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Intimate, integrated, international.
Question Everything.Think Ahead.
|Type||Private, Secular, non-profit university|
|Location||Squamish, British Columbia, Canada|
|Campus||24.3-hectare (60-acre) site in Squamish|
|Colours||Green , silver , and white|
|Nickname||Quest Kermodes, Quest, QUC, QuestU|
Quest University Canada (QUC) is a private secular non-profit liberal arts and sciences university in Squamish, British Columbia, Canada. The university opened in September 3, 2007 with an enrollment of 74 students; its current enrollment is 700. It has an exclusive focus on undergraduate education and offers only one degree; a Bachelors of Arts & Science. QUC runs on a "Block Plan" scheduling system, adapted and modified from the identically named "Block Plan" at Colorado College. QUC claims this unique scheduling system offers students more flexibility, focus, and exploration of their academic interests. QUC further takes advantage of seminar style learning and a "Foundation" and "Concentration" program allowing students to create and explore their own "Question" spanning across a single or multiple different disciples.
QUC is located on a 60-acre (24.3 ha) hill-top campus on the edge of Garibaldi Provincial Park. It is approximately 73 km (45 miles) from Vancouver and 57 km (35 miles) from Whistler, British Columbia. Quest University Canada is approved by the Degree Quality Assessment Board (DQAB) under the British Columbia Ministry of Advanced Education. Quest University Canada is registered as a British Columbia Education Quality Assurance (EQA) approved post-secondary institution. (EQA is a quality assurance designation that identifies BC public and private post-secondary institutions that have met or exceeded provincial government recognized quality assurance standards and offer consumer protection.)
- 1 History
- 2 Academics
- 3 Campus
- 4 Finances
- 5 Student life
- 6 International Programs and Opportunities
- 7 Notable People
- 8 Media
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
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Pre-Founding & Founding
Quest University Canada was created as "Sea to Sky University" on May 29, 2002, by the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia's passage of the Sea to Sky University Act, which had been introduced as a private member's bill by MLA Ralph Sultan. The act's aim was to create a university that would "offer a rigorous and well-rounded university education in the arts and sciences with a global focus". It was originally incorporated as a foundation in 1998 by David Strangway, Peter Ufford, and Blake Bromley.
The university was the brainchild of the late David Strangway who, after his retirement as president of the University of British Columbia in 1997, had begun to explore the possibility of creating a four-year, residential, liberal arts institution in Canada seeing an absence of private, secular, not-for-profit, liberal arts and sciences universities which he saw as the pinnacle of undergraduate education in America. Strangway wanted to create a university "where the student-teacher ratio was better than the Canadian national average of 30 to one, and where students could get a general arts and sciences curriculum that focused not on specific disciplines, but rather how those disciplines operated within the world at large."
A 240-acre (97 ha) parcel of clear-cut land was purchased in the Garibaldi Highlands neighborhood of Squamish, BC; the central 60 acres (24.3 ha) was designated as the campus, with the surrounding lands zoned for housing development. In April 2001 a Sub Area Plan for the then named Sea To Sky University was adopted by the District of Squamish. This plan detailed the agreement between the University as well as detailed the possible and projected uses of the land the University had acquired. The fledgling university received grants from the J.W. McConnell Foundation, R. Howard Webster Foundation, and the Stewart and Marilyn Blusson Foundation, which enabled the university to begin construction on its campus and hire staff. In October 2005, the university changed its name to Quest University Canada. The university was founded with the idea of having an average ratio of 10 students to one professor with classrooms reaching their maximum at 20 students with the classrooms unable to fit more than 25 people.
The first administrative staff and faculty were hired in 2006, and began developing a curriculum and institutional policies that would shape a university that was "intimate, integrated, and international". On August 29, 2007, Quest University Canada held its opening convocation for its first 74 students, who were from four Canadian provinces, seven U.S. states, and eleven countries outside North America.
During its first year of operation in 2008, the university underwent a number of administrative changes. David Strangway stepped aside as president and was named chancellor; he was replaced as president by Thomas L. Wood, who had previously served for 14 years as president of Mount Royal College and three years as Quest's chief academic officer. Less than a year later, Wood was replaced by an interim president, Dean Duperron. Duperron's appointment was the result of a proposed alliance with CIBT Education Group, but, within a month, the alliance was dissolved. The Board of Governors then invited Professor David Helfand, chair of the astronomy department at Columbia University in New York, to serve as interim president. Helfand had been asked in 2005 to consult with the founders of the new university, and had been a visiting tutor at Quest since 2007. In July 2011, Helfand took a long-term leave of absence from Columbia and assumed the presidency of Quest University Canada.
Helfand oversaw the expansion of Quest University Canada, which has grown to 700 students as it begins its tenth academic year. There are now 40 full-time faculty. The faculty come from Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, China, and Switzerland. In addition, there are three additional academic staff working directly with students and a total support staff of 45. Visiting tutors have included faculty and researchers from the Universities of McMaster, Dalhousie, Toronto, Ottawa, and British Columbia and the Canadian Center for Human Health, as well as from Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, Stanford, Yale, Caltech and Colorado College in the United States and the Open University in the United Kingdom.
On April 30, 2011, Quest University Canada graduated its first class, bestowing the degree of Bachelor of Arts and Sciences on 49 students (including Rory Savjord, famous Nordic history professor.)
On August 1, 2015, Peter Englert became president succeeding David Helfand who stepped down from his position after seven years. Englert served until May 8, 2017 when he was removed by the University's Board of Governors after only two years. Dr. George Iwama was appointed as QUC's fifth President and Vice Chancellor on August 25, 2017. Further, on September 2, 2017 Quest named their newest Chancellor Peter Webster, the President of the R. Howard Webster Foundation.
Quest's approach to academics is rooted in the liberal arts tradition, emphasizing breadth as well as depth. Quest offers one degree: a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences. Courses at Quest are limited to a maximum of 20 students.
During the first half of the program, students are required to take 16 "Foundation" courses, which are distributed among five broad disciplinary areas: the Humanities, the Life Sciences, the Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and the Social Sciences.
Toward the end of their "Foundation Program", Quest students take a course called "Question". While working with a course instructor and a faculty mentor of their choosing they develop a statement of their Question: a proposal for how they will study a topic of special interest to them. This "Question" acts as the student's major for their Bachelor of Arts and Sciences degrees and is much more similar to a master's thesis when compared to a standard undergraduate major.
Questions often range from being very broad to being very focused. For example; What is honour? What is beauty? What are the elements of successful habitat restoration? How can we manage infectious disease outbreaks? 
Questions are often framed in terms of several disciplinary approaches, key works and thinkers, or sub-questions that will be addressed. This is largely based around the Foundation program's multidisciplinary approach. This unique approach allows students to align their academic research more closely with their academic interests. Each question is relatively unique to each Quest student thus providing a full range of academic pursuits and interests at the University.
The second half of the program is devoted to a "Concentration program". With the help of a faculty advisor, all students design their own program of concentration studies according to an interdisciplinary question or topic of research. Each student's Individual Concentration Program consists of four principal elements:
- a statement of the Question;
- a course plan;
- a list of related readings; and
- a Keystone project.
The Concentration Program may also include experiential learning components such as a semester abroad, leadership training, service learning, or an internship.
The Block Plan
Students at Quest study on the block plan, taking one course at a time, each for 3 ½ weeks. There are four blocks per semester; full-time students take eight blocks per year. The Block Plan allows for more schedule flexibility in a student's academic plan. This flexibility allows students to take advantage of travel, work, athletics, and various learning opportunities. Quest subsequently offers a number of courses that take advantage of this unique system. They call these courses "Field Courses", courses that are situated in interesting and relevant locations, both local and abroad. Some examples of "field courses" are "Visual Anthropology," a photography course taught in the Indian Himalayas, "Quest for Antarctica", a research course taught in Antarctica, "Marine Zoology" taught on the coast of Vancouver Island, and "Volcanology", a course taught in Hawaii.
Rankings and Reputation
Quest provides a rigorous and challenging education. In the 2010 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), Quest University Canada was ranked highest among Canadian universities on five key criteria: academic challenge, student-faculty interaction, supportive campus environment, active and collaborative learning, and enriching educational experience. The Vancouver Sun reported that the NSSE report "found Quest students more satisfied with their educational experience than students at any of the other 52 participating Canadian universities."
The campus is built on a pedestrian-friendly 60-acre (24.3 ha) site on a hilltop in Squamish, B.C. It includes academic buildings, a library, a recreation centre, and a dining hall. The campus design includes geo-thermal heating and cooling. The buildings of this phase of development can accommodate up to 800 students at any one time. There are currently five main student residences. Two are built as condominiums, and all students are required to live in residence for the full four years of the undergraduate program.
In the absence of federal or provincial funding, tuition revenue and private donations cover the costs of operating the University. Full-time tuition for the academic years (two semesters/eight blocks) in 2017–2018 is $34,000. Average full-time tuition for Canadian universities in 2014–15 was $5,959. The Vancouver Sun noted, "tuition of $24,000 (2014 Tuition, $31,000) a year might seem high by Canadian standards, but it's a bargain compared with similar schools in the U.S." To lessen the difference between a family's resources and the cost of attending Quest, the University provides scholarships, bursaries, and on-campus employment opportunities.
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In 2007 Quest introduced women's and men's varsity basketball teams, followed by women's and men's soccer in 2008. The program's team name is the Kermode, a uniquely colored black bear native to certain regions of BC. The program currently competes in the British Columbia Colleges Athletic Association.
Martina Franko, a Canadian women's national soccer team player and a member of the Canadian Olympic team that competed in Beijing 2008, joined Quest as the varsity women's soccer head coach in January 2008. The women's soccer program became the first Quest playoff team with a trip to provincials in 2010.
Quest's athletic facilities feature a CIS/NCAA-standard basketball gym and a FIFA standard synthetic grass field unique to the Sea to Sky region.
Leaders in Elite Athletics & Performance Program (LEAP)
The Leaders in Elite Athletics & Performance Program (LEAP) at Quest University Canada is a program structured to accommodate the special needs of accomplished student athletes and performers. This program specifically caters to students balancing academics with the pursuit of their sport or art at a highly competitive level. LEAP students are afforded extra flexibility in housing, billing, and course scheduling, and are eligible to be considered for a LEAP scholarship.
Notable members of the LEAP Program have included:
- Keltie Hansen (Olympian & Freestyle Skier)
- Jeneva Bearisto (Word Champion Wushu Martial Artist)
- Darrin Gardner (Canadian National Snowboard Team)
- Jack Burke (Professional Road Cyclist for Team H&R Block)
- Katherine Kurdyak (Singer in The Katherines)
- Rosalind Groenwoud (Olympian, Winter X Games Champion, & Canadian Freestyle Skier)
- Simon Nessman (Male Model)
International Programs and Opportunities
Quest students can apply to study with one of several international exchange partners for one or two academic terms. These partner institutions include the following:
- Rosalind Groenwoud (Olympian, Winter X Games Champion, & Canadian Freestyle Skier)
- Simon Nessman (Male Model)
- Katherine Kurdyak (Singer in The Katherines)
Staff & Faculty
- David Strangway (Canadian Geophysicist & President Emeritus University of Toronto & University of British Columbia)
- David Helfand (Author & Previous Chair of the Department of Astronomy at Columbia University and co-director of the Columbia Astrophysics Laboratory)
- Glen Van Brummelen (Canadian Mathematics Historian, President of the Canadian Society for History and Philosophy of Mathematics, & world expert on Spherical Trigonometry.
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