Canada’s largest cranberry grower partners with UBC on $7.5M fund to establish a centre for business ethics


UBC alumnus Peter Dhillon, Canada’s largest grower of cranberries, is partnering with the University of British Columbia to establish the Peter P. Dhillon Centre for Business Ethics at the Sauder School of Business.

Sauder and Dhillon have together committed $7.5 million in funding toward the partnership, which will support the study, teaching and promotion of values-driven business practices locally, nationally and around the world.

“I’m partnering with Sauder to help ensure we are doing all we can to equip future leaders with the ethical perspectives they need to navigate the increasingly complex world of business,” said Dhillon, chairman of Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc., the world’s leading producer of cranberry foods and beverages. “There is an impression that you can’t do well in business unless you set ethics aside. I want to break that image. You can be caring, you can be thoughtful, and still be successful.”

Once it’s open, the Peter P. Dhillon Centre for Business Ethics will be the first centre at a Canadian business school to take a comprehensive approach to the study, teaching and promotion of business ethics. Its research will investigate and influence best practices across business disciplines, from marketing and human resources to finance and accounting. It will also contribute to academic programming across the school, from undergraduate and graduate curriculum to executive education.

“The impact of Peter’s gift will be substantial,” said UBC President Arvind Gupta. “Not only will it allow for the creation of new thinking that can have an immediate influence on the way organizations run, but its ripple effect through the students it touches will be felt in British Columbia and around the world.”

The centre will occupy a prominent space in the Sauder School of Business building on UBC’s Vancouver campus. A resource for the Sauder community, it will provide a physical home for ethics-focused activities at the school and a venue for interaction with the business community.

“Our partnership with Peter will greatly enrich our learning and research environment and allow Sauder to become an innovator in, and a model for, values-based business education and outreach,” said Sauder Dean Robert Helsley, Grosvenor Professor of Cities, Business Economics and Public Policy. “We look forward to working closely with him as we build the centre into a leading voice in the dialogue supporting the development of ethical perspectives on business.”

After the Peter P. Dhillon Centre for Business Ethics is established an advisory board will be assembled to support and extend its work. An international search will also be conducted for a leading professor in the field of business ethics to direct the centre’s activities. The centre will host a range of public engagement initiatives and bring global thought leaders together to share best practices.

Peter Dhillon’s funding for the centre builds on a 2006 gift of $2 million from the Dhillon family toward two initiatives at UBC named in remembrance of Dhillon’s father. The gift established the Rashpal Dhillon Fund in Idiopathic Pulmonary Research and Rashpal Dhillon Track and Field Oval, which opened on the UBC Vancouver campus in 2010. Peter Dhillon has also given his time and expertise to UBC as a member of the campaign cabinet for UBC’s $1.5 billion start an evolution campaign since 2008, and as a member of UBC’s President's Advisory Council, which he joined earlier this year.

Dean Robert Helsley and Pater Dhillon

About the benefactor

Peter Dhillon, 49, is CEO of the Richberry Group of Companies, an agribusiness enterprise based in B.C. It is one of the largest shareholders and suppliers of Ocean Spray Cranberries, of which Peter is the chairman. Born and raised in Vancouver, Dhillon attended the University of British Columbia, graduating with a bachelor of arts degree in history. He continued his education in the United Kingdom, where he earned a bachelor of laws with honours from the University of Leeds.

A Richmond resident for over 30 years, Dhillon has held numerous board positions with organizations, including Simon Fraser University, Vancouver International Airport Authority, Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., and CanWel Broadleaf. He was director and chairman of the audit committee of the Vancouver 2010 Organizing Committee (VANOC), vice chairman of the Provincial Agricultural Land Commission, vice chairman of the B.C. Ferry Corporation, director of Seacor Environmental, director of Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, and board director of the VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation. Dhillon is also a former chair of the Vancouver branch of Right to Play.