BRACEBRIDGE - Nipissing University brought on the celebrations complete with cake and local music to celebrate its 20th birthday and 16 years in Muskoka.
Cheryl Kelley, director of economic development for Bracebridge, became an honourary member of Nipissing University's alumni association for her efforts with the university. The university's president, Vicky Paine-Mantha, presented the plaque on Dec. 3.
Photo by Jennifer Bowman
Starting with 20 students on its Muskoka campus 16 years ago, it has now grown to 163 undergrad students. About 80 per cent of those students are full time and 15 per cent are local.
Vicky Paine-Mantha, president of the university, said the Muskoka campus serves a regional need, with students coming from every direction, as well as leaves a local footprint.
There are about 200 students who bring lots of money with them and have a multiplier effect on the economy, she said.
Cheryl Kelley became an honorary member of the alumni association at the celebrations for her involvement with the school. She described her work in planning the campus as figuring out “what the campus wanted to be when it grew up.”
She also played a part in acquiring a $5-million grant for student residences.
She said they are at the midpoint of what they plan to do with the campus. They are working on a feasibility study for a school of performing arts, she said, which could begin in 2014 at the earliest.
The current campus was announced in 2006, construction began in 2007 and it opened in September 2008. It has 53 beds in residence which are used year round — for students in the winter and students coming home or conference groups in the summer.
Rick Vanderlee, dean of the Muskoka campus, said the university seeks to create a unique education experience on the small campus.
Because it’s smaller it attracts more mature students than high school students, he said.
Some of those students come from other institutions, like Fleming College, to study arts and culture.
Alexandra Morello, from Vaughan, is in her fourth year of studies for child and family services, another one of the full-time programs offered at the Muskoka campus.
“I remember coming to visit this campus and I knew it was a home for me,” she said.
Though its small size is an attraction factor, Vanderlee is looking at increasing the number of students and adding several programs, including nursing and tourism management.
He said the college needs to almost double its size to 250 or 300 students to reach capacity. If they plan to grow beyond that, it would require expanding the campus.
The North Bay campus is often jealous of the uniqueness of the Bracebridge campus, he said.