The Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre (BMSC) was born of a remarkable collaboration by five western Canadian universities. The University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, University of Victoria, University of Calgary and the University of Alberta, institutions that are in many other respects competitors, cooperate as members of a non-profit to manage BMSC over what has been a successful 50-year partnership. This unique collaboration is part of what makes BMSC considerably greater than the sum of its parts.
Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre (BMSC) is unique for many reasons, says John McInerney, the station’s first Director who arrived in 1975. “Superficially, it probably doesn’t seem or feel very different from many other field stations across Canada and internationally, “but how it operates is fundamentally different,” he says.
BMSC was born of a remarkable collaboration by five western Canadian universities. The University of British Columbia (UBC), Simon Fraser University (SFU), University of Victoria (UVic), University of Calgary (UofC) and the University of Alberta (UofA) – institutions in many other respects competitors — cooperate as members of a non-profit to manage BMSC over what has been a 50-year successful collaboration.
Remote field stations fuel innovative, enlightening research but are expensive and logistically challenging to run, making it challenging for one university to operate independently. So when multiple institutions expressed interest in establishing a Pacific coast research hub, the National Research Council suggested that Western universities find a site they could share.
Seaweed biologist Louis Druehl of SFU led the five-university search committee that eventually chose Bamfield. Many people pulled the strings, he says, but “we were the puppets that had all the fun.” To establish their venture, these universities formed the Western Canadian Universities Marine Biological Society (WCUMBS), the non-profit that owns and operates BMSC.
Each member university has two representatives on the Management Council, that functions as a Board of Directors. Appointed by their respective University Presidents, the first representative from each university advises and votes on finances, the second on academic matters.