University of British Columbia | The Canadian Encyclopedia


University of British Columbia

In 1920 honours courses, extension services and summer sessions were introduced, and McGill's Victoria College in Victoria became an affiliate of the university. In 1925 UBC moved to its permanent site on the Vancouver campus. Expansion of the campus was virtually at a standstill during the 1930s.
Museum of Anthropology
(courtesy Museum of Anthropology)
University of British Columbia
Growth since the 1960s has made UBC one of Canada's largest anglophone universities, with a campus of some 473 buildings (photo by J. Kraulis).
Museum of Anthropology
Arthur Erickson's Museum of Anthropology, UBC, echoes the simple and powerful forms of Haida and Kwakiutl houses on the Northwest Coast (courtesy Arthur Erickson Architects).
Belkin Gallery, UBC
Entrance to main hall, east side of Belkin Gallery (photo by Sherry McKay)

University of British Columbia

The University of British Columbia (UBC), in VANCOUVER, was founded in 1908 by an Act of the provincial legislature. Before the University of British Columbia opened, higher education in BC was provided by denominational colleges affiliated with the universities of McMaster, Toronto and McGill. In 1910 a site at Point Grey was selected for UBC's Vancouver campus. The outbreak of the First World War delayed construction and UBC began operations at Fairview in 1915. Through its association with McGill, the university was provided with the nucleus of its first staff and basic curriculum in arts and science and engineering. In 1919, the Faculty of Agriculture was established; nursing and health programs also began, leading to the first degree course in the British Empire.

In 1920 honours courses, extension services and summer sessions were introduced, and McGill's Victoria College in Victoria became an affiliate of the university. In 1925 UBC moved to its permanent site on the Vancouver campus. Expansion of the campus was virtually at a standstill during the 1930s. Academic expansion during this period included the establishment of a university extension department (1936) and the further development of work in forestry and commerce.

Military training for students was a feature of campus life during the First and Second World Wars. Many faculty members served in the armed forces or were involved in scientific research to aid the war effort. UBC enrolment rose dramatically following the Second World War from 3058 in 1944-45 to 9374 in 1947-48. Surplus army and air force camps provided several hundred temporary classrooms as well as faculty and student housing. In the postwar era several new buildings were erected. Four new faculties were established: law (1945), graduate studies (1948), pharmacy (1949) and medicine (1950); two established departments were elevated to faculty status: forestry (1951) and commerce (1957); and the provincial normal school was incorporated into the university as the Faculty of Education (1956). Since the 1960s the university added the Faculty of Dentistry (1964), and schools of library science, rehabilitation medicine and audiology and speech sciences. In 1964, the Faculty of Arts and Science split into two separate faculties.

Growth since the 1960s has made UBC one of North America's largest public research and teaching institutions, with more than 4000 faculty members serving a student population of 56 000 on two major campuses in Vancouver and KELOWNA. Its Vancouver campus includes some 473 buildings. The UBC Library, one of the largest in Canada, houses nine million items in its extensive print and digital collections and UBC's computing facilities are among the most extensive in the country.

Expansion has taken place in all of UBC's 18 faculties, 17 schools and colleges, and numerous institutes and research centres. Special distinction has been achieved in forestry, medicine, science, biotechnology, computer science, Pacific Rim studies, the fine and performing arts, materials research, imaging research, biomedical imaging, environmental and ecological studies, pulp and paper engineering, genetics, law and international business research. In 1961 the university began to construct an extensive health sciences centre that now comprises teaching and research buildings as well as an affiliated hospital complex of 600 beds for psychiatric, extended and acute care. UBC is home to the province's medical school, which has satellite programs in Prince George, Victoria, and in UBC's Okanagan campus. Students also receive much of their education from clinical faculty at a variety of medical facilities throughout the province, providing them with experience in urban, regional, community and remote settings. These facilities include Clinical Academic Campuses, which can provide a wide range of care or can be highly specialized, and Affiliated Regional Centres, which accommodate smaller numbers of students. Each facility is operated by one of the province's six health authorities, who are critical partners in UBC's effort to increase the number of doctors in British Columbia.

UBC's Okanagan campus is located in the growing city of Kelowna, in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley. Since opening in 2005, the 209 ha campus has doubled in size. UBC's Okanagan campus offers a variety of teaching and research opportunities in the following areas: the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences, the College of Graduate Studies and the faculties of creative and critical studies, education, applied science, management, and health and social development.

UBC has two downtown Vancouver locations with Executive and Continuing Studies programs conducted at UBC Robson Square and digital arts programs offered at the Great Northern Way Campus, a collaboration between three other post-secondary institutions. The university opened its Asia Pacific Office in Hong Kong in 2005, and has announced plans to open offices in Bangalore and Delhi, India.

UBC has become one of the major research universities in Canada, with sponsored research funding in excess of $549 million a year. An industry liaison program established in 1984 is active in all aspects of technology transfer. The First Nations House of Learning, which opened in 1987, oversees public programming and the strategic planning for UBC Aboriginal initiatives. It also provides student services and is a liaison with Aboriginal communities.

UBC's Museum of Anthropology, housing one of the world's leading collections of NORTHWEST COAST NATIVE ART and artifacts, and UBC's 44 ha Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research are public facilities as well as teaching and research centres. UBC and other western Canadian universities co-operate in the operation of the TRIUMF cyclotron project, which produces high-intensity meson beams for basic physics research and cancer therapy, and in the Bamfield Marine Biological Station on Vancouver Island, a major teaching and research centre in marine biology. UBC operates an 8900 ha research and teaching forest at Haney in the Fraser Valley and an AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH farm at Oyster River on Vancouver Island.

In 1985 the Pulp and Paper Research Institute of Canada completed a laboratory on campus and a laboratory on the 52 ha Discovery Park adjacent to the campus. The Biomedical Research Centre, a joint project of the Terry Fox Medical Research Foundation and the Wellcome Foundation Ltd, opened in 1987. Several new research facilities opened on campus in the 1990s, including the Centre for Integrated Computer Systems Research, the Advanced Materials and Process Engineering Laboratory and the Forest Sciences Centre. In 1997 the Graduate School of Journalism opened on the Vancouver campus and it is the only post-graduate journalism degree program in Western Canada.

The university is also home to the Belkin Art Gallery and the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts, a world-class concert facility.

In 2001, the Wallace B. Chung and Madeline H. Chung reading room opened in the Main Library. Originally donated to UBC in 1999, the collection is considered a national treasure and is valued in the millions of dollars. It consists of more than 25 000 items focusing on the exploration of the Pacific Northwest, the CHINESE experience in North America, the history of British Columbia, and the CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY Company. The year 2001 also marked the opening of UBC Robson Square in downtown Vancouver.

In November 2011, UBC opened the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS). The building is a focal point for sustainability research and partnerships, teaching and learning, and operational activities at UBC's Vancouver campus. This living laboratory harvests and creates more energy than it uses, is 100% water self-sufficient, provides daylight in all occupied spaces, and allows for natural ventilation.

The university has formal affiliation agreements with four campus theological colleges: Vancouver School of Theology (an amalgamation of Anglican and United Church colleges), St Mark's College (Roman Catholic) and Regent College. St Andrew's Hall (Presbyterian) offers residential accommodation, as does Carey Theological College (Baptist), which also provides internship training and continuing education programs.

UBC's students, researchers, scholars and teachers have had a significant impact on our world, much of it made possible by the support of UBC's donors. In September 2011 UBC launched "start an evolution", one of the largest university fundraising and alumni engagement campaigns in Canadian history.

Prominent UBC graduates include John TURNER, Kim CAMPBELL, Michael SMITH, Mike HARCOURT, Pat CARNEY, Pierre BERTON, Rick HANSEN, Sidney ALTMAN and Ujjal DOSANJH.

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