Born and raised in Vancouver, Robert (Bob) Lee graduated from the University of British Columbia in 1956 with a Bachelor of Commerce degree, and since then has devoted a significant amount of his personal time to raise funds for the university and other community organizations.
In the meantime, he has built a strong real estate presence on the west coast of Canada and the U.S., including extensive commercial real estate holdings in the Lower Mainland. In 1966 he co-founded Wall Financial Corporation (of which he still serves as director), and in 1979 branched out on his own to founded Prospero International Realty Inc.
In 1987 Mr. Lee founded UBC Properties Trust to start development of market housing at UBC as a source of outside revenue to secure the university's future. As Founding Chair of the UBC Real Estate Corporation from inception, he was responsible for developing 500 acres of the university's endowment lands, which has generated over $700 million on leased land for endowment. His goal for the trust is to generate $1 Billion.
Apart from his many achievements and honors, Mr. Lee's philanthropy is evident in his tireless work for the community, particularly UBC. He served as Governor of the University of British Columbia (1984-1990) and Chancellor (1993-1996).In 1997 he was appointed Chairman of the University of British Columbia Foundation. With his generosity, UBC has named the Robert H. Lee Graduate School.
He is past director of many companies, the most notable being B.C. Telephone Co., Crown Life Insurance Corp., and CN Railway.
Mr. Lee's community service has been recognized on many occasions. He has received the Order of Canada (1999) and the Order of British Columbia (1990), an Honorary Doctorate of Laws in 1996 from UBC, and numerous awards over the years from a variety of organizations. Mr. Lee received the 2008 Pacific Lifetime Achievement Award from Ernst & Young and in 2010 was inducted into the Business Laureates of British Columbia Hall of Fame. The Robert Lee YMCA in Vancouver carries his name due to his generosity and strong belief in the organization.
Mr. Lee and his wife Lily have four children. His entire family, including two daughters-in-law and his son-in-law, all graduated from UBC.