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Saint Mary's University (Halifax)

Saint Mary's University
Motto Age Quod Agis (Latin: What you do, do well)
Established 1802
Type Public
Religious affiliation None
Endowment $52.9 million
Chancellor Robert P. Kelly
President Dr. J. Colin Dodds
Vice-Chancellor Dr. J. Colin Dodds
Academic staff 485
Admin. staff 523
Students 7,586 as of 2012 [1]
Undergraduates 6,904
Postgraduates 682
Location Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Campus Urban 80 acres (32 ha).
Colors Maroon      and White     
Nickname Huskies
Mascot Husky
Affiliations AUCC, IAU, CIS, UArctic, ACU, CUSID, AUS, CBIE

Saint Mary's University (SMU) is located in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. The school is best known for having nationally leading programs[2] in business,[3] astronomy, chemistry[4] and international development studies as well, one of the best football[5] and men's hockey programs in Canada. The campus is situated in Halifax's South End and covers approximately 80 acres (32 ha).[6]


  • History 1
  • Legacy 2
  • Reputation 3
    • Rape chant controversy 3.1
  • Faculties 4
  • Campus Life 5
    • Huskies Football 5.1
    • Huskie Hockey 5.2
    • Saint Mary's University Students' Association 5.3
  • Notable alumni 6
  • Saint Mary's University Academic Senate 7
    • Function 7.1
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


Saint Mary's is the second oldest English-speaking and first Roman Catholic initiated university in Canada. The Roman Catholic church founded Saint Mary's University at Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1839.

In 1840 the Nova Scotia Legislature bestowed the degree granting charter to Saint Mary’s and eleven years later granted the University formal legal status. Saint Mary's collapsed in 1883, but was revived as a high school in 1903. In 1913 the Christian Brothers of Ireland were asked by the Archdiocese of Halifax to direct the college and academic programs. Degrees were resumed 1918. With this change of leadership the University's reputation thrived as a Liberal Arts Institution and expanded its undergraduate programs, with the most notable being the Faculty of Commerce in 1934 (now known as the Sobey School of Business), which was 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 both administrators and faculty. A Roll of Honour at St. Mary's University is dedicated to students of St. Mary's College who volunteered for the Second World War. [7]

The next 30 years would see the University flourish under the Jesuit supervision, with such advancements as the formal recognition of the "college" as a University in 1952 and purchasing the first computer in Atlantic Canada (a Royal McBee LGP-30) in 1959. In 1970 the Jesuits formally incorporated the University under the "Acts of Incorporation" which gave all administrative and academic duties to the Board of Governors and Academic Senate. Saint Mary's University was established by the Saint Mary's University Act, 1970.

Main entrance
Since then the University has continued expansion of its academic programs with the most notable being the offerings of doctoral level studies in Astronomy and Business and the accreditation of the business school with the AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business). At the same time the University has expanded its campus facilities with noted additions of the Burke-Gaffney Observatory in the 1970s and the Sobey Building in 1998. In 1992, the Faculty of Commerce was renamed the Sobey School of Business, after Frank H. Sobey, founder of Sobeys. In 2001, SMU's Huskies were the first Atlantic Canadian university team to advance to the world finals in the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest World Finals.

In March 2005, Saint Mary’s started the “Science Building Renewal Project” which was estimated to cost $100 million. [8] This project is part of the larger project the “University’s Strategic Directions and Academic Plan” which was developed by meeting with Students, Faculty and local Citizens in order to meet both the needs of the University and local community over the next decade. The first stage of the project focused on:

  • Modernization and expansion of the Science Facility's resources
  • Renew the architectural, mechanical and electrical infrastructures of the Science building and its surroundings
  • Provide additional office and research space to every faculty member
  • Improve lab layout for hands-on teaching purposes
  • Integrate flawlessly with future projects in both function and appearance

The University completed construction of the Atrium and Global Commons project in late 2009. The three-storey $17.5 million complex links the Science Centre, the Burke Building and the Patrick Power Library. The space features a common area, theatre style classrooms, offices and study spaces. The project also features advanced green environmental technologies, has fully integrated hard and Wi-Fi systems, a food outlet and a three storey "living wall".

The 62-year old McNally Building is undergoing a $27 million renewal thanks in large part to the Canadian governments Infrastructure Renewal Programme. Estimated to be completed by March 2011, most of the interior of the 4 floor, 4 wing complex is being rebuilt. Construction of the new Homburg Centre for Health and Wellness began in October 2010. This complex will house new space for community health and wellness activities and become the new home for the Centre for the Study of Sport and Health. The $8 million project was funded by a donation from real estate developer and manager Richard Homburg and the University's capital campaign.


The Saint Mary's University mace shows the religious background of this now secular institution. There are crests for the Archdiocese of Halifax. the LaSalle Christian Brothers, the Irish Christian Brothers and the Jesuits. On 27 May 2002, Canada Post issued "Saint Mary's University, 1802-2002" as part of the Canadian Universities series, based upon a design by Steven Slipp, based on photographs by James Steeves and on an illustration by Bonnie Ross. The 48¢ stamps are perforated 13.5 and were printed by Ashton-Potter Canada Limited.[9]


Saint Mary’s University was evaluated in 2011 and 2012 by two different national reports on post-secondary institutions in Canada. The Canadian University Report is conducted annually by the Globe and Mail, and reflects the opinions of more than 33,000 undergraduate students across the country as gathered in a student satisfaction survey. Saint Mary’s University is in the “small” category of along with 15 other universities with enrolment between 4,000 - 12,000 students.

The annual Maclean’s rankings measure universities on 13 performance measures. Maclean’s evaluates 49 universities in three categories; Saint Mary’s is in the Primarily Undergraduate category along with 18 other institutions.

The Canadian University Report stated that overall student satisfaction had a grade of B+ in 2013, the same as in 2012, A- in quality of teaching, A- in class size, A- in buildings and facilities and improvement shown in six key categories

Saint Mary’s ranks eighth overall in its category with the highest number of professors who have won national awards (amongst all primarily undergraduate universities in Atlantic Canada) and has the highest percentage of full-time faculty with a PhD in Nova Scotia (this includes comprehensive and primarily undergraduate combined.

Rape chant controversy

On September 2, 2013, a video was uploaded to Instagram that brought national attention to a frosh cheer. In the video, Saint Mary's students, both male and female, were seen participating in a chant that expressed excitement towards rape.[10] The chant, which had been part of Orientation Week for at least five years, contained a particular line saying "N is for No-consent". Jared Perry, chair of Students Nova Scotia and president of Saint Mary's University Students' Association stepped down from the former position and called his failure to stop the chant "the biggest mistake" of his life.[11][12]

Communications manager Steve Proctor opined that "nobody actually doing the cheer believed in what it was" but the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre reported that it received calls from survivors specifically regarding the cheer.[12] Nova Scotia cabinet minister Peter MacKay also criticized the chant as "offensive and dangerous".[11] A review conducted in the following months detailed a plan to require sensitivity training for the frosh leaders and to discuss informed consent with the incoming students. The university also changed the name "Orientation Week" to "Welcome Week" for 2014.[13]


Saint Mary's comprises four faculties:

  • Arts
    • Dean: Dr. Margaret MacDonald
  • Sobey School of Business
    • Dean: Dr. Patricia Bradshaw[14]
  • Science
    • Dean: Dr. Steven Smith
  • Graduate Studies and Research
    • Dean: Dr. Kevin Vessey

Campus Life

Huskies Football

The Huskies won back-to-back Canadian University Football Championships (2001 & 2002), the third university to do so (after Manitoba and Western).

Huskie Hockey

In 2010, the men Huskies won their first CIS University Hockey Cup by defeating the Alberta Golden Bears 3-2 in overtime.

Saint Mary's University Students' Association

The Saint Mary's University Students' Association (SMUSA) is the official representation of the students of Saint Mary's University. The association was incorporated in 1966, however, unofficially has represented students for many years previous. The Association main offices are located on the top floor of the student centre at the heart of campus.

SMUSA provides such services as a safe drive program, tutor database, online book exchange, health and dental plans and the Gorsebrook Lounge. SMUSA also operates many departments that help in the mission of serving students and making their lives at Saint Mary's the best possible. These departments include the volunteer department, events and programming, marketing and communications, the yearbook, the information desk and husky patrol.

SMUSA came under scrutiny after their first-year frosh orientation in 2013. A traditional chant promoting non-consensual sex with underage girls was posted on Instagram, and then picked up by traditional media. Student union president Jared Perry resigned as president of Students Nova Scotia but stayed on as head of the university's student association. The Saint Mary's University Students Association is represented federally by the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations and provincially by StudentsNS (formerly ANSSA.

Notable alumni

Saint Mary's University Academic Senate

The Saint Mary's University Academic Senate is the part of a bicameral university governance structure responsible for academic decisions at the University. It is paired with a board of governors responsible for administrative and financial decisions. The Senate has ten ex-officio members: the President, Vice-Presidents, Deans, Registrar, Director of Student Services, Director of Continuing Education, and University Librarian. Fifteen faculty members are elected to three year terms and five students are elected by the general university population to one year terms.


The academic senate is governed by the Saint Mary's University Act and subject to the powers of the university's Board and is responsible for the educational policy of the University in addition to:

  • May create, maintain and discontinue such faculties, departments, schools or institutes and establish such chairs as it may determine and may fix the duties of those employed therein
  • May recommend to the Board the affiliation or discontinuance of the affiliation of or with other universities
  • May determine courses of study, admission standards, qualifications for diplomas, certificates and degrees, examinations, scholarships and bursaries and may issue university calendars and other official publications
  • Shall be responsible for the library
  • Shall be responsible for student discipline
  • May create such committees as it deems necessary or useful
  • May make regulations governing the matters that are assigned to it by this Section

See also


  1. ^ "Full-time plus Part-time Enrollment". Association of Atlantic Universities. 2012-10-15. Retrieved 2012-10-15. 
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Maclean's - 2014 Guide to Canadian Universities. Print.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Saint Mary's University". 
  7. ^ Roll of Honour at St. Mary's University
  8. ^ "Saint Mary's University". 
  9. ^ Canada Post stamp
  10. ^ Kingkade, Tyler (2013-09-06). "St. Mary's University Students' Pro-Rape Chant Condemned After 5 Years of Use".  
  11. ^ a b Taber, Jane (2013-09-05). "'"Saint Mary's student president says rape chant was 'biggest mistake... probably in my life.  
  12. ^ a b "Saint Mary's frosh sex chant sparks review".  
  13. ^ "Saint Mary's University unveils frosh week changes in wake of rape chant". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2014-08-27. Retrieved 2014-09-03. 
  14. ^

External links

  • Saint Mary's University
  • Burke-Gaffney Observatory
  • Saint Mary's University Huskies
  • Saint Mary's University Students' Association
  • Saint Mary's University Academic Calendar
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