Green College, University of British Columbia

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Green College, University of British Columbia
Motto "Ideas and Friendship".
Established 1993
Type centre for advanced interdisciplinary scholarship at the University of British Columbia
Principal Mark Vessey
Postgraduates 84 graduate students, 16 postdoctoral scholars
Location Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Campus urban overlooking the ocean and mountains
Colours Gold and Green          
Affiliations Green College at the Radcliffe Observatory of Oxford University, AUCC

Green College is a centre for interdisciplinary scholarship and a community of scholars at the University of British Columbia founded by Cecil Howard Green and Ida Green.

The college consists of a residential community of nearly 100 graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, visiting scholars and professors, and non-resident affiliated faculty and academic programming. Green College is one of only three graduate residential colleges in Canada, the other two being St. John's College, University of British Columbia and Massey College at the University of Toronto. Green College has formal ties with both institutions as well as with Green Templeton College, Oxford, which similarly owes its inception to the generosity of Cecil H. Green.

The College is located at the North end of the UBC campus, near the Faculty of Law, Museum of Anthropology, Chan Centre for the Performing Arts, and the Buchanan complex. Cecil Green Park House is an oceanfront mansion adjoining the College property. Dining together is an integral part of the Green College experience. The college is home to the Green College Dining Society which provides ten meals a week to residents and guests in Graham House's Great Hall.


File:Green College UBC, exterior from south.JPG
Green College residential buildings seen from the south. APEC protest banners were hung here in November, 1997.

Green College was established in 1993 thanks to a $7 million gift by Cecil H. Green and Ida Green, which was matched by the Province of British Columbia. This gift provided a home to the Cecil and Ida Green Visiting Professorship program, launched by the Greens in 1972.[1]

History Prior to 1993

The facilities of the college campus existed prior to the founding of the college.

In 1935, the Grand Campus Washout eroded a deep ravine across the east end of the grounds. After several days of erosion, the Gardener's shed collapsed into the ravine. Afterwards, the gully was filled with debris from a nearby landslide.[2] The shed was not rebuilt. The landslide area can be identified today by the younger trees on the fill area and a sudden decrease in elevation where the fill has compacted.

The following year the campus drainage system was constructed, terminating in a spiral drain at the southwest end of the Cecil Green Park Road parking lot associated with the college. Two more minor erosion events occurred in the summer of 1995 and 1997 when the drainage system overloaded and flooded the parking lot. A berm was constructed to prevent a recurrence of these events.[3] Slope stability and controlling further erosion continues to be a significant issue for all of the north end of campus including the college grounds.[4]

Green College role in APEC meeting, 1997

In November, 1997, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting was held in Vancouver, with the final gathering at the Museum of Anthropology at UBC. Great controversy arose when politicians instructed RCMP officers to use force and pepper spray against non-violent protesters. Green College was located near the Museum of Anthropology, directly adjacent to the official motorcade route to the APEC venue there. Green College resident and Law student Craig Jones[5] was arrested and held for 14 hours when he displayed signs reading simply "Free Speech", "Democracy", and "Human Rights" on College property. Green College residents displayed protest banners from the windows and walls of the College. Green College residents were among those doused by pepper spray by the RCMP. Also, starting six months before the APEC summit, Green College provided event space and logistical support for an "APEC-University Forum", to discuss both sides of issues raised.[6]

File:Green College UBC, Graham House and A building.JPG
Graham House (left) and the A-North residential building (right).

Housing Contract controversy, 2006

In order to pay for mounting maintenance costs, the college entered into an agreement with UBC Housing and Conferences during the 2005-2006 term for Housing to take over some of the administration of Green College. On 28 July 2006, residents received a new contract with terms that many residents found objectionable, with the order to sign the contract by 1 August 2006. Many residents did not sign the new contract. The deadline was pushed back several times, but eviction notices were given on 28 August to at least twenty-three of the residents.[7][8][9]

File:Green College UBC, Grand Hall.JPG
Great Hall, upstairs in Graham House.

Mandate and Motto

The College's coat of arms features two cougars grasping a flagpole above a shield, and includes the college's motto "Ideas and Friendship". It was registered with the Canadian Heraldic Authority on January 15, 1996.[10] Building on the motto of 'Ideas and Friendship,' the college "strives to blend quality and prestige on the one hand, and enrichment of the campus on the other, while avoiding elitism or imitation. It is organized to reflect the vision of Dr. Green that it be an intellectual community for the generation of new ideas. It is committed to the belief that new ideas are best fostered by interdisciplinary activities involving graduate students, postdoctoral scholars and faculty. " [1]

Members of the college are selected through a membership committee and are chosen on the basis of academic excellence, interest and commitment to interdisciplinarity, commitment to community involvement and "the need to achieve a diverse community." [1] The college has a reputation for academic excellence and has hosted many SSHRC Scholars, NSERC Scholars, Rhodes Scholars, Trudeau Foundation Scholars, Vanier Canada Scholars, Fulbright Scholars and Commonwealth Scholars.


File:Green College UBC, main gate in snow.JPG
Main gate of Green College, University of British Columbia after a snowstorm

Cecil H. Ida Green Visiting Professorships

Since the first Cecil H. and Ida Green Visiting Professor, Nobel Laureate Gerhard Herzberg, arrived in 1972, more than 180 distinguished scholars have participated in the program. Visiting professors, nominated by a UBC faculty member, are selected by the College's Academic Committee on the basis of academic excellence and appeal to a broad audience. A major goal of the Visiting Professorship program is to enhance the intellectual environment of Green College and to provide opportunities for graduate students and faculty at UBC to interact with outstanding scholars from other institutions.[11]

Academic Lectures and Interdisciplinary Groups

Academic programming highlighting interdisciplinary research and topics is determined each academic year by the College's Academic Committee. Regular programming includes the Green College Principal's Series each Tuesday featuring special guests, the Green College Members' Series each Monday featuring presentations from resident members of the College, and the Green College Writer-in-Residence and Justice-in-Residence series. In the 2008/09 academic year, other interdisciplinary series at the College include: Cosmology, Genomics and Society; Law and Society; Modernism and Its Discontents; Nature, History, and Society; Play Chthonics: Contemporary Canadian Readings; Policy Issues in Postsecondary Education; Post-Colonial Research Cluster; Religion in the 21st Century; and Science and Society. [12]


Since 2000 this programme has welcomed Canadian writers of all genres. The Writer-in-Residence works with the Green College community through consultations and workshops, and coordinates a reading series through the College’s academic programming for the UBC community and beyond. Writer Gary Geddes reflected on his time at Green College as a “highlight of [his] literary career”.[13] Past writers in residence have included: Merilyn Simonds, Lynn Coady, Roo Borson, Wade Compton, Karen Connelly, Nalo Hopkinson, Kevin Kerr, Andrea Spalding, and Patricia Robertson.[13]


Initiated in 2001, the Justice-in-Residence program brings Justices to the College, where they participate in college life and make formal and informal presentations. Past Justices-in-Residence: The Honourable Mr. Justice Charles Gonthier (2001), The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin (Chief Justice of Canada) (2002), The Honourable Mr. Justice Frank Iacobucci (2003), The Honourable Mr. Justice W. Ian Binnie (2004), The Honourable Madam Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella (2006), The Honourable Mr. Justice Marshall Rothstein (2007), The Honourable Mr. Justice Robert Singley (2009).[14]

Social and Community Activities

In addition to formal academic programming, a diverse array of resident groups and committees are active at the college. Associations include: Arts Committee, Environment Committee, Garden Committee, Green College Choir, Outreach Committee, Social Committee, Sports Committee, GreenNoir Cinematheque, FORAGE Community Dining, and French, Spanish and German conversation groups. The Residents’ Council is a coordinating committee consisting of the committee chairs, the President of the Green College Dining Society, and one Resident Member from each of the College Standing Committees (Academic, Membership, Media and Communications) chosen by the resident caucuses of those committees.

The resident community produces one publication, the tri-annual Randles' Rants Magazine, which was founded in 2008. In recent years the College has initiated a Graduate Student Mental Health Wellness Program called "Movember," raising more than $2000 to date (including over $1,020 in November 2011) for the UBC Wellness Centre, has held international women's week events raising awareness and funds for local and international groups, and has put on theatrical performances to raise funds for community health initiatives. A recent proposal concerning expansion of the community garden has generated significant debate. While some residents herald its potential to attract trespassers, cause property damage, and fuel green chat debates, others are concerned that if not run properly, it may offset national carbon emissions, end global hunger, and attract mystical woodland creatures.


In 1997, Green College was evaluated as "[surpassing] goals" by an independent review committee. Then-Principal Richard Ericson singled out "the creativity and enthusiasm of the Dining Society", a resident-led non-profit society which runs the meal program, for praise. Over eight months of that year, the College served up almost 200 separate events—two or three a day—including seminar hosted by the college, nine interdisciplinary study groups, lectures by a distinguished visiting professors, artistic performances, or receptions.[15] The College's "stimulating program" earned a Peter Larkin Graduate Program Award from UBC in 1998.[16] In 2008, the College continues to host a wide range of programming and events, with 14 interdisciplinary series in addition to visiting professors, special performances and guests.

File:Green College UBC, common kitchen from east.JPG
Residence courtyard, showing Common Kitchen building.

Location and Facilities

Green College and its surroundings on UBC campus

Green College is located on the University of British Columbia's main campus on the northern side of the peninsula, dangling precariously above Tower Beach and Wreck Beach. Located on Cecil Green Park Road, just off of North West Marine Drive, the college is adjacent to Cecil Green Park House, the Departments of Anthropology and Sociology, the Chan Shun Concert Hall and the Museum of Anthropology at UBC. Green College is located at and Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found. and is situated in the University Endowment Lands which are slightly west of the city of Vancouver.

Green College consists of two heritage buildings: the Coach House and Graham House, the latter designed by Maclure and Fox in 1915,[17] a series of residential blocks, guest house accommodations, Green Commons, a shared kitchen complex, gardens and a patio. The original garden design was by Thomas h. Mawson. The architectural style reflects the College's west coast location and is integrated with the forested oceanside landscape.

The Coach House is home to a number of lecture series and conferences, while Graham House is the site of resident meals, galas and special events. Both buildings are also available for rental with catering providing by the Green College Dining Society. As of August 2007, Green Commons is home to the university's Interdisciplinary Graduate Programme.


The college is a unit of the Provost's Office. The head of the college is the College Principal who reports to the Associate Provost, Academic Innovation. Management of the college is guided through an Advisory Board consisting of faculty, community leaders, college residents, and representatives from parallel institutions. Academic components of the college are managed through a variety of joint faculty – resident committees. [1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3
  2. Williams, M. Y. (Winter 1966). "The Grand Campus Washout" (PDF). UBC Alumni Chronicle. 20 (4): 9–11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Includes several contemporary photos of the Washout.
  3. Grigg, David (July 30, 2004). "Comprehensive Hydrogeological and Cliff Erosion Assessment of Point Grey" (PDF).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Cliff Erosion
  5. "Student member of BCCLA executive arrested!" (Press release). British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA). November 25, 1997. Retrieved 2006-09-06.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Pue, W. Wesley (2000). Pepper in our Eyes: the APEC Affair. Vancouver, Canada: UBC Press. ISBN 0-7748-0779-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Map of Green College on motorcade route, p xii. Green resident and Law student Karen Pearlston told "no signs and no people" on Green side of route, p. xiii, 145. RCMP arrests Law student Craig Jones and hold him for 14 hours for displaying signs reading simply "Free Speech", "Democracy", and "Human Rights" on College property, p. xv, 8, 145, 210, plate 12. Green College resident and PhD student in Pharmacology reports RCMP assault a person telling of alleged RCMP misconduct, and pepper-spraying Green College residents and others listening to the speaker, p. 7. Green College residents Jenn Baggs and Todd Tubutis, with PhD student Mike Thoms, display protest banner in front of Green College buildings, plate 5. Green College provides "major logistical support" and hosts events for APEC-University forum starting May 1997, per Arnab Guha, pp. 201-203.
  7. "Graduate students fight eviction at UBC". Vancouver Sun. 2006-08-30. Retrieved 2015-02-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Sherwood, Kaitlin Duck (2006-08-28). "UBC Green College eviction notice". Retrieved 2015-02-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Rupp, Shannon (2006-10-13). "Ontario author files suit against UBC over harassment policy". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2015-02-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Canadian Heraldic Authority (1996-01-15). "Green College of the University of British Columbia". Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada. III: 63. Retrieved 2007-04-04.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. 13.0 13.1
  15. Kelly, Sean (September 4, 1997). "Graduate college not only meets, but surpasses goals, review finds". UBC Reports. University of British Columbia Public Affairs Office. p. 9. Retrieved 2006-12-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> This issue of UBC Reports is also online in PDF form.
  16. "Award winners improve students' lives". UBC Reports. University of British Columbia Public Affairs Office. October 29, 1998. pp. 1–2. Retrieved 2006-12-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> This issue of UBC Reports is also online in PDF form.
  • Green College Dining Society (2007). "Green College - The Dining Society". GCDS website. Retrieved 2007-04-04.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Green College Residents Association (2007). "Green College Residents Association". GCRA web site. Retrieved 2007-08-15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links