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History of Bow Valley College

Our History


  • Vocational Preparatory classes held at Calgary, Edmonton, Drumheller, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat for 442 students

Bow Valley College 1965


  • School named the Alberta Vocational Centre (AVC) in 1965 and planning begins for a permanent facility
  • AVC offers Academic Upgrading and Business Education to 535 students
  • Most classes held at 300 - 5th Avenue S.W.


  • 710 students enrolled at AVC
  • Evening shift instituted to meet demand for Business Education and Academic Upgrading
  • Academic Upgrading program operates at capacity


  • Double shifts imposed to expand programming and meet demand
  • AVC introduced ESL program for Czechoslovakian refugees
  • Planning begins for new building


  • New building occupied at 332 - 6th Avenue S.E. in April
  • Serving 1,400 students
  • Nursing Aide Training School relocated to AVC from SAIT


  • On-site daycare facility developed for children of students


  • Enrolment rises 21 per cent in one year
  • AVC refines modular approach to curriculum that gives students flexibility to enter programs at times suitable to them


  • Working with Drumheller Correctional Institute on an educational pilot project for inmates


  • Computers in Education project launches


  • Offers General Education Development (GED) exams for adults
  • Conducts follow-up surveys of students to determine program effectiveness
  • Develops competency-based, individualized and open-entry curricula


  • Hospital Unit Clerk program launched


  • New programs: Certified Care Attendant for the Physically Disabled, then revised to Personal Care Attendant, and in 2002 to Health Care Aide (HCA); ESL Bridge Project
  • Expansion of teaching on First Nations reserves of southern Alberta


  • Development of in-service training programs for corporations such as British Petroleum and Sony Corporation, and for hospitals and school boards


  • Name changes to Alberta Vocational College to reflect new emphasis on academic programs
  • Plant Care Specialist program discontinued
  • New program: Dental Business Assistant


  • Generates more than $3 million in additional revenue by offering cost-recovery programs
  • New program: Medical Office Assistant


  • Strong emphasis on collaborative programs with organizations such as Langara College, AVC-Edmonton and AVC-Slave Lake, Calgary Immigrant Aid Society, Calgary Public Library, Alberta Tourism Education Council, SAIT, Siksika Nation, and Alberta College of Art & Design
  • New programs: Level I Day Care Orientation program; Artstream
  • First Premier's fundraiser for student support and scholarships in October 1994


  • In response to a request from the City of Calgary, the Out-of-School Care for School Age Children was developed in collaboration with two B.C. colleges, Douglas and Langara Colleges


  • Transition to board governance begins


  • Signs first agreement with Alberta Union of Public Employees, Chapter 011,
    Local 071
  • Name officially changed from Alberta Vocational College to Bow Valley College on April 1, 1998
  • Brokerage agreement with Red Deer College for delivery of the Practical Nurse program


  • Creates first Strategic Plan, focused on Growth Through Partnerships
  • Reorganizes into four departments: Academic Foundations, English as a Second Language, Business & Industry Training, and Health & Community Care
  • New program: Corporate Readiness Training Program (CRTP)
  • International Recruitment and Marketing Officer appointed to pursue growth opportunities


  • Harnesses new technology to create a virtual student lounge with e-learning resources
  • New program: Life Skills Coach
  • Brokerage agreement with Lethbridge Community College for delivery of the Practical Nurse program
  • Partners with China, Zimbabwe, Guyana, and Hawaii for ESL instruction.


  • Generates 34 per cent of revenues through entrepreneurial activities
  • Crowding in existing facilities sparks study of space requirements; determines that major expansion would be required in 3-5 years


  • Enrolment rises 15.5 per cent with 46% enrolment increase in Health and Community Care programs
  • Streamlines structure into three divisions: Academic, External Relations, and Corporate Services
  • Launched Centre for Career Advancement and the opening of Career Connections
  • New programs - Accounting and Financial Management; Aboriginal Practical Nurse


  • Enrolment increases another 14.7% for a total of 4,138 FLEs and continued enrolment increases in Health and Community Care programs
  • New programs: Teacher Assistant (brokered from Red Deer College); Interior Decorating and Merchandising; Events Management
  • Socio-Economics Benefits Study completed


  • Enrolment decline of 7% due to loss of grant-funded seats in academic upgrading and ESL, and enrolment declines in International Education due to world and local events
  • Delivery of the first diploma program - Legal Assistant (brokered from Red Deer College)
  • New program: Health Care Interpreter
  • Brokerage agreements with Lethbridge Community College for delivery of the ESL full-time program and with Medicine Hat College for delivery of the Practical Nurse program
  • Acquired sole ownership of Test of Workplace Essential Skills (TOWES) and established distributorship through 34 colleges across Canada
  • Opening of the Directions for Immigrants in Trades and Professional Careers Centre


  • New programs launched: Education Assistant (BVC curriculum); Business Administration Diploma and Correctional Studies Diploma programs (brokered from Lethbridge Community College); Life Skills and Career Development Coach Diploma; Computer Aided Drafting & Design (brokered from Medicine Hat College); Disability & Community Support (brokered from Grand Prairie Regional College); Immigration Practitioner Certificate (brokered from Seneca College)
  • Brokerage agreement with NorQuest College for delivery of the Dental Business Assistant and Hospital Unit Clerk programs
  • College develops first Academic Plan, outlining growth plans for the next five years
  • Career Connection opens new locations in Bowness/Montgomery and Midnapore
  • Centre for Quality Caregiving launched thanks to donation from the Royal Bank Foundation
  • College announces plans for major two-phase campus redevelopment and expansion to double its capacity
  • Campus Calgary, a network of Calgary's public post-secondary education institutions, is launched to increase access to education and transferability/articulation
  • Early Childhood Education certificate program launches


  • New program launched: Pharmacy Technician Diploma
  • College celebrates 40th anniversary; 10th anniversary of Canmore campus and 20th anniversary of Airdrie campus also celebrated
  • Government of Alberta announces funding for both phases of Bow Valley College's downtown Calgary campus redevelopment and expansion
  • College officially launches first-ever public fundraising campaign, Improving Lives Beyond the Classroom, with $10–million goal
  • Bow Valley College signs MOU with Mount Royal College, aimed at improving articulation and collaborative programming
  • Bow Valley College signs MOU with Prairie College of Applied Arts and Technology to bring career programs to Three Hills, AB
  • TOWES leader Conrad Murphy recognized with ACCC Leadership award at annual conference (hosted in Calgary)
  • Government of Alberta gives Bow Valley College major increase to General Operations Grant to improve services for students
  • Bow Valley College counselor Tim Held honoured by ASSC (The Alberta Student Service Conference) with The Dean Stetson Lifetime Achievement Award; Liz O'Shea recognized for long service
  • College hosts fundraising breakfast and secures over $1 million in donations (including matching dollars from the Province); Bow Valley College Students' Association pledges $208,000 to the Campaign
  • Early Childhood Education program is renamed the Early Learning and Child Care and includes a diploma option


  • College began construction of Phase 1 of downtown campus expansion project
  • College signed lease for space at Franklin Station (DeVry Campus) to accommodate decanted programs from main campus
  • Workplace Training Services unit launched to assist businesses with integration, retention and productivity of employees
  • Work Experience for Immigrants Program renamed Corporate Readiness Training Program
  • BVC formed the Vice-Presidents' Strategic Enrolment Management Committee with the goal of increasing student enrolment and improving processes and services within the College
  • The federal government announced a $425,000 project at Bow Valley College to create an online, TOWES-based tool to improve the employability and earning potential of foreign-trained workers
  • Moira Fields and Debbie Bruckner received the Innovation in Staff Development Award from the National Council for Staff, Program and Organizational Development for the mentoring program at Bow Valley College
  • BVC celebrated its 13th Annual Premier's Scholarship Luncheon – its final with Premier Ralph Klein – by raising over $250,000 (with matching grants)
  • Bow Valley College and the Calgary Catholic School District received the 2007 Mayor's Excellence Award in the category of Literacy Support and Enhancement for the innovative Bridge program


  • Provincial government designated Bow Valley College as a Comprehensive Community College, requiring the College to identify and meet the learning needs of Calgary and its surrounding region by expanding program offerings and collaborating with other education providers
  • The North Campus redevelopment project began to take shape, opening fully renovated spaces for use, including new learning facilities and expanded learner services
  • The College took ownership of the old provincial courthouse to prepare it for demolition, making way for the College's new South Campus
  • The College opened the Franklin Campus to house Health and Community Care programming
  • The College established a new Enrolment and Learner Services Division, headed by a new Vice-President, to implement the new strategic enrolment management system and to assist with the development of learner recruitment and retention strategies and initiatives
  • A new interim Vice-President of Campus Development portfolio was created with a mandate to oversee the development of the campus redevelopment and expansion project in downtown Calgary
  • The College established an office of applied research and innovation to coordinate and drive the college's research and innovation activities
  • New programs launched: Recreation Therapist Aide Certificate, Health Care Aide Bridge to Practical Nurse, Event Management First-Year Diploma, Interior Design First-Year Diploma
  • Bow Valley College and Mount Royal set in place a framework to establish a block transfer (20 courses) from the College's Business Administration to Mount Royal's degree
  • The Learn a Better Living Campaign concluded, surpassing its $10M target by raising over $13M to bolster learner awards and drive innovation in teaching and learning
  • Provincial government provided funding for 60 additional spaces in the Practical Nurse Program to help address employment demands in the health sector
  • Provincial government awarded the College major contracts to modularize Early Learning and Child care curriculum for delivery across the province as well as to support the Parent Link Centre, which provides training to Parent Learning Centre staff to enhance interaction between the centres across the province and the communities they serve
  • BVC and the Provincial Government partnered to expand the Directions for Immigrants Program to include a Health Career Coaching Centre, which provides internationally educated health professionals with career coaching, credential recognition advice, and study groups to prepare for accreditation examinations
  • BVCWorks was launched to assist employers with connecting to students and alumni
  • BVC Alumni Office was launched to reconnect the College with graduates
  • Bow Valley College is awarded a provincial government contract to expand the Career Connection Program to include career and employment assistance services for Francophone Albertans
  • A CCBenefits study, Economic Contributions of Alberta's College and Technical Institutes: Analysis of Investment Effectiveness and Economic Growth, July 2007, showed that investments in the College returns $468.6M in annual income to the local and provincial economies due to past and present activities of the College. Students enjoy a 15% annual rate of return and taxpayers see an 18% annually rate of return on their investments in Bow Valley College.


  • Premier Ed Stelmach officiated over the Sod Turning of South Campus on June 24, 2009.
  • Hundreds gathered for the much anticipated Grand Reopening of North Campus on May 26, 2010.
  • The College adopts ApplyAlberta–providing a seamless online application process for students.
  • Early Learning and Child Care is named Innovation of the Year by the Innovative Training Delivery Options for Child Care Practitioners


  • Bow Valley College welcomed the University of Lethbridge to its downtown Campus and advanced preparations to jointly locate Athabasca University and Olds College in Bow Valley College's South Campus.
  • The Bow Valley College Board of Governors approved the College's purchase of the former separate school board headquarters, which shares the block with North Campus and sets up an important future growth opportunity for Calgary and region's only comprehensive community college.
  • The College secured a major donation for its first named space, which takes form as the RGO Library and Learning Commons.
  • Early Learning and Child Care is awarded the ACCC Program Excellence award