SPRINGHILL – The Cumberland Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College marked a significant milestone Thursday, celebrating its 50th anniversary in the community.
© Christopher Gooding photo
In the days when the Nova Scotia Community College’s Cumberland Campus was known as the Cumberland County Vocational High School, Kumar Uberoi was the school’s first guidance counselor, joining the staff a year after the college opened in 1963. Uberoi gave an address during the campus’ fifty-year anniversary celebration on Thursday, giving a first-hand recollection of college life through the years during his tenure.
Opening its doors in 1963, Springhill and the labour force of the day was in a state of change. Just five years earlier a major coal mining disaster signaled the end for the community’s primary industry and a need for new skills development was needed. A daring decision was made to build the next vocational school in the province in Springhill.
“Previous to 1960, I think, vocational schools existed in Halifax and maybe one or two other places in the province…” Adult Learning Program faculty Joe Salas said. “Today, we are teaching students more than what is in the textbook. We’re teaching the to be model citizens.”
The school has gone through many changes in fifty years, from moving to a college format after years of vocational instruction, changes to the building itself and, of course, staff. Change, Salas said, is progressive.
“I’m sure what happened in the 1960s was complimentary to what we do today. We provide the path necessary for students to be engaged, to succeed,” Salas said.
“There are no barriers at NSCC,” said Wendy Siddal, Early Childhood Education faculty member. “Over the years, one thing remains true: what sets Cumberland Campus apart is we have heart.”
Building the school in 1963 cost $1 million, Principal Don McCormack said, and was originally named the Cumberland County Vocational High School. Students as early as Grade 9 could take classes and be on their way to a career.
Over the next 50 years, the campus would amass quite the track record.
“We here at Cumberland Campus have employed over 563 staff and faculty,” McCormack said. “We have offered over 37 programs and today we have 42 programs with a compliment of faculty of just over 60 people.”
Having a source of post-secondary education and skills development in the region has been a mutual relationship for the college and the communities that make up Cumberland County, and dignitaries were on hand to congratulate the college and laud its impact over the last 50 years.
“I believe a forward thinking college is a key to prosperity,” Springhill’s Mayor Max Snow said. “The friendly, knowledgeable teachers and the communities that support its college, I think, adds to Cumberland County’s charm.”
Amherst councilor Lisa Emery, an alumnus of the college’s paralegal program, says the college will always be important to her personally, as well as community’s throughout Nova Scotia.
“The college is building our leaders of today and the leaders of tomorrow,” Emery said. “It’s building the workforce of tomorrow.”