225 years and looking to the future

Sir Howard Douglas Hall is the oldest university building still in use in Canada.If behind every great man there stands a great woman, then UNB has a lot for which to thank Lois Paine.

In 1785, soon after the Loyalists landed in Saint John, it was she who spurred her husband, physician William Paine, to action.

Distressed by the primitive living conditions and fearful for her children's proper education, she prodded her husband to join forces with six other prominent settlers to petition governor Thomas Carleton for a school.

Out of this remarkable initiative emerged the Provincial Academy of Arts and Sciences in Fredericton, which was in operation by 1793.

Through several more incarnations - as the College of New Brunswick (1800-1828), the royally chartered King's College (1828-1859), and finally the legislatively mandated University of New Brunswick - this institution, at 225 years old, stands as the oldest English-language university in Canada.

The UNB we know today is a far cry from its modest beginnings

Development was steady but slow until the end of the Second World War, and the arrival of the returning veterans (and later their Baby Boom offspring) brought tremendous expansion to the institution.

From its founding in 1964, UNB Saint John has grown to be a vibrant and integral part of the university.

A second campus in Saint John, established in 1964, was a response to UNB's provincial mandate and the demand for more, higher education opportunities for the citizens of New Brunswick. And, over the past 25 years, through distance education and collaborative partnerships, the university has expanded its reach to students in the Caribbean, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Eastern Europe.

UNB is now ranked among the top comprehensive universities in Canada. Working closely with government and industry, UNB conducts more than 75 per cent of the university-based research in the province.

Research revenues topped $50 million in each of the last two years and UNB was cited by The National Post and The Ottawa Citizen as among the top three comprehensive research universities in Canada for the highest percentage growth in research income between 2003 and 2007.

UNB's 620 full-time faculty offer more than 50 degree and certificate programs to some 12,500 students in New Brunswick and at several international sites. Its faculty of engineering is ranked among the top 20 per cent in North America, while the faculty of law consistently ranks among the top five in Canada.

About half of UNB's 65,000 alumni live in New Brunswick, constituting a significant proportion of the professional work force in the province. The balance live and work across Canada and around the world, comprising a vibrant network of supporters and advocates.

As we approach the 225th anniversary of our origin — the Dec. 13, 1785, petition to establish an "Academy or school of liberal Arts and Sciences" — we have much to celebrate and to look forward to.

Published Jan. 15, 2010