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Entrepreneur donates $10 million to SFU to establish institute

Charles Chang hopes that his contribution will give back to the SFU community

SFU alumnus Charles Chang wanted to give back to SFU after the school "did a lot" for him.
SFU alumnus Charles Chang wanted to give back to SFU after the school "did a lot" for him.

Charles Chang, a Beedie School of Business alumnus, has donated $10 million to SFU to  create the Charles Chang Institute for Entrepreneurship. Chang is the founder of Vega, a multimillion dollar nutritional company which offers a variety of vegan products.

The institute offers courses in various faculties such as applied sciences, health sciences,  environment, and communication, among others. Students who complete the requirements will receive the Charles Chang Certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, along with their program major degree.

Chang spoke to The Peak about the motivation behind his decision: “The reason I want to give back is because SFU did a lot for me. I did my co-op there, [got] my degree there, and I feel like SFU and I are aligned when it comes to entrepreneurship.

“Especially when Vancouver becomes more and more expensive and harder to afford, I look at the kids and think where they’re going and how they can afford to live here and so forth. The way to do it is to create an entrepreneurship mindset — whether it’s actual experience or just people who think more about entrepreneurship,” Chang suggested. “That’s the biggest long-term benefit that I can give.”

As Chang explained, the idea to donate to the institution started a year ago: “There’s been a lot of conversations going back and forth and working together with SFU to figure out what the best way was to make the biggest difference.”

He emphasized the wide accessibility of the university to those from a diverse array of disciplines. “The issue is that everyone has access — whether you’re in sciences or in arts or in design or in engineering, it doesn’t matter. Wherever you are, you can actively participate in the institute in getting the certificate in entrepreneurship, and we are not only promoting business students. That is what matters.”

The details of the Institute and its plans are still in development, and The Peak will be offering further updates as required.

SFU president Andrew Petter expressed his gratitude to Beedie Newsroom. “Thanks to Charles’ generosity, students from all disciplines will have the opportunity to gain market knowledge and skills, and to learn how to transform their ideas and innovations into businesses and social ventures.”

On the Simon Fraser subreddit, SFU senator Paul Percival wrote a clarification on the news: “As a member of the university Senate, I feel that I must make clear an important detail which the press release glosses over: While Charles Chang has donated money to support the institute and the certificate program [. . .] he has no control over the operations of the institute or the curriculum of the certificate program.

“SFU would never compromise its academic integrity for the sake of donations.”

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