Georgian College’s 50th anniversary celebrations ramped up on Oct. 5 with the opening of a new Student Services Centre at the Barrie Campus. Staff, students and special guests were on hand to thank students and donors for the significant investments that made the centre possible.
“The new Student Services Centre is one of several transformative projects underway at Georgian. I am proud that students have partnered with the college on this renovated space, designed with input from students to enhance our college experience,” said Avery Konda, president of the Georgian College Students’ Association (GCSA) in Barrie. “In 2015, GCSA announced a $7.2-million pledge to the college – the single largest donation in Georgian’s 50-year history. This student-focused space is just one of the many exciting outcomes from the investment of past and current students, for the positive future of our services for new and incoming students.”
The newly renovated Student Services Centre, formally known as the Administrative Building, has been designed with students in mind. Home to the Registrar’s Office, Welcome Centre, Financial Aid/OSAP, and Credit Transfer Centre, students can access information on everything from articulation agreements, student records and accounts to graduation. The main feature is space for up to 150 students to gather in small groups, work on collaborative assignments or individually in a functional, comfortable, brightly lit area. The centre incorporates new technology, including large digital screens that will be used on a daily basis as well as for special meetings.
Georgian College President and CEO MaryLynn West-Moynes said the new space will be an important hub for students as well as a resource for the community. “People entering our campus off Georgian Drive see this building as our front door,” said West-Moynes. “In many ways, it is the heart of the campus. As we mark our 50th anniversary, naming the Student Services Centre is a fitting tribute to all of the staff and students before us who created the Georgian culture, embracing students and learning at the heart of all we do.”
Carol Anne McLay, a member of Georgian’s first graduating class in 1968, was present to take part in the celebrations. “Our class was very small, but we were keenly aware we were the first of many to come,” said McLay. “We did not have a campus – we had taken over the Bata Shoe Store in a shopping mall – but that did not affect our spirit.” McLay added she was very proud to be a Georgian College graduate and thrilled to see how the college has had an impact on many lives in 50 years.
The celebration also recognized the generous $500,000 donation Jane Jackson made several years ago on behalf of her mother’s estate. This gift to Georgian brought the cumulative giving of Arch and Helen Brown and their family to $2 million. Their legacy and lifelong support of Georgian and its students was honoured with the naming of the Brown Family Welcome Centre.
A special piece of Indigenous artwork, donated by Maureen Naylor and family, was also a highlight at the event. The artwork, created by local artist Stephen Snake, was donated in memory of Bruce Naylor, a highly respected, former member of the Board of Governors who passed away over the summer. President West-Moynes recognized Bruce as passionate about all students. “He solidly embraced Georgian’s strategic priority to infuse Indigenous ideas and worldviews into the culture of the college. This particular piece of artwork is called Beginnings,” said West-Moynes. “And I think it’s a very appropriate piece for this space – as this is where so many students will begin their postsecondary journey in the decades to come.”
The celebration was preceded by a special flag-raising ceremony at the City of Barrie. Other birthday celebrations included a keynote presentation by Rick Hansen, birthday cake and live music.