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The North Island College Story



• NIC marks its 40th anniversary, serving more than 155,000 students since opening in 1975.


• Thirty-five First Nations join NIC in signing a historic Indigenous Education protocol.

• NIC Plan 2020, with a central focus on supporting student experiences and success, is approved by NIC’s Board of Governors.


• NIC’s FEED project launches with funding from the JW McConnell Family Foundation and the CVRD to increase local food supplied to public institutions.

• NIC offers Health Care Assistant program on Hornby Island in collaboration with the Hornby and Denman Community Healthcare Society.


• NIC’s fifth President, Mr. John Bowman, joins the College.

• Dr. Stephen Cross joins NIC thanks to NSERC research funding to study sustainable aquaculture.


• NIC offers university partnerships with UVic, Emily Carr, Royal Roads and VIU, giving NIC students more educational options, close to home.

• NIC and VIHA sign Health Education partnership agreement, positioning NIC to be a key provider of speciality health programs.


• Construction of a new Teaching Kitchen at NIC's Port Alberni campus announced, to be completed in July 2012.

• NIC's Remote Web-Based Science Laboratory is awarded a $750,000 grant from Next Generation Learning Challenges, to further develop and replicate the delivery of science education in remote locations around the world.

• NIC opens Trades Training building on the Comox Valley campus.


• in the 2010/2011 academic year, NIC welcomes 100 students from 15 countries.

• NIC launches Alumni Association to continue relationships with students after they leave NIC.

• NIC celebrates the opening of Gathering Places at its Campbell River and Port Alberni campuses.

• Excavators begin preparing the site for the trades training facility at NIC’s Comox Valley campus.


• NIC’s fourth President, Dr. Jan Lindsay, joins the College.


• NIC students approve a $15,000 NISU endowment fund

• NIC President, Dr. Lou Dryden, appointed Honourary Colonel of 19 Wing Comox.


• NIC launches ITA-approved Professional Cook program in response to industry demand.


• Art show features the work of the first 12 graduates of NIC and Emily Carr’s initial partnership.

• NIC launches BC’s first Applied Business degree. The BBA is the first degree established completely by NIC.


• NIC appoints its first Director of Aboriginal Education. Vivian Hermansen is a member of Snuneymuxw first Nation.

• NIC turns 30.

• NIC partners with Emily Carr University of Art & Design to offer a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.


• NIC’s internationally recognized Remote Web-based Science Labs are developed by Albert Balbon

• NIC’s Aircraft Structures program gets Transport Canada approval


• NIC launches four-year nursing degree. It is the first time students are able to complete a four-year degree on site.


• Albert Balbon and Ron Evans pioneer a remote telescope system for distance astronomy students to explore the universe from home.

• NIC Tourism & Hospitality students welcome 350 guests to NIC’s first Wine Fest, showcasing local industry representatives. The festival is a sell out nearly every year since.

• NIC obtains a T-33 Silver Star jet from the Department of National Defence for use in its aircraft structures program.


• NIC is 25 years old. Its Board of Governors implements Strategic Plan 2000-2003 to enhance the quality of life of the residents and communities of the North Island and Central Coast.


• Dr. Jim Anderson takes his anthropology class to Jordan. They contribute to an archaeological dig which excavates two major sites along the Dead Sea.

• ElderCollege launches in the Comox Valley, inspired and run by volunteers Elizabeth Smith and Betty Emery.


• NIC partners with the Haahuupayuk First Nation to offer the Nuu-chah-nulth language in two dialects to 36 Port Alberni students.


• NIC’s third President, Dr. Lou Dryden, joins the College.

• NIC opens a joint high school/college facility in Campbell River in collaboration with School District 72.


• Jack Shadbolt officially opens NIC’s 7,200 square foot Fine Arts studio in his name.

• NIC Nerds Ski Team takes part in Mount Washington Coca-Cola Classic.


• Richard Krentz’ ‘Pole of Choice’ is raised outside Discovery Hall at the Comox Valley campus.


• New Port Alberni campus opens on Roger Street, amalgamating programs held at Smith Memorial School and high school workshops.


• NIC’s Comox Valley campus opens for classes. At 60,000 square feet, it is one of the largest wood frame construction projects in BC.

• NIC president Dr. Neil Murphy signs an official twinning agreement with Mrs. Chiyoko Koike, Principal of Koike Gakuen College, Ishikari, Japan.


• NIC signs its first collective agreement with CUPE Local 3479, providing comparable wage increases, benefits and provisions found at other BC colleges.

• NIC students vote 92 per cent in favour of creating a united, democratic students’ union; the North Island Student Association (NISA).

• NIC Foundation is incorporated as a non-profit society.


• A 45-foot Mobile Gas Training Trailer provides training throughout BC – in partnership with federal and provincial governments and the BC gas industry.

• NIC’s second president, Dr. Neil Murphy, joins the College.


• BCCAT is established. The BC transfer system makes it easier for NIC students to complete their credentials at institutions throughout BC.

• Dr. Dennis Wing’s contribution to distance education is awarded by the Commonwealth of Learning.


• Faculty and staff raise $800 to $1,000 annually through community donations to support upgrading, university studies, business administration and business office training students in Port Alberni.


• NIC’s Port Alberni campus increases its support staff to four at the Smith Memorial campus. Space is so tight support staff still remember the bruises from bumping into desks, typewriters and computer equipment.


• between 1986 and 1989, more than 30 courses were offered via personal microcomputers. NIC became renowned for its computer instruction methods and a model for institutions in Canada and abroad. Courses were delivered on floppy disks or by mobile training facilities.


• NIC signs an agreement with BCIT allowing NIC students to complete year one of the registered nursing program at NIC.


• NIC courses are offered via television and on videotape at learning centres as well as via satellite and cable on the Knowledge Network.


• NIC wins federal support to teach critical skills needed in the workplace – including the use and programming of computers.


• NIC’s Business Office Training program offers secretarial training with specialized business machines available in NIC learning centres.

• The first NIC welding programs in modular form are offered at the Comox Valley campus. Additional programs run in smaller communities.


• Samarinda II, a 160-foot ex-whaling ship brings NIC to remote coastal communities not accessible by road.


• NIC develops Forest Resource Skills courses in cooperation with three major forest companies.

• A second NIC mobile unit is added to serve the North Island.


• students at NIC’s Alert Bay centre take part in NIC’s first aquaculture program.

• Central Coast School District (SD49) joins NIC and the Bella Coola Centre is born.


• The first NIC mobile learning unit begins service to west coast communities.


• NIC learning centres open in Gold River and Port Hardy.

• Port Alberni School District (SD70) joins NIC, opening in a leased Catholic school facility on 8th street.

• Fall term classes commence in NIC’s first full year of operations.


• BC’s Department of Education approved the establishment of North Island College, serving School Districts 71, 72, 84 and 85. Dr. Dennis Wing is appointed as principal of NIC.