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Centennial College opened its doors on October 17, 1966!

picture of a black and white vintage photo of centennial college students marching and holding a centennial college sign

Centennial College opened its doors to a ramshackle, renovated former factory on Warden Avenue on October 17, 1966 –exactly 50 years ago! With the guidance of then-Education Minister William Davis, the Township of Scarborough made a home for the province's first College of Applied Arts and Technology. There are 24 public colleges across Ontario today.

It took four months to transform the plant into the first college campus, but the work wasn't quite done. Professors had to contend with power outages and shout over the din of jackhammers and drills. Centennial came into being noisily.

Despite the humble setting, 514 students enrolled in 16 new programs in business, technology, public relations, journalism, social services and early childhood education —the disciplines of the emerging service-based economy. For students for whom neither university nor the trades offered a good fit, Centennial College provided a welcome new path to a career. 

To mark Centennial's milestone, college staff are serving cake, coffee and tea to students at its four campuses today to celebrate 50 years of teaching excellence and working with the community and industry partners to ensure graduates have the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. The Toronto sign at City Hall is turning Centennial green to mark the special day on October 17.

To thank the community, Centennial released its students, faculty and staff to "Paint the Town Green" on September 27. Thousands of volunteers fanned out across the city to lend a hand in 11 major Toronto parks with a variety of "green" initiatives such as planting trees, spreading mulch, recycling trash, painting fixtures and beautifying public areas. Centennial's partner schools in China, South Korea, India, Turkey, Panama, Brazil and other countries did the same.

Centennial College has grown over the years: 20,200 full-time students (including 6,800 international students) and 20,000 part-time learners are currently enrolled in 250 programs and 1,000 part-time courses, including joint-degree and bachelor programs with partner universities and colleges. The 2016 Key Performance Indicators survey reveals Centennial has the highest student and employer satisfaction rates among the six public colleges serving the GTA.