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Trek Magazine - - Late Return -

That was the front-page head­line on Septem­ber 8, 2005 – the first day of classes for UBC’s new Okana­gan cam­pus in Kelowna.

UBC Okana­gan has grown dra­mat­i­cally since open­ing 10 years ago. Stu­dent en­rol­ment has grown from 3,500 in 2005 to more than 8,200 stu­dents this year – in­clud­ing 680 re­search grad­u­ate stu­dents.

While growth has been a big part of the UBC Okana­gan story, the com­mu­nity’s em­brace of the new univer­sity cam­pus has been one of the most re­mark­able as­pects of UBC’s first decade in the Okana­gan.

“Pro­gram of­fer­ings in the Okana­gan re­flect the needs of the rapidly de­vel­op­ing com­mu­ni­ties in our re­gion,” says Deb­o­rah Buszard, UBC Deputy Vice-Chan­cel­lor and Prin­ci­pal of the Okana­gan cam­pus. “We are ex­cited about op­por­tu­ni­ties for growth in high de­mand ar­eas such as man­age­ment, en­gi­neer­ing and health-re­lated pro­fes­sional pro­grams, which will en­sure we are best able to serve the needs of Okana­gan com­mu­ni­ties while pro­vid­ing a world class ed­u­ca­tion to our stu­dents.”

The South­ern Med­i­cal Pro­gram, es­tab­lished in Septem­ber 2011, is just one of the univer­sity’s new pro­grams de­signed to serve the BC In­te­rior. This spring, the first class of physi­cians will grad­u­ate from the pro­gram and en­ter res­i­dency train­ing in fam­ily medicine or var­i­ous spe­cial­ties for the next two to five years. Thanks to a part­ner­ship with In­te­rior Health, med­i­cal stu­dents re­ceive their clin­i­cal train­ing at hos­pi­tals and clin­ics through­out the In­te­rior.

The univer­sity’s part­ner­ships with Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­ni­ties in the re­gion have been mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial since the Okana­gan Na­tion Al­liance for­mally wel­comed UBC to the Okana­gan in 2005. Rec­og­niz­ing the value and im­por­tance of post-sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion to Abo­rig­i­nal stu­dents from across Canada, UBC works to in­crease en­rol­ment and en­sure aca­demic suc­cess for all Abo­rig­i­nal stu­dents.

The univer­sity es­tab­lished the Abo­rig­i­nal Ac­cess Stud­ies pro­gram in 2007, and works in close part­ner­ship with the Okana­gan Na­tion’s En’owkin Cen­tre in Pen­tic­ton. Ear­lier this year, UBC es­tab­lished a pi­lot project with the Ki-Low-Na Friend­ship So­ci­ety to open the door to univer­sity to Abo­rig­i­nal youths and adults in­ter­ested in post-sec­ondary stud­ies. The Down­town Ed­u­ca­tion Project works to help over­come bar­ri­ers to suc­cess in a post-sec­ondary en­vi­ron­ment.

The tremen­dous suc­cess of these pro­grams is clear. Since 2005 the num­ber of Abo­rig­i­nal stu­dents at UBC Okana­gan has grown from 58 to nearly 400 – in­clud­ing more than two dozen grad­u­ate stu­dents.

Re­search ac­tiv­i­ties at UBC Okana­gan are closely linked to the com­mu­nity and are on an upward tra­jec­tory. Fund­ing for re­search has grown from $6.9 mil­lion for 341 re­search projects in 2005 to more than $18 mil­lion for 633 projects this past year. UBC’s to­tal an­nual eco­nomic im­pact in the val­ley is $1.4 bil­lion and grow­ing.

One ex­cit­ing ini­tia­tive that is contributing to in­no­va­tion in the re­gion is STAR (Sur­vive and Thrive Ap­plied Re­search). Launched last fall with a $3.8 mil­lion con­tri­bu­tion from Western Eco­nomic Di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion Canada, STAR is an $8 mil­lion re­search cen­tre fo­cused on work­ing with in­dus­try to bring to mar­ket novel tech­nolo­gies for hu­man pro­tec­tion and per­for­mance in ex­treme, re­mote or ru­ral con­di­tions. One of the ini­tial projects cat­alyzed by STAR is the re­sult of a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween UBC, Kelowna-based He­lios Global Tech­nolo­gies, and Im­pe­rial Col­lege Lon­don (UK). To­gether, UBC re­searchers are de­vel­op­ing a high-tech hel­met that can re­duce the risk of con­cus­sion in con­tact sports like hockey.

UBC Okana­gan is en­ter­ing a new pe­riod of trans­for­ma­tion in its sec­ond decade, says Buszard.

“To­gether with the com­mu­ni­ties of our re­gion, UBC Okana­gan is grow­ing and di­ver­si­fy­ing the re­gional econ­omy,” says Buszard. “As we mark the 10th an­niver­sary of the cam­pus this year, we recom­mit to de­liv­er­ing on the prom­ise to have a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on the fu­ture of our re­gion and be­yond, through our stu­dents, our alumni, and new dis­cov­er­ies. We’re just get­ting started.”

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