Five years of growth for Okanagan campus

Since opening its doors in the summer of 2005, UBC’s Okanagan campus has grown from 3,500 students to well over 6,000, including more than 500 graduate students.

UBC is tripling the original 500,000 sq. ft. of building space to 1.5 million sq. ft. through a $400-million construction program, and this summer the campus literally doubled in size with the acquisition of 103.6 ha. (256 acres) from the City of Kelowna.

The $8.78-million purchase of land adjacent to the Okanagan campus in Kelowna’s North Glenmore neighbourhood increases the total area of UBC’s endowment lands at both the Vancouver and Okanagan campuses to more than 1,500 acres.

“This is an unprecedented and extremely important event in the history of UBC,” said Brad Bennett, whose announcement of the purchase was one of his final official acts after serving as Chair of the Board of Governors for the past five years. “This ensures that UBC’s Okanagan campus can respond to the future needs of our region, our province and the country. The possibilities are limited only by vision and imagination.”

“We have seen an extraordinary evolution in our campus over the past five years — rapid growth and expansion, but also remarkable achievements by students and faculty,” says Doug Owram, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Principal at the Okanagan campus. “This campus has become an important contributor to the social, cultural, and economic fabric of the region and a vital part of the UBC system.”

The Okanagan campus was envisioned as a place where students and faculty know each other and learn from each other.

“That vision is the reality as the campus in Kelowna marks its fifth anniversary,” says Owram. “With a growing source of innovation and a source of expertise, our campus is an amazing place where students can learn, discover, and contribute in an intimate educational setting while earning the internationally respected UBC degree.”

Those attributes have attracted students from throughout B.C., across Canada and around the world. In 2005, international students represented 21 countries. Now, the Okanagan campus is home to students from 66 countries.

A rapidly rising number of graduate students are choosing to study at the Okanagan campus — in 2005 just 41 students were enrolled in the College of Graduate Studies; today more than 500 students are pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees at the Okanagan campus.

Other examples of major growth abound, such as the flourishing programs in Management and Engineering. The Faculty of Management has grown dramatically since it opened in 2005. In that first year, 27 students began the Bachelor of Management program. Four years later, in June 2009, the first graduating class of 72 students received their BMgmt degrees. This year, 603 students were enrolled in the undergraduate degree program.

Undergraduate Engineering student numbers have exploded since the School of Engineering’s inception in 2005, increasing from 76 students in the first year to 482 students studying toward their Bachelor of Applied Science degrees in Civil, Electrical or Mechanical Engineering. Today, the School has 36 master’s students and 34 PhD students, and the graduate program has received hundreds of applications from all over the world this year alone. In June, the School received full accreditation from the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board , and its first class of 56 BASc graduates received their degrees.

For students visiting campus each day from the surrounding communities, the university has developed one of Canada’s first collegia programs, starting with four spaces designed to serve as a home away from home for commuting students. These 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.

With more than 1,300 students in residence, there’s an active on-campus community, and construction is now underway for another residence, which will bring the number of on-campus student beds to more than 1,600 — far beyond the university’s original goal of 1,000 beds.