VIU celebrates 75-year tradition of excellence in education

Vancouver Island University President and Vice-Chancellor Ralph Nilson and Board Chair Mike Brown unveiled a history wall Thursday to mark the start of 75th anniversary celebrations at the institution.

“This university, with close to 20,000 students and more than 2,300 employees, has roots dating back to 1936 when Jack Macready began training automotive students in a converted stable in Nanaimo,” Nilson said.

Vancouver Island University Board Chair Mike Brown and President Ralph Nilson cut a ceremonial ribbon to unveil the 75th anniversary History Wall Nov. 25. Helping to launch the year-long celebration are VIU Tourism student L-A Shibish and staff members Jane Kelly (Director, International Admissions) and Nancy Tywnam (Coordinator, Student Services). For more photos from Thursday’s launch, visit the Flickr website:

“During this milestone year, we are celebrating the rich heritage passed on from dedicated students, faculty and staff from the days when we were the Dominion-Provincial Youth Training Centre, Malaspina College and Malaspina University-College,” Nilson said.

“That heritage had led to the diverse range of training and education that makes VIU unique amongst Canada’s universities.” The history wall installed on the fifth floor of the Nanaimo campus library features eight glass panels depicting the evolution of VIU through the decades. Photos, other images and text tell the story of the institution that has grown to meet the needs of students and communities in Western Canada and around the world.

The wall shows how the institution adapted through the decades as the region shifted from resource-based to knowledge-based economies.

VIU’s year-long 75th anniversary celebration will also include:

• Block parties at regional campuses at Cowichan Place in Duncan, Parksville/Qualicum Centre in Parksville and in Powell River • Launch of a history website – – with images, stories and reminiscences of students, faculty and staff • Alumni celebration events • A travelling history display that will visit local malls and regional campuses

The celebration will culminate with a grand 75th Anniversary party Oct. 14, 2011 at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre. “Since 1936 our institution has graduated over 45,000 students, employed over 15,000 individuals and contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to local economies,” Nilson said.

“We are proud of our history and the contributions of our students, employees, donors, alumni and community partners. Thank you to everyone who has played a role in shaping our history.”

The VIU President expressed deep appreciation in particular to the Snuneymuxw and other First Nations partners who have supported VIU’s growth.

He also thanked VIU alumna Laura Mann who conducted extensive research and worked with community partners to compile images and information displayed on the history wall and website.

“We have adopted the theme ‘Celebrate the Journey’ as we mark our 75th year,” Nilson said. “VIU has come a long way since our modest beginnings. I’m confident we will continue to make significant contributions regionally, nationally and globally by remaining relevant, responsive and innovative.” -30-