A Booming Future
The 1950s begins with a boom: UBC now has 822 deans, visiting and special lecturers and research fellows on the roster. In less than a decade, the university grew from three core faculties — Arts and Science, Agriculture and Applied Science — to eight including Law, Forestry, Graduate Studies, Medicine and Pharmacy. With its 40 faculty members, the Department of English is the largest, expanding to meet the influx of returning veterans.
More students means more space is needed. Within a few years of the decade’s start, twenty new buildings are constructed on campus, including new homes for Engineering, Biological Sciences, the Wesbrook Building, Buchanan, War Memorial Gymnasium and others. With these permanent spaces, new departments and faculties are born: Nursing, Asian Studies, and the College of Education. As UBC expands in depth and reach, it attracts more funding, allowing it to offer prestigious doctorates in subjects such as Biology, Physics and Forestry. To incentivize academic achievement in the province, Premier W.A.C. Bennett introduces a scholarship program that provides up to 50 percent of school fees for students with first-class standings.
The surge in student enrollment spurs the government to pledge $1 million over 10 years for UBC infrastructure expansion. A deliberate strategy to attract top-tier scholars begins with the Faculty of Graduate Studies. President MacKenzie cites the biggest challenge is finding fellowships at the doctoral level for talented students. To help overcome chronic staffing shortages and meet the expanding need for qualified research and teaching staff, UBC recruits from the USA and the UK.
Soviet ‘scientific success’ and the Space Race puts the focus on science from K-12 and in higher education but it also instills a nagging uncertainty as Western educators try to ‘catch up’ to their Soviet Bloc counterparts.
Explore the era
- Kojevnikov, A. (2008). The phenomenon of Soviet science. In The History of Science Society (pp. 115-135). Retrieved from https://www.history.ubc.ca/sites/default/files/biblio/uploads/The%20Phenomenon%20of%20Soviet%20Science/2008phenomenon.pdf
- MacKenzie, N.A.M. (1952). The President’s report: 1950-51. Retrieved from http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/pdfs/presidents/1951.pdf
- Rosengarten, H. J. (2012, November 12). The UBC English department, 1915-2000. Retrieved from http://www.english.ubc.ca/about/about_DeptHistory.htm
- Tomaszewska, L. (n.d.). Post-war reconstruction (1950-1980). Retrieved from http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/u_fabric/post_war.html
- Header image: The University of British Columbia Archives
- Pull quote and president images: The University of British Columbia Archives
- Timeline media: The University of British Columbia Archives
- Slideshow media: The University of British Columbia Archives, Vancouver Sun Archives (female diver at Empire Pool)
UBC is proud to mark its 100th anniversary as a global leader in education, research innovation and community engagement.
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