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Okanagan Campus, University of British Columbia

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Okanagan Campus
University of British Columbia
International Mews (UBC Okanagan).JPG
LocationKelowna, Canada
Colours          Blue and Gold[1]
PrincipalDeborah Buszard (deputy)
PresidentSanta J. Ono
ProvostCynthia Mathieson

The University of British Columbia's Okanagan Campus (commonly referred to as UBCO) is a campus of the University of British Columbia, located in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. It is home to close to 9,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The 209 hectares (516-acre) campus is the research and innovation hub in the southern interior of the province, in British Columbia's scenic Okanagan Valley.


Okanagan University College[edit]

The current site of UBC Okanagan was originally used by Okanagan University College, which had been founded in 1989 (in principle) as a part of a plan by the government to improve access to post-secondary education in the Southern Interior British Columbia. Originally degrees were awarded in partnership with other universities, but by 1995, the university college began granting degrees in its own name. In the late 1990s, Okanagan University College began lobbying efforts to gain full university status.

University of British Columbia[edit]

In December 2002 the British Columbia Progress Board submitted a report to the provincial government, recognising the need to expand post-secondary education in the Okanagan.[2] The board, chaired by then University of British Columbia president Martha Piper, recommended that the province extend “the mandate of an existing provincial University to Kelowna…”.

In March 2004, BC Premier Gordon Campbell and the UBC President Martha Piper held a press conference, announcing that OUC would be dissolved. Okanagan University College’s university operations would be consolidated at its North Kelowna Campus and would come under the control of the University of British Columbia. The other programs and campuses of Okanagan University College would form a new community college, which would later take on the name Okanagan College. The OUC Board was reportedly not invited to the press conference and had not been told in advance of the imminent demise of OUC Board and removal or the termination or the majority of the OUC board members.[3]

According to the Ministry backgrounder released at the time, the affiliation between UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan would be “based on the highly successful University of California model” and that “UBC Okanagan and UBC Vancouver will each have an independent senate to set academic priorities for their respective institutions, based regional needs and priorities. At the same time, they will share a common board of governors, with strong representation from each region.” [4]

As of December 2014, UBC's Okanagan campus is represented on the UBC Board of Governors by Jeffrey Krupa, Dr. Michael Treschow, and Shannon Dunn.[5]

Since the establishment of UBC Okanagan, the campus has gone through rapid growth and is continuing the trend as one of Canada's fastest growing university campus. The number of students increased 3 fold from ~3,000 to close to ~9,000 in 2017. The university is playing a leading role in the region's research and development, a 30-acre Innovation Precinct is being developed become a hub for innovation.


UBC’s Okanagan campus offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate (PhD & Masters) programs. There are more than 63 undergraduate programs[6] in Arts, Education, Engineering, Fine Arts, Human Kinetics, Management, Media, Medicine, Nursing, and Sciences.[7] The university also offers graduate programs in the following areas: Biology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Chemistry, Computer Sciences, Education, Engineering, English, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Fine Arts, Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies, Management, Mathematics, Medical Physics, Nursing, Psychology, and Social Work.[8]

The smaller size of the university offers a unique learning and research environment. Undergraduate students in Science and Engineering have more opportunities to pursue research activities early-on thanks to various research programs such as the Work-Study program and the Undergraduate Research Award (URA).


Since established in 2005, the research capability and researcher profiles has increased rapidly. Tri council funding increased from $1.1M/year to $5.9M/year from 2005-2015. The total research funding reached $14.7M/year with 714 projects in 2015. Research at UBC Okanagan is highly collaborative with an emphasis on direct student involvement to advance discoveries in fields of importance globally and locally. The Survive and Thrive Applied Research (STAR) initiative exemplifies this spirit of innovation with cutting-edge projects, including control software for unmanned aerial vehicles. STAR creates a bridge between UBC Okanagan and industry, specializing in technologies for human protection and performance in extreme, remote, or rural conditions. There are currently 15 research centres and 505 faculty members on the Okanagan campus [9].


Charles Fipke Centre for Innovative Research
University Centre
University Centre
Engineering, Management and Education (EME) Complex

As of 2011 UBC's Okanagan campus underwent a rapid CA$450 million expansion.

The University Centre, was completed in 2009. The 75,000 sq. ft. facility features several UBC Okanagan departments, UBC Students’ Union Okanagan offices, meeting rooms, student club space, cafeteria and restaurants, cinema, multi-faith space, a medical clinic, learning centers, and Collegia.

The $31.5 million Charles E. Fipke Centre for Innovative Research is a multi-purpose academic and research facility. It provided 70,000 square feet of space for teaching and research, including research labs, classrooms and teaching labs, offices, student commons, lecture theatre, and an animal care facility. The building also achieved Five Green Globes and LEED Platinum standards for sustainability using geo-exchange technology.

Arts and Sciences building and Engineering and management building were completed in 2011 as well. The most recently completed building is the medical school building which was completed by end of the year 2011. The second Arts and Science building includes a new live animal testing facility. In addition, there are various student residences in various stages of construction. All construction was originally set to be complete by September 2010, later projected to be completed about a year and a half past that date.

The expansion of UBC Faculty of Medicine created a new distributed medical site, the Southern Medical Program, at UBC Okanagan. The program is located in the Kelowna General Hospital. The Southern Medical Program opened 32 seats for its first cohort of medical students at UBC Okanagan on August 29, 2011.

In 2012, the Health Science Centre was opened providing 47,000 sq. ft. of academic and research space for high-tech classrooms, research and teaching laboratories, problem-based learning rooms and faculty and administrative offices.

Along with the physical expansion of the campus, the campus' Collegia program has gained national attention as a home-away-from-home for its large commuter population.[10]

According to the UBC Okanagan Campus Plan in Sept. 2015,[11] the next 20 years will see drastic expansion in research, teaching, student residence, and commercial spaces. A proposed 85,292-square metre increase in academic space will more than double the current capacity. Student residence is proposed to increase by ~2,200 beds to a total of ~3,900 beds. Commercial space will increase from current 2,411 square metres to 4,561 square metres. The additional space will remain within the main Okanagan campus, rather than expanding into the West Campus.

In 2016, the building of a new $40 million Teaching and Learning Centre is underway that expands on the current UBC Okanagan Library. [1] Sustainability upgrades to 11 of the existing buildings are also underway. The public consultation to redesign the current University Way is planned for January 2017. The revitalization of the University Way project will make it a pedestrian only area and is expected to facilitate greater student interactions, festivals and interactions.

Student life[edit]

The university maintains a "Campus Life" centre and other offices.

Student residences
A view looking down through the residences.
UBC Okanagan Library
UBC Okanagan Library

Greek life[edit]

The Okanagan campus currently has two sororities and one fraternity. The sororities are Theta Phi and Alpha Omega Epsilon. The Fraternity is Sigma Phi Delta. Alpha Omega Epsilon and Sigma Phi Delta are both International Organizations and have membership restrictions based upon faculty (Engineering students for Sigma Phi Delta,[12] Engineering and Technical Science[13] students for Alpha Omega Epsilon). Theta Phi is a local sorority open to all faculties.[14] The Okanagan campus does not allow Greek housing, so none of these organisations have an official house or room on campus.

Campus media[edit]

The Phoenix[edit]

The Phoenix (website), is the bi-weekly student newspaper at the University of British Columbia's Okanagan campus. It was established in 1989 at former Okanagan College.[15]


The UBCO.TV creates videos about research, teaching, current events and campus life at the Okanagan campus. Videos are available on the UBCO.TV website.


Full time faculty[edit]

Faculty 2005 2006 2007 2008 2014 2015[16]
Applied Science (School of Eng.) 3 10 17 26 42
Barber School of Arts & Sciences 108 113 124 129
Creative & Critical Studies 47 48 50 53
Education 15 15 14 18
Health & Social Development 40 35 39 38
Management 1 1 5 11
TOTAL 214 222 249 275 445 470

Full-time equivalent students[edit]

2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2013 2014 2015 2016
Undergraduate 2,811 3,278 4,073 5,325 6,015 7,075 7,901 7,748 7,530 7,668 7,930
Graduate 19 77 155 220 337 531 610 640 682 724 788
Totals 2,829 3,451 4,228 5,545 7,352 8,606 8,543 8,388 8,212 8,392 8,718

Faculties and Schools[edit]

  • College of Graduate Studies
  • Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences
  • Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies
  • Faculty of Education
  • Faculty of Applied Sciences
    • School of Engineering
  • Faculty of Health and Social Development
    • School of Nursing
    • School of Health and Exercise Sciences
    • School of Social Work
  • Faculty of Medicine, Southern Medical Program
  • Faculty of Management

See also[edit]

  • University of British Columbia
  • Kelowna


  1. "UBC's Colours: Blue & Gold". University of British Columbia. Retrieved November 17, 2012.
  2. British Columbia Progress Board report (pdf) December 2002
  3. Kelly Hayes, "UBC Taking Over OUC," http://www.castanet.net/news/Kelowna/210/UBC-Taking-Over-OUC
  4. Office of the Premier Ministry of Advanced Education (March 17, 2004). "Backgrounder: UBC Okanagan and Okanagan College". Retrieved March 30, 2017.
  5. http://bog.ubc.ca/?page_id=3003
  6. "UBC Okanagan Academic Experience".
  7. "UBCO undergraduate programs".
  8. "UBCO graduate programs".
  9. "UBC Okanagan Facts" (PDF).
  10. Applying knowledge – Macleans OnCampus
  11. "UBC Okanagan campus plan 2015".
  12. "About Sigma Phi Delta". About Us. Retrieved June 3, 2011.
  13. "Alpha Omega Epsilon History". History. Retrieved June 3, 2011.
  14. "Theta Phi Sorority General Information". Theta Phi Sorority General Information. Retrieved June 6, 2011.
  15. The Phoenix – About us
  16. "UBC Facts and Figures" (PDF).
  • Capital News (1990–2005). Kelowna, British Columbia.
  • Daily Courier (1990–2005). Kelowna, British Columbia.
  • Freake, R. (2005). OUC Memoirs. Okanagan University College, Kelowna.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 49°56′23″N 119°23′47″W / 49.9396°N 119.3963°W / 49.9396; -119.3963

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