UNBC To Recognize Founders On 10th Anniversary

March 18, 2004 For Immediate Release

In August, UNBC will celebrate the tenth anniversary of Her Majesty The Queen’s visit to officially open the Prince George campus. To commemorate the occasion, UNBC will present honorary degrees to the community, political, and academic leaders whose perseverance was instrumental in establishing the University.

Community Leaders

Charles McCaffrey was among the first to recognize the need for a university in the North. As Principal of the College of New Caledonia, he was a major instigator in the campaign to establish UNBC, an experience he described in UNBC: A Northern Crusade, the definitive book on UNBC’s creation.

Murray Sadler was perhaps the most visible early advocate for UNBC, as founding Chair of both the Interior University Society and Interim Governing Council. He was also a member of the Implementation Planning Group, which recommended the initial concept of UNBC to the Provincial Government. He is Managing Partner in the law firm of Heather, Sadler, Jenkins.

Tom Steadman spearheaded the campaign to raise awareness about UNBC throughout the North, speaking at many community gatherings during the early years of UNBC’s concept development. More recently, he helped establish the Northern Medical Programs Trust and Chaired the UNBC Foundation. He currently lives in Gravenhurst, Ontario.

As Grand Chief of the Tl’azt’en Nation Council and Chief of the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, Edward John advocated for university programming that was both accessible and relevant to northern First Nations. He was one of only three people (along with Murray Sadler and Tom Steadman) to serve on the Interior University Society, Implementation Planning Group, and the University’s Interim Governing Council.

Elsie Gerdes brought early focus to the need for strong programs in the health sciences, building on her experience as a nurse and Manager of the Northern Interior Health Unit. She was the second President of the Interior University Society.
Political Leaders

Bruce Strachan was the bridge between the community leaders and the Provincial Legislature. He was Advanced Education Minister in the Social Credit government and drafted the legislation officially creating UNBC in 1990. He was MLA for Prince George South from 1979 to 1991, providing funding for the initial feasibility study.

Bill Vander Zalm served as Premier from 1986 to 1991, just as the concept of UNBC was being developed. He had a passion for the development of northern BC and provided much support to the early players who dreamed of a northern university, and who made it Canada’s first new university in a generation.

Michael Harcourt became Premier of British Columbia in 1991 and supported the University’s development from concept to reality, authorizing the initial academic programs and participating in the April 1992 sod-turning ceremony. He joined with The Queen at UNBC’s grand opening celebration ten years ago.

Academic Leaders

John Ellis was a founding faculty member at Simon Fraser University and a key member of the Implementation Planning Group when he brought his experience in academe, as well as his expertise in university admissions and standards, to developing the concept of UNBC.

John Chapman, a geographer by training with a long academic career, helped convert UNBC from a dream to a well-respected university with the highest academic standards. As Chair of the initial Appointments and Standards Committee, he was central to the organization of the new University while ensuring that the best people were recruited to administrative and teaching posts.

“UNBC is greatly indebted to these ten honorees, as well as to Dr Geoffrey Weller the founding President, and to Iona Campagnolo and Horst Sander, founding Chancellor and Board Chair respectively, all of whom have been previously honoured,” says UNBC President Charles Jago. “Along with pioneering UNBC faculty, staff, and students, and supported by countless northerners, they have shaped the character of UNBC and ensured its success. August 17th will be their day.”

Major events planned for August 17th include the special Convocation ceremony and the official opening of the Northern Health Sciences Centre.

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