Cornett Connections

Student couple hand in hand in the 60s

Cornett Connections

The Cornett building has been an iconic part of UVic campus life for almost 50 years. You and your fellow alumni are part of the building’s past and present.


Did you meet your partner while waiting for class? Who was that professor who changed your life? Who took a break from work on the roof? Which group of friends shaped who you are? What secrets does the Cornett building know about you?

Please send us your story and we will add it to our Cornett Connections collection. You can post it via Facebook or Twitter (tag it with #iheartcornett) or send it by email to Your photo can be from the past or the present but should depict your Cornett connection (for example, your favourite wedding shot, or you with your group of friends). The accompanying story can be any length as long as it gives us some background to the photo. Just like the examples below or this article about the Gronsdahl family in the Torch magazine.

Susanna and Joost Houwen

Susanna and Joost
The first day of a new class, Art Theory, I really wanted to sit by my friend, the only person I knew in that lecture hall.  But some guy was sitting next to her.  I had to make do with sitting behind. The next class, again I could not sit next to my friend (a popular girl, obviously), and ended up sitting next to the guy who had been sitting beside her the week before. He talked and talked and talked!  I don't think I picked up anything the lecturer said that day. But he managed to catch my attention!

All week long, I discussed him with my roommates. Off for the third class, I made my hair wavy and wore my most attractive clothes. Taking so much care with my appearance, I was late for class. I practically ran into the building, wondering, 'Would I manage to get a seat beside this chatty, handsome guy I had met last week?' Well, I didn't need to worry, because he was sitting outside the class, waiting for me. We smiled at each other, and that was it. 

We've been together ever since. That was in January 1991. We moved in together at the end of the school year, and we were married in the UVic Interfaith Chapel on April 30, 1994, only three days after we all finished our exams. Yes, we are celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary later this month. That chatty guy is still just as handsome, but I quickly found out that the chattiness was completely out of character. It was obviously love at first sight. 

Susanna (Clemas) Houwen - BA Visual Arts and History in Art 1993 
Joost Houwen - BSc Physics 1994

Jennifer and Alan Millbank

Jennifer and Alan

I doubt that many love affairs start in Chinese Confucianism class but that is where Alan and I met, in the Cornett Building, in 1996. At the time, he had a car, and I didn’t, which was a huge bonus for me! We got married in 1999 and now have two great kids. Alan is, in fact, half Chinese, which makes such an unconventional (by Western standards) course selection a fitting start for our relationship. According to the Chinese zodiac, Alan is a tiger, and I am a dragon. Apparently, there are some astrological warning signs against such a match because there is too much energy!  Luckily I don’t think Alan knew this until it was too late, or maybe he would have thought twice about the whole thing.

I remember being madly in love with the guy in the green acid wash jean jacket. He remembers that I smelled funny. At the time, my sister and I had an experiment to see if we could make it through the winter in her house without using the hydro. Needless to say, in the wet Victoria weather, the experiment had some side effects that my sister and I had not foreseen. My clothes were slowly rotting and smelled like, well, rotting clothes. Once Alan and I started dating, I decided that using the dryer was a small price to pay for true love so the experiment was thoroughly abandoned.

Alan still sums up those early days in our relationship with “smell isn’t everything.”  Eighteen years, more schooling, a few career changes, and two kids later, I am pretty happy I took the Chinese Confucianism class. And even happier I splurged for the extra hydro.

Jennifer (Gordon) Millbank B.A. Political Science 1998, L.L.B 2001

Linda and Craig Gronsdahl

Linda and Craig

Craig and I met in September of 1981 and were married in August 1983. We then both graduated the next year - 1984. Funny note though, we were in the lineup to get our diplomas on the stage and the usher asked me if Craig was my brother! That seemed to happen to us quite a bit in our younger years.  

We visited Victoria often when our kids were small and always dragged them up to the campus for a tour. There was much sighing and rolling eyes while this was occurring, but obviously we made an impression on them as both of them ended up attending UVic.  

It was a strange feeling dropping our oldest Stefan off at ‘res’ in his first year. I felt like it was just yesterday that I was moving into residence as well. The bright faces of eager and nervous first year students provoked a very strong memory for me. I am a bit sad that when our daughter Sasha graduates this year, for the first time in seven years we will have no child living in Victoria and attending UVic.  Maybe the next generation?

Craig Gronsdahl - BA Economics '84
Linda (Zaruba) Gronsdahl  - BA Pyschology '84

John Beale and Megan Bonner

John and Megan

In September 1985, I was working on my B.A. in economics and enrolled in a course covering S.E. Asian economies (I think it was in Cornett D227). I remember walking into class the first day and immediately noticing this girl who I couldn’t stop looking at. She made it very hard for me to concentrate in class. That ended up being the only class we ever took together, but it was enough. In April ’87 we graduated together and the day after our final exams were married in the UVic chapel. 

Right after that, we moved to Japan for ten years, where our three children were born, and then went on to Malaysia, eventually moving to Seattle in 2005. Two of our kids are enrolled at UVic (graduating ‘14  & ‘15) and the third will enter UVic this September. It’s a family affair. We have great memories of our time at UVic, especially that Cornett classroom. 

Megan Bonner - BA Economics/Pacific & Oriental Studies ‘87
John Beale - BA, Economics '87

Teri and Jeff Kerr

Terri and Jeff
“Where it all started…” 

A long time ago, I was a third year geography student at UVic. I always sat at the front on the side of the class, so I could sit sideways and chat with everyone, but also see the board.

This particular day, in February of 1993, I was running late for my medical geography class (with Dr. Death), and had to sit at the back with the “not so engaged” kids. I sat down beside this scruffy guy in sweats and a ball hat, and looked over to his notebook to see what I had missed. I was struck with his extremely neat printing. Then he turned the page, and started writing on the next page. I said to him, incredulously, “Why aren’t you writing on both side of the paper?! This is a resource management program!” He replied “My dad works at a pulp mill, I have to keep him employed.” Needless to say I wrote him off as a moron.

Six months later, after an unfortunate mishap at paintball with my environmental studies friends, I was in the cafeteria on crutches with a broken kneecap. I stopped to chat with my cartography lab partner John, who was sitting with a group of guys eating and doing homework. His buddy, who I did not recognize as the moron from my spring class, asked if I had a calculator – which I did. John then asked what I was doing for reading break, to which I replied that seeing as I could no longer drive, I was just staying here because I couldn’t get home to Courtenay. Calculator guy offered to give me a ride, which I accepted. On the way up we drove his brother nuts pointing out things that we had to put on our cartography assignment of southern Vancouver Island. In particular, we argued over whether Brentwood was a town or a Bay – it turned out Diana Hocking marked both of us correct. It still comes up, 20 years later. According to his wedding speech, my now brother-in-law knew it was love when Jeff didn’t ask me for gas money when they dropped me off.

Little did I know, but after that first encounter in the classroom, Jeff had made an effort (although obviously not a very good one) to catch my eye. His girlfriend at the time did not like it and assumed there was “someone else”. She broke up with him for showering and getting spiffed up for school, as opposed to his usual sweats and ball hat. It took crutches, a calculator and a car to catch my attention. I still have the calculator. And the guy!

Teri (Woodrow) and Jeff Kerr – both BA Geography '96