Fanshawe College: London school will celebrate its 50th anniversary this Saturday

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Fanshawe College will mark its 50th anniversary with a bash at Budweiser Gardens this Saturday. In the run-up to the event, The Free Press is publishing over the next five days a total of 50 facts about the once-puny school that’s booming as it reaches the half-century mark.

1. The school technically started in the early 1960s, known as the Ontario Vocational Centre. It opened as Fanshawe in 1967 as part of the new system of community colleges. It had 24 programs and 700 students in two London buildings. Nearly 175,000 people have graduated in the 50 years since.

2. The school’s name is actually a combination of two words from old English: “fane” (a temple or building) and “shawe” (the woods). So, it’s technically a temple in the woods. A city-wide contest produced the name.

3. Howard Rundle spent more than 40 years at Fanshawe, starting in 1972. During his tenure as president, he oversaw a remarkable period of growth during which the college started overshadowing Western University as a London institution and expanded into the downtown. “The community either didn’t know anything about us at all or . . . it was dismissive, almost like, “What is this interloper?’” he once recalled of the early ’70s. “I’m exaggerating, but it was that kind of feeling. Completely different now.”

4. Rundle started at Fanshawe as a director of planning and development. Having earned a Ph.D in chemistry from the University of Toronto, he previously taught at York University and the University of Pittsburgh.

5. The school has had five presidents over its 50 years: Dr. James A. Colvin (1967 to 1979); Harry Rawson (1979 to 1987); Dr. Barry Moore (1987 to 1996); Rundle (1996 to 2013) and Peter Devlin (2013 to today).

6. Devlin was a commander in the Canadian Army, in which he served for 35 years. Colvin, too, had a combat background, having been as a fighter pilot in the Second World War.

7. Devlin was named to France’s National Order of the Legion of Honor in 2015. It was a reward for his work strengthening relations between the Canadian and French armies when he was Canada’s commander.

8. Colvin’s son, Crispin Colvin, was on Fanshawe’s board of governors for a six-year period that ended in 2013. The former president’s granddaughter, Ashley Older, graduated in 2009 from the school’s autism and behavioural science program.

9. While often overshadowed by other London teams, Fanshawe’s sports programs are no slouch. Over the years, the school has won 14 national titles and 85 provincial championships in sports ranging from volleyball to curling.

10. Who could have seen this coming back in the early days of 1967? In 2002, Fanshawe for the first time had more first-year students than Western.

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