August 29, 2013 - 9:31 AM
Okanagan campus has record 8,346 students driving cultural, economic change
September at UBC’s Okanagan campus is a time of new beginnings, fresh faces, new ideas, wish lists and to-do lists. And for the more than 1,300 faculty and staff, it is also a time of excitement as this year’s record 8,346 students – including 1,833 in first year, 631 graduate and 670 international students – arrive on campus.
In September 2012, UBC’s Okanagan campus had 8,307 full-time enrolments.
While UBC’s Okanagan campus has proven a successful and popular choice for students, the university must continue to excel when it comes to education and research opportunities, says Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal Deborah Buszard. Just eight years ago, UBC’s Okanagan campus opened with about 3,000 students, 80 of whom were international. There were 44 graduate students.
“Our remarkable growth shows that UBC Okanagan is a school of choice,” says Buszard. “But we cannot rest on our laurels. We are dedicated to providing our students with a university experience that is transformative, challenging, and competitive.”
UBC today is vastly different from the university that opened on an Okanagan hilltop in September 2005, says Buszard. Curricula and schools such as the Southern Medical Program and the School of Engineering have added significantly to the academic offerings. UBC’s Okanagan campus has evolved into a full research-intensive university, with more than $14.4 million in research funding for 606 projects last year alone.
“The campus is driving economic, social, and cultural change in our region and beyond,” says Buszard. “It is remarkable that in such a short period of time we are already seeing positive impact in areas such as the health-care system, innovation, and economic development.”
Buszard is entering her second year at the campus helm and her first saw the official opening of three of the campus’s top-notch research and teaching facilities: the Reichwald Health Sciences Centre, home of the Southern Medical Program; the Engineering, Management and Education Building; and the new Arts and Sciences Centre building that houses departments of the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences, as well as some Faculty of Health and Social Development programs, lab spaces for the Schools of Nursing and Health and Exercise Sciences, and a student collegium.
Indeed, 2012 saw the conclusion of the seven-year, $400-million campus construction build-out, providing students, faculty, and staff with many state-of-the-art facilities where they can learn, work, and play.
The newest facility on campus, the Hangar Fitness and Wellness Centre has fitness studios for yoga, dance, and spin bikes, and a large cardio and strength training area complete with top-of-the-line cardio equipment, free weights, and weight machines. The Hangar – which sees its official opening on Tuesday, September 17 – is so named because a large part of its funding came from Kelowna Flightcraft founder Barry Lapointe and family.
The Hangar is connected to the gymnasium, home to UBC Okanagan’s Heat teams who will play their first official season as full members of the Canada West Universities Athletic Association. The Heat’s two-year trial period in Canada West ended in June 2013.
Buszard says the Heat’s full membership in Canada West is a significant milestone, and she knows many people on campus, along with area residents, who are looking forward to cheering on the Heat teams as they compete at a top level.
“Our UBC Okanagan Heat teams are now officially recognized amongst the best university teams in the country,” says Buszard. “Heat student athletes are outstanding ambassadors of our campus with their commitment and dedication to athletic competition and scholastic achievement.”
The first days of September are busy ones on campus with a number of events organized to ensure all students feel welcome and settled. New international students are participating in Jump Start, which runs until Friday, while returning domestic students will take part in Kick Start from today until Saturday. And new-to-campus students have a special orientation event called Create on Sept. 3.
During the day-long series of events students will learn about the people, places, activities, and resources available on campus. Guided by returning students, they will tour campus and be introduced to the Deans of their faculties, their professors, and other students.
Showcase, a vendor market to highlight local goods and services, happens the same day as Create, and gives students an introduction to what services are available to them off campus as well.
“It’s a case of making every individual on this campus feel like they belong here,” says Buszard. “Every one of our students is important to us. We are honoured they chose to attend UBC’s Okanagan campus. It’s a great place for our students to be and I know our faculty members will help them excel at being the very best they can be.”
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013