Honouring a Visionary Educator: Dr. Gerald Sylvester
May 26, 2020
It is with great sadness the Community of St. Mark’s at UBC — Corpus Christi College, St. Mark’s College, and St. Mark’s Parish — shares the passing Dr. Gerald (Gerry) Sylvester on May 19, 2020 at the age of 90.
Along with his wife Marian Sylvester, Gerry was a passionate supporter of Catholic higher education and a visionary founder of Corpus Christi College.
In the early 1980s, when the long-time dream to launch a Catholic liberal arts university in Vancouver began gathering steam, retired educators and supporters of Catholic education began attending planning meetings. These ‘kitchen table’ gatherings soon became a regular occurrence at the Sylvester home and sparked the creation of Corpus Christi College.
This group incorporated themselves as The Advancement of Higher Education in the Catholic Tradition Society with their explicit purpose to found a liberal arts college to be called “Corpus Christi.” In 1999, the vision was fully realized and Corpus Christi College opened its doors to students. Gerry served on the College’s first Board, and soon became its first Executive Director.
In recognition of his life-long commitment to Catholic education, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from St. Mark’s College in 2006 and in 2017 he, along with Marian, was awarded the papal Cross Pro Ecclesiae et Pontifice by Pope Francis. Both Gerry and Marian remained unflagging supporters of the College throughout their lives.
Prior to the founding of Corpus Christi, Gerry had a long career in post-secondary education working at Langara College, Vancouver Community College, Notre Dame University College and serving as one of the first Presidents of Malaspina College, now Vancouver Island University.
“Gerry created an incredible legacy that will continue to have a profound impact for generations to come,” remarks Dr. Peter Meehan, President of Corpus Christi College. “This community of faith and learning would not exist without his dedication to Catholic education and to the good of humanity.”
To honour and recognize their parents’ passion for Catholic higher education and their tireless support of Corpus Christi College, the Sylvester siblings endowed a scholarship fund in their parents’ names in 2013.
The siblings are requesting that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Marian and Gerry Sylvester Scholarship fund at Corpus Christi College.
Funeral plans will be private and a public memorial will take place when permitted by public health guidelines.