Fanshawe College: School’s 50th anniversary celebration will be held 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 50 facts about the once-puny school that’s booming as it reaches the half-century mark.

11. A key moment in Fanshawe’s unofficial evolution as a London staple was a decade ago: At the same time, the city’s mayor, Anne Marie DeCicco-Best, and police chief, Murray Faulkner, were Fanshawe alumni.

12. DeCicco-Best’s story in a unique one: she studied broadcasting at Fanshawe and was an AM 1290 reporter covering London city hall when she decided to run for council. She went on to become London’s longest-serving mayor, holding office for 10 years until her 2010 defeat.

13. One more on DeCicco-Best: She’s since returned to Fanshawe, where she works in government relations.

14. After graduating in 1995 from the music industry arts program, Emm Gryner toured as a David Bowie backup singer and released Juno-nominated albums of her own. But did you know that in a 2006 interview, U2 singer Bono named Gryner’s Almighty Love as one of the six songs he wished he’d written himself? Pretty impressive.

15. An $800,000 state-of-the-art recording studio was opened in 1990 to house that burgeoning music industry arts program.

16. Five years ago, Fanshawe’s men’s and women’s curling squads both won the 2012 national college championships.

17. Paul Haggis studied film in the 1970s at his hometown’s Fanshawe College before leaving for Hollywood in his early 20s. It obviously worked out – he’s won two Oscars and become one of the most successful film directors of his generation. (Now, he’s also arguably the world’s best-known Scientology defector.) A decade ago, the school honoured him with an honorary diploma.

18. Today, the school has 236 programs, an estimated 43,000 full- and part-time students and more than two dozen buildings housing them. There are sister campuses in Simcoe, St. Thomas and Woodstock.

19. City hall and Fanshawe College have teamed up to build a $66-million, 2,000-student campus in downtown London that will be fully built out by next fall. It includes the old Kingsmill building as part of a project that could revitalize a large stretch of Dundas Street in the core.

20. There was political intrigue over whether or not this project would get city hall funding. It essentially became a 2014 showdown between two city councilors eyeing the mayor’s chair – Joe Swan and Matt Brown. In the end, Brown succeeded in pushing through the funding, and became mayor months later.

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