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UBC's motto - it is yours - adorns the mace that symbolizes the Chancellor's authority - photo by John Chong
UBC's motto - it is yours - adorns the mace that symbolizes the Chancellor's authority - photo by John Chong

UBC Reports | Vol. 52 | No. 5 | May 4, 2006

First Grad Class Takes its Place in UBC Okanagan History

The ranks of UBC alumni in the Okanagan will grow by nearly 10 per cent on June 9, when UBC Okanagan’s very first graduates receive their degrees.

“There are over 5,000 UBC alumni in the region, and around 490 UBC Okanagan students have applied for graduation,” says Shawn Swallow, Manager of Alumni Services at UBC Okanagan. 

“It’s an historic event for UBC — and for UBC alumni — to welcome these students into a family of 220,000 alumni worldwide,” he says. “Where else do you have an opportunity to create a new university campus and graduate a first class? It’s an extraordinary thing to be a part of.”

While the Vancouver campus has 23 ceremonies from May 24 to May 31, UBC Okanagan’s June 9 Spring Congregation will take place in two sessions. A ceremony begins at 9:30 a.m. for Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences grads, followed by one at 2:30 p.m. for graduates from Creative and Critical Studies, Education and Health and Social Development.

Both Okanagan ceremonies will deliver all the tradition of UBC Congregations going back to the first granting of degrees in 1916.

“There is a lot of history in these ceremonies,” says Eilis Courtney, director of Ceremonies and Events at UBC. “We’re using the ceremonial mace and the Chancellor’s chair from UBC’s Vancouver campus. The ceremonies in Kelowna will be almost identical to the ceremonies in Vancouver, but with an Okanagan twist.”

Unique to the Kelowna ceremonies, for example, is the presentation of a welcoming message from the Okanagan Nation Alliance.

When UBC’s campus in Kelowna opened its doors in September 2005, Okanagan University College students entering their final year of study became UBC Okanagan students. They spent the past year completing requirements for UBC degrees in the faculties of Arts and Sciences, Education, Creative and Critical Studies, and Health and Social Development.

Robert Belton was the dean of Okanagan University College’s Faculty of Arts before taking on the task of establishing a new kind of faculty at UBC Okanagan this year as dean of the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies.

“We’re doing something in this new faculty that’s unlike anything anywhere,” says Belton, describing how, for example, creative writing, theatre and fine arts are blending and informing one another. Professors are developing courses that are “not just interdisciplinary, they’re multidisciplinary — we’re well on our way to creating a new hybrid here, and this year’s graduates are a marker of that change.

“It’s really exciting, it’s vibrant and chaotic and fun. Things are really happening,” he says. “That kind of excitement is perhaps most visible in the end-of-year graduate art exhibition.”

The appropriately entitled Ab Initio — Latin for “from the beginning” — exhibition ran for 10 days in late April, showcasing the work of more than 30 Bachelor of Fine Arts graduates. Exhibiting grad Ryan Lillies described the ending-and-beginning show as “the pinnacle of our studies — and, of course, we’re hopeful it’s also the catalyst for our artistic careers.”

“Every one of our grads this year should be proud,” says Swallow. “They worked hard, and they will contribute to UBC’s reputation and achievements, going on to become community and corporate leaders and joining the ranks of UBC alumni.”

Swallow adds that he’s looking forward to the years ahead when today’s grads come back to UBC Okanagan. “This class holds a special place in UBC’s history,” he says.

“They will be forever recognized for that — when they return to campus, they’ll be coming back as members of that first class.”

Students Applying to Graduate this June at UBC Okanagan Represent the Following Faculties and Degree Programs

Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Bachelor of Arts


Bachelor of Science






Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies


Bachelor of Arts


Bachelor of Fine Arts






Faculty of Education


Bachelor of Education, Elementary


Bachelor of Education, Secondary






Faculty of Health and Social Development


Bachelor of Science in Nursing


Bachelor of Social Work






Total UBC Okanagan’s Class of 2006


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Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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