Good as gold: Brandon University kicks off 50th anniversary year


BRANDON – Brandon University is celebrating a golden anniversary all this year, marking 50 years since the transition from Brandon College to Brandon University.

“When we were chartered as Brandon University, we took a significant and ambitious step in our continuing growth. It was a period of progress, with new buildings and new programs laying the foundations for today’s success,” said BU Interim President Dr. Steve Robinson. “This anniversary is an opportune moment for us to reflect on the accomplishments of the past 50 years, on the traditions of Brandon College, and on our opportunities and ambition as we embark on a new period of growth.”

The celebrations kick off at this weekend’s expanded Homecoming, which will welcome back alumni from many years, particularly 1967’s final graduating class from Brandon College. In honour of the 50th anniversary, a permanent exhibit to celebrate important individuals and artifacts from the history of Brandon College will be officially opened on Saturday afternoon at Homecoming. The exhibit will feature portraits of 11 people who helped shape the development of Brandon College, as well as the Senior and Lady sticks and the World War I Nominal Roll.

Over the next 12 months, the 50th anniversary will be commemorated at other events along the academic calendar, culminating at next year’s Homecoming and the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first class to convocate from the newly-chartered Brandon University. Next year’s Homecoming will also include a reunion of Brandon University Bobcats basketball teams.

To mark the anniversary, Brandon University has also unveiled a blue-and-gold logo that will be emblazoned across campus, will be celebrating connections that exist between today and the 1967–68 campus year, and will highlight 50 years of faculty, student, athletic and alumni accomplishment in a series of publications.

“Brandon University makes a tremendous impact every single day. Our students, faculty, staff and alumni make essential contributions here on campus and to the vibrancy of our communities,” Robinson said. “This goes far beyond the hundreds of millions of dollars in economic impact produced by BU every year. Research here advances and create new knowledge, creative and scholarly works both delight and inform us all, and our graduates enrich our culture and our communities as engaged citizens with meaningful careers.”

The Brandon University Foundation has also launched 50th-anniversary fundraising drives for each of Brandon University’s five faculties and schools, as well as a Brandon College Heritage Fund, raise funds to celebrate and preserve the history of Brandon College. To find out more, visit

“Just as we take the opportunity to look back this year, many of our alumni and donors also tell us that reflecting on the past inspires them for the future,” said Shawna English, Development Officer in BU’s Office of Advancement and Alumni Relations. “We are humbled when alumni share with us that their time at Brandon College or Brandon University prepared them for future success, and honoured to help them contribute to the success that awaits our current students.”

Prior to its being chartered as Brandon University, students upon completion at Brandon College were awarded their degrees from other institutions, including McMaster University and the University of Manitoba.

While Brandon College was founded in 1899, the history of higher education in the Brandon area can be traced back years earlier. In 1871, the signing of Treaty 2 permitted the settling of lands that were traditionally home to the Dakota, Anishanabek, Oji-Cree, Cree and Métis peoples. Baptist missionaries made education a priority, and a small college was founded in Rapid City. In 1890, the McKee Academy followed the railroad to Brandon.

Brandon College absorbed McKee Academy in 1899 and began instruction that year. In 1900, the original Brandon College building was constructed, followed by Clark Hall as a women’s residence in 1906 and then a next-door Science Building. The institution weathered economic downturns and two world wars to thrive and prosper.

Brandon University received its charter on June 5, 1967, on the occasion of the visit of Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra and the Honourable Angus Ogilvie. The charter itself was dated to July 1, 1967, to mark the centennial. Brandon University shares this anniversary with a number of other Canadian universities.

Significant new buildings were constructed at about the same time as the chartering, including the Education Building, the John R. Brodie Science Centre, McMaster Hall, the Western Manitoba Centennial Auditorium, and the Jeff Umphrey Centre.

“Becoming a chartered university brought with it the benefits of autonomy, allowing us to govern and award our own degrees and to nimbly respond to community needs through research and new programming,” Robinson said. “It was a time of tremendous change and growth for post-secondary education in Canada, and Brandon University is embracing similar change right now.”

With significant new property acquired prominently downtown, and an ambitious new Campus Master Plan to guide development over the decades to come, Brandon University is poised to enter a new and exciting era of development and growth.

Brandon University’s 50th anniversary will run from Homecoming 2017 through Homecoming 2018.