Friends, entrepreneurs, academics, politicians, and students joined Sunday morning to praise Black Press owner and president David Black for his contributions, as the University of Victoria (UVic) named a lecture hall in his honour.
“David, you are an inspired and inspiring role model,” said Jamie Cassels, president of UVic, during the unveiling of the Black Ink Classroom in the David Strong Building. The room serves as the primary instruction space for Bachelor of Commerce students at UVic’s Peter B. Gustavson School of Business.
“Indeed, I have seen you in action on many occasions,” said Cassels. “Adjectives that I can think of include vision, drive, perseverance, resilience, generosity and deep engagement his community. So what better model to be able to put in front in of our organization and our students?”
Cassels said the university looks for and depends on its partnerships within Victoria, the province, Canada, and the world-at-large. “And in particular, the somewhat intriguing name of this classroom will allow us to begin to talk about that narrative, to tell that story, to tell that history, so that people understand how an organization, an institution like this is made with the support of leaders like David.”
In an interview with the Saanich News after the ceremony, Black said the name of the room riffs off his career in the newspaper industry, with the hope being that students studying in that class room will only know black ink and not red ink.
“It’s just kind of fun,” he said when asked about what today’s naming means for him. “It’s terrific. I don’t need the praise for sure, but to the extent that we can help the school going forward, that’s the main thing.”
Saul Klein, dean of the Peter B. Gustavson School of Business, said the school is proud to name the room after Black, whom he calls a long-time supporter of the school. Black served as the school’s first board chair from 1991 to 1996 and remains involved in several ways.
“In fact, the existence of the school goes back more than the 30 years when David and other members of the business community lobbied the provincial government and the university to establish a business community at UVic,” he said.
“Since then, David has been an incredibly strong supporter through his time, his expertise, his funds. He has made a remarkable contribution to many generations of students.”
Makari Espe is one of those students after she had won a Black Press Scholarship. Black established the scholarship as a way to support young business minds and help build small communities in B.C. The annual scholarship awards $5,000 each to 37 students from across British Columbia to attend the business school.
Espe said in her remarks that the scholarship eased her financial concerns and allowed her to focus on her studies in thanking Black.
Long-time family friend Michael O’Connor opened his remarks with a personal anecdote involving his eldest son, who was once delivering newspapers in Oak Bay for Black Press.
“We really didn’t have to help because he was able to do his route with great rapidity,” said O’Connor. “We found out eventually what he was doing. He took all of his papers and dumped them in David’s yard. Needless to say, my son was fired. That was his introduction to the business world, and fortunately, we had David as his boss.”
O’Connor also echoed other speakers in noting Black’s long history of supporting various causes in the arts and athletics, specifically his role in bringing the 1994 Commonwealth Games to Victoria.
“We all know what a wonderful success the 1994 Commonwealth Games were,” said O’Connor. “It’s a pity that the current government didn’t support you in your most recent attempt to get the 2022 Games. There is no doubt that the 2022 Games would have been highly successful under your leadership.”
O’Connor also echoed other speakers in noting that Black’s contributions to the community happen far away from the spotlight.
“He is very shy, he doesn’t like the spotlight, which we all understand, but he really is committed to his family and his community, and if there is one lesson that young people can learn, that’s it,” said O’Connor.
Black for his part used the occasion to congratulate the business school. He said building was not easy because it initially lacked any reputation that would attract good scholars and alumni that might provide funds for scholarships and hire future graduates. “Yet in 29 years, the school has gone through the roof — just amazing.”