VIU Initiatives Trust Q&A with Executive Director Janet Bonaguro

VIU Initiatives Trust Executive Director Janet Bonaguro

May 8, 2019 - 2:00am

Like many other universities, Vancouver Island University has created a business entity that will allow the institution to participate in the economy in ways that VIU is unable to. This entity is called The VIU Initiatives Trust (the Trust) and it is able to engage in revenue-generating activities to the benefit of VIU and the VIU Foundation.

We sat down with VIU Initiatives Trust Executive Director Janet Bonaguro to understand what a trust is, why it is good for VIU and how it works. 

What is a Trust?

Janet Bonaguro: 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 the beneficiaries.

Who are the beneficiaries? How do they benefit?

JB: Vancouver Island University and Vancouver Island University Foundation are the beneficiaries, which means that all revenue the Trust generates comes back to VIU and the VIU Foundation. The Trust aims to significantly contribute to VIU’s annual operating budget and is in an ideal position to leverage the strengths and assets of VIU.

How will the Trust generate revenue?   

JB: It provides a 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 structure limits VIU’s potential liability and business risks. The Trust may become involved in a variety of initiatives such as property development, campus services, entrepreneurial business ventures or investing in other businesses. The intent is to significantly contribute to the economic viability of the region in ways that align with VIU’s values. It can move at the speed of business, which is a major benefit. It is a way of leveraging VIU strengths, assets and resources to the benefit of VIU and the Foundation.

What other universities have trusts?

JB: Many universities choose to create trusts, most of which are exclusively focused on campus property development. The VIU Initiatives Trust will explore real estate development on and off campus as well as establishing operating business enterprises. Other universities trusts in BC include the University of British Columbia Properties Trust, Simon Fraser University Community Trust, Thompson Rivers University Community Trust and Great Northern Way Campus Trust.

When was this Trust formed? Who is involved?

JB: VIU Initiatives Trust was formed in 2018 and began operations in early 2019. The Trust’s Board of Directors brings a wealth of experience in private sector real estate, investment financing and business operations and also includes areas of interest to the Trust. They include VIU President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Ralph Nilson and VIU Chief Financial Officer and Vice President Administration Shelley Legin.

Experience in oversight, governance and business leadership were important attributes for us when putting the Board together.

Where can I learn more?

Tags: Teaching and Learning