — with the help of $2 a week in gas money from his grandmother. “I know what it’s like to struggle to find money for tuition and living expenses.”

The contribution is one of the largest gifts ever given to the university — previous large donations include $17 million from the Michael Williams estate and $11 million from Bob Wright, head of Oak Bay Marine Group.

“Your gift will help many young women and men transform our world,” dean of business Ali Dastmalchian told Gustavson.

The donation will be used to establish an endowment for scholarships, professorships and research in the faculty of business. Dastmalchian said the contribution will allow the faculty to continue to introduce new programs, such as a new PhD and master’s in global business.

Gustavson, 52, founded Custom House Global Foreign Exchange in 1992 at Government and Wharf streets. He sold it last year to Western Union for $370 million US.

The donation further cements Gustavson’s relationship with UVic. He sits on the business school’s advisory board and chairs the Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year Award event, which he helped establish in 2004.

“I’m hoping that this motivates others who are contemplating making a donation to the university and to any other good cause to step up and say, ‘Yes, I’m going to do that,’ ” he said.

Gustavson said his relationship with UVic began when he hired graduates who impressed him with their skills.

“As I became more involved with the school, I realized that some of its challenges could be resolved with more resources. At the time I did not have the funds, but now I do and want to ensure more students can benefit from UVic business’s innovative programming.”

University president David Turpin said Gustavson’s donation will transform the business school and benefit generations of students.

“This gift will turn our already remarkable business school into an internationally renowned centre of excellence for business education.”