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Saint Francis Xavier University


Saint Francis Xavier University

St. Francis Xavier University
Motto Quaecumque Sunt Vera (Whatsoever things are true, Philippians 4:4-9)
Established 1853 St. Francis Xavier College/Seminary (1855). Subsequent name, St. Francis Xavier University.
Type Public
Religious affiliation Roman Catholic
Endowment $ 100 million[1]
Chancellor His Grace Brian Joseph Dunn
President Dr. Sean Riley
Academic staff 265
Students 5,158[2]
Undergraduates 4,815
Postgraduates 343
Location Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada
Campus Rural
Colours Blue      and White     
Nickname X-Men and X-Women

Coordinates: 45°37′0.47″N 61°58′58.40″W / 45.6167972°N 61.9828889°W / 45.6167972; -61.9828889

St. Francis Xavier University is a primarily undergraduate university located in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada. The university brings together 5,100 students from across Canada and around the world in arts, science, business and information systems. It is a member of the U4 League, a group of primarily undergraduate universities in Eastern Canada.


St. Francis Xavier College was founded as Arichat College, a Roman Catholic Diocesan educational institution at Arichat, Nova Scotia, in 1853.[3] Arichat College was moved to its present location in Antigonish, and established as St. Francis Xavier College in 1855.[4] On May 7, 1866, St. Francis Xavier College was given university status, becoming St. Francis Xavier University.[5] The University awarded its first degrees in 1868.

In 1883, Mount St. Bernard Academy was founded for female education, with girls from primary grades to grade 12 taught by the Sisters of Notre Dame.

Henry Frederick Busch (architect) designed the College building, 1888.[6]

In 1894, the academy affiliated with St. Francis Xavier University as Mount St. Bernard College. In 1897, the school became the first co-educational Catholic university in North America to grant degrees to women. Four women were awarded university degrees in 1897.[5]

A metal plaque in the St. Francis Xavier University Chapel is dedicated to the thirty-three members of the college, now St. Francis Xavier University, who were killed in service during the First World War (1914-18).[7]

In February 1922, St. Francis Xavier University's War Memorial Rink, with a brick exterior and wooden interior, opened. After the War Memorial Rink was officially closed on February 8, 2002, the building was torn down and a new science complex was built in the old rink's place. [8]

A metal plaque, unveiled on 5 May 1984, was dedicated by the university's Class of 1984, in honour of those students killed in armed conflict while defending the liberty of Canadians. [9]

In 1985, the number of women students at St. Francis Xavier equalled the number of men for the first time. In 1990, the women's college existed as a residence only.[3]

In the early 20th century, professional education expanded beyond the traditional fields of theology, law and medicine. Graduate training based on the German-inspired American model of specialized course work and the completion of a research thesis was introduced.[10] The policy of university education initiated in the 1960s responded to population pressure and the belief that higher education was a key to social justice and economic productivity for individuals and for society.[10]

A metal plaque in the Chapel at St. Francis Xavier University is a memorial dedicated to the 33 members of St. Francis Xavier University who died during military service.[11]

The St. Francis Xavier tartan was designed as a university tartan in 1994.[12]



Maclean's Magazine has ranked St. Francis Xavier as the top "Primarily Undergraduate" university in Canada for five consecutive years (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006). The university has also ranked first in alumni support for the period 2001–06.[13] In 2007, Maclean's changed the criteria of the "Primarily Undergraduate", resulting in St. Francis Xavier placing third in the category.[14] In early 2009, Maclean's reported that St. Francis Xavier students ranked first in choosing to return to their current institution among other categories.[15]

Between the years 2000 and 2004, more St Francis Xavier students, on a per capita basis, have received Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) awards for post-secondary study than any other university in Canada.[16]

Faculties and Programs

St Francis Xavier University is organized into the Faculty of Arts, Faculty of Science, Gerald Schwartz School of Business and Information Systems, School of Education, and Coady International Institute. Each faculty has subordinate departments under its administration appropriate to each discipline, for example the Department of Philosophy is part of the Faculty of Arts. Faculties are headed by a dean elected from among the constituent professors.

The Faculty of Arts encompasses the following departments and programs: Anthropology, Aquatic Resources, Fine Arts, Canadian Studies, Catholic Studies, Celtic Studies, Classical Studies, Development Studies, Economics, English, History, Humanities Colloquium, Modern Languages, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Religious Studies, Social Justice Colloquium, Sociology, Women's and Gender Studies, Music and Jazz Studies (The first bachelors degree in Jazz Studies in all of Canada).

The Faculty of Science offers the following departments and programs: Aquatic Resources, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Earth Sciences, Engineering, Environmental Sciences, Human Kinetics, Human Nutrition, Mathematics and Statistics, Nursing and Physics.

Gerald Schwartz School of Business and Information Systems offers degrees in Business Administration and Information Systems.

The Faculty of Education offers degrees in Adult Education and Education.

The Music Department hosts one of North America's leading undergraduate jazz studies program.

The current Dean of Arts is Dr. Richard Nemesvari, the Dean of Science is Dr. Robert van den Hoogen, the Dean of Business is Dr. Leo Gallant, and the Dean of Education is Dr. Jeff Orr.[17]

The university offers also graduate programs leading to Master of Science (M.Sc.) and Master of Education (M.Ed.) degrees.

Scholarships & Bursaries

StFX offers over $ 2 million annually in merit-based scholarships and financial aid to its new and current undergraduates. Applicants with a Grade 12 average of at least 85% are automatically guaranteed an entrance scholarship worth at least $3,500 (initial installment of $ 500, and a subsequent installment of $ 1,000 each following year), and at least $ 4,000 for those with Grade 12 averages above 90 %. Applicants are also automatically considered for larger merit-based scholarships ranging from $ 12,000 to $ 32,000 (Merit, Phillip W. Oland, J.P. McArthy, Canadian, President's).[18] Area specific scholarships also exist for applicants from certain provinces and the United States. St. Francis Xavier University also offers the James A. Martin Awards for Aboriginal, First Nations and Métis students. In order to receive each subsequent installment of a scholarship (typically there are four installments), students must maintain a university course average of at least 80 %.[19]

Student life


Canadian University Press. The current co-editors-in-chief are Sean McEvoy and Lewis Forward.

Originally called Excelsior, the newspaper began as a monthly journal of literary essays and campus news founded in 1895 by M.A. McAdam and J.W. McIsaac. The editors changed the paper's name to the Xaverian in 1903.


The Xaverian Annual is the student yearbook, founded in 1924 and run by the Yearbook Society. The Yearbook Society prints the publication on a student by student basis every year.

Students' Union

St. Francis Xavier students are represented by St. Francis Xavier University Students' Union. It is a student-run organization providing services and activities ranging from administering a medical and dental plan to concerts and orientation activities.

The Students' Union Building (Bloomfield Centre) houses the offices of the Students' Union Executive and various societies, the Golden X Inn, the MacKay Room (a large space for events), a cafeteria, Jack's Lounge, the campus post office, and the university bookstore.

Residence life

Approximately 50% of students (90% of first-year students) at St. Francis Xavier live on-campus in the university's traditional residences or apartment-style housing. Usually, students in first and second years live in traditional residences, where social life is very active, while students in third and fourth years tend to live in apartment-style residences where they have the possibility of cooking for themselves. Apartment-style residences consist typically of four bedroom apartments with 2 full bathrooms and a small kitchen. Students who live in traditional residence are registered in a mandatory meal plan at the central dining facility, Morrison Hall. Alternatively, students may enroll in a block plan that provides a specificied number of meals. St. Francis Xavier has an exclusive contract with Sodexo, giving that company a monopoly on food and conference services at every facility on campus.[20]

Traditional residences at St. Francis Xavier:

  • Burke, Plessis and Fraser Houses in Bishops' Hall (renovated in 2007)
  • MacPherson, MacDonald, and TNT (Thompson and Tompkins) Houses in Cameron Hall
  • Chillis (Chisholm and Gillis) and MacNeil Houses in MacKinnon Hall
  • Lane Hall
  • MacIsaac Hall (renovated in 2005)

Apartment-style housing at St. Francis Xavier:

  • O'Regan Hall (completed in 2013)
  • New Residence B (completed in 2013)
  • Somers and Power Halls (completed in 1998-99)
  • Governors Hall (completed in 2006)
  • West Street Apartments


St. Francis Xavier University is known[by whom?] for its distinctive "X-Ring". The ring is ceremonially awarded to students on December 3 (Saint Francis Xavier's feast day) of each year before their graduation. On average, more than 95% of the graduating class opt for the ring.[21]

The X-Ring is presented to students in a ceremony during the afternoon, which only recipients may attend. Traditionally, this ceremony was held in the University Chapel; however, since 2006 it has been hosted in Charles V. Keating Millennium Centre. There is typically a live video link of the ceremony available for family and friends to watch from across the world or from a large screen set up in the Oland Centre on campus.

In addition to those awarded to students, there is one Honorary X-Ring awarded annually. The X-Ring Eligibility Policy states that this recipient must not already hold an X-Ring, and must demonstrate outstanding contribution to the Xaverian community and be exemplary of the Xaverian motto: "Quaecumque sunt vera" (Whatsoever things are true).[22]

Past honorary X-Ring recipients:

  • 2012 - Ramsey Duff
  • 2011 - Dr. Angela M. Kolen-Thompson
  • 2010 - Werner Schnepf
  • 2009 - Mitch Hudson
  • 2008 - Dr. Mary McGillivray
  • 2007 - Dr. Winston Jackson
  • 2006 - Dr. Ed Carty
  • 2005 - Dr. Doug Hunter
  • 2004 - Kenny Farrell
  • 2003 - Dr. Hubert Spekkens
  • 2002 - Dr. Ron Johnson
  • 2001 - Mary Lillian MacDonald
  • 2000 - John Beaton
  • 1999 - Fr. Paul MacNeil
  • 1998 - Dr. David Bunbury
  • 1997 - Audrey Forrest
  • 1994 - Dr. John MacPherson
  • 1990 - Joan Dillon

Campus renewal

Since Dr. Riley was named president in 1996, the university has undergone a $230 million campus renewal initiative to improve educational and residential opportunities throughout campus. To date, the initiative has seen the completion of eleven large-scale projects.[23]

  • On September 7, 2013, O'Regan Hall was officially opened. Named in honour of the late Paul O’Regan and Stephen O’Regan, founders of O’Regan’s Automotive Group, the new building houses over 150 students feature a mix of single and apartment-style rooms. Each room is equipped with its own bathroom, fridge, microwave, flat-screen TV, and is similar to a hotel room. The residence also includes a gym, movie room, laundry room, fully equipped kitchens on each floor, and a lounge on the fourth floor featuring a 22' coffered vaulted ceiling and large bay windows. O'Regan Hall is heated and cooled by using 26 geothermal wells, and is designed to be LEED Gold Certified for energy efficiency.[24] A second and identical new residence opposite O'Regan Hall is in the final stages of construction.
  • Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership was opened on May 11, 2011. Former US president Bill Clinton attended as keynote speaker. The $12 million facility is designed to broaden the leadership environment that already exists at St. Francis Xavier. Located in the heart of St. Francis Xavier's campus, the McKenna Centre will enhance leadership opportunities for students across all disciplines. It will support targeted initiatives in the fields of public policy, business, and health, including a leadership speakers series and a leaders in residence program. The Centre will be home to an executive leadership training program, educating top national and international talent.[25]
  • Construction of the Gerald Schwartz School of Business building began in June 2009, after an investment of $22.7 million from the federal and provincial governments. The grand opening was held on November 5, 2011, in presence of Gerry Schwartz, president of Onex Corporation, and Frank McKenna. It was named after the businessman in recognition of his donations to the university. The school hosts 15 streams of Bachelor of Business Administration studies as well as a Bachelor of Information Systems with a major or minor. The new facility, topped by a gilt dome, houses four floors of classrooms, an auditorium, lecture halls, faculty office space, seminar rooms, student service centre, lounges, research labs and meeting areas.
  • A brand-new, all-weather playing field and rubberized track, featuring an artificial turf, an eight-lane, 400-meter track, and light towers. The $2.8 million project was completed in 130 days over the summer of 2009.

  • Gilmora Hall in Mount St. Bernard College underwent a renovation in order to house the university's Music Department during the summer of 2008.
  • An $11 million renovation of Bishops Hall, which includes Fraser, Burke and Plessis residences, was completed in September 2007. The building was upgraded with wireless internet access, new heating, plumbing, ventilation and electrical systems, elevators were installed, and most rooms became single occupancy, with a small number of them remaining as double occupancy.[27]
  • The construction of Governors Hall was completed in September 2006. It is an $18 million hotel-style residence, which includes 226 rooms on four floors. It is aimed at upper-year students. From May to August, Governors Hall operates as a hotel.
  • Complete renovation of MacIssac Hall, an existing residence, at a cost of $8 million. This project was also completed in September 2006.
  • St. Francis Xavier Physical Sciences Centre, a $25 million sciences complex built in 2004.
  • Charles V. Keating Millennium Centre, a $20 million athletics and conference centre built in 2001. The building houses two large ice surfaces and the main surface can be converted into a large open area mainly for concerts and Graduation. The building's area can hold over 2,207 people with room to spare.
  • Complete renovation of Morrison Hall, the main dining facility at St. Francis Xavier.
  • The construction of two apartment-style residences in 1998, Power Hall and Somers Hall, aimed at upper-year students.


St. Francis Xavier is represented in the Atlantic University Sport conference by 12 varsity athletics teams. The X-Men teams include men's football, basketball, cross-country, track and field, soccer, and hockey. The X-Women teams include basketball, cross country, track and field, hockey, rugby and soccer.[28]

In 1966, the X-Men Football team won the College Bowl (now the Vanier Cup) as top university football team in Canada. The X-Men Basketball program has won three CIS Championships (1993, 2000, and 2001) and in 2004, the X-Men Hockey team won their first CIS Championship. In 2011, the X-Women Hockey team placed second at the CIS Championships in Ottawa.

In 2006, the X-Women Rugby team became the first female St. Francis Xavier varsity team to win a CIS Championship, as 10-time defending AUS Rugby Champions. In 2008, the team placed 2nd at the CIS Championships in Lethbridge, Alberta after capturing their 12th consecutive AUS Championship.[29] In 2010, the X-Women captured gold again in the CIS Championship held at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, after capturing their 14th consecutive AUS Championship. On November 4, 2012, the X-Women won gold again at the CIS Championship help in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.

X Alumnus Eric Gillis (2003 CIS Cross Country Champion) competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and placed 33rd in the 10 000m race.


On 4 April 2003 Canada Post issued 'St. Francis Xavier University, 1853-2003' as part of the Canadian Universities series. The stamp was based on a design by Denis L'Allier, based on a photograph by Guy Lavigueur. The 48¢ stamps are perforated 13.5 and were printed by Canadian Bank Note Company, Limited. [30]

Noted alumni


  • Father Jimmy Tompkins. "Knowledge for the People--a Call to St. Francis Xavier College" 1921
  • Dr. James Cameron. "For the People: A History of St Francis Xavier University". Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1996.

See also


External links

  • Official website
  • Students' Union
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