University of Victoria

This article is about the university in British Columbia, Canada. For other universities with "Victoria" in their name, see Victoria University (disambiguation).
"Uvic" redirects here. For other uses, see Uvic (disambiguation).
University of Victoria
Former names
Victoria College

"יְהִי אוֹר" (Hebrew)

"multitudo sapientium sanitas orbis" (Latin)
Motto in English

"Let there be light"

"A multitude of the wise is the health of the world"
Type Public
Established 1903
Endowment $374 million[1]
Chancellor Shelagh Rogers[2]
President Jamie Cassels, QC[3]
Provost Dr. Valerie Kuehne, PhD[4]
Academic staff
886 faculty[1]
Administrative staff
4,606 employees[1]
Students 21,209[1]
Undergraduates 17,797[1]
Postgraduates 3,412[1]
Location Greater Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Campus Urban, 163 hectares (403 acres)
Colours      Red
Athletics CIS, CWUAA, NAIA
Nickname Victoria Vikes
Mascot Thunder
Affiliations AUCC, IAU, CUSID, CBIE, CUP

The University of Victoria (UVic or Victoria) is a public research university located in Saanich and Oak Bay within Greater Victoria, British Columbia. The university was founded as Victoria College in 1903, as the affiliate branch of McGill University.[5] A non-denominational institution, it transitioned to its current status as the University of Victoria in 1963. The university's annual enrollment is around 20,000 students. UVic's campus is known for its innovative architecture, beautiful gardens, and mild climate.

Academically, the University of Victoria is noted for its programs in the Peter B. Gustavson School of Business, Faculty of Law, Earth and Ocean Sciences, Fine and Performing Arts, and Engineering along with a strong focus on (mandatory) co-operative education. It It is the nation's lead institution in the VENUS and NEPTUNE deep-water seafloor observatory projects.[6] UVic also participates in several multi-institutional research consortia, such as the Pacific Institute of Mathematical Studies, the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, TRIUMF, the Canadian Consortium of Oceans Research Universities, WestGrid, and Compute Canada making it British Columbia's third largest research university.[7][8]

The Victoria Vikes (more commonly known as the UVic Vikes or simply the Vikes) represent the university in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) community in a number of competitive sports, as well as through a variety of intercollegiate leagues. The Vikes have especially long and eminent ties to competitive rowing, basketball and rugby.

UVic ranks well in global rankings. It has been the top-ranked comprehensive university in Canada since 2010. In this category, Maclean's magazine ranks UVic either first or second for eight consecutive years. It also ranked first nationwide and 20th internationally in the Times Higher Education’s ranking of schools under 50 years old. In global rankings, UVic is within the Top 200 list, thus, being amongst the top one per cent of universities around the world.[9] It clocked in its highest ranking at 173 globally in 2010 and has since maintained a strong presence in global ranking charts. The university has also been home to more than 40 faculty members who are Fellows of the Royal Society of Canada since it was founded.[10][11]


The University of Victoria was established on 1 July 1963 in Victoria, British Columbia.[12] Victoria College, which had been established in 1903 as an affiliated college of McGill University, gained autonomy and full degree granting status on March 1, 1963.[13] The non-denominational university had enjoyed 60 years of prior teaching tradition at the university level as Victoria College. This 60 years of history may be viewed conveniently in three distinct stages. Between the years 1903 and 1915, Victoria College was affiliated with McGill University, offering first- and second-year McGill courses in Arts and Science.[14] Administered locally by the Victoria School Board, the College was an adjunct to Victoria High School and shared its facilities. Both institutions were under the direction of a single Principal: E.B. Paul, 1903–1908; and S.J. Willis, 1908–1915.

The opening in 1915 of the University of British Columbia, established by Act of Legislature in 1908, obliged the college to suspend operations in higher education in Victoria. University of British Columbia was created in 1908. A single, public provincial university, it was modeled on the American state university, with an emphasis on extension work and applied research. The governance was modeled on the provincial University of Toronto Act of 1906 which established a bicameral system of university government consisting of a senate (faculty), responsible for academic policy, and a board of governors (citizens) exercising exclusive control over financial policy and having formal authority in all other matters. The president, appointed by the board, was to provide a link between the two bodies and to perform institutional leadership.[12]

In 1920, as a result of local demands, Victoria College began the second stage of its development, reborn in affiliation with the University of British Columbia.[14] Though still administered by the Victoria School Board, the college was now completely separated from Victoria High School, moving in 1921 into the magnificent Dunsmuir mansion known as Craigdarroch Castle. Over the next two decades, under Principals E.B. Paul and P.H. Elliott, Victoria College built a reputation for thorough and scholarly instruction in first- and second-year arts and science. It was also during this period that future author Pierre Berton edited and served as principal cartoonist for the student newsletter, The Microscope.

Craigdarroch Castle, the former home of the University.

Between the years 1921-1944, the enrolment at Victoria College did not very often reach above 250. However, in 1945, 128 servicemen returned from Wold War II. This pushed enrolment up to 400, and in 1946; 600.[15]

The final stage, between the years 1945 and 1963, saw the transition from two year college to university, under Principals J.M. Ewing and W.H. Hickman.[14] During this period, the college was governed by the Victoria College Council, representative of the parent University of British Columbia, the Greater Victoria School Board, and the provincial Department of Education. Physical changes were many. In 1946 the college was forced by postwar enrollment to move from Craigdarroch to the Lansdowne campus of the Provincial Normal School, the current location of Camosun College's Lansdowne Campus. The Normal School, itself an institution with a long and honourable history, joined Victoria College in 1956 as its Faculty of Education. Late in this transitional period (through the co-operation of the Department of National Defence and the Hudson's Bay Company) the 284-acre (1,1 km²)--now 385-acre (1.6 km²)--campus at Gordon Head was acquired. Academic expansion was rapid after 1956, until in 1961 the college, still in affiliation with UBC, awarded its first bachelor's degrees.

In the early part of this century, professional education expanded beyond the traditional fields of theology, law and medicine. Graduate training based on the German-inspired American model of specialized course work and the completion of a research thesis was introduced.[12]

The policy of university education initiated in the 1960s responded to population pressure and the belief that higher education was a key to social justice and economic productivity for individuals and for society.[12]

The university gained its autonomy in 1963 as the University of Victoria.[14] The University Act of 1963 vested administrative authority in a chancellor elected by the convocation of the university, a board of governors, and a president appointed by the board; academic authority was given to the senate which was representative both of the faculties and of the convocation.

University of Victoria's Arms were registered with the Canadian Heraldic Authority on April 3, 2001.[16] The historical traditions of the university are reflected in the coat of arms, its academic regalia and its house flag. The BA hood is of solid red, a colour that recalls the early affiliation with McGill, as do the martlets in the coat of arms. The BSc hood, of gold, and the BEd hood, of blue, show the colours of the University of British Columbia. Blue and gold have been retained as the official colours of the University of Victoria. The motto at the top of the Arms of the University, in Hebrew characters, is "Let there be Light"; the motto at the bottom, in Latin, is "A Multitude of the Wise is the Health of the World."

Campus and grounds

Medical Sciences Building at UVic

The main campus is located in the Gordon Head area of Greater Victoria. With a total area of 403 acres (163 ha), the campus spans the border between the municipalities of Oak Bay and Saanich. The original campus plan was prepared by the San Francisco architecture and planning firm of Wurster, Bernardi & Emmons. The general concept of the original design is still being followed, with the academic portions of the campus located inside Ring Road, which forms a perfect circle 600 m (1,969 ft) in diameter. Outside of Ring Road are the parking lots, the Student Union Building, residence buildings, sports facilities, as well as some of the academic facilities that are more self-contained (Law and Theatre for example).[17]

The following is a list of the more prominent buildings on campus:[18]

Engineering/Computer Science Building entrance

The university also offers on-campus housing for over 3,200 students. An extensive variety of housing is available, including single and double dormitories, Cluster Housing (apartment-style housing with four people per unit), bachelor and one-bedroom apartments, and family housing. Four buildings in one of the oldest residential complexes at the university are named for Emily Carr, Arthur Currie, Margaret Newton, and David Thompson.[21] Construction on the South Tower Complex was completed in January 2011. The largest residence building in terms of capacity is Ring Road Hall, which holds 294 beds and is split into three wings. The campus has also become increasingly cycling-friendly.[22]

Much of the university estate has been dedicated to nature, notably Finnerty Gardens and Mystic Vale, a 4.4 ha (11 acres) forested ravine. The campus is home to deer, owls, squirrels and many other wild animals native to the area. A large population of domestic rabbits, which likely descended from abandoned house pets from the surrounding community, was a memorable feature of the campus in years past. In May 2010, the university began trapping and euthanizing the rabbits[23] as they had been known to put athletes at risk in the playing fields and cause extensive damage to university grounds. It has been documented that local veterinarians have offered to perform neutering of the male rabbits. As of July 2011, the UVic campus is free of rabbits. 900 rabbits were saved and sent to shelters.[24] The majority of rabbits moved to shelters died between 2011 and 2016, after which the remaining survivors (147 rabbits) were relocated to a private sanctuary in Alberta.[25]

Undergraduate Faculties, Departments, and Schools

Below is a list of undergraduate faculties, departments, and schools within the University of Victoria system.

UVic also offers a number of interdisciplinary undergraduate programs, including Applied Ethics, Arts of Canada, European Studies, Film Studies, Human Dimensions of Climate Change, Indigenous Studies, Latin American Studies, Social Justice Studies, and Technology and Society.

Peter B. Gustavson School of Business

The Peter B. Gustavson School of Business, formerly the Faculty of Business, was renamed following a donation by local entrepreneur Peter B. Gustavson. This business school is one of the finest in Canada with a wide range of programs including the BCom, MBA and other business degrees, EQUIS and AACSB accredited. When accepted into the pre-admit program you take two years of general studies (with 5 required classes) and then the 3rd and 4th year are business intensive. You are also required to do three co-op work terms.[27][28]

Business and Economics Building

School of Earth & Ocean Sciences

The university's School of Earth & Ocean Sciences is the premiere underwater and marine institution in Canada and has produced a large number of influential findings in its history. The School of Earth & Ocean Science also collaborate with the VENUS and NEPTUNE research institutes.[29] In addition to this, the university was a founding member of the Western Canadian Universities Marine Sciences Society; UVic maintains this field station on the west coast of Vancouver Island, which is jointly run by the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary.[30]

School of Public Administration

The UVic School of Public Administration is Western Canada's leading government management school. The school specializes in its M.A., and PhD. programs but also offers a selective admission minors program. The innovative course structure of these programs has led numerous graduates to pursue careers in finance management, government administration, and local governance.[31]


The UVic Faculty of Law is consistently ranked highly by the media. It offers a co-op work experience program and an environmental law intensive program, featuring a course at Hakia Beach, BC in association with the Tula Foundation. UVic Law has been deeply involved with many of the Aboriginal, Ecological, and Environmental cases within British Columbia and continues this tradition today.[32][33]


The Faculty of Engineering admits approximately 400 students into first-year programs each year. Students can specialize in the following disciplines: Biomedical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Software Engineering.[34][35]

Faculty of Humanities

The Faculty of Humanities consists of ten departments (English, French, Genders Studies, Germanic and Slavic Studies, Greek and Roman Studies, Hispanic and Italian Studies, History, Linguistics, Pacific and Asian Studies, and Philosophy), as well as three Programs (Latin American Studies, Medieval Studies, and Religious Studies). The faculty offers certificates, minors, and majors leading to both BA and BSc degrees, as well as MA and PhD degrees. As one of the largest faculties at the University of Victoria, the faculty prides itself on offering outstanding opportunities to study and expand expressions of the human spirit. Languages, narratives, philosophies, histories—the Faculty of Humanities brings these all together in a critical context of analysis, interpretation, research, and communication. Humanities students ask—and answer!—questions about the place and value of the individual in the human community, the function of tradition in times of intense transformation, and how best to give guidance to humanity as it moves into an ever uncertain future.[36]

Fine Arts

The Faculty of Fine Arts splits into five different departments: Art History and Visual Studies, the School of Music, Theatre, Visual Arts and Writing.[37] UVic's Department of Art History and Visual Studies has a long tradition of distinguished scholarship in the areas of Islamic art, South and Southeast Asian art, and Native arts of North America. It is one of few schools that has traditionally held two chairs of Islamic art, most recently filled by Anthony Welch and Marcus Milwright, setting it apart from not only similar Canadian institutions but also from schools in the United States and United Kingdom.

Graduate Programs

UVic offers more than 160 graduate programs. Their most popular graduate degrees are in the following areas:

Graduate programs range from individual interdisciplinary programs to graduate co-op programs. The university also offers students specialized degree options and certificate options.

Academic profile

Libraries and Museum system

The University of Victoria Libraries system is the second largest in British Columbia being composed of three 'on-campus' libraries, the William C. Mearns Center for Learning/McPherson Library, the Diana M. Priestly Law Library, and the MacLaurin Curriculum Library. The Library System has undergone significant growth in recent years thanks to the University's investment in library purchases and research. Amongst the highlights in the University of Victoria Archives and Special Collections are priceless items from Imperial Japan, to carbon dated original manuscripts of the Sancti Epiphanii. The collection also boasts extensive histories of colonial Victoria and the Colony of Vancouver Island among other documents. The library's digitization programme is becoming increasingly active in making materials available for scholars and to the wider world. Renovations and new construction over the past decade have resulted in modernized facilities that include special collections classrooms, an innovative Learning Commons and an art gallery. The UVic libraries collection includes extensive digital resources, over 2.0 million books, 2.3 million items in microforms, plus serial subscriptions, sound recordings, music scores, films and videos, and archival materials.[38]

The University of Victoria houses the Education Heritage Museum, which displays educational history artifacts in the main hallway of the MacLaurin building. The collection consists of manuscripts, texts, photographs, audio-visual material, lesson plans, posters, bells, ink bottles, fountain pens, desks, maps, athletic clothing, photographs, and school yearbooks used in kindergarten to grade 12 schools in Canada from the mid-1800s to the 1980s.[39]

The University of Victoria has two art collections (University and Maltwood) which host loan exhibitions, and exhibits of the works of students and faculty in the University Centre Exhibition Gallery. The University Collection, founded in 1953 by Dr. W.H. Hickman, Principal of Victoria College (1953-1963), consists of 6,000 works, mainly by contemporary artists practicing in British Columbia. The Maltwood Art Museum and Gallery, founded through the bequest of English sculptress and antiquarian, Katharine Emma Maltwood, F.R.S.A. (1878-1961), reflects her and her husband John Maltwood's taste. The collection of 12,000 works of fine, decorative and applied arts includes Oriental ceramics, costumes, rugs, seventeenth century English furniture, Canadian paintings and Katherine Maltwood's own sculptures.[40]


In the 2010 Re$earch Infosource ranking of Canada's research universities, UVic topped all other comprehensive universities in Canada in two out of three measures of research performance over the last decade: growth in research income and growth in research intensity.

The University maintains a field station on the west coast of Vancouver Island to conduct marine research. The facility is jointly run by the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary. Undergraduates at the University of Victoria have full access to research and learning at this facility.

In 2011 the university, in collaboration with the provincial government purchased and modified a state of the art ocean vessel capable of launching 'deep sea submersibles' and conducting long range marine biology research expeditions. The 'floating laboratory' is undergoing upgrades and expansions currently and will be in service by late 2011.[41]

The School of Earth & Ocean Sciences is also home to the renowned VENUS and NEPTUNE research institutes responsible for seismic, oceanic and climate change research.

Located in the Greater Victoria area the University's legal centre provides free legal assistance to the disadvantaged as well as dealing with important environmental cases in British Columbia. The UVic Law Center is the only full-time, term clinical program offered by a Canadian law school. The program reflects the faculty's emphasis on integrating legal theory, legal skills, and community service while providing students with unique education and research opportunities.[42]

Located in the Greater Victoria, British Columbia area the Vancouver Island Technology Park is a state of the art, 35 acre commercial research facility. It is the largest university-owned technology centre in BC. The venture allows the university to work with leading technology and biomedical companies while provided students with unparalleled research opportunities. The facility focuses on fuel cell, new media, wireless, and life science/biotechnological research. The UVic Genome BC Proteomics Centre and a number of other research institutes are based out of the research park. The Capital Regional District is a major commercial hub for technology companies.[43]


Admission to the University of Victoria is based on a selective academic system. UVic requires all applicants to submit gross percentage averages to be considered for admission. The University accepts qualified applicants studying under IB programs, AP programs or other international distinctions. The University of Victoria offers scholarships and financial aid to a large number of students.[44]

International exchanges

The University Of Victoria has partnered with a number of research institutions to provide UVic students with the opportunity to gain research experience abroad. Both UVic undergraduate and graduate students may travel abroad with UVic's many partner universities. This international exchange programs develops the collegial yet international atmosphere at the University of Victoria, and promotes an exchange of information.


University rankings
Global rankings
ARWU World[45] 201-300
QS World[46] 325
Times World[47] 301-350
US News and World Report Global[48] 296
Canadian rankings
ARWU National[45] 7-16
QS National[49] 14
Times National[47] 15-16
Maclean's Comprehensive[50] 2

Maclean's Magazine, a major Canadian news magazine, has ranked UVic as one of the top three comprehensive universities in the nation for three consecutive years; it was ranked first for the year 2014. Its Faculty of Law has also ranked first in the country, 8 out of the last 11 years. Currently, it is ranked 4th by Canadian Lawyer Magazine. University of Victoria's MBA program is consistently ranked among the top 10 of its kind in the nation.[51] UVic is British Columbia's second largest research university, after UBC, and is one of Canada's top 20 research institutions.[7] According to ScienceWatch, UVic is nationally ranked first in geoscience, second in space science and education, and third in engineering and mathematics for the period of 2000–2004.[52] For the year 2013, five departments are ranked in the top 200 in the QS world rankings, with one department (Department of English) ranked in the top 100: Earth and Marine Science, English Literature, Law, Geography, and Philosophy.[53]

Culture and student life

The Martlet student newspaper

UVic's oldest and most recognized weekly student newspaper, founded in 1948, is The Martlet. It is distributed all over campus and the Greater Victoria area. The paper is named after the legendary martlet bird, whose inability to land is often seen to symbolize the constant quest for knowledge, learning, and adventure. The Martlet is partly funded by student fees.

The University of Victoria Students Society (UVSS)

The University of Victoria Students' Society is a student society which represents the UVic undergraduate student body, plans campus wide events and maintains the Student Union Building. The student society's leadership is elected annually during campus wide undergraduate student elections. As a multimillion-dollar organization, the UVSS is among one of the larger student unions which exist in Canada.

The University of Victoria Graduate Student Society (GSS)

The GSS offers services and support for UVic's 3,000 Graduate students. The society's services include the Grad House Restaurant, health and dental plan, funding for grad student events, and reduced-cost membership in the Victoria Car Share Co-operative.

Radio station CFUV

CFUV is on-campus radio station focusing on the campus and the surrounding community. CFUV serves Greater Victoria at 101.9, and via cable on 104.3, Vancouver Island and many areas in the Lower Mainland and northwestern Washington state.

Greek Life

The University of Victoria Students' Society does not recognize fraternities or sororities on the basis that they, by definition, seek to exclude portions of the membership.[54]

The university's students have started a fraternity and two sororities and one non-exclusive, non-profit social-service club. Although the fraternity and sororities have no affiliation with the University of Victoria itself, they continue to thrive with membership growing yearly. The fraternities and sororities on campus are as follows:

  1. The International fraternity Delta Kappa Epsilon chartered the Beta Tau chapter in 2010, currently estimated at 125 members.
  2. The International sorority Kappa Beta Gamma chartered[55] a chapter in 2011, currently estimated at 100 members.
  3. The local sorority, Alpha Chi Theta was chartered in 2013, currently estimated at 45 members.
  4. The Omega chapter of Phrateres, was installed in 1961.


The university is represented by its team the Victoria Vikes, more commonly known as the UVic Vikes or simply the Vikes. Vikes teams participate in the Canada West Universities Athletic Association (CWUAA) (the western division of Canadian Interuniversity Sport [CIS]) and in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). Basketball games are played in the 2,500 seat, McKinnon Gymasium. The facility was built in 1975. The Centre for Athletes, Recreation, and Special Abilities (CARSA), opened its doors on May 4, 2015.[56][57][58][59]

The university currently has both men's and women's teams in each of the following sports:

Sports Hall of Fame

UVic Charter Inductees are:

Canadian Inter-University Sports(CIS) Championships[60]
Men's basketball: 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1997
Women's basketball: 1980, 1981, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1992, 1998, 2000, 2003
Men's cross-country: 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2015
Women's cross-country: 1981, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1995, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002
Women's field hockey: 1985, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2008
Men's soccer: 1976, 1988, 1997, 2004, 2011
Women's soccer: 2005

Canadian University Championship Titles[60]
Men's rugby: 1998, 1999
Men's rowing: 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2009
Women's rowing: 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003
Men's golf: 2003

Canadian Western Universities Championship Titles
Women's field hockey: 2015


Fight Song

Notable among a number of songs commonly played and sung at various events such as commencement and convocation, and athletic games is 'Rack and Ruin' a reminder of the tradition of the founding Victoria College. "Rack and Ruin, Blood and Gore, Victoria College Evermore!"

Martlet icon

The martlet and its red colour adorns many parts of the University of Victoria, including the crest, coat of arms, and flag representing the university's previous affiliation to McGill University which also uses the martlet. The legendary martlet bird's inability to land is often seen to symbolize the constant quest for knowledge, learning, and adventure. The oldest student newspaper on campus, The Martlet, is named after the bird.

UVic Orientation

UVic Orientation takes place each year for all new students to the school. UVic Orientation includes events, activities, and workshops to help students adjust to university life. The main event of UVic Orientation, which takes place on the day immediately preceding the first day of classes, has gone by a number of names over the years. This event is currently referred to as New Student Welcome, and is UVic's largest Orientation event.

Sport clubs

UVic has 25 sport clubs that are administered by Vikes Recreation and run by students.[61]



Notable faculty

Some of the university's noted faculty members, past and present, are:

Notable alumni

The university has over 88,000 alumni. Listed below are some of UVic's noted alumni:

Alumni in the arts

Alumni in business

Alumni in government and public affairs

Alumni in sports

Asteroid 150145 Uvic

The asteroid 150145 Uvic was named in the university's honour on 1 June 2007. UVic was the first university in BC to have an asteroid named for it.[81]

See also


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Coordinates: 48°27′48″N 123°18′42″W / 48.463325°N 123.311751°W / 48.463325; -123.311751

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