NSCC unveils new name for Sydney campus

NSCC say once completed, its new downtown campus will be known as the Sydney Waterfront Campus.  (Tom Ayers/CBC - image credit)
NSCC say once completed, its new downtown campus will be known as the Sydney Waterfront Campus. (Tom Ayers/CBC - image credit)

A Cape Breton campus of the Nova Scotia Community College will not only have a new setting, but also a new name.

On Friday, Marconi Campus officials in Sydney, N.S., announced that once their new downtown location opens in the fall of 2024, it will become known as the Sydney Waterfront Campus.

"We felt that we wanted a new campus and a new space to be more reflective of the new modern college that it is," said NSCC Marconi principal Carla Arsenault.

"Since the construction has started we've had so many people referring to it as the 'Sydney campus,' the 'Waterfront campus' — so it really evolves from that."

With the new name, NSCC is also stepping away from its association with late Italian engineer Guglielmo Marconi.

Marconi became steeped in the local culture after performing a series of groundbreaking experiments in transatlantic radio communication in Cape Breton and Newfoundland in the early 1900s. In 1909, Marconi received a Nobel Prize in Physics for his invention of the wireless telegraph that allowed seafarers, and others, to transmit signals for help.

But he has been criticized in recent years for supporting the rise of Italian fascism and an anti-Semitic campaign that kept Jewish students from entering the Academy of Italy.

Arsenault confirmed the NSCC is aware of the criticisms of Marconi, but said the name change is mostly due to an overall refresh of the campus. She did, however, confirm that NSCC received some complaints about the Marconi name from faculty.

"We're looking forward into the future and the transformation and transition to a new modern college. And so it was really more about taking that opportunity to make that change and change the name while we are going through the transformation at the same time."

The current Marconi Campus, located off the Sydney-Glace Bay Highway, was completed in 1976. Back then, it was known as the Cape Breton Regional Vocational School although it's not exactly clear when the school was named in honour of the Italian inventor.

As part of the relocation of the NSCC campus, at least four main buildings are under construction in downtown Sydney.

Arsenault said the construction is on schedule, adding that NSCC will work to identify other naming opportunities that it says will reflect and honour the area's diversity.