1877 – Initial proposal for a provincial
university made by Superintendent of Education John Jessop, only six years
after British Columbia joined Canada, with the total population still
less than 50,000.
1890 – "An Act Respecting the University of British
Columbia" passed by the provincial legislature. However, the political
rivalry between Vancouver Island and the mainland leads to a dispute about
where the university should be located.
1891 – The first meeting of the new university's senate
in Victoria (Vancouver Island) fails to reach quorum when some members
from the mainland fail to attend. A second meeting is never held, and
the "Act" is allowed to lapse.
1899 – Vancouver High School establishes Vancouver College,
affiliated with Montreal's McGill University.
1906 – Vancouver College taken over by McGill and is
renamed McGill University College of British
Columbia. MUCBC offers only two-year programmes in arts and sciences;
students still have to go elsewhere to complete their degrees.
1907 – "University Endowment Act" provides for the funding
of a provincial university through the sale of up to two million acres
of Crown land in central and northern British Columbia.
1908 – Provincial legislature passes a new "University
Act" establishing the University of British Columbia. It provides for
a Chancellor, a Convocation, a President,
a Board of Governors to manage the University's
administration, property, and business affairs, and a Senate
to administer academic matters. Convocation is initially to include all
graduates of British or Canadian universities resident in the province,
plus 25 members chosen by the provincial government; after its first meeting,
it is to consist of members of the first Convocation, plus members of
Senate and all graduates of the University. The "Act" also declares the
University to be non-sectarian and co-educational.
1910 – After a province-wide survey, Point Grey, near
Vancouver, is selected as the site of the UBC campus.
1912 – First meeting of Convocation. Election of Dr.
Francis Carter-Cotton, head of MUCBC, as first Chancellor.
1913 – Dr. Frank Fairchild
Wesbrook appointed first President of UBC.
– Architectural firm of Sharp and Thompson (later Thompson,
Berwick, Pratt and Partners) appointed University Architects, after
winning a campus planning and design competition.
1914 – Construction of first permanent buildings at
Point Grey begins. Outbreak of First World War halts work the next year,
with only land-clearance and the frame of the Science Building completed.
– Librarian J.T. Gerould from the University of Minnesota, hired
to purchase books in Europe, is arrested as a spy in Leipzig, Germany
when war breaks out; the incriminating "evidence" is a copy of the UBC
site plan in his baggage.
– University of British Columbia opens in temporary headquarters
at the former MUCBC facilities (nicknamed the "Fairview shacks" after
the surrounding neighbourhood) adjacent to Vancouver General Hospital
(left, UBC Archives photo #1.1/1317). There
are three faculties: Arts and Science, Applied Science, and Agriculture.
– Student enrolment in September is 379. Full- and part-time
faculty number 34.
– Military training included in curriculum for
duration of the war. By the end of the First World War, 697 students would
see active military service – 78 would be killed in action (right,
UBC Archives Photo #1.1/1373).
– Alma Mater Society (student union) formed.
– John Ridington appointed first
University Librarian (right, UBC Archives Photo #1.1/1511).
1918 – President Wesbrook dies, and is succeeded the
following year by Dean of Agriculture Dr.
Leonard S. Klinck.
1919 – The return of students from war-time duty increases
enrolment to 890 for 1919-20. The "shacks" quickly become over-crowded,
with classes being held in tents, churches, and Sunday schools; however,
construction at Point Grey is not resumed.
– The University offers first degree programme in nursing in the British
1920 – Victoria College opens in affiliation with UBC.
– The University imposes first tuition fees of $40 per year.
– "University Endowment Act" amended: rights to Crown lands in the interior
exchanged for 3000 acres adjacent to the Point Grey site, which are intended
for sale as residential properties.
– Tired of over-crowded conditions (full-time enrolment reaches
1200 for 1921-22), students organize province-wide publicity campaign
to persuade the government to complete the Point Grey campus. The "Build
the University" campaign climaxes in a parade (the "Great Trek") from
downtown Vancouver to Point Grey, and the presentation of a petition with
56,000 signatures to the Speaker of the Legislature in Victoria. The government
authorizes a $1.5 million loan to resume construction. The campaign marks
the beginning of active student involvement in the University's development,
and is commemorated by a stone cairn erected at Point Grey (right,
UBC Archives Photo #1.1/311).
1923 – Government lets contracts for completion of Point
Grey buildings: the Science building (today part of the Chemistry building),
the Library (today the centre block of Main Library), a power plant, and
"semi-permanent" buildings (Arts, Agriculture, Applied Science, Administration,
the Auditorium, and four laboratory/workshop buildings, most of which
are still in use today).
– UBC moves to Point Grey campus (left, UBC
Archives photo #1.1/883).
– First honorary degrees awarded.
1929 – UBC's first gymnasium, built with funds raised
by students, presented to the University.
1932 – Great Depression forces reduction in University
operating grants by provincial government. Students mount successful publicity
campaign against a suggestion that the University be closed; however,
the budget is reduced from $626,000 to $250,000 and salaries are reduced.
The resulting disputes between President Klinck, the Board, and the Senate
eventually lead to amendments to the "University Act" in 1935 which re-organizes
the University government.
1936 – Establishment of Department
of University Extension (today's Continuing
Studies), which provides post-secondary education around the province
1937 – Students contribute funds toward construction
of UBC Stadium.
1939 – Enrolment reaches 2400 students.
– Registration in campus C.O.T.C. (Canadian
Officer Training Corps) unit doubles as Second World War begins. A
total of 1680 students would eventually enlist in the armed services.
Of that total, 169 would "make the ultimate sacrifice", including R. Hampton
"Hammy" Gray, posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.
– Students contribute to the construction of the first student union
building, Brock Hall (right, UBC Archives Photo #1.1/346).
1941 – Students waive army pay to help construct Armoury.
Campus army unit reaches maximum strength of 1879, and many faculty members
are on leave for special war-time duty.
– Federal government funding for defence and other research purposes increases.
1944 – Dr. Norman A.M.
MacKenzie appointed UBC's third President.
– First student residences opened at Acadia
and Fort Camps.
– University begins post-war academic expansion by inaugurating
the Faculty of Law, and establishing
new programmes in social work, pharmacy, home economics, and physical
education. To accomodate the new programmes and students, fifteen abandoned
army and air force camps are dismantled and shipped to Point Grey, where
the huts serve as classrooms, laboratories, and residences for both students
and faculty. A few are still in use today, mainly for storage purposes
(left, UBC Archives photo #1.1/1007).
1947 – Enrolment swells to 9374, with war veterans making
up some 50 percent.
– Postwar construction would add more than twenty new buildings by 1951,
including facilities for physics, engineering, and biological sciences,
as well as the Library's north wing.
– Faculty of Graduate Studies established
to administer masters and Ph.D. programmes.
– Opening of the first Faculty Club,
in a surplus army hut originally used as an officers' mess.
1948 – Van de Graff atomic generator installed in Hennings
(Physics) Building – one of many government-supported post-war research
1949 – Faculties of Pharmacy and Medicine
– First Museum of Anthropology opened in the basement of the Library.
1950 – Schools of Commerce and Education established.
1951 – Student initiative leads to construction of War
Memorial Gymnasium, as a memorial to British Columbia's war dead. Mounted
in the gymnasium are plaques of the University's "honour rolls" – lists
of students who lost their lives in the two World Wars.
– First women's residences opened.
– Faculty of Forestry – formerly a
department in Applied Science – established, along with the School
1954 – British Empire Games swimming and diving events
held at newly-constructed pool adjacent to War Memorial Gymnasium.
– Brock Hall partially destroyed by fire. Restoration funded by donations
from students and alumni.
1956 – Construction of Buchanan Building for Faculty of Arts and Science begins.
– Commerce and Education promoted to Faculty status.
– UBC incorporates Sopron School of Forestry from
Hungary, after students (shown at 1957 memorial service) and faculty flee
their homeland after the failed anti-Soviet revolution (right,
UBC Archives Photo #1.1/772-3).
– Dr. William Holland arrives to head the new Department of Asian Studies,
and brings with him the library and records of the Institute
of Pacific Relations, which had closed its New York office in the
wake of allegations of Communist influence.
1958 – University celebrates its "Golden Jubilee" and
launches the "UBC Development Fund", the first public appeal for capital
funds by any Canadian university. Fund drive and government contributions
together raise $35 million.
1959 – International
House, a meeting place for UBC students from outside Canada, officially
opened by Eleanor Roosevelt.
– Opening of new Faculty Club and University
Social Centre, donated by Leon
and Thea Koerner.
– South Wing of Library completed, housing an undergraduate library
(later named the Sedgewick Library, after former English Department head
and Shakespearean scholar Garnett G. Sedgewick)
and a Special Collections Division (right, UBC Archives
1961 – Schools of Librarianship and Rehabilitation Medicine
1962 – Dr. John B. Macdonald becomes UBC's fourth President.
1963 – Report by President Macdonald on the future of
higher education in British Columbia. A new university and a network of
community colleges are among the recommendations.
– Provincial government passes new "Universities Act", which provides
for the incorporation of the University of Victoria (formerly Victoria
College) and Simon Fraser University.
1964 – A gift of $3.5 million by Dr. P.A. Woodward assures
continuing development of UBC's Health Sciences
Centre, including classroom facilities, a bio-medical library, and
– Faculty of Arts and Science splits.
– First class enrols in new Faculty of Dentistry.
1965 – Forestry magnate H.R.
MacMillan gives $3 million to expand Library book collection. This
coincides with beginning of decentralization of Library system, eventually
leading to establishment of thirteen branch libraries around the campus
and elsewhere in Vancouver, housing over three million books.
– University begins largest expansion programme in its history, building
South Campus research area.
1967 – First four students elected to University Senate.
– "Yorkeen" mansion, at north end of campus, donated by Cecil Green
(former UBC student and co-founder of Texas Instruments). Renamed Cecil
Green Park, today it houses the University's Development Office and the
UBC Alumni Association (right,
UBC Archives Photo #1.1/3292).
1968 – New Student Union Building (SUB) completed. Brock
Hall turned over to student services and administration.
– American "Yippie" leader Jerry Rubin leads student sit-in at UBC Faculty
Club. Occupation ends without violence 22 hours later.
1969 – Popular University alumnus, mathematics professor,
and dean Dr. Walter H. Gage appointed President.
– University completes five-year, $71 million building programme.
1970 – UBC enrolment numbers 20,936 students.
1971 – UBC becomes first university in Canada to offer
Women's Studies programme for academic credit.
1972 – UBC Senate adopts report advocating new emphasis
on opportunities for part-time degree study.
– Sedgewick Undergraduate Library moves to underground facilities
west of Main Library (left, UBC Archives photo #41.1/2306).
– Investment in UBC buildings from 1915 to 1973 totals more than $173
– Senate approves recommendations for election of 196 students as full
voting members of UBC's twelve faculties.
– Enrolment for 1972-73 academic year in credit and non-credit programmes
at Point Grey and throughout British Columbia total 66,508 students.
1974 – Senate committee proposes priorities for 16 building
projects, costing an estimated $35 million, for period 1975-1980.
– Tri-University Meson Facility (TRIUMF) opened in South Campus area,
housing giant cyclotron used for research in nuclear and particle physics.
1975 – Former Dean of Arts Dr. Douglas T. Kenny appointed
President of UBC.
– Opening of new Museum of Anthropology, partially funded by the
federal government, featuring its outstanding collections of Northwest
Coast First Nations (native) art (right, UBC Archives
– Establishment of Centre
for Human Settlement at UBC, in connection with the United Nations
Conference on Human Settlement (Habitat '76) in Vancouver.
1977 – UBC begins teacher education programme in Whitehorse,
1979 – UBC awards its 100,000th degree.
1980 – Final phase of Health Sciences Centre opens.
The Koerner Pavilion, named for Walter C. Koerner, one of the University's
most important benefactors, includes an Acute Care Hospital.
– Opening of Asian Centre (left, UBC Archives
photo #1.1/16474), which houses the Department of Asian Studies and
an Asian Library, and which is adjacent to the classical Japanese Nitobe
– Discovery Park UBC established in South Campus area, on land leased
to the provincial government for use as a research facility.
1982 – Budget shortfall of $7.5 million, and provincial
government's refusal to provide additional funding, forces University
to raise tuition fees an average of 32.8%, and consider cutting faculty
and support staff. Student protests, including a campus-wide "day of mourning",
have little effect.
1983 – Dr. K. George Pederson appointed President.
1984 – Faced with continuing financial constraints,
Senate votes to limit first-year enrolment for 1984-85, and the Board
of Governors raises tuition fees an average of 33%.
1985 – President Pederson resigns in protest against
provincial government cuts in post-secondary funding. Dr. Robert H.T.
Smith appointed President pro tem. Later in the year, Dr. David
W. Strangway is named University President.
1986 – Provincial government announces "Fund for Excellence
In Education", to be shared by all three provincial universities to support
"Centres of Excellence" in certain areas of research and instruction.
1988 – UBC Real Estate Corporation founded to develop
the University's real estate assets, for capital fund or endowment purposes.
It is to administer Hampton Place, a new residential development on the
edge of campus.
– Computerized telephone course registration system, known as TELEREG,
introduced. This replaces the on-campus "arena scheduling" system,
which required students to physically walk across campus from department
to department to register for courses.
1989 – Launching of "The UBC Campaign", with its theme
"A World of Opportunity". Its goal is to raise $66 million in private
and corporate donations, with the provincial government to provide equal
matching funds, to pay for new buildings, facilities, programmes, and
scholarships. Overwhelmingly successful, by the time it ends in 1993 the
campaign will have raised a total of $262 million.
– Pacific Spirit Regional Park created from undeveloped areas of University
– UBC enters into partnership with Cariboo and Okanagan Colleges, providing
third- and fourth-year programmes leading to degrees in Arts and Science.
The colleges are re-named University College of the Cariboo and Okanagan
1990 – UBC celebrates the 75th anniversary of its opening
with a series of special events, including the largest Open House in its
1992 – Undergraduate and graduate enrolment for
1992-93 academic year totals 30,579 students. Registration for non-credit
courses exceeds 85,000. Full-time faculty number 1851, and support staff
number 3774. Expenses for 1991-92 totalled $328,011,000, and funding for
research (both grants and contracts) totalled $116,957,082.
– Release of a new Main Campus Plan, following those of 1959, 1968,
and 1982. It is intended to direct the growth and evolution of the Point
Grey campus to the year 2000 and beyond.
– Ritsumeikan House opens for students from UBC's exchange programme
with Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan.
– U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin
meet at UBC during the "Vancouver Summit".
– Opening of First Nations House of Learning. Built of western red
cedar, with a copper-clad roof, its design is based on that of a Coast
Salish longhouse. It houses First Nations education programmes, counselling
services, and cultural events, and generally serves as a "home away from
home" for some 250 First Nations students attending UBC.
– Opening of Green College, a residential graduate college designed
to foster an "interdisciplinary community" among visiting scholars and
– UBC biochemistry professor Michael Smith receives Nobel Prize
(right, UBC Archives photo #41.1/1892).
1995 – Opening of C.K. Choi Building, for the Institute
of Asian Research. It is constructed largely of recycled materials (including
timber beams from the demolished Armoury), and embodies the most advanced
environmental design principles.
1996 – Undergraduate admissions policy revised by Senate,
enabling faculties to use criteria such as leadership abilities and career-related
work experience for admitting students directly from high school.
– Establishment of St. John's College, a residential graduate college,
and the Sing Tao School of Journalism announced. Both would officially
open the following year.
– Completion of Walter C. Koerner Central Library, which combines Sedgewick
Library with a new five-storey building.
1997 – Dr. Martha C. Piper becomes UBC's new President.
– The Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) Economic Leaders'
Meeting is hosted by the federal government at the UBC Museum of Anthropology.
Approximately 1,500 protesters come to the campus to voice their concerns
that APEC discussions aimed at liberalizing trade between participating
countries would not include any reference to human rights and social and
environmental issues. Clashes between protestors and police would lead
to a number of legal actions and an official inquiry.
1998 – First Annual General Meetings held –
one in downtown Vancouver, the other on campus. The meetings are intended
to inform both the public and the University community about UBC's goals
for the future, key accomplishments of the past year, and its financial
– Board of Governors approves Trek 2000, a vision document
presenting the University's goals and principles for the 21st century,
and identifying key targets and strategies to attain them.
– Faculty of Forestry moves from the Macmillan Building, which it
had shared with Agricultural Sciences, to the Forest Sciences Centre.
A fundraising campaign, providing opportunities to name certain facilities
in the Forest Science Centre, attracted support from the B.C. forest industry,
with UBC providing matching funds.
2000 – Completion of Donald Rix Building, named
after the UBC clinical assistant professor of pathology and entrepreneur
who contributed to the cost of the building, and built to accommodate
the growth of new companies created on the basis of UBC research. There
are 22 private companies located on campus. Most of these companies are
UBC spin-offs, with the remainder having research relationships with the
University. Profits from lease agreements with these companies are fed
back into UBC research.
2001 – The Wallace
B. Chung and Madeline H. Chung Collection and Reading Room opens in
Main Library. Originally donated in 1999, the collection is considered
a national treasure and valued in the millions of dollars. It consists
of more than 25,000 items and focuses on the exploration of the Pacific
Northwest, the Chinese experience in North America, the history of British
Columbia, and the Canadian Pacific Railway Company.
– Opening of UBC at Robson Square, located in downtown Vancouver.
Both credit and non-credit courses are taught at the new campus, primarily
from Commerce and Continuing Studies. Public lectures in a broad range
of cultural and community themes are also presented. UBC at Robson Square
also houses the Women's Resource Centre, as well as library and bookstore
– TELEREG course registration system eliminated in favour of an
Internet-based system via the UBC Student Services website.
2002 – Completion of the Chapman Learning Commons in
the 5th-floor concourse of the Main Library. The Commons features group
study space, learning resources, and state-of-the-art computing and Internet
2003 – Faculty of Commerce and Business Administration
changes its name to Sauder School of Business, to honour a $20-million
gift from forest industry leader and former UBC Chancellor William L.
– Construction begins on the Irving
K. Barber Learning Centre, to be built around the heritage core of
Main Library. Upon its completion in 2006, it will house UBC Library collections
(including an automated storage and retrieval system) and reference services,
as well as the Chapman Learning Commons and the Chung Collection. Named
for forest industry leader Irving K. "Ike" Barber, who donated
$20-million for its construction (UBC and the provincial government provided
matching funding), the Learning Centre will also include lecture halls,
classrooms, meeting and study spaces, and seminar rooms to support UBC's
interdisciplinarity and information studies programmes.
2004 – Announcement of the merger of UBC and Okanagan
University College. UBC Okanagan
will open on the site of the North Kelowna campus of OUC in September
2005 – at the same time, other OUC campuses will be reorganized
to form Okanagan College.
– Opening of the Michael Smith Laboratories, a $30-million biotechnology
research facility, housing the former UBC Biotechnology Laboratory and
named after the Nobel Laureate who died in 2000.
2005 – After a lengthy re-visioning process,
the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences is re-named the Faculty of Land
and Food Systems "to better reflect the diversity of its academic programs
and research initiatives ".
– Official launch of revised vision document Trek 2010.
2006 – First Convocation ceremony at UBC-Okanagan.
– Dr. Stephen J. Toope is appointed UBC's twelfth president.
Logan, Harry T. Tuum Est – A History of the University of British Columbia. Vancouver: The University of British Columbia, 1958.
Scrapbook for a Golden Anniversary – The University of British Columbia Library, 1915-1965. Victoria: Morriss Printing Company Ltd., 1965.
UBC Fact Book. 1992.
Woodcock, George, and Tim Fitzharris. The University of British Columbia – A Souvenir. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1986.