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The GSS (Graduate Student Society) advocates for, promotes, and protects the academic, social, intellectual, cultural and recreational interests of its members.

The GSS’ day-to-day operations is managed by an Executive Committee, elected annually by UBC graduate students. The GSS Council, comprised of executive members and graduate student representatives elected from each graduate department of the University, drives the direction and key decisions of the Society.

The GSS is administratively divided into four departments:

  • University and Academic Affairs
  • External Relations
  • Students (programming and events)
  • Finance

The GSS is a registered Society under the Society Act of British Columbia.


In 1960, eleven years after the Faculty of Graduate Studies had been established, the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) was formed, and Joe O’Donnell was elected as the first GSA president. Earlier that year, it had also been announced that a Graduate Students’ Centre would be built as a gift from Leon J. Koerner.

Two years later, in 1962 and led by GSA President Bob McAndrew, the Graduate Students’ Association made its home in the new Thea Koerner House, or Graduate Student Centre. The Graduate Student Centre was awarded the Massey Gold Medal and considered to be the most outstanding piece of architecture completed in Canada in a three year period.

In 1982, the Graduate Student Society (GSS) at UBC was formed in an effort to consolidate the administration of the Graduate Student Association and the Graduate Student Centre, thus replacing the GSA.

All students registered in the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies are members of the GSS.

The Society still operates from the Thea Koerner House Graduate Student Centre, which was donated to the University by Leon Koerner in memory of his late wife, and expanded by graduate students in 1969.

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