New University Centre a hub for student activity

Students have more places to relax, study and get together with the addition of the University Centre at UBC Okanagan. Opened this summer, the $33-million building is a hub for student activity—offering everything from fresh food to financial aid.

“We wanted to create a central place for student activity and engagement,” says Ian Cull, Associate Vice President, Students, at UBC Okanagan. “One of the main things this new building will do is provide a focal point where students can gather and have immediate access to services and activity. It also features some spaces – specifically, three collegia – that provide a home away from home for students who commute.”

Collegia are spaces designed to serve as a home away from home for students who commute to campus. They serve as places to hang out, eat lunch, spend time with classmates, and do school work. Each collegium has a relaxing lounge-style atmosphere and is outfitted with comfortable furniture, individual and group work spaces, and kitchen facilities.

Included in the 79,000-sq.-ft. building are learning centres, student services offices for several UBC Okanagan departments, UBC Students’ Union Okanagan offices, a sushi bar, student club space, a variety of social and gathering spaces and a pub/restaurant.

“There is also a new cafeteria with a unique food program that focuses on organic foods and local produce and provides a full-range of food options, such as vegan or vegetarian,” says Cull. “There is a credit union, a state-of-the-art movie cinema that seats about 100 people, a multi-faith space that students can book for meditation or prayer, and a medical clinic that will operate similar to a walk-in clinic.”

The University Centre has been more than two and a half years in the making. The UBC Students’ Union Okanagan contributed $3 million to the project, and a private anonymous donor gave more than $1 million to establish the J. Peter Meekison Student Centre, located on the ground floor. Meekison was the public administrator appointed by the B.C. government to oversee the transition from the former Okanagan University College into two new institutions: Okanagan College and UBC Okanagan in 2005.

“The growth of our student population is the main reason the University Centre was built,” says Cull. “We went from 3,000 students to about 6,000 students and expect that number to increase to 7,500 students by 2012. We know the University Centre will contribute greatly to the student experience at UBC Okanagan.”