Niagara College celebrating 50 years of growth and innovation

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From left to right, Member of Parliament Donald Tolmie, Member of Provincial Parliament Ellis Morningstar, Niagara College board of governors chairperson Ivan Buchanan, Niagara College president George Bowen, Welland Mayor Allan Pietz, and St. Catharines Mayor Mackenzie Chown, officiated at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Mackenzie Building at the Welland campus of Niagara College on October 19, 1968.

Convocation ceremonies for Niagara College’s first graduating class are celebrated on the lawn of the Welland Club in 1968.

When Niagara College (NC) first opened its doors in Welland in September 1967, 450 eager students filed into the pre-engineered building in an otherwise empty field and started their post secondary education in programs ranging from business, to marketing, secretarial and English.

In fact, response was so enthusiastic, NC – known then as a college of ‘applied arts and technology’ – held some classes outside of the building in nice weather on the lawn for a few days until space could be organized.

That was 50 years ago: today Niagara College has grown to incorporate the country’s first teaching winery and brewery; and an international department. The College also boasts a full-time student population of over 10,000 students from over 80 countries, in over 130 programs here in the Niagara region.

One of the most enterprising colleges in Ontario, NC is also a leader in applied research, which helps companies innovate and create new products and processes, and supports economic development locally and beyond.

Niagara College joins many of the province’s 23 other colleges in marking its 50th anniversary this year.

“For us it is all about student success – and that’s been reflected in our rich history,” said NC president Dan Patterson. “We are intricately woven into the fabric of the Niagara community, and this anniversary is a great opportunity to reflect on our past and get excited about the wonderful future in front of us.”

Patterson added, “thanks to the support of our students, the community, our faculty and staff, Niagara College has established itself as a college at the leading edge of educational initiatives and experiential learning.”

The celebration started late last year when NC launched its 50-year anniversary website at www.niagaracollege.ca/50years/. Also created was a digital yearbook archive featuring yearbooks from 1968. And, NC unveiled its new official street sign and address at the Welland campus: 100 Niagara College Boulevard (formerly Ring Road).

This year, the celebration continues. Already in the works are:

  • The College’s 28th annual Seafood Gala, by the NC’s Foundation, supporting student success, April l;
  • Ceremonial tree plantings, spring and fall;
  • Celebrate Niagara 50th Anniversary Dinner, by NC’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute, May 6; and,
  • 50th Anniversary “Start of Something Amazing” Bus Tour, an interactive travelling museum, stopping at NC’s Welland campus, October 4, a joint venture by Colleges Ontario and NC.

William G. Davis Innovation Fund

Part of the province-wide celebrations is the just-announced William G. Davis Innovation Fund, developed in honour of the former Ontario premier and minister of education who paved the way for the establishment of colleges in Ontario. The fund encourages students and college alumni to pitch innovative ideas and compete for prize money. Details for submissions, contest rules and regulations are available at: www. amazing50.ca/innovationfund.

Davis, dubbed by many as the ‘education premier,’ had close ties to NC: he officiated at the grand opening of the Welland campus in February, 1968.

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