Dr. David Ballantyne Memorial Fund

to the Victoria Rhododendron Society Pioneer Scholarship 

Dr. David Ballantyne 282x400

Dave began his long career at UVic in 1963. He was hired initially to teach Biometrics/Statistics, and very soon after Plant Physiology, becoming the first Plant Physiologist at the University of Victoria. He was well liked by students, had a reputation for being fair, and he cared greatly about the success of his students. The Martlet had listed him as one of the more popular profs on campus.


He coordinated Biol150 for many, many years, organizing faculty to teach in this first year introductory Biology course, and teaching the plant physiology segment himself. Dave also taught several upper level Biology courses, some for Biology majors and some for out of department majors looking for options. In all cases, he enthusiastically shared his love of science and plants. He mentored many grad students and kept in touch with them over the years.


Dave had an impactful research career as well which he equally loved, carrying his research into his home and greenhouses following retirement from UVic after 33 years. He presented internationally, his research focus photosynthesis (mitochondria/chlorophyll), plant hormones, the effects of air pollutants on plant metabolism, flower bud dormancy in rhodos and azaleas, and growth studies aimed to improve efficiency in the greenhouse industry. His conifer research yielded applications to the forestry industry, and work with coffee regulating harvest periods was meaningful to coffee growers. He was before his time studying drought resistance, already appreciating the significance.


Dave was asked for input into the Finnerty Gardens when it was being developed and donated to this fund including a special azalea bed in his late wife Mary’s memory there.


He frequently attended convocations, just to wish his graduating students well one more time. He was asked to carry the mace at convocation (and was told to really labor and make it look heavy – it was light as a feather).


Dave was always found with a smile on his face and loved questions and time with students and colleagues. His inner office was chaos to the untrained eye nevertheless he knew exactly where everything was, and no one could be sure how often his coffee mug was properly cleaned, but his lab, growth chambers, and the greenhouses were always tidy. He met with several UVic staff on Fridays for lunch, becoming lifelong friends and the weekly tradition endured into his late 80s.


He could be seen pedalling his bike most days to and from campus, rain or shine. Dave voluntarily looked after the greenhouses that were located just north of ring road for decades, checking almost daily, watering, and walking when it snowed to ensure the boilers were working and that heat was supplied to his plants and those of his colleagues.


In Dave’s lab at UVic on Saturday mornings the Victoria Rhododendron Society was born in 1979 when interested gardeners gathered to talk about rhododendrons and have a workshop. It soon became the VRS with meetings off campus and resulted in a chapter of the American Rhododendron Society. He appeared at the Society’s monthly meetings well into his 80s and in earlier years served as president and on the board. 42 years later it is still going strong!


The Victoria Rhododendron Society sponsors the VRS Pioneer scholarship which is awarded to a third or fourth year student in Biology whose main interest is in Plant Sciences.


To donate by cheque, please send your cheque, payable to the University of Victoria, to UVic's Development Office's mailing address. Please be sure to note that you are supporting the Victoria Rhododendron Society in Dr. Ballantyne's name, as well as your contact information and your mailing address for your tax receipt. 


If you have any questions or would like to give over the phone, please contact the Annual Giving Coordinator by email at giving@uvic.ca or by phone 250-472-4924. Please note that our hours of operation are Monday-Friday 8:30am-4:30pm.