50th anniversary celebrations continue at Centennial College!
When Ontario Education Minister William Davis envisioned a network of public colleges to help the province become more competitive in an increasingly technological world in 1965, a committee of local volunteers found an empty radar instrument factory in the east end of Toronto and persuaded the federal government to lease it for a temporary campus.
The inaugural documents were signed in May 1966 and Centennial College — named for the coming 100th birthday of Canada — became a reality. It took only four months to transform the plant into the province’s first college campus, but the work wasn’t quite finished. When the doors opened on October 17, 1966, professors had to shout over the din of jackhammers and drills outside their doors. It was an exciting time just the same.
Centennial’s instructors had been recruited from industry and from other schools to teach new applied courses in business, technology, public relations, journalism, welfare services and early childhood education — the disciplines of the emerging service-based economy. For students who previously could only choose between university study and manual labour, Centennial College provided a welcome new path to promising careers.
Centennial is leading the Ontario college system by marking its 50th anniversary first, appropriately enough, since it opened its doors months before its sister colleges did so in 1967. Centennial is celebrating its colourful history with a series of special events in 2016 – and right into 2017 to mark the 50th anniversary of Ontario’s 24 public colleges.
Paint the Town Green
A major event was Paint the Town Green, an ambitious campaign that saw the college close on September 27 to enable thousands of students, faculty and staff to fan out across the city and lend a hand with a variety of environmental initiatives such as planting trees, removing trash from waterways, nature trails and playgrounds, painting fixtures and beautifying 11 large Toronto parks.
In the spirit of the day, the Paint the World Green initiative prompted Centennial’s partner schools in China, Korea, India, Turkey, Panama, Brazil and other countries release their students to make meaningful contributions in their own communities. Why green? It’s the predominant colour of Centennial’s logo, which was worn by every volunteer all over the world that day. To mark the occasion, Toronto’s CN Tower was lit up in Centennial green for all to see that night.
Fifty Years Bolder celebrations
The festivities culminated with the Fifty Years Bolder celebrations on October 28, when some 800 employees, students, alumni, retirees and special guests came together at the new Centennial Residence and Culinary Arts Centre to mark 50 years of success and growth. The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, cut the ribbon to officially open the gleaming $90-million addition to Progress Campus.
Centennial’s 50th anniversary celebrations are still ongoing – we welcomed author and broadcaster Steve Paikin at a special campus event on March 22 and on April 5 we will welcome professor, author and Libris Non-Fiction Award recipient Ted Barris for a special night at Centennial College – but the overarching goal was established early on: After a half-century of serving learners and communities, Ontario’s first college is worthy of celebrating awesomely!