`Mini-university' builds bridges for 50 years

by Bruce Mason
Staff writer

UBC's Faculty of Graduate Studies was ahead of its time when it was officially approved by Senate in 1949. As the faculty celebrates 50 years as a leader in innovative and interdisciplinary education and research, it isn't resting on its considerable laurels.

"We are a mini-university," says Frieda Granot, dean of the faculty, "and throughout the fall we are presenting an ambitious series of lectures and other events to raise awareness and celebrate our key role in building bridges at UBC."

The best on-line admissions in the country has been developed by the faculty, she says, and it is unveiling a comprehensive 400-page Web site as well as a manual for evaluating international students, which many people on campus have requested.

A highlight of the 50th anniversary celebrations is a gala concert at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts on Oct. 21 at 8 p.m. It features legendary pianists Jane Coop and Robert Silverman. Both are professors of Music but rarely have an opportunity to perform together as a duet.

Also on the program are former and current students. Some are coming from a great distance to take part in the concert, which symbolizes the remarkable success of the Faculty of Graduate Studies at UBC.

"The concert is a showcase of the outstanding success of UBC faculty and students and an opportunity to reflect on the quest for excellence which has always been a hallmark and tradition of our programs and research," says Granot.

From the beginning the faculty has had two distinct and independent roles. It promotes interdisciplinary graduate education and research and provides administrative services for graduate students across all faculties.

The School of Community and Regional Planning, formed in 1950, was the initial interdisciplinary research unit in the faculty. It was created to address the myriad issues resulting from B.C.'s rapid growth in population and signaled a new era in education and research and the evolution of the faculty.

Over the decades the faculty would gather together the finest minds to work on major developments and issues emerging in the world, including women's studies, sustainable development, the rise of the global economy and importance of Asia, genetics, applied ethics and health promotion.

UBC's Faculty of Graduate Studies now comprises the school, two unique residential colleges, seven graduate programs, 15 research units and the journal Pacific Affairs.

The rise in growth of graduate education has also been phenomenal. In the past decade alone the number of students in the faculty has quadrupled. More than 6,400 graduate students are now enrolled, including the largest percentage of international students in Canada.

For more information on the wide range of activities being staged in honour of the 50th anniversary of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and for ticket information on the gala, call 604-822-1311.