50 years on, Brock gets set for a golden celebration

1964: Brock's first-ever faculty in front of the original Administration Office at 15 Welland Ave. From left are Ernest E. Goldsmith, William Ormsby, John Hart, President James Gibson, Michael Hornyansky, Juan Amadeo Fernandez and Guy Gauthier.

1964: Brock's first-ever faculty in front of the original Administration Office at 15 Welland Ave. From left are Ernest E. Goldsmith, William Ormsby, John Hart, President James Gibson, Michael Hornyansky, Juan Amadeo Fernandez and Guy Gauthier.

Hey Brock community: It’s the 50th birthday year for your University and time for a year to remember.

As the calendar pages peel away, 2014 will feel like a crescendo of celebrations that gains momentum and spreads the spirit.

Then it splashes into September - the actual anniversary of Brock’s inaugural classes - and erupts into a month-long party for the ages.

All ages, old and young.

As the golden anniversary unfolds, it is expected that thousands of past, present and future members of the Brock community will be in the thick of the party.

The first part of the year will be characterized by “anniversary editions” of popular fixtures, including the Terry O’Malley Lecture in March and the President’s Golf Tournament in May. There will also be special anniversary outreach visits by the President to Brock alumni groups across Canada. And, come May, some 8,000 delegates are expected from across the country as Brock hosts Canada’s largest annual academic gathering, the 2014 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences.

However, the climax arrives at summer’s end when a string of major high-participation events in September and October will fuel anniversary fever on campus and throughout Niagara.

Details of anniversary events will continue to be confirmed in the coming weeks and months. Anyone wanting to suggest events to be included in the 50th anniversary roundup can do so at brocku50.ca.

But the marquee autumn series includes:
• an unprecedented alumni Homecoming Weekend tied to community events;
• a rededication of the Schmon Tower to honour the University’s founders;
• and what is sure to be one of the hottest tickets in Niagara: the 50th anniversary gala of General Brock’s October Soirée.

The anniversary show-stopper will be the unveiling of a bronze sculpture of Maj-Gen Sir Isaac Brock, a beautiful piece of public art destined to become the University’s visual centerpiece and an iconic area landmark. Made possible by a $1-million gift from former Brock board chair David S. Howes, the sculpture will be a source of pride and identity for people across the entire Niagara community.

And it’s all happening because, on a September morning 50 years ago, 127 students walked into history when they filed into a cramped church basement - which thus became the first campus of Niagara’s very own university - under the gaze of its president, the Rhodes Scholar and Oxford graduate James Gibson.

(The new university’s first home was supposed to be a refurbished refrigerator factory on Glenridge Avenue, but that was delayed a few weeks when renovations fell behind schedule.)

That was 1964.

Today, Brock’s campus includes modern research labs and study halls, is home to world-class faculty members and bustles to the pulse of nearly 19,000 students.

In the decades since those first freshmen signed up, the University has sent nearly 80,000 alumni on to successful careers all around the world.

“For a university, 50 years old is still young enough to have the energy and flexibility of youth,” said President Jack Lightstone, “and to show the accomplishments and trajectory of maturity as a unique individual within the family of universities in Canada and internationally.

“We are accomplishing important and exciting things in teaching, research and service to the development of the communities around us and beyond.”

Follow the online Brock News throughout 2014 for updates and feature articles about Brock’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

Posted on January 7, 2014

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