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St. Mary’s University in Calgary now a member of Universities Canada

The Alberta institution anticipates a period of growth in the next five to 10 years.


St. Mary’s University has joined Universities Canada. Members of Universities Canada approved the Calgary institution’s application at a meeting in Ottawa on Oct. 25.

“I am pleased to welcome St. Mary’s University to our association,” said Paul Davidson, president of Universities Canada, in a news release. “As we advance Canada’s universities as the pre-eminent hubs of the talent and research that serve all Canadians, we will greatly benefit from St. Mary’s joining with universities across the country as we advance higher education, research and innovation.”

Universities Canada is a national organization that advocates for Canadian universities at the federal level, offers professional development and networking opportunities for university senior leaders, administers scholarship programs, and helps to facilitate university partnerships. (Universities Canada is also the publisher of University Affairs.) Membership requires institutions to meet specific criteria, including a set of institutional quality assurance principles, degree-level programming and an appropriate governance model.

“We’re really excited,” said Sinda Vanderpool, St. Mary’s president and vice-chancellor. “We feel like it’s a milestone, an external signal of the stature that we’ve achieved, a sign of our growth and achievements.”

She added that the community of association members offers an invaluable learning opportunity. “It’s like ‘iron sharpens iron’ – I feel like being alongside great institutions in Canada will just make us even stronger and more sophisticated, and help us grow out and grow up as an institution.”

Over the next five to 10 years, Dr. Vanderpool anticipates St. Mary’s will expand its academic programming – it recently launched a diploma in entrepreneurship and social responsibility and will soon increase enrolment in its bachelor’s program in secondary education. With more students and faculty, the university will also need more campus space.

“We have 35 acres, we have a decent amount of land … but we need more office spacing, more labs, more student gathering spaces,” she said. “And because we’re an independent academic institution, there’s not a lot of capital funding from the government. We have to either pay for it ourselves or raise money.”

Located near Alberta’s Fish Creek Provincial Park, St. Mary’s was established as a Catholic postsecondary institution in 1986, and became a degree-granting institution in 2004. The university now offers eight bachelor of arts degrees, a bachelor of science degree and two bachelor of education degrees, with course offerings in English, psychology, biology, liberal studies, and history, among other disciplines. It has 1,025 full- and part-time students currently registered, and counts 80 full- and part-time members of faculty.

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