Organizers of a reunion for students and staff of a now-defunct Nelson university are expecting at least 75 people to attend from around North America.
The event, to be held May 19 and 20, 2023, will see alumni, faculty, and support staff from David Thompson University gather at the Prestige Lakeside Resort.
“People are coming from across the continent,” says co-organizer Tom Wayman, who taught writing at the school, which operated from 1979 to 1984.
“We’ve had confirmation from people in New England and Ontario. In some ways, we’ve had more interest from people who don’t live in the area.”
DTUC was a consortium of the University of Victoria and Selkirk College, established on the former premises of Notre Dame University, following that institution’s closure in 1977.
DTUC students could obtain a UVic bachelor of arts degree, and the institution incorporated Nelson’s Kootenay School of Art, which became DTUC’s fine arts department. Courses were available in drama, photography, creative writing, and rural teacher education.
However, the provincial government closed the institution in 1984, much to the community’s dismay. Although they aren’t emphasizing that aspect, Wayman says one of the reunions features will be an exhibit by Jeremy Addington, who was in charge of the photography department.
He captured students and staff and their feelings on DTUC’s impending closure.
“It’s quite a moving exhibit because people are photographed with their families,” Wayman says.
“You get a sense of the impact on Nelson through the generations when the school was shut down. When something with impact is closed, they talk about job loss. But it’s more than that. It’s all kinds of people’s lives.”
But Wayman says the reunion is also a celebration of Nelson’s support for and commitment to post-secondary education.
“Rather than concentrating on the loss, the idea is concentrate on what’s been achieved and what could still emerge,” he says.
In addition to Notre Dame and DTUC, the Kootenay School of Arts has operated since 1991, initially as a standalone institution, and later as part of Selkirk College.
Wayman says the organizing committee has representation from other people who taught writing, including Fred Wah, and Colin Brown, but they are trying to track down people who taught in the education program.
As part of the reunion, they’ll also be providing an open mic for writers and musicians. They’ll also have a dance featuring music from the era when DTUC was in business.
Early-bird registration is now open. You can download the registration form from the reunion website at dtuc-reunion.ca or request a copy by contacting the reunion committee at [email protected]. Registration is $50 per person before Jan. 15, and $75 afterwards.