Nipissing University’s Bracebridge campus just keeps getting younger with age.
Speaking to town council on Tuesday, Oct. 2, campus administrator Jan Lucy says the makeup of the school’s student body has drastically changed since it opened in 1996. The Bracebridge campus is celebrating its 16th anniversary in town this year.
“Sixteen years ago, the majority of my students were part-time students, often middle-aged women who had either started a degree then had a family, or their kids had moved on and now it was their turn to go to school,” she said.
“That profile has definitely changed. Although we do have some students that do fit that bill … the majority of our students are, in fact, in their early 20s.”
Lucy said the vast majority of students at the campus come from areas outside town, hailing from communities of all sizes in southern and northern Ontario, as well as Parry Sound and Haliburton.
Since moving into town, Lucy said students and staff at the school have grown to become involved members of the community. While many students work part-time in local businesses, many others take part in charitable and volunteer functions.
“In fact this fall, one of the very first activities they participated in prior to school starting was the national university campaign called Shinearama, which is washing cars, come rain or shine, for cystic fibrosis,” she said.
Two weeks ago, 24 students from the campus took part in Run for the Cure, raising $2,700 for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Students in the education program also helped facilitate Terry Fox runs at area schools. On Halloween, students will be undertaking a “trick or eat” campaign, where they will be collecting food donations for an area food bank rather than candy.
Last year, Lucy said students volunteered with the Bracebridge Out of the Cold program, the Salvation Army toy drive, the Santa Claus parade, and collected donations for Interval House, a shelter for abused women. The campus is now a designated drop-off spot for the Muskoka Fresh Food Basket program as well.
The university and its students have also given the local economy a strong boost over the years. The school has established a partnership with Mark’s Work Wearhouse, where Nipissing University apparel can be bought, and recently arranged for the Bohemian Café to be the official food and beverage provider for students and university conferences.
The school also has arrangements for gym memberships for students at two area gyms.
Currently the university employs 37 faculty and staff members and 14 students.
In recent memory, the school has partnered with a local watershed council to host two environmental conferences, and also hosted the TEDx NipissingU conference last year. The campus residence building has been used to house various sports teams, medical school interns and summer staff employed by the JW Marriot Resort and Spa in Minett.
“Certainly upon reflection, this truly is a time for celebration,” said Lucy.