UVic Torch -- Autumn 2008
Autumn 2008,
Volume 29, Number 2

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By DAVID H. TURPIN
PRESIDENT AND VICE-CHANCELLOR
Photo by UVIC PHOTO SERVICES

IN THE SUMMER OF 1963, THE VICTORIA DAILY TIMES EDITOR BRIAN TOBIN (a graduate of Victoria College, former member of the university senate and board of governors, and an honorary degree recipient) attended a ceremony for the laying of the cornerstone of the McPherson Library. The ceremony, including speeches from various dignitaries, was on campus grounds that were just beginning to take shape. Construction of the library had barely started; the neighbouring Clearihue Building was completed the previous year.

In his thoughtful commentary that appeared a few days later in his newspaper, Brian wrote of the deep symbolism of that ceremony. As he saw it, the block of stone that was dedicated that day represented the seed of the dream of the community. On that day, he observed, “they planted a university.”

Forty-five years later, our university—and the dream on which it was founded—continues to thrive. In the spring and early summer, we officially opened two beautiful new buildings—the Mearns Centre for Learning and the Social Sciences and Mathematics Building. As September classes began, a third major building—the Ocean Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Building opened its doors.

The Social Sciences and Mathematics Building, located adjacent to the Cornett Building, provides state-of-the-art facilities for our students, faculty, researchers and staff in Geography, Environmental Studies, Political Science and Mathematics. The building is a wonderful testament to our commitment to sustainability, with a host of proven and innovative environmentally friendly features that you can read about in this issue of the Torch.

Across campus, the William C. Mearns Centre for Learning, encompassing expansion and renovations of the McPherson Library, is a fully modern manifestation of the enduring tradition of libraries. It will attract great scholars; it will support our humanists, our scientists, our social scientists, and our scholars in engineering and the other professions. It will support the work of tens of thousands of students each year.

Certainly none of this would have been possible if the University of Victoria had not been built on the vision of people like the late Bill Mearns, and the magnificent generosity of the Mearns family. To all of them, I extend deepest thanks on behalf of the entire university community.

The third new building brings together our earth and ocean scientists, who had been located in seven different locations around campus. It also provides the Chemistry Department with a consolidated and modernized working environment for synthetic chemistry. As well, a new astronomy observatory has been installed on the roof.

This important new centre of teaching and research will receive its formal opening in November. I look forward to that event, when we will also gratefully acknowledge the unprecedented financial support provided for its construction by a great friend of the university, Bob Wright.

Since its inception, the University of Victoria has grown in a scale that reflects and respects our environment. Our growth stems from the aspirations of the people who stood at our foundations in 1963. And that is what guides us still. Without doubt, the face of our campus is changing, but it’s a much deeper change than what is manifested in the physical structures of these incredible new buildings. Our capacity for teaching and our potential for research that pushes the boundaries of knowledge is growing—and that is the truly exciting aspect of what our new facilities represent.

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