Renison University College

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Coordinates: 43°28′7″N 80°32′50″W / 43.46861°N 80.54722°W / 43.46861; -80.54722

Renison University College
Coat of Arms of Renison University College.jpg
Motto Sed Coelum Solum
Motto in English One Sky Over All
Established January 14, 1959
Type Public
Religious affiliation Anglican Church of Canada
Chairman Peter Ringrose
Chancellor The Rt. Rev. D. Ralph Spence
Principal The Rev. Canon Dr. Wendy Fletcher
Dean Dr. Thomas Brenner
Visitor The Rt. Rev. Bob Bennett
Academic staff 25[1]
Admin. staff 60
Undergraduates 1000[2]
Postgraduates 77[3]
Other students 220 (Residence Students)[4]
Location Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Former names Renison College (1959-2008)
Degrees Offered Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Social Work, Master of Social Work
Mascot Reni Moose
Affiliations University of Waterloo, Colleges and Universities of the Anglican Communion (CUAC)
Renison University College logo

Renison University College is a public university college located in Waterloo, Ontario and affiliated with the University of Waterloo. It was founded by members of the local Anglican community and continues to have a strong affiliation with the Anglican Church of Canada.

Renison is a liberal arts college that provides instruction in arts and social sciences towards a University of Waterloo Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Social Work or Master of Social Work degree. Its main fields of research and instruction include Social Development Studies and Social Work, with departments in Applied Language Studies, East Asian Studies, and Studies in Islam. Renison’s English Language Institute offers classes to help students whose primary language is not English to improve their English skills. The College also maintains the Renison Institute of Ministry which offers a certificate in Christian Studies and parish development programs.

The College is home to up to 220 residence students throughout the year. Renison maintains one of the lowest don to student ratios of all the on-campus residences. Residents may be in any field of undergraduate study at the University of Waterloo and are not mandated to take courses at Renison.


Renison was incorporated on January 14, 1959 by provincial Letters Patent and under the authority of the Synod of the Diocese of Huron, due to the efforts of the Kitchener and Waterloo Anglican communities. The efforts of Renison Founder The Ven. Harvey Southcott, who was rector of Church of the Holy Saviour at the time, were particularly influential as he had the original vision for an Anglican college in Waterloo. Renison continues to enjoy support from the Anglican community and, in particular, from within the Diocese.

The College was named in honour of The Most Rev. Robert John Renison (1875-1957), a former Metropolitan of Ontario and Archbishop of Moosonee.

Originally a two-story, seven-room house at 193 Albert Street in Waterloo that opened its doors in 1959, Renison College featured a small chapel, chaplain’s office, a small library, a study and meeting space for students, and three bedrooms that accommodated seven male students. The College offered courses in Religious Knowledge, Geography and Philosophy.

On July 1, 1960, Renison struck an affiliation agreement with the University of Waterloo for the right to offer programs in Arts and the Social Sciences for credit towards a Bachelor of Arts degree from Waterloo. The University transferred five acres of land on the west side of its campus to Renison in 1961, and Renison purchased an additional acre.

Name Change[edit]

Originally incorporated in 1959 as Renison College, it was felt that the addition of the word ‘university’ would strengthen Renison’s reputation and identity with international partners. During her tenure as Principal, Dr. Gail Cuthbert Brandt had explored the option of gaining an individual charter for Renison. However, it wasn't until Dr. John Crossley’s tenure that the process began to move forward.[5] In 2010, following years of negotiations, supplementary Letters Patent were issued by the Government of Ontario, making the official name of the college 'Renison University College' and reflecting Renison's academic focus.

Namesake of the College[edit]

Renison University College was named after a contemporary Canadian church leader, The Most Reverend Robert John Renison. Archbishop Renison served in the Anglican Church of Canada with great distinction for nearly six decades, a significant amount of that time being spent in Northern Ontario. Before his death in 1957, he became Metropolitan of Ontario and Archbishop of Moosonee. Archbishop Renison’s widow, Elisabeth, presented the College with his portrait and a painting of his personal coat of arms. The family agreed to let the new institution use his heraldic emblem and accompanying motto, Sed Coelum Solum (one sky over all), until the college was granted its own unique coat of arms in 1978.



Renison University College offers courses and undergraduate programmes in Arts and the Social Sciences for credit towards a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Waterloo.

Undergraduate Degree Program[edit]

Social Development Studies[edit]

Social Development Studies is a unique, multi-faceted Bachelor of Arts program that provides a well-rounded background in the social sciences and gives students the knowledge and skills to promote and implement social change. It prepares students for a breadth of careers, including social work, education, communications, law, and working in community and international service organizations. The program can be completed full-time or part-time, through on-campus, online and mixed delivery.

  • Applied Language Studies
  • East Asian Studies
  • Studies in Islam
  • Arabic Language Studies
  • Chinese Language Studies
  • Japanese Language Studies
  • Korean Language Studies
Other Areas of Study[edit]
  • Religious Studies

School of Social Work[edit]

The School of Social Work is preparing a new generation of practitioners, researchers, and change agents through theory and practice opportunities to facilitate the collective welfare and well-being of all people and promote human rights and social justice.

Bachelor of Social Work[edit]

The Bachelor of Social Work is offered as a full-time or part-time professional, generalist degree program. The program prepares students for ethical, critically reflective, anti-oppressive, competent and accountable social work practice. Field practicums are a requirement of the program in addition to in-class lectures.

Master of Social Work[edit]

The Master of Social Work offered through Renison is Canada’s first health-focused online Master of Social Work (MSW) program. The MSW Program is being offered for full-time or part-time study in collaboration with the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Waterloo. A Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree is a mandatory entrance requirement.


  • Chinese - Confucius Institute
  • Renison Institute of Ministry
  • Sakura

English Language Institute[edit]


  • English Language Studies


  • English for Academic Success (EFAS)
  • English for Success (EFS)

Buildings and Features[edit]

In 1962, Renison completed its first building on the current campus, the Founders Building, which provided offices, classrooms, and two residence wings to house 40 men and 40 women. The cornerstone of this first building on Renison’s campus was laid by Elizabeth Renison and LCol. The Hon. J. Keiller MacKay, 19th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.

Thanks to Renison and the other affiliated colleges, 1962 was the first time Waterloo students could live on campus as the first Waterloo residence would not be opened until 1965.[6]

In 1964, Renison expanded with the construction of the Luxton Building, with classrooms, faculty offices, and a residence for 98 men, allowing the Founders Building to be used as the women’s residence. This building was named for The Rt. Rev. George N. Luxton, Bishop of Huron and Renison’s first Chancellor and, later, first Visitor. The Luxton Building would also come to include a favourite place for student relaxation at Renison, the Moose Room.

Then, in 1992, the College expanded further with the addition of the Chapel of St. Bede, the Great Hall cafeteria, two additional residence floors, and an enlarged library. This would be followed in 2005 with the addition of the Academic Centre. This building included six large classrooms, office space to accommodate Renison’s growing faculty and staff, the Keiko and Charles Belair Centre for East Asian Studies, a substantially larger library with meeting rooms and the Ministry Centre.

Most recently, 2013 saw the completion of the East Side Extension, which is home to new classroom space, student lounges, Renison’s School of Social Work. Ontario’s 28th Lieutenant Governor, The Hon. David C. Onley, was in attendance at the grand opening to declare the building officially open.

Renison is currently in the midst of constructing a new building. The expansion will be the new home of Renison’s English Language Centre and English Language Studies. With 17 new classrooms, the complex will also feature student lounges, meeting rooms, a glass atrium capable of hosting small events, and office space for staff and faculty members. The new wing is being built largely to house the quickly expanding programs in the English Language Studies (ELS) department.

Renison's mascot, Reni Moose


Renison University College's mascot is Reni Moose. Reni has represented the College at a variety of events including Orientation Week, Waterloo Warriors hockey games, convocations, Renison's East Asian Festival, to name but a few. Renison uses a moose as its mascot as its namesake, The Most Reverend Robert Renison, was the Archbishop of Moosonee. A moose is also found in the crest of Renison's coat of arms and College Badge.

Honours granted by Renison[edit]

Insignia for three Renison honours

Renison University College grants several honours to individuals that have provided exceptional service to the College, to the Anglican Church, to Canada or to their community. The honours are bestowed by the Chancellor at the annual Founders' Day celebration which celebrates the founders of the College and marks the founding of Renison.


The designation of ‘Founder’ has only been granted to those whose names appear on the incorporating Letters Patent of the College.

Insignia: Badge of the College within a circular border of dark blue, upon which is inscribed the name and motto of the College, suspended from a dark blue ribbon.


The status of ‘Fellow of Renison University College’ is used to recognize members of the University of Waterloo, and other academics, who have had some special tie to the College or who have rendered some notable service to Renison.

Insignia: Badge of the College within a circular border of green, upon which is inscribed the name and motto of the College, suspended from a green ribbon.

Honorary Senior Fellow[edit]

The status of ‘Honorary Senior Fellow of Renison University College’ is used to honour distinguished Canadians for services to the College, to the Anglican Church or to the Country. This status is usually conferred upon Chairs of the Board of Governors upon retirement.

Insignia: Badge of the College within a circular border of red, upon which is inscribed the name and motto of the College, suspended from a red ribbon.

Honorary Member[edit]

The status of ‘Honorary Member of Renison University College’ is used to recognize the important, direct service or contributions to the College by non-academics.

Insignia: Badge of the College within a circular border of red, upon which is inscribed the name and motto of the College, suspended from a pale blue ribbon.


Upon their retirement, Renison University College has recognized several individuals that have provided exemplary service and leadership to the College and the University of Waterloo with the title 'Emeritus'.

Insignia: Badge of the College within a circular border of red, upon which is inscribed the name and motto of the College, suspended from a purple ribbon.

Outstanding Alumni Award[edit]

Renison confers this award on an alumnus of the College who has distinguished themselves in their career, vocation or community. The alumnus must have been a registered academic student of the College or have lived in residence at Renison for two terms within one academic year.

Coat of Arms and other insignia[edit]

Coat of Arms of The Most Rev. Robert Renison


The coat of arms and motto of The Most Rev. Robert Renison was used by the College with permission from the bishop’s family until the college was granted its own arms. His arms feature a white shield with a diagonal green band. Upon that green band is a gold bishop’s mitre with a Maltese cross on either side. On the white area of the shield, on either side of the green band is a red maple leaf. The crest of the bishop’s arms, sitting atop a helmet, is a red moose head with gold antlers.

Coat of Arms[edit]

Bishop Renison’s arms were incorporated into Renison University College’s unique shield to create what is known as a differenced arms. Granted by the Lord Lyon King of Arms in Scotland in 1978, the College added to the design with a green border placed around the perimeter of the bishop’s shield. On this green border are three gold maple leaves and three gold buckles. The buckles were borrowed from the arms of The Ven. Archie Skirving, Chair of the Board of Governors at the time of the grant. The crest of the College’s arms was granted in 1984 by the Lord Lyon King of Arms. Like Bishop Renison's crest, the College's crest is also a red moose with gold antlers. The moose head faces forward and features a white ‘passion cross’ on the neck of the moose. This cross was borrowed from the arms of Ian Campbell, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Renison at the time of the grant.


Renison University College’s motto is Sed Coelum Solum. This latin motto was originally granted to Bishop Renison but was allowed for use by the College. Bishop Renison’s preferred translation of this motto was “One Sky Over All”.

Badge of Renison University College


Renison University College’s flag is a banner of arms, featuring the same image as the coat of arms.

College Badge[edit]

The badge of the College features the College crest – a red moose with gold antlers and a white cross on its neck – on a gold Maltese cross. This was granted in 1990 by the Canadian Heraldic Authority and painted by Renison alumnus and Honorary Senior Fellow, The Rev. Canon David Bowyer.

∗All heraldic devices belonging to Renison University College have been registered with the Canadian Heraldic Authority.

Convocation Regalia[edit]

Dr. Michael Smyth, Fellow of Renison University College, carrying the College Mace

Renison’s convocation regalia, a mace and two staves, were gifts to the College by The Rt. Rev. D. Ralph Spence and Mrs. Carol Spence on the occasion of Bishop Spence’s Installation as Renison’s eighth chancellor.

The Mace[edit]

Maces have been used to symbolize authority and order since early medieval times. Parliaments, universities and civic governments use a mace to remind all that their right to govern and teach comes from the Crown; in Renison’s case, the Crown in Right of Ontario.

Renison’s mace is made of local wood from the Waterloo area and fashioned by local artisans. It follows the shape of most maces with a crown, a bowl, and a wooden shaft. The Mace is to be carried by an honoured member of the College in front of the Chancellor at Convocations and special ceremonies.

The crown is carved with maple leaves and trilliums, reflecting the institution of the Crown in Canada and Ontario. The bowl has three coats of arms; Renison University College, University of Waterloo, and the personal arms of The Rt. Rev. Spence. Carved moose heads, derived from the crest of the coat of arms, support the bowl.

Down the shaft of the mace is the small coat of arms belonging to The Rev. Canon David Bowyer, Honorary Senior Fellow of Renison and painter of the arms located on the mace.

Two Renison students lead an academic procession carrying the Processional Staves

The Staves[edit]

Normally carried by two students, the two Processional Staves lead the academic procession. Each bears Renison’s shield and badge of the College. They represent the two halves of Renison’s student body: the residents and the academic students.

Convocation Robes[edit]


The Chancellor of Renison University College wears Salisbury red robes with gold braiding, in addition to a black Tudor bonnet with a gold cord and tassel. The colour gold is used to indicate the Chancellor's senior position in the College.

Principal and Vice-Chancellor[edit]

The Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Renison University College wears red and maroon robes with silver braiding, in addition to a maroon Tudor bonnet with a silver cord and tassel. The colour silver indicates the Principal and Vice-Chancellor's secondary position in the hierarchy of the College.

Chair of the Board of Governors[edit]

The Chair of the Board of Governors of Renison University College wears green robes with gold braiding.

L-R: Dr. Glenn F. Cartwright, former Principal and Vice-Chancellor; Lynn Schumacher, former Chair of the Board of Governors; Prof. Darrol Bryant; The Rt. Rev. Ralph Spence, Chancellor

See also[edit]


  • Dr. Gail Cuthbert Brandt 'Bold and Courageous Dreams' Renison University College © 2008
  • Dr. Kenneth McLaughlin 'Enthusiasm for the Truth: An Illustrated History of Saint Jerome's University', (Waterloo: University of Waterloo Press © 2002)
  • Dr. Kenneth McLaughlin 'Waterloo: The Unconventional Founding of an Unconventional University' (Waterloo: University of Waterloo Press © 1997)
  • Dr. Kenneth McLaughlin 'Out of the Shadow of Orthodoxy: Waterloo @ 50' (Waterloo: University of Waterloo Press © 2007)
  • Professor Brian McKillop, 'Matters of Mind: The University in Ontario, 1791-1951' (Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press ©1951)


  1. ^ Full time faculty only. Does not include part time faculty and instructors
  2. ^ As of July 18, 2014
  3. ^ As of September 24, 2014
  4. ^ Total capacity of Renison's residence
  5. ^ Dr. Gail Cuthbert Brandt 'Bold and Courageous Dreams' Renison University College, 2014, pg. 108
  6. ^ Dr. Gail Cuthbert Brandt 'Bold and Courageous Dreams' Renison University College, 2014, pg. 25-26

External links[edit]