A ceremony today marked the construction start of St. John’s College
at the University of British Columbia, and the fulfilment of a lifelong
dream for graduates of St. John’s University, which was closed in
Shanghai 44 years ago.
St. John’s College UBC is being built in memory of the original
St. John’s University, which was once one of China’s most prestigious
and influential universities.
Graduates led by the St. John’s University Alumni Association,
Hong Kong, along with chapters in Taipei, Singapore, Vancouver and
throughout North America, have collaborated with UBC to find a home
for the college on the Point Grey campus.
Building on the success of UBC’s first graduate college, Green
College, St. John’s will be a $16-million residential college for
master’s and PhD students, senior scholars and distinguished visitors.
A focus on internationalism is the unifying theme of the new college,
which will sponsor or offer workshops, think tanks, seminars and
small conferences focusing on international issues. The college
will also complement UBC’s new Liu Centre for International Studies.
The goal is to attract outstanding international students to create
a true international community that will enhance understanding and
result in a strong commitment to international co-operation.
“This international focus should help St. John’s College capture
the imagination of the university. It will build a group of alumni
with the outlook and background needed to promote future international
co-operation and linkages,” said UBC President David Strangway.
When the first phase opens in September 1997 with 33 students,
it will, like its namesake, draw students from China, other parts
of Asia, the West and around the world.
Two more phases are planned to house a total of 178 students by
September 1999, the 120th anniversary of the founding of the original
St. John’s University.
Established by American missionaries in 1879, St. John’s University
was one of China’s great educational institutions for more than
70 years. Since the university closed its doors in 1952, St. John’s
graduates, known as Johanneans, have looked for an opportunity to
rekindle the spirit of their alma mater and its motto, “Light and
Although they still want to re-establish the university at its
original site one day, Johanneans–whose numbers include some of
the most important leaders of government, industry, commerce and
the media in East Asia and around the world–welcome the opportunity
to continue their traditions at UBC.
Among the reasons that UBC is an ideal location for the college
are its status as one of the leading research universities on the
continent, its strengths in teaching and research on Asia and Vancouver’s
strategic location as an international crossroads.
The college will be consistent with both the historical character
of St. John’s University and the future needs of UBC graduate students.
Student admission will be based on academic merit and the desire
to reflect the global community in which students from different
parts of the world will learn from each other in a collegial setting.
Places at the college will be reserved for visiting graduate students,
exchange students and visiting scholars from other countries. Links
will also be sought with undergraduates interested in international
issues, for example, those enrolled in the International Relations
program at UBC.
St. John’s College UBC will be financially self-sufficient. Construction
will be funded by donations from Johanneans and other donors, and
a mortgage taken out by the university. Student and resident fees
will provide funds for ongoing operation, seminars and other activities
of the college. An endowment will create scholarships.
UBC provided the one-hectare site for the college near
the corner of University Boulevard and Lower Mall, near Gate 6.
Symbolically, the site is near the Pacific Ocean facing Asia.