Higher Education in the Panama Canal Zone


During the Golden Days of the Panama Canal, education was considered essential in the development of the narrow strip of adjacent to the waterway known as the Canal Zone.   All levels of education were of the highest quality, even surpassing educations institutions of the Continental United States.

One of these educational institutions was the Canal Zone College which later gave way to a local branch of the Florida State University. Everything inside the campus was first class.  It was the goal of many Panamanian businessmen to enroll their children here, as well as the children of the employees of the Panama Canal Commission.

Recently the Florida State University moved to a more modern campus at la Ciudad del Saber (Knowledge City)  in Clayton.  The campus of the Canal Zone College is presently occupied by the International Maritime University of Panama. This university trains cadets to become merchant marine ships’ officers.

It is to be noted that Panama has begun turning former military installations into housing, civilian ports, hotels, industrial parks, universities, and sports facilities. Some bases have been converted into tourist complexes aimed at attracting cruise-ship passengers, while some undeveloped areas have become eco-tourist sites.

Below are several pictures of the former Canal Zone College in an effort to help those of you who studied here, to recollect your nostalgic student’s days.  Here we go.

Photograph of the sign outside the International Maritime University of Panama at La Boca.  (Credit:  Omar Upegui R.)
Photograph of the sign outside the International Maritime University of Panama at La Boca. (Credit: Omar Upegui R.)
Panaramic view of the entrance to the former Panama Canal College.  You can see the arch of the Bridge of the Americas in the middle of the photograph.  (Credit:  Omar Upegui R.)
Panoramic view of the entrance to the former Panama Canal College. You can see the arch of the Bridge of the Americas in the middle of the photograph. (Credit: Omar Upegui R.)
A close up view of the main building of the former Canal Zone college.  Very liitle has been changed; the building is practically intact.  (Credit:  Omar Upegui R.)
A close up view of the main building of the former Canal Zone college. Very little has been changed; the building is practically intact. (Credit: Omar Upegui R.)
A view of the long covered corridor to protect the students from intense rain during the rainy season.   (Credit:  Omar Upegui R.)
A view of the long covered corridor to protect the students from intense rain during the rainy season. (Credit: Omar Upegui R.)
Perspective to the sheltered corridor leading to the entrance of the main building of the Canal Zone College.  (Credit:  Omar Upegui R.)
Perspective of the sheltered corridor leading to the entrance of the main building of the Canal Zone College. (Credit: Omar Upegui R.)
Photograph taken from the campus of the former Canal Zone College.  Notice how close this building is to the Bridge of the Americas which can be clearly seen in the background.  (Credit:  Omar Upegui R.)
Photograph taken from the campus of the former Canal Zone College. Notice how close this building is to the Bridge of the Americas which can be clearly seen in the background. (Credit: Omar Upegui R.)

For those of you who lived and studied in the Panama Canal Zone, I’m sure these pictures will refresh your memories.  Good Day.

6 thoughts on “Higher Education in the Panama Canal Zone”

  1. I used to teach and coach there. Lots of good times, especially coaching with Louie Husted for the Green Devil Football Team. I also had the men’s volleyball team and track squad. All my kids took classes there during their senior year, which helped them get a head start on college. I understand that the campus of FSU moved to Clayton. Does anybody know what the La Boca Campus is now being used for? The upper stories of the main building have been there at least since I started teaching in the old Zone in 1972. Previously the campus was a secondary school, La Boca Tech, I think, for a Latin American school, and was upgraded later when the college moved from the Balboa High School Science Wing to La Boca.
    Jim Sweeney

    1. Hi Jim:

      Answering your question, The Florida State University (FSU) moved to a more modern campus at la Ciudad del Saber (Knowledge City) in Clayton.

      The campus of the Canal Zone College is presently occupied by the International Maritime University of Panama. This university trains cadets to become merchant marine ships’ officers.

      Regards,

      Omar.-

  2. Canal Zone College was a Junior College offering Associates Degrees until it’s Chairman of the Science department, Professor DeWitt E. (Bud) Myers, in conjunction with Doctors from Gorgas Hospital accredited a four year Medical Technology Bachelor of Science program. This program started around 1970. The name was then changed to Canal Zone College to reflect the advanced degree.

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