North Island College staff and faculty would like to express their condolences for the loss of former president Dr. Lou Dryden.
He passed away peacefully in Australia June 17, 2018. Dryden was NIC’s third president, serving the college for 12 years from 1997 to 2009. He made an enduring impression upon the Vancouver Island community.
“Lou believed in the power of post-secondary education on the North Island. His work and vision for NIC includes many new opportunities for business, nursing and trades students to complete their degrees and training close to home. Throughout his tenure at NIC, Lou worked to ensure Aboriginal communities and students had local programs and services they need to succeed,” Bowman added. “Those experiences, and the relationships forged through programs and services, are crucial to how we operate today. His legacy will not be forgotten.”
Dryden also established the $1,000 Dr. Lou Dryden Student Success Bursary, tailored to full-time NIC students who demonstrate financial need, come from single-parent homes and contribute to the community.
His daughter Nikki has written the following heartfelt tribute, which we are honoured to share:
Dr. Louis J. Dryden “Lou” will be sadly missed by his family and friends, spread across two continents in the countries he called home. Born in Sydney, Australia on October 22, 1944 Lou spent almost 45 years in western Canada before returning to Australia several years ago where he passed peacefully in his home in New South Wales on the 17 of June 2018.
The outpouring of support for Lou from his family, friends and colleagues has been the same: Lou Dryden was a kind man (but fierce on the rugby field!) who was humble, generous and committed to helping others through education and sport.
After his first few years in Sydney, Lou’s family moved to Gunnedah, New South Wales where he was raised by his widowed mother. Lou was a devoted son who came from very humble beginnings. He found his way at the local pool, where future Olympic coach Eric Arnold taught him to swim, how to work hard and how to be a young man. He excelled in local swim competitions, his best event the 440-yard freestyle and was often named local sportsman of the week.
He was also a top rugby league player who switched to union while at Sydney Teachers College where he won a scholarship. It was there he first laid eyes on his sporty wife Paula and the two were married in 1966. Not to be outdone by Paula, who was one of Australia’s top sprinters, Lou also played for Randwick for several years in Sydney, including First Grade in 1968, 1969 and 1970.
Like many Aussies of the day, Paula and Lou headed for adventure in Canada in 1970, teaching in Calgary and doing more schooling.
In 1975, Nikki was born and they moved to Ladner near Vancouver where Lee was born in 1978 before settling in Victoria on Vancouver Island.
Lou spent 18 years at Camosun College in Victoria, starting as a director and finishing as vice-president.
Lou and Paula moved to the Comox Valley where Lou hit his stride as president of North Island College from 1997 to 2009. During this time, Lou was instrumental to major physical expansions at the college. In addition to breaking ground on new buildings, under his leadership NIC expanded their nursing program to a four-year degree, created fine art degree partnerships, launched B.C.’s first applied business degree and launched a Professional Cook program.
Lou also helped create opportunities for women and Indigenous peoples, leading partnerships with the Haahuupayuk First Nation to offer the Nuu-chah-nulth language in two dialects. He supported scholarship programs for deserving students and continued to donate to the NIC Foundation where the $1,000 Dr. Lou Dryden Student Success Bursary is awarded each year. At his retirement from NIC, he raised significant funds for the Dr. Lou Dryden Library Enrichment Fund.
After almost 45 years in Canada, Lou and Paula returned to Australia where Clare, Nikki and Lee and their partners Scott and Kate and their grandkids Oliver, Eloise and Hamish were all living. Active with their grandkids, Lou and Paula inspired the next generation of Dryden super-athletes and students!
Lou had a rough few years, battling Motor Neurone Disease (known more commonly by one subset, ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease) and Multi-System Atrophy. He also underwent prostate cancer treatment and suffered a host of uncomfortable side effects. Lou was tough as guts and rarely complained, probably to his detriment.
Lou passed peacefully in his own home, built just a few years ago at MacMasters Beach on land held dearly since the ’60s. A dream of Lou’s was to retire at Macs and that was made all the better when he was surrounded there by his wife, children and grandchildren who will remember their husband, dad, G’Pa and Gigi as a gentle-man, an avid sportsman, a great friend and their biggest fan.