Camosun celebrates 50 years of life-changing learning

Victoria, B.C. – Camosun College is celebrating its 50th anniversary throughout 2021 and, after five decades, the college remains true to its roots as a place where students feel supported, included and where they can gain real skills to transform their lives and the future.

Fifty years ago, the Greater Victoria School Board held a plebiscite to establish a regional college in Victoria. On Oct. 28, 1970, the B.C. Government gave authority for the establishment of “Juan de Fuca College.”

In January 1971, the college’s councillors voted instead to adopt the name “Camosun,” pronounced “Cam-O-sun,” a Lekwungen name for an area of Victoria meaning “where different waters meet and are transformed.”

“Fifty years ago, we were quite excited about the prospect of this new college,” says Dr. Lloyd Morin, Camosun’s second president, 1979 to 1989. “Honestly, we had no awareness of what Camosun could become. Since I left in 1989, innovative administrators, faculty and staff have led the college through a steady evolution of important new facilities, programs and services.”

Camosun held its official grand opening celebration on Sept. 16, 1971. Over 980 students enrolled that first year and at the time, tuition fees were $10 per credit to a maximum of $100 per semester. The typical Camosun student was 22 years old, two-thirds of the student body was male and most chose to enroll to upgrade their education to prepare for further education.

Lansdowne Campus 1970s

Today, Camosun welcomes 20,000 students annually in over 160 different academic and applied learning programs. Twenty-four years is now the median student age and over 1,200 Camosun students are Indigenous, while currently 1,100 students are international.

The college also boasts the largest Trades program and largest Business school on Vancouver Island, educates over 1,000 health care professionals each year and has consistently been one of the top 50 research colleges in Canada since 2014.

“Camosun is one of the most innovative institutions we have in B.C.,” says the Honourable Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure and proud Camosun alum. “And, in this pandemic year we have so much to be thankful about, especially in terms of Camosun’s contributions to training so many of our frontline health care heroes, who are looking after us and keeping us all safe, as we get through this together.”

From educating nurses to accountants, athletic therapists, early childhood educators, dental hygienists, carpenters, engineering technologists, community leaders and more, Camosun is still true to its origins.

“For five decades Camosun has helped open doors for thousands of students,” says Camosun President Sherri Bell. “I’m proud to say that Camosun has always been a community, a family. We are known for our caring, inclusive learning environments. We continue to focus on delivering relevant, applied, life-changing education for our students and community.”

“I hope current and future students understand that Camosun has so many support systems for students to access to feel protected, safe and able to flourish in their education,” says current Bachelor of Science in Nursing and former South Island Partnership student Hailey Burleson.

The college will continue telling the Camosun story throughout this year. Watch for interesting highlights of its evolution, its outstanding alumni and past employees on the 50th website and on social media. Whether it’s virtual or in-person the college intends to lead up to a community acknowledgement and celebration of 50 years in September.

“Congratulations Camosun on 50 amazing years,” adds Dr. Morin. “And keep it up!”

Camosun, located in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia with campuses on the Traditional Territories of the Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples, is one of the largest colleges in the province.  Established in 1971, Camosun now celebrates 50 years of delivering innovative, life-changing academic and applied programs to 20,000 students annually.


Michelle Tinis
Marketing/Communications Strategist
Communications Office
Camosun College

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