UQAM marks 50 adventurous years

April 9, 2019

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It’s hard to believe, but the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) turns 50 on April 9, 2019. Since its founding in 1969, the downtown university has been at the forefront of numerous historic social movements that have shaped today’s Quebec. It comes as no surprise that the university remains young at heart!

To mark the milestone, the year will feature a diverse series of events to highlight the university’s contributions to Montreal life.

We spoke with UQAM’s rector, Magda Fusaro, to learn more about how the university will be celebrating over the coming year.

At 50, does UQAM still have its youthful energy?

It sure does! And that’s the reason why we chose the slogan “50 ans d’audace” (50 years of daring) to mark the anniversary. UQAM was founded at a time of social upheaval that had an impact throughout Quebec. At the time, its mission was clear: to make higher education accessible to people who didn’t previously have the means to go to university. UQAM has never been shy about taking a clear position on an issue. That’s the way it was in the late 60s, at the end of the Quiet Revolution, and it’s still true today.

How do you envision the celebrations of this historic milestone?

We will hold events aimed at sharing UQAM’s values. We want to highlight the university’s socio-historical position, look back on how it has marked Quebec society over the decades, and look toward the future. We also want to underline our strong community and geographic ties with our neighbourhood.

UQAM has defined itself as a university with ties to every sphere of society – the cultural sector, the arts, the community, education, science, business, the legal and communications fields. Our many collaborations contribute to our standing, and we are proud of our partners because we are advancing with them and enriching our students’ experience in the process. And that’s why we’re organizing nearly 90 activities over the next 12 months, aimed not only at commemorating UQAM’s history and impact, but also at providing a future vision.

There’s a wide variety of activities scheduled for the anniversary – architectural projections, art exhibits, concerts...

Starting April 9, we’re launching the 50th anniversary with a projection on the Pavillon Président-Kennedy illustrating the university’s creativity and ingenuity, and its capacity to renew and update itself. The architectural projection was made by HUB Studio, in collaboration with the Quartier des Spectacles Partnership.

For the anniversary day itself, we’ll ring the bell in the St. Jacques bell tower, which we haven’t done for many years. I should note that the restoration of Place Pasteur and the bell tower will be completed this fall, and that will be the occasion for a special moment with the members of the UQAM community and our neighbours.

In September, the public will be invited to discover the very beautiful exhibition 50 designers, 50 projets phares, 50 ans de rayonnement pour l’UQAM at the Centre de design graphique. A pop-up shop, open to all, will showcase the talented people at UQAM and the achievements of our 265,000 alumni. There will also be a special concert in homage to UQAM by the Orchestre métropolitain, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, on November 16. Finally, in the spring of 2020, just before the celebrations end, there will be an event celebrating the UQAM campus – a living space in the heart of the city that has inspired numerous creative works.

You’re blowing out the candles on the cake: what’s your wish for UQAM?

I’d make two wishes. First, I’d wish for UQAM’s excellence to be recognized. For too long, the university has been associated with a certain image – an interesting image in social terms, but highly reductive. It’s time to appreciate our university for the academically excellent institution that it is.

I’d also wish for us to be able to continue welcoming every student who believes it’s important to pursue higher education. University funding is a complex issue, but I believe it’s crucial to provide access to education for all.