UBC’s first con­struc­tion on the Point Grey cam­pus site was a mod­est shack used to store dy­na­mite for clear­ing the land of tree stumps. The shack was later com­man­deered for an of­fice by Leonard Klinck, first dean of Agriculture and later UBC’s sec­ond presi

Trek Magazine - - Editor's Note -

Look­ing out at to­day’s cam­pus from the com­fort of the cli­mate-con­trolled Robert H. Lee Alumni Cen­tre – only five min­utes’ walk from where the shack stood on what is now Main Mall – you can see build­ings old and new stretch­ing to the hori­zon, and the om­nipresent cranes are ev­i­dence of more growth to come.

Hav­ing spent the last few months en­grossed in archival UBC im­ages and footage, and nos­ing through boxes of decades-old univer­sity cor­re­spon­dence, I see strik­ing con­trasts with the past all around.

This month, for ex­am­ple, stu­dents re­turned to cam­pus in their thou­sands – lug­ging back­packs, rid­ing skate­boards, tex­ting friends, ac­cli­ma­tiz­ing to stu­dent life. Judg­ing by some can­did black and white pho­tos of early stu­dents on UBC’s orig­i­nal Fairview cam­pus (there were fewer than 400 of them back then), it’s clear they in­dulged in as many an­tics as stu­dents do to­day – only they did it in long skirts and three-piece suits. Fash­ion isn’t the only thing to have changed: the class­room set­ting has gone from straight-back-and-chalk­board to in­ter­ac­tive and hi-tech, and the univer­sity’s cam­puses are far more cul­tur­ally di­verse.

The pas­sage of time is also ap­par­ent from the type and vol­ume of re­search dis­cov­ery. The first recorded in­ven­tion dis­clo­sure at UBC was for a de­vice to al­low the more ef­fi­cient plant­ing of trees. More re­cently, forestry re­searchers have mapped the genomes of the spruce tree and the moun­tain pine bee­tle, and are also ex­plor­ing how trees might best adapt to cli­mate change. Hand-in-hand with new ar­eas of re­search, the univer­sity now has a stag­ger­ing num­ber of cour­ses on of­fer in al­most ev­ery sub­ject imag­in­able – not only on cam­pus but out in the com­mu­nity as well.

So UBC ev­i­dently started with a lot of big bangs (if the shack’s any­thing to go by) and has been rapidly ex­pand­ing ever since. There’s a lot to cover in one Cen­ten­nial is­sue, which is why we de­cided to have two:

This one fo­cuses on UBC’s first cen­tury – cov­er­ing some of the in­sti­tu­tion’s ear­li­est sto­ries, ex­am­in­ing how stu­dent life and pol­i­tics have helped shape its cul­tural iden­tity, and high­light­ing just a few of the re­search ar­eas in which it now en­joys a com­mand­ing rep­u­ta­tion.

The less in­tro­spec­tive spring 2016 is­sue, which co­in­cides with the 100th an­niver­sary of UBC’s first grad­u­at­ing class, will check in with some of UBC’s 305,000 alumni liv­ing and work­ing in ap­prox­i­mately 140 coun­tries, and look ahead to a dif­fer­ent world hinted at by emerg­ing fields of re­search. It will also delve into some of the univer­sity’s roles in the com­mu­nity, as well as its fast-ex­pand­ing in­ter­na­tional ac­tiv­i­ties and part­ner­ships.

We’ll never know ex­actly what Frank Wes­brook was en­vi­sion­ing as he looked out over Point Grey on a chilly day in 1916, or there­abouts, but it’s safe to say he’d be might­ily im­pressed by what UBC has be­come in just a hun­dred years.


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