Greig Cosier

Greig with a student
Greig (R) with a recipient of the Custodian’s Trophy, biology grad student David Stuss.

Spreading kindness by night

For some janitors the night shift is lonely, depressing and perhaps boring. For Greig Cosier it’s the opposite—sociable, fun and mentally stimulating—mainly because of his friendly, inquisitive attitude. Over decades working in UVic’s Cunningham building, Greig made a point of befriending students studying late at night.

“I walk right in and make myself acquainted, ask them who they are and what they are studying,” says Greig. These discussions were the beginning of Greig’s education in a range of complex subjects. He regularly attends the graduate symposia and has sat in on around 150 PhD defenses. “It’s really to keep myself sharp,” he says. “I’ve learned so much I’m practically a walking database.”

A long relationship with UVic

Greig first stepped foot on campus at age 14 to participate in the neural psychology program, a pioneering rehabilitation centre for people with learning disabilities. That experience, and the joy he gets from learning, offers some motive for his history of supporting the university, but the real reason is actually much simpler. “Giving is a part of me,” he explains.

At UVic, his urge to give sprang from those late night conversations with students. “I saw how hard they worked and wanted to do something to lift their spirits and reward them.” He started an award for the hardest working graduate student and for the next 14 years financed dinner out for the winner and 12 friends. Greig also supported bursaries and student symposia in the microbiology department and intends to treat the department to a pizza lunch as his next act of kindness.

Giving is contagious

Greig’s not keeping track of what he’s given or who he’s helped at UVic over the years. He’s more interested in seeing his example spread. “I see the folks who work in Student Services fill huge garbage bags for the food bank, or my co-workers in Facilities raising money for cancer each year. It makes me happy to know other staff are giving back.”

Greig Cosier sadly passed away January 7th, 2017. He worked in Facilities at UVic for over 22 years and will be greatly missed by his coworkers, and all other university students, faculty and staff whose lives he touched during that time.