“When it is difficult to get an education, that is when you realize its value,” said Dieter Knigge.
Referring to post-World War II Germany, which he and his wife, Hanne-Lore, left in 1952, Dieter went on to describe the couple’s appreciation for Canada. Settling in Vancouver, near the UBC campus, the Knigges never took personal freedom for granted. Although they traveled extensively around North America, Europe and elsewhere, they were always happy to return to the city they’d chosen as their home, relishing its climate and the natural beauty of its setting.
Arriving in British Columbia at a time when a trip from Vancouver’s West Side to New Westminster was “an adventure,” the Knigges worked hard to establish themselves in their adopted country. Dieter built an import business, while Hanne-Lore worked with the Children’s Aid Society.
In 1986, wanting to help a younger generation obtain an education, the couple approached UBC to discuss establishing some scholarships. Since that time, the Knigges have funded numerous awards at UBC in a number of areas – music, nursing, Germanic studies, history, geography, biology, forestry and plant science. They have also supported the Botanical Garden through an endowment, which provides funds for the upkeep of the Alpine and European sections of the garden.
The areas the Knigges have chosen to support are either of particular interest to them – for example, Hanne-Lore plays the piano and Dieter used to play the violin – or are areas they feel are in need of support. They have also bequeathed their property and other assets to the university to provide further support for scholarships, feeling that rising tuition costs might make post-secondary education unattainable for some.
For fifty-five years, the Knigges have watched with great interest as UBC has grown from relatively small campus to present-day research university. They have seen the results of some of their scholarships: students who go on to succeed in their chosen area.
“We are aware of the value of education, and of how expensive it is these days to get an education,” said Dieter. “The need for scholarships to pay for education only becomes greater as time goes on.”
“Young people are our future,” added Hanne-Lore. “Talented students without financial support should be able to complete their education.”