VIU welcomes new master’s degree students

August 27, 2011 - 9:02pm

Students from Mexico, India and across Canada started the new Master of Arts in Sustainable Leisure Management program at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo.

“I heard about this on the Internet,” said Erin Heeney from New Brunswick. “I just completed a degree in Sports Studies and was thrilled to find a Canadian university offering this kind of program. It’s one step closer to my PhD.”

Plans to establish VIU’s latest master’s program evolved two years ago when VIU received prestigious designation as a World Leisure Centre of Excellence site from the World Leisure Organization (WLO), a non-governmental agency affiliated with the United Nations.

VIU is one of two sites in the world with this designation – the other is in the Netherlands. As a World Leisure Centre of Excellence, VIU is dedicated to the advancement of international scholarship, graduate education, research and service focused on innovation and sustainability in all aspects of leisure, recreation and tourism.

“The designation as World Leisure Centre of Excellence and now the start-up of the new master’s program is icing on the cake for VIU’s Faculty of Management,” says Recreation and Tourism Management professor Tom Delamere. “We’re excited about it, and happy to have such a diverse, unique group of students in the first class.”

The program has been approved by the VIU Senate and Board and the BC Degree Quality Assurance Board. It builds upon VIU’s successful track record of offering recreation diplomas for more than 35 years, tourism diplomas for more than 20 years and bachelor degrees in Tourism Management for 10-plus years.

A contingent of VIU faculty members, including Dr. Bob Pfister, Dr. Nicole Vaugeois, Dan McDonald and president Dr. Ralph Nilson, attended the 10th World Leisure Congress in Quebec three years ago where they advocated strongly that VIU be designated as a World Leisure Centre of Excellence and for the creation of master’s program.

Nilson and Vaugeois are lifetime members of the World Leisure Organization. As a result of their presentation, international auditors from the WLO visited VIU in 2009, which led to development of the new program.

“Our Recreation and Tourism graduates are considered among the best in the industry,” says Nilson. “Many of them are working in top positions in recreation, tourism, hospitality, and event management companies across British Columbia, Canada, and the world. We are extremely proud of their achievements, and of the quality faculty members who teach in this area. We’re very excited to take our Faculty of Management programming to the master level.”

The 10 new students in the cohort received a special welcome on their first day of class from Christopher Edginton, Secretary General of World Leisure, via a video conference call on Skype.

The students will engage in a debate on relevant tourism issues at this year’s Tourism Vancouver Island Annual Conference and annual general meeting in Nanaimo Sept. 20 - 22.

This is the fourth master’s program offered at VIU. The university also offers a Master of Education in Special Education, Master of Education in Educational Leadership and a Master of Business Administration. For more information, visit the website at

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