VIU Initiatives Trust Exploring Business Opportunities

Janet Bonaguro is Executive Director of the VIU Initiatives Trust, which began active operations in early 2019.

April 23, 2019 - 12:30pm

The Trust undertakes revenue-generating initiatives for the benefit of VIU and the VIU Foundation.


Vancouver Island University (VIU) has created a business entity that will allow the institution to participate in the economy in ways that VIU isn’t able to do on its own.

Following in the footsteps of several other post-secondary institutions across British Columbia, VIU has created a trust to engage in revenue-generating initiatives for the benefit of VIU and the VIU Foundation.

Created in 2018, the VIU Initiatives Trust (the Trust) began active operations in 2019. A trust is an arrangement where a trustee (in this case the VIU Initiatives Corporation, a corporation created solely for the purpose of managing this Trust) is given the right to hold and manage assets within the trust on behalf of its beneficiaries.

“The Trust is a natural step in the evolution of an institution that wants to harness the strengths of the region,” says VIU President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Ralph Nilson. “It gives us an opportunity to do things we aren’t able to currently do to enhance business ventures in the area and take advantage of the incredible strengths and capabilities we have at VIU. The values and strengths of VIU will be enhanced by a trust that feeds resources into the institution.”

The Trust provides a much-needed legal structure to attract equity partners and commercial lenders to further build out income-generating business opportunities and infrastructure in support of educational delivery. Its separate corporate structure limits VIU’s potential liability and business risk, says Executive Director Janet Bonaguro.

“The Trust intends to significantly contribute to the economic viability of the region, in ways that align with VIU’s values, and enhance the campus community through developments that best integrate the region with VIU,” she says.

VIU’s small property base means the Trust will be exploring a broader range of initiatives than many other university trusts, which focus on property development. Trust initiatives aim to generate revenue for VIU and the VIU Foundation to better pursue their mandates. Initiatives may include property development, campus services, entrepreneurial business ventures or investing in other businesses.

“One key benefit of the Trust structure is that it can move at the speed of business,” explains Bonaguro. “Partnering with the Trust provides the opportunity to leverage VIU’s strengths, assets and resources, with all Trust benefits accruing back to VIU.”

Bonaguro says the Trust is currently in the process of building relationships within the communities VIU serves and developing its strategic plan.

“We encourage everyone to watch our website for information on initiatives and reach out to us to explore potential partnership opportunities,” she says. “We’re very interested in collaborating with other regional industries for mutual benefit.”

To learn more, visit VIU Initiatives Trust.




Jenn McGarrigle, External Communications Advisor, Vancouver Island University

P: 250.740.6559 | C: 250.619.6860 | E: | T: @VIUNews

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