St. Thomas University (STU) is a unique public and Roman Catholic liberal arts institution situated in Fredericton. Catering to roughly 2,500 students, STU focuses on undergraduate education in the liberal arts, humanities, journalism, education, and social work.
The roots of St. Thomas University can be found in 1860 when Bishop James Rogers of Chatham established St Michael’s Academy. His successor, Bishop Thomas F. Barry, asked the Basilian Fathers of Toronto to manage the academy in Chatham, a school that offered education to boys at secondary and junior college levels. In 1910, the Basilians accepted this responsibility and changed the academy’s name to St Thomas College to avoid confusion with their own St Michael’s College in Toronto. The chancellor of the college was the Bishop of Chatham.
The Basilian Fathers remained at St. Thomas until 1923, after which Bishop Patrice Chiasson kept the college functioning with the assistance of a handful of priests. From 1910 to 1934, St. Thomas College operated as both a high school and junior college. In 1934, it became a degree-granting institution after receiving a University Charter. The New Brunswick provincial legislature pronounced St. Thomas College a university, enabling the Board of Governors to award various degrees.
In 1938, with Vatican approval, Chiasson moved the Diocese’s See from the predominantly English-speaking Chatham to the French-speaking Bathurst. This decision stirred unease among supporters of St. Thomas College. After six years of private negotiations, the English-speaking area of Northumberland County, encompassing Chatham and St. Thomas College, was transferred from the Diocese of Bathurst to the Diocese of Saint John in 1959. Bishop Alfred Leverman, who had been Bishop of Saint John since 1953, became the new chancellor of St. Thomas.
In 1953, St. Thomas University awarded its first honorary degree to Lord Beaverbrook, a loyal benefactor of the college. The graduating class of that year also made him an honorary member of their class.
The name of St. Thomas College was changed to St. Thomas University in 1960 by the New Brunswick Legislative Assembly, a change that acknowledged its expanding departments. The following year, high school courses were eliminated from the university’s curriculum.
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