Acadia University

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Acadia University
Shield of the University
Former names
Queen's College (1838–1841)
Acadia College (1841–1891)
MottoIn pulvere vinces
Motto in English
"By effort (lit.'in dust'), you will conquer"
TypePublic Liberal Arts University
Established1838; 184 years ago (1838)
Religious affiliation
Currently non-denominational; initially founded by Baptists
Academic affiliations
AUCC, IAU, CUSID, CBIE, CUP, Maple League of Universities
Endowment$109.4 million (2021)
ChancellorLibby Burnham[1]
PresidentPeter J. Ricketts
Administrative staff
211 full-time, 37 part-time (as of 2008)
Location, ,

45°05′16″N 64°21′58″W / 45.08778°N 64.36611°W / 45.08778; -64.36611Coordinates: 45°05′16″N 64°21′58″W / 45.08778°N 64.36611°W / 45.08778; -64.36611
Campus250 acres (101 ha)
ColoursGarnet and blue
NicknameAxemen and Axewomen
Sporting affiliations
U SportsAUS
Acadia University Wordmark 2014.svg

Acadia University is a public, predominantly undergraduate university located in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada with some graduate programs at the master's level[3] and one at the doctoral level.[4] The enabling legislation consists of Acadia University Act[5] and the Amended Acadia University Act 2000.[6]

The Wolfville Campus houses Acadia University Archives[7] and the Acadia University Art Gallery.[8] Acadia offers over 200 degree combinations in the Faculties of Arts, Pure and Applied Science, Professional Studies, and Theology. The student-faculty ratio is 15:1 and the average class size is 28. Open Acadia offers correspondence and distance education courses.[9]

As of July 2017, Peter J. Ricketts is Acadia's current president.


University Hall at Acadia University

Acadia began as an extension of Horton Academy (1828), which was founded in Horton, Nova Scotia, by Baptists from Nova Scotia and Queen's College (1838).[10] The college was later named Acadia College.[11] Acadia University, established at Wolfville, Nova Scotia in 1838 has a strong Baptist religious affiliation.[12]

It was designed to prepare men for the ministry and to supply education for lay members.[13]

The two major Universities of the day in Nova Scotia were heavily controlled by denominational structures. King's College (University of King's College) was an Anglican school and Dalhousie University, which was originally non-denominational, had placed itself under the control and direction of the Church of Scotland. It was the failure of Dalhousie to appoint a prominent Baptist pastor and scholar, Edmund Crawley, to the Chair of Classics, as had been expected, that really thrust into the forefront of Baptist thinking the need for a college established and run by the Baptists.

In 1838, the Nova Scotia Baptist Education Society founded Queen's College (named for Queen Victoria). The college began with 21 students in January 1839. The name "Queen's College" was denied to the Baptist school, so it was renamed "Acadia College" in 1841, in reference to the history of the area as an Acadian settlement. Acadia College awarded its first degrees in 1843 and became Acadia University in 1891,[10] established by the Acadia University Act.[6]

The Granville Street Baptist Church (now First Baptist Church (Halifax)) was an instrumental and determining factor in the founding of the university. It has played a supporting role throughout its history, and shares much of the credit for its survival and development. Many individuals who have made significant contributions to Acadia University, including the first president John Pryor, were members of the First Baptist Church Halifax congregation. Similarly, the adjacent Wolfville United Baptist Church plays a significant role in the life of the university.

The original charter of the college stated:

And be it further enacted, that no religious tests or subscriptions shall be required of the Professors Fellows, Scholars, Graduates or Officers of the said College; but that all the privileges and advantages thereof shall be open and free to all and every Person and Persons whomsoever, without regard to religious persuasion ... And it shall and may be lawful for the trustees and Governors of the said College to select as Professors, and other Teaches or Officers, competent persons of any religious persuasion whatever, provided such person or persons shall be of moral and religious character.

This was unique at the time, and a direct result of Baptists being denied entry into other schools that required religious tests of their students and staff.

In 1851, the power of appointing governors was transferred from the Nova Scotia Baptist Education Society to the Baptist Convention of the Maritime Provinces.[14]

Charles Osborne Wickenden (architect) and J.C. Dumaresq designed the Central Building, Acadia College, 1878–79.[15]

Clara Belle Marshall, from Mount Hanley, Nova Scotia, became the first woman to graduate from Acadia University in 1879.[16]

In 1891, there were changes in the Act of Incorporation.[14]

Andrew R. Cobb designed several campus buildings including: Raynor Hall Residence, 1916; Horton House, designed by Cobb in the Georgian style, and built by James Reid of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia was opened in 1915 as Horton Academy. Today, Horton Hall is the home of the Department of Psychology and Research and Graduate Studies. Emmerson Hall, built in 1913, is particularly interesting for the variety of building stones used. In 1967 Emmerson Hall was converted to classrooms and offices for the School of Education. It is a registered Heritage Property.[17]

Emmerson Hall, Acadia University, was originally built 1913 as Emerson Memorial Library and shows strong Beaux Arts influences. It was erected to honour the memory of the Reverend R. H. Emmerson (1826–1857), father of the former premier of New Brunswick, H. R. Emmerson.

Unveiled on 16 August 1963, a wooden and metal organ in Manning Chapel, Acadia University, is dedicated to Acadia University's war dead of the First and Second World Wars and the Korean War.[18] A book of remembrance in Manning Chapel, Acadia University was unveiled on 1 March 1998 through the efforts of the Wolfville Historical Society[19]

In 1966, the Baptist denomination relinquished direct control over the university. The denomination maintains nine seats on the university's Board of Governors.[20]

Acadia is a laureate of Washington's Smithsonian Institution and a part of the permanent research collection of the National Museum of American History. Acadia is also the only Canadian University selected for inclusion in the Education and Academia category if the Computerworld Smithsonian Award.

Faculty strikes[edit]

Acadia University's Board of Governors and members of the Acadia University Faculty Association (AUFA) have ratified a new collective agreement covering the period 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2014.[21] The faculty of Acadia University have been on strike three times in the history of the institution. The first was 24 February to 12 March 2004. The second was 15 October to 5 November 2007. The second strike was resolved after the province's labour minister, Mark Parent, appointed a mediator, on 1 November, to facilitate an agreement. The third strike began on 1 February 2022 and ended 1 March 2022 with both sides agreeing to binding arbitration.


University rankings
Global rankings
Canadian rankings
Maclean's Undergrad[22]5
Maclean's Reputation[23]30


In Maclean's 2022 Guide to Canadian Universities, Acadia was ranked fifth in the publication's "primarily undergraduate" Canadian university category.[22] In the same year, the publication ranked Acadia 30th, in its reputation rankings.[23]


Acadia is organized into four faculties: Arts, Pure & Applied Science, Professional Studies and Theology. Each faculty is further divided into departments and schools specialized in areas of teaching and research.


Acadia has over 15 research centres and 6 research chairs. Undergraduate students have the opportunity to participate in many research opportunities in a small university setting.

The Division of Research & Graduate Studies is separate from the faculties and oversees graduate students as well as Acadia's research programs.

Acadia's research programs explore coastal environments, ethno-cultural diversity, social justice, environmental monitoring and climate change, organizational relationships, data mining, the impact of digital technologies, and lifestyle choices contributing to health and wellness. Acadia's research centres include the Tidal Energy Institute, the Acadia Institute for Data Analytics, and the Beaubassin Field Station. Applied research opportunities include research with local wineries and grape growers, alternative insect control techniques and technologies.[9]


The Acadia Advantage[edit]

In 1996, Acadia University pioneered the use of mobile computing technology in a post-secondary educational environment.[citation needed]

This academic initiative, named the Acadia Advantage, integrated the use of notebook computers into the undergraduate curriculum and featured innovations in teaching. By 2000, all full-time, undergraduate Acadia students were taking part in the initiative. The initiative went beyond leasing notebook computers to students during the academic year, and included training, user support and the use of course-specific applications at Acadia that arguably revolutionized learning at the Wolfville, N.S. campus and beyond.

Because of its pioneering efforts, Acadia is a laureate of Washington's Smithsonian Institution and a part of the permanent research collection of the National Museum of American History. It is the only Canadian university selected for inclusion in the Education and Academia category of the Computerworld Smithsonian Award.

In addition, Acadia University received the Pioneer Award for Ubiquitous Computing. In 2001, it achieved high rankings in the annual Maclean's University Rankings, including Best Overall for Primarily Undergraduate University in their opinion survey, and it received the Canadian Information Productivity Award in 1997 as the first university in Canada to fully utilize information technology in the undergraduate curriculum.

In October 2006, Dinter-Gottlieb established a commission to review the Acadia Advantage learning environment 10 years after inception.[24] The mandate of the commission was to determine how well the current Advantage program meets the needs of students, faculty, and staff and to examine how the role of technology in the postsecondary environment has changed at Acadia, and elsewhere. The commission was asked to recommend changes and enhancements to the Acadia Advantage that would benefit the entire university community and ensure its sustainability.

Some of the recommendations coming from the Acadia Advantage Renewal Report included developing a choice of model specifications and moving from Acadia-issued, student-leased notebook computers to a student-owned computer model.

The university was also advised to unbundle its tuition structure so that the cost of an Acadia education is more detailed and students can understand how their investment in the future of the school is allotted. In September 2008, Acadia moved to a student-owned notebook computer version of the Acadia Advantage, now named Acadia Advantage 2.0.[25]

In 2017, Acadia announced the Huestis Innovation Pavilion as part of its $22.25 million Science Complex renewal project.[citation needed] Named in honour of lead donors, Faye and David Huestis of Saint John, New Brunswick, the Pavilion is a connection between Elliott and Huggins Halls, providing research and commercialization space.

The new Agri-Technology Access Centre in the Innovation Pavilion provides companies and industry organizations with access to specialized technology, lab space, subject-matter expertise and commercialization support services.[citation needed] It also enables Acadia to advance its applied research strength in a priority sector – agriculture – and expand its technology transfer and commercialization activities. The Science Complex renewal project was supported by an investment of $15.98 million by the Federal and Provincial governments.


Acadia's sports teams are called the Axemen and Axewomen. They participate in the Atlantic University Sports conference of U Sports.

School spirit abounds with men's and women's varsity teams that have delivered more conference and national championships than any other institution in Atlantic University Sport. Routinely, more than one-third of Acadia's varsity athletes also achieve Academic All-Canadian designation through Canadian Interuniversity Sport by maintaining a minimum average of 80 per cent.

Expansion and modernization of Raymond Field was completed in the fall of 2007 and features the installation of an eight-lane all-weather running track and a move to the same premium artificial turf used by the New England Patriots of the National Football League for its main playing field. The Raymond Field modernization was a gift to the university by friends, alumni, and the province. War Memorial Gymnasium also saw the installation of a new playing floor to benefit its basketball and volleyball teams.

In September 2006, Acadia University announced its partnership with the Wolfville Tritons Swim Club[26] and the Acadia Masters Swim Club[27] to form the Acadia Swim Club[28] and return competitive swimming to the university after a 14-year hiatus. On 26 September 2008, the university announced its intention[29] to return swimming to a varsity status in September 2009.

Fight song[edit]

Notable among a number of songs commonly played and sung at various events such as commencement, convocation, and athletic games are: Stand Up and Cheer, the Acadia University fight song. According to 'Songs of Acadia College' (Wolfville, NS 1902–3, 1907), the songs include: 'Acadia Centennial Song' (1938); 'The Acadia Clan Song'; 'Alma Mater - Acadia;' 'Alma Mater Acadia' (1938) and 'Alma Mater Song.'[30]


In 1974, Acadia was granted a coat of arms designed by the College of Arms in London, England. The coat of arms is two-tone, with the school's official colours, garnet and blue, on the shield. The axes represent the school's origins in a rural setting, and the determination of its founders who cleared the land and built the school on donated items and labour. The open books represent the intellectual pursuits of a university, and the wolves heads are a whimsical representation of the university's location in Wolfville. "In pulvere vinces" (In dust you conquer) is the motto.[31]

The university seal depicts the Greek goddess of wisdom Athena in front of the first college hall.[32]

The university also uses a stylized "A" as a logo for its sports teams.

Notable among a number of fight songs commonly played and sung at various events such as commencement, convocation, and athletic games are: the Acadia University alma mater set to the tune of "Annie Lisle". The lyrics are:

Far above the dykes of Fundy
And its basin blue
Stands our noble alma mater
Glorious to view
Lift the chorus
Speed it onward
Sing it loud and free
Hail to thee our alma mater
Acadia, hail to thee
Far above the busy highway
And the sleepy town
Raised against the arch of heaven
Looks she proudly down[33]

Historic buildings at Acadia University[edit]

Seminary House, also known as the Ladies' Seminary, is a Second Empire style-building constructed in 1878 as a home for women attending the university. It was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1997 as Canada's oldest facility associated with the higher education of women.[34]

Carnegie Hall, built in 1909, is a large, two-storey, Neo-classical brick building. It was designated under the provincial Heritage Property Act in 1989 as its construction in 1909 signified Acadia's evolution from classical college to liberal university.[35]

The War Memorial House (more generally known as Barrax), which is a residence, and War Memorial Gymnasium[36][37] are landmark buildings on the campus of Acadia University. The Memorial Hall and Gymnasium honours students who had enlisted and died in the First World War, and in the Second World War. Two granite shafts, which are part of the War Memorial Gymnasium complex at Acadia University, are dedicated to the university's war dead.[37][38] The War Memorial House is dedicated to the war dead from Acadia University during the Second World War.[37][39]

Student life[edit]

At Acadia University, students have access to the Student Union Building which serves as a hub for students and houses many Student Union organizations. The building houses The Axe Lounge, a convenience store, an information desk, two food outlets, and the Sexual Health Resource Centre. The university press, The Athenaeum is a member of CUP. There is a student-ran radio, available at

Student government[edit]

All students are represented by the Acadia Students' Union.


Approximately 1500 students live on-campus[40] in 11 residences:[41]

  • Chase Court
  • Chipman House
  • Christofor Hall
  • Crowell Tower (13 Story High-rise)
  • Cutten House
  • Dennis House - First floor houses student health services
  • Eaton House
  • Roy Jodrey Hall
  • Seminary House - Also houses the School of Education in lower level
  • War Memorial (Barrax) House
  • Whitman Hall (Tully) - All female residence
  • Willett House (former residence)[42]


List of presidents and vice chancellors[edit]

List of chancellors[edit]

Notable alumni[edit]

Honorary graduates[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Office of Alumni Affairs (6 May 2011). "Acadia Names Libby Burnham New Chancellor" (Press release). Acadian university. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  2. ^ "Full-time plus Part-time Enrollment" (PDF). Association of Atlantic Universities. 15 October 2020. Retrieved 6 November 2021.
  3. ^ Moody, Barry M. (13 June 2014). "Acadia University". The Canadian Encyclopedia (online ed.). Historica Canada. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  4. ^ "Acadia Doctor of Ministry program". Acadia Divinity College. Archived from the original on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  5. ^ Board of Governors (19 May 1891). Act of Incorporation (PDF) (Report). Acadia University. Retrieved 30 August 2010.
  6. ^ a b Parent, Mark (17 April 2000). "Acadia University Act (Amended) - Bill No. 44". Nova Scotia Legislature. General Assembly of Nova Scotia. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  7. ^ "Acadia University Archives". Archived from the original on 30 April 2010. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  8. ^ "Acadia University Art Gallery". Archived from the original on 25 September 2013. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
  9. ^ a b "Acadia University". Archived from the original on 25 September 2011.
  10. ^ a b Longley, Robert Stewart (1939). Acadia University, 1838–1938. Wolfville, Nova Scotia: Acadia University.
  11. ^ Pound, Richard W., ed. (2005). Fitzhenry and Whiteside Book of Canadian Facts and Dates. Fitzhenry and Whiteside. p. 177. ISBN 978-1-5504-1171-3.
  12. ^ Bourinot, John George (September 2004) [1881]. The Intellectual Development of the Canadian People (e-Text ed.). Project Gutenberg. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  13. ^ Anisef, P.; Axelrod, P.; Lennards, J. (20 July 2015). "University". The Canadian Enxyclopedia (online ed.). Historica Canada. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  14. ^ a b Burpee, Lawrence J.; Doughty, Arthur, eds. (1912) [2010]. The Makers of Canada: Index and Dictionary of Canadian History (Project Gutenberg ed.). Toronto, Ontario: Morang & Co. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  15. ^ Hill, Robert G. (ed.). "Wickenden, Charles Osborne". Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada 1800-1950. Archived from the original on 25 April 2012. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  16. ^ Mount Hanley School Section Number 10. Canadian Register of Historic Places.
  17. ^ Hill, Robert G. (ed.). "Taylor, Sir Andrew Thomas". Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada 1800-1950. Archived from the original on 3 February 2015. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  18. ^ "Memorial organ: Manning Memorial Chapel, Acadia University: Memorial 12006-017 Wolfville, NS". National Inventory of Canadian Military Memorials. Veterans Affairs Canada. Retrieved 30 December 2016. "DHH - Memorials Details Search Results". Archived from the original on 17 May 2013. Retrieved 17 January 2011.
  19. ^ "Book of Remembrance: Manning Memorial Chapel, Acadia University: Memorial 12006-016 Wolfville, NS". National Inventory of Canadian Military Memorials. Veterans Affairs Canada. Retrieved 30 December 2016. "DHH - Memorials Details Search Results". Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 17 January 2011.
  20. ^ "Board of Governors of Acadia University - 2015-2016". Board of Governors. Acadia University. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  21. ^ "Acadia University ~ Board and Faculty Sign New Four-Year Contract". Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 11 January 2022.
  22. ^ a b "Canada's best Primarily Undergraduate universities: Rankings 2022". Maclean's. Rogers Media. 7 October 2021. Retrieved 17 October 2021.
  23. ^ a b "Canada's best universities by reputation: Rankings 2022". Maclean's. Rogers Media. 7 October 2021. Retrieved 18 October 2021.
  24. ^ "Acadia Advantage Renewal" (PDF).
  25. ^ "Acadia Advantage". Acadia Advantage. Archived from the original on 2 December 1998. Retrieved 30 August 2010.
  26. ^ "Wolfville Tritons Swim Club". Retrieved 30 August 2010.
  27. ^ "Acadia Masters Swim Clug". Archived from the original on 1 January 2013. Retrieved 30 August 2010.
  28. ^ "Acadia Swim Club". Archived from the original on 25 December 2007.
  29. ^ "Varsity Swim team returns to Acadia". Acadia Sports Information. 26 September 2008. Archived from the original on 23 May 2011. Retrieved 30 August 2010.
  30. ^ Green, Rebecca (7 December 2013). "College Songs and Songbooks". The Canadian Encyclopedia (online ed.). Historica Canada. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  31. ^ Acadia University's Coat of Arms Archived 25 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  32. ^ "The Chancel Window". 15 June 2008. Archived from the original on 15 June 2008. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  33. ^ "Alma Mater". Acadia University. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011.
  34. ^ Ladies' Seminary National Historic Site of Canada. Canadian Register of Historic Places. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  35. ^ Carnegie Hall. Canadian Register of Historic Places. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  36. ^ "War Memorial Gymnasium: Acadia University: Memorial 12006-007 Wolfville, NS". National Inventory of Canadian Military Memorials. Veterans Affairs Canada. Retrieved 30 December 2016. "DHH - Memorials Details Search Results". Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 17 January 2011.
  37. ^ a b c "History of Acadia University". Acadia Athletics. Acadia University. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  38. ^ "First World War memorial: Acadia University: Memorial 12006-008 Wolfville, NS". National Inventory of Canadian Military Memorials. Veterans Affairs Canada. Retrieved 30 December 2016. "DHH - Memorials Details Search Results". Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 17 January 2011.
  39. ^ "War Memorial House: Acadia University: Memorial 12006-009 Wolfville, NS". National Inventory of Canadian Military Memorials. Veterans Affairs Canada. Retrieved 30 December 2016. "DHH - Memorials Details Search Results". Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
  40. ^ "Residence, Meals & Housing". Acadia University. Retrieved 24 March 2019.
  41. ^ "Residence Options". Acadia University. Retrieved 24 March 2019.
  42. ^ "Department of Residence Life". 29 June 2007. Archived from the original on 29 June 2007. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  43. ^ "Artist Alex Colville remembered in Wolfville, N.S. -". 24 July 2013. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  44. ^ "Acadia University names Canadian business leader Bruce Galloway ('68) as Chancellor - Acadia University". Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  45. ^ "List of honorary degree recipients". Acadia University Honorary Degrees. Acadia University. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  46. ^ "Kyle Lowry - Doctor of Humanities ('21)". 10 June 2019. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  47. ^ "Toronto Raptor Kyle Lowry receives honorary doctorate from Nova Scotia university". 9 May 2021. Retrieved 9 May 2021.

Further reading[edit]

  • Longley, R. S. Acadia University, 1838–1938. Wolfville, N.S.: Acadia University, 1939.

External links[edit]