More Than Two Hundred Years of History
Since its founding in 1802, Saint Mary’s University has developed into a modern, urban university with more than 7,200 full and part-time students. It is the oldest English- speaking, Roman Catholic initiated university in Canada. With meagre resources, the Reverend Edmund Burke founded the institution and, on being named Bishop of Nova Scotia, insisted that support for the college be continued as essential in fostering the Catholic community.
In 1841 the Nova Scotian House of Assembly gave formal recognition of the college’s academic role and, eleven years later, granted it legal status. The next few years saw a great deal of uncertainty about the survival of the college.
However, in 1913 the Christian Brothers of Ireland were asked by the Archdiocese of Halifax to direct the college and its academic programs. Its reputation as a liberal arts institution thrived in these years. Undergraduate programs were widely respected and new instructional programs were initiated, the most notable being the Faculty of Commerce which, when established in 1934, was among the first of its kind in Canada. In 1940 the Upper Province of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) was invited to succeed the Christian Brothers as administrators and teachers.
In 1952, the “College” became a “University”. For more than thirty years, until the new Act of Incorporation in 1970, the college remained under Jesuit supervision. It established itself in teacher education; initiated the first courses in continuing education in Halifax/Dartmouth; purchased the first computer in Atlantic Canada; and became coeducational. Also, the long-standing emphasis on liberal arts and commerce was complemented by new programs in engineering and science.
The Saint Mary’s University Act of 1970 gave legal status to the Board of Governors and Senate. Subject to the powers of the Board, the Senate is responsible for the educational policy of the University. In 1974, faculty members (full- time) formed the Faculty Union which has become an influential voice in the affairs of the University. Part-time faculty members became a separate bargaining unit in 1996.
From the Jesuits and their predecessors, Saint Mary’s has inherited a strong commitment to meeting community needs and an equally strong tradition of emphasizing excellence in teaching and excellence in research. During the past three decades Saint Mary’s has evolved into a more complex urban university, with a full range of undergraduate programs in Arts, Business, and Science. Master’s programs are offered in in Atlantic Canada Studies, Criminology, Geography, History, International Development Studies, Theology and Religious Studies, Women and Gender Studies, Astronomy, Applied Psychology, Computing and Data Analytics, Business Administration, Applied Economics, Finance, Management of Co-operatives, and Technology, Entrepreneurship & Innovation. Since 1999, Saint Mary’s has introduced doctoral programs in Business Administration (Management), Astronomy, I/O Psychology, and most recently, International Development Studies.
Now a publicly accessible, coeducational institution, functioning with a sense of its tradition, the University also offers pre-professional programs in law, medicine, engineering, theology, dentistry, and architecture. Through the cooperative efforts of the Division of Continuing Education, part-time students study in these programs and in a variety of non-credit executive and professional programs all of which have been rapidly expanding both in numbers and geographic locations.
Over the last several decades this commitment to academic and research excellence has seen the number of full-time faculty with doctoral degrees rise to over 90 percent. Part- time faculty members are recruited on the strength of academic qualifications in addition to the expertise and experience they can bring to the classroom.
More dramatic evidence of faculty enrichment is demonstrated by their research activities. In the last decade, sponsored contract and academic research has increased many-fold. This significant increase reflects the University’s firm belief that excellence in both teaching and research is essential for professors and that research is an integral part of the contributions that universities must make to society.
The quality of instruction to students has been a focal point of Saint Mary’s University since its founding. This long standing tradition of commitment to excellence in teaching has seen the introduction of new initiatives. The Quality of Teaching Committee and the Centre for Academic and Instructional Development have assisted faculty members by offering workshops on instructional techniques and innovations in teaching methodology. Awards for Teaching and Research Excellence are presented annually to members of faculty.
Students attend day and evening classes both on the 30 acre campus in the south end of Halifax and at off campus locations including the World Trade Centre in downtown Halifax; in Dartmouth; as well as in several other communities. Saint Mary’s boasts residence facilities for single and married students, a Students Centre, Science Building, the Patrick Power Library, which is linked via computer to Nova Scotia universities and colleges, and “The Homburg Centre for Health and Wellness”.
The Homburg Centre for Health and Wellness officially opened April 24, 2012. It consists of a 23,650 square foot state-of-the-art multi-purpose complex that includes the Centre for the Study of Sport and Health, integrated wellness program space, a large community studio/fitness room, community seminar rooms, a mid-size studio, a small studio, support space, and a show piece entrance that includes open space for students and other groups to gather, converse and study.
The Sobey Building officially opened in November 1998. It provided much needed additional classrooms with the very latest in technology and is home to the Sobey School of Business.
In 2009 a $25 million expansion and renovation project was completed on the Science Building. In 2010 the Atrium and the Global Learning Commons was completed at a cost of
$17.5 million. The building features a main floor Global Learning Commons - a wireless, student-centered, barrier- free communal learning space that encourages interaction between faculty and staff, and provides more opportunity for community engagement. The second and third floors house teaching and study space, along with space for offices and computational sciences research.
In spring 2011 a total renovation of the McNally Building was completed. The McNally Building is the oldest structure on the campus and home to the Faculty of Arts and administrative offices.
The newest development on campus is the North East Campus Project. The first phase, completed in 2013, includes a 26,000 square-foot development that connects global and local communities to the Saint Mary’s campus by providing modern classrooms and facilities for The Language Centre and the Saint Mary’s Business Development Centre.
The traditions formed by its founder and early teachers, built upon by the sound educational values of the Christian Brothers, and strengthened by the imaginative leadership of the Jesuits, provide a stable base for future development.
Saint Mary’s has been innovative in seeking cooperative ventures with other Maritime universities. The results have included the Atlantic Metropolis Centre as well as the Gorsebrook Research Institute which contributes to the understanding of our regional culture within a national context. Our ‘internationalization’ has seen formal teaching and research agreements signed with universities around the world including China and Japan as well as Mexico and The Republic of The Gambia. The Fred Smithers Centre of Support for Students with Disabilities has grown remarkably over the last several years and provides a variety of support to an increasingly important sector of our student population. It also provides assistance to disabled students studying at other Maritime postsecondary institutions.
Saint Mary’s University concentrates on its mission of providing excellence in its service to students and the larger community around the campus. Its reputation is one of quality education on a campus environment where individual development is paramount. Saint Mary’s student population is drawn largely from Halifax and Dartmouth with over half of its students from this area. There is also a distinct international aspect to the University with students from many countries including China, Japan, Bermuda, the United States, and Mexico. We are ambitiously pursuing a goal shared by many. It is a vision centered around continued academic excellence in teaching and research, accessibility for all Nova Scotians, strong community outreach, and facilities and instruction for the physically challenged.
In early 2012, the Senate approved a revised Academic Plan entitled Building a Community of Global Learners: Academic Plan for Saint Mary’s University, 2012-2017, the revised plan was based on campus-wide consultations held in the course of 2011. Key priorities identified in the plan include:
• Enhance Student Learning through Excellence in Teaching
• Enhancing Student Success
• Linking Theory and Practice
• Promoting Research, Creative Activity and Graduate Studies
• Building Thematic Clusters of Teaching and Research
• Enhancing our International Diversity
Saint Mary’s University is a member of a number of organizations including Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, Association of Atlantic Universities, and Association of Commonwealth Universities.
Saint Mary’s University has been associated with Dalhousie University (formerly DalTech and prior to that the Technical University of Nova Scotia) since 1916, providing the first two years of study leading to the degree of Bachelor of Engineering in civil, electrical, mechanical, mining, metallurgical, chemical, and industrial engineering. At the beginning of the 21st century, Saint Mary’s University and the Atlantic School of Theology entered into a formal Memorandum of Agreement concerning future cooperation and new initiatives, most notably a MA in Theology and Religious Studies. This promises many exciting new developments, including a Centre for Ethics as well as cooperative ventures with faculty and students.
University Crest and Motto
The University crest was designed in the 1940s by the Reverend Daniel Fogarty, S.J., the then Dean of Education. Each symbol in the crest has a significance relevant to the various phases and history of the University. On the outer portion of the crest the name and location of the University are inscribed in Latin, and in Roman numerals (1841), the date the University received its charter authorizing it to grant degrees. The book shown above the shield represents learning and knowledge. The inscription on the page of the book is in Latin - “Age Quod Agis”. This is the motto of the University which exhorts all those connected with the University to strive to do their best in everything that they do. This quotation is from the Irish Christian Brothers and symbolizes their contribution to the development of the institution. The centre portion of the crest is a shield. The upper part of this has the official seal of the Jesuits with
I.H.S. being the Greek initials for Christ’s name. Below these initials are the three nails which represent the Crucifixion and surrounding these is the Crown of Thorns.
The two crowns in the lower part of the shield represent a dual loyalty - to the then Dominion of Canada and to the British Commonwealth. Below these crowns is the thistle, emblematic of Nova Scotia’s Scottish heritage.
University Colors and Mascot
The official colors of the University are maroon and white.
In 1960 Saint Mary’s University chose Huskies as the name for their sports teams. The Siberian Husky became the official mascot for qualities which paralleled the teams’ motto, In Pursuit of Excellence. Pound for pound, the Siberian Husky is the strongest draft dog in existence. A versatile and gentle dog, the Husky is the perfect example of tenacity, drive, and loyalty. Like their namesake, the Saint Mary’s Huskies strive for gold. They are willing to work hard and are always attempting to achieve their fullest potential.
The University Mace
The ceremonial mace, which is carried by the Marshal of Convocation at the head of the academic procession, was presented to Saint Mary’s in April 1980 and used for the first time at the 1980 Convocation. It symbolizes the University’s authority to grant degrees. It was made and presented to the University by Maritime Command in recognition of Saint Mary’s alumni killed in both world wars and also serving members of the Canadian Armed Forces who have been students at the University. The mace is made of oak with a cast brass crown and brass plates carrying traditional ceremonial engravings. The plates represent the contribution to Saint Mary’s by the Jesuit Fathers, the Christian Brothers of Ireland, the Archdiocese of Halifax, the LaSalle Christian Brothers, the Lay Teachers, and the Armed Forces.
The Presidential Medallion of Office
On 22 October 2000, a Medallion of Office was officially presented to the University and used for the first time at the Installation of Dr. J. Colin Dodds as President. Designed and crafted by James Bradshaw and Bruce Babcock of James Bradshaw Jewelry Design Studios, Inc., Halifax, its centre is a University Gold Medal, traditionally awarded to the top graduating students. It symbolizes the University’s deep commitment to academic excellence. It is surrounded by contrasting sterling silver, representing the diversity of the institution’s students and of its academic programs. It was generously presented by Mary Eileen Donahoe and her family as a memorial to the late Senator Richard A. Donahoe, Q.C., K.S.G., LL.D.(Hon.), a member of one of the earliest Boards of Governors, in recognition of his career of public service and his love of Saint Mary’s.