St. Francis Xavier University

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St. Francis Xavier University
MottoQuaecumque Sunt Vera (Whatsoever things are true, Philippians 4:4-9)
Established1853 St. Francis Xavier College/Seminary (1855). Subsequent name, St. Francis Xavier University.
Religious affiliationRoman Catholic
Endowment$ 100 million[1]
ChancellorBishop Brian Joseph Dunn
PresidentDr. Kent MacDonald
Academic staff265
LocationAntigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada
45°37′05″N 61°59′40″W / 45.61806°N 61.99444°W / 45.61806; -61.99444Coordinates: 45°37′05″N 61°59′40″W / 45.61806°N 61.99444°W / 45.61806; -61.99444
ColoursBlue      and White     
NicknameX-Men and X-Women
St. Francis Xavier University logo.png
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St. Francis Xavier University
MottoQuaecumque Sunt Vera (Whatsoever things are true, Philippians 4:4-9)
Established1853 St. Francis Xavier College/Seminary (1855). Subsequent name, St. Francis Xavier University.
Religious affiliationRoman Catholic
Endowment$ 100 million[1]
ChancellorBishop Brian Joseph Dunn
PresidentDr. Kent MacDonald
Academic staff265
LocationAntigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada
45°37′05″N 61°59′40″W / 45.61806°N 61.99444°W / 45.61806; -61.99444Coordinates: 45°37′05″N 61°59′40″W / 45.61806°N 61.99444°W / 45.61806; -61.99444
ColoursBlue      and White     
NicknameX-Men and X-Women
St. Francis Xavier University logo.png

St. Francis Xavier University is a primarily undergraduate university located in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada. The university brings together 5,100 students from across Canada and around the world in arts, science, business and information systems. It is a member of the U4 League, a group of primarily undergraduate universities in Eastern Canada.


St. Francis Xavier College was founded as Arichat College, a Roman Catholic Diocesan educational institution at Arichat, Nova Scotia, in 1853.[3] Arichat College was moved to its present location in Antigonish, and established as St. Francis Xavier College in 1855.[4] On May 7, 1866, St. Francis Xavier College was given university status, becoming St. Francis Xavier University.[5] The University awarded its first degrees in 1868.

Xavier Hall

In 1883 Mount St. Bernard Academy was founded for female education, with girls from primary grades to grade 12 taught by the Sisters of Notre Dame.

Henry Frederick Busch (architect) designed the College building, 1888.[6]

In 1894, the academy affiliated with St. Francis Xavier University as Mount St. Bernard College. In 1897, the school became the first co-educational Catholic university in North America to grant degrees to women. Four women were awarded university degrees in 1897.[5]

A metal plaque in the St. Francis Xavier University Chapel is dedicated to the thirty-three members of the college, now St. Francis Xavier University, who were killed in service during the First World War (1914–18).[7]

In February 1922, St. Francis Xavier University's War Memorial Rink, with a brick exterior and wooden interior, opened. After the War Memorial Rink was officially closed on February 8, 2002, the building was torn down and a new science complex was built in the old rink's place.[8]

The StFX’s extension department has engaged in community development in Antigonish since 1928 while the Coady International Institute at StFX has engaged in community development globally since 1959. [9]

A metal plaque, unveiled on 5 May 1984, was dedicated by the university's Class of 1984, in honour of those students killed in armed conflict while defending the liberty of Canadians.[10]

In 1985 the number of women students at St. Francis Xavier became equal to the number of men for the first time. In 1990, the women's college existed as a residence only.[3]

In the early 20th century, professional education expanded beyond the traditional fields of theology, law and medicine. Graduate training based on the German-inspired American model of specialized course work and the completion of a research thesis was introduced.[11] The policy of university education initiated in the 1960s responded to population pressure and the belief that higher education was a key to social justice and economic productivity for individuals and for society.[11]

The St. Francis Xavier tartan was designed as a university tartan in 1994.[12]

In 1996 StFX implemented Canada’s first Service Learning program, which provided opportunities for international learning. [13]

On March 21, 2014, the Board of Governors announced Dr. Kent MacDonald as incoming president of StFX, to assume office on August 1, 2014.[14]


Angus L. MacDonald Library


Maclean's Magazine has ranked St. Francis Xavier as the top "Primarily Undergraduate" university in Canada for five consecutive years (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006). The university has also ranked first in alumni support for the period 2001–06.[15] In 2007, Maclean's changed the criteria of the "Primarily Undergraduate", resulting in St. Francis Xavier placing third in the category.[16] In early 2009, Maclean's reported that St. Francis Xavier students ranked first in choosing to return to their current institution among other categories.[17]

Between the years 2000 and 2004, more St Francis Xavier students, on a per capita basis, have received Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) awards for post-secondary study than any other university in Canada.[18]

Faculties and Programs[edit]

St Francis Xavier University is organized into the Faculty of Arts, Faculty of Science, the Gerald Schwartz School of Business, Faculty of Education, and Coady International Institute. Each faculty has subordinate departments under its administration appropriate to each discipline, for example the Department of Philosophy is part of the Faculty of Arts. Faculties are headed by a dean elected from among the constituent professors.

The Faculty of Arts encompasses the following departments and programs: Anthropology, Aquatic Resources, Fine Arts, Canadian Studies, Catholic Studies, Celtic Studies, Classical Studies, Development Studies, Economics, English, History, Humanities Colloquium, Modern Languages, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Religious Studies, Social Justice Colloquium, Sociology, Women's and Gender Studies, Music and Jazz Studies (The first bachelors degree in Jazz Studies in all of Canada).

The Faculty of Science offers the following departments and programs: Aquatic Resources, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Earth Sciences, Engineering, Environmental Sciences, Human Kinetics, Human Nutrition, Mathematics and Statistics, Nursing and Physics.

Gerald Schwartz School of Business and Information Systems offers degrees in Business Administration and Information Systems.

The Faculty of Education offers degrees in Adult Education and Education.

The Music Department hosts one of North America's leading undergraduate jazz studies program.

The current Dean of Arts is Dr. Richard Nemesvari, the Dean of Science is Dr. Robert van den Hoogen, the Dean of Business is Dr. Leo Gallant, and the Dean of Education is Dr. Jeff Orr.[19]

The university offers also graduate programs leading to Master of Science (M.Sc.) and Master of Education (M.Ed.) degrees.

Scholarships & Bursaries[edit]

StFX offers over $ 2 million annually in merit-based scholarships and financial aid to its new and current undergraduates. Applicants with a Grade 12 average of at least 85% are automatically guaranteed an entrance scholarship worth at least $3,500 (initial installment of $ 500, and a subsequent installment of $ 1,000 each following year), and at least $ 4,000 for those with Grade 12 averages above 90%. Applicants are also automatically considered for larger merit-based scholarships ranging from $ 12,000 to $ 32,000 (Merit, Phillip W. Oland, J.P. McArthy, Canadian, President's).[20] Area specific scholarships also exist for applicants from certain provinces and the United States. St. Francis Xavier University also offers the James A. Martin Awards for Aboriginal, First Nations and Métis students. In order to receive each subsequent installment of a scholarship (typically there are four installments), students must maintain a university course average of at least 80%.[21]

Student life[edit]

Vancouver 2010 Olympic Flame at StFX


The Xaverian Weekly is the student newspaper, run by the Xaverian Weekly Publications Society, and prints 1,000 copies of 15 issues over the course of the school year. The newspaper is a member of the Canadian University Press, and is editorially autonomous from the StFX Students' Union.

Originally called Excelsior, the newspaper began as a monthly journal of literary essays and campus news founded in 1895 by M.A. McAdam and J.W. McIsaac. The editors changed the paper's name to The Xaverian Weekly in 1903.


The Xaverian Annual is the student yearbook, founded in 1924 and run by the Yearbook Society. The Yearbook Society prints the publication on a student by student basis every year.

Annual jello-slide during Frosh Week festivities.

Students' Union[edit]

St. Francis Xavier students are represented by St. Francis Xavier University Students' Union. It is a student-run organization providing services and activities ranging from administering a medical and dental plan to concerts and orientation activities.

The Students' Union Building (Bloomfield Centre) houses the offices of the Students' Union Executive and various societies, the Golden X Inn, the MacKay Room (a large space for events), a cafeteria, Jack's Lounge, the campus post office, and the university bookstore. The current President of the Students' Union is Brandon Hamilton.

Residence life[edit]

Physical Sciences Centre classroom

Approximately 50% of students (90% of first-year students) at St. Francis Xavier live on-campus in the university's traditional residences or apartment-style housing. Usually, students in first and second years live in traditional residences, where social life is very active, while students in third and fourth years tend to live in apartment-style residences where they have the possibility of cooking for themselves. Apartment-style residences consist typically of four bedroom apartments with 2 full bathrooms and a small kitchen. Students who live in traditional residence are registered in a mandatory meal plan at the central dining facility, Morrison Hall. Alternatively, students may enroll in a block plan that provides a specified number of meals. St. Francis Xavier has an exclusive contract with Sodexo, giving that company a monopoly on food and conference services at every facility on campus.[22]

Bishops Hall residence

Traditional residences at St. Francis Xavier:

Snowball fight on University Avenue

Apartment-style housing at St. Francis Xavier:


St. Francis Xavier University is known[by whom?] for its distinctive "X-Ring". The ring is ceremonially awarded to students on December 3 (Saint Francis Xavier's feast day) of each year before their graduation. On average, more than 95% of the graduating class opt for the ring.[23]

The X-Ring is presented to students in a ceremony during the afternoon, which only recipients may attend. Traditionally, this ceremony was held in the University Chapel; however, since 2006 it has been hosted in Charles V. Keating Millennium Centre. There is typically a live video link of the ceremony available for family and friends to watch from across the world or from a large screen set up in the Oland Centre on campus.

St. Francis Xavier University Class Ring of 1945
StFX students on X-Ring Day (December 3)

In addition to those awarded to students, there is one Honorary X-Ring awarded annually. The X-Ring Eligibility Policy states that this recipient must not already hold an X-Ring, and must demonstrate outstanding contribution to the Xaverian community and be exemplary of the Xaverian motto: "Quaecumque sunt vera" (Whatsoever things are true).[24]

Past honorary X-Ring recipients:

Campus renewal[edit]

Physical Sciences Center lab

Since Dr. Riley was named president in 1996, the university has undergone a $230 million campus renewal initiative to improve educational and residential opportunities throughout campus. To date, the initiative has seen the completion of eleven large-scale projects.[25]

Classroom in the Physical Sciences Center


New football field and running track

St. Francis Xavier is represented in the Atlantic University Sport conference by 12 varsity athletics teams. The X-Men teams include men's football, basketball, cross-country, track and field, soccer, and hockey. The X-Women teams include basketball, cross country, track and field, hockey, rugby and soccer.[30]

St.FX Women's Hockey

In 1966, the X-Men Football team won the College Bowl (now the Vanier Cup) as top university football team in Canada. The X-Men Basketball program has won three CIS Championships (1993, 2000, and 2001) and in 2004, the X-Men Hockey team won their first CIS Championship. In 2011, the X-Women Hockey team placed second at the CIS Championships in Ottawa.

In 2006, the X-Women Rugby team became the first female St. Francis Xavier varsity team to win a CIS Championship, as 10-time defending AUS Rugby Champions. In 2008, the team placed 2nd at the CIS Championships in Lethbridge, Alberta after capturing their 12th consecutive AUS Championship.[31] In 2010, the X-Women captured gold again in the CIS Championship held at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, after capturing their 14th consecutive AUS Championship. On November 4, 2012, the X-Women won gold again at the CIS Championship help in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.

X Alumnus Eric Gillis (2003 CIS Cross Country Champion) competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and placed 33rd in the 10 000m race.


On 4 April 2003 Canada Post issued 'St. Francis Xavier University, 1853-2003' as part of the Canadian Universities series. The stamp was based on a design by Denis L'Allier, based on a photograph by Guy Lavigueur. The 48¢ stamps are perforated 13.5 and were printed by Canadian Bank Note Company, Limited.[32]

Noted alumni[edit]

Brian Mulroney: 18th Prime Minister of Canada (1984-1993)
Frank McKenna: Premier of New Brunswick (1987-1997); Canadian Ambassador to the United States (2005-2006)
Governors Hall Residence


See also[edit]


  1. ^ StFX President Riley's Contract Extended To 2011, St. Francis Xavier University Media Room
  2. ^ "Full-time plus Part-time Enrollment". Association of Atlantic Universities. 2012-10-15. Retrieved 2012-10-15. 
  3. ^ a b St. Francis Xavier University, Encyclopedia of Music in Canada
  4. ^ The Project Gutenberg EBook #6466 of 'The Intellectual Development of the Canadian People, A historical review' by John George Bourinot, House of Commons, Ottawa, February 17, 1881
  5. ^ a b Pound, Richard W. (2005). 'Fitzhenry and Whiteside Book of Canadian Facts and Dates'. Fitzhenry and Whiteside. 
  6. ^ Henry Frederick Busch (architect)
  7. ^ St. Francis Xavier University Chapel war memorial plaque
  8. ^ St. Francis Xavier University War Memorial Rink
  9. ^ "Saint Francis Xavier University". 
  10. ^ St. Francis Xavier University Chapel wae memorial plaque
  11. ^ a b University, Encyclopedia of Canada
  12. ^ St Francis Xavier tartan
  13. ^ "Saint Francis Xavier University". 
  14. ^
  15. ^ [1], St. Francis Xavier University Media Room
  16. ^ McGill U. Tops Canadian University Rankings Issued by 'Maclean's', Chronicle of Higher Education Blog, November 8, 2007
  17. ^ [2], St. Francis Xavier Media on Maclean's Report
  18. ^ St. Francis Xavier University, Associations of Universities and Colleges of Canada
  19. ^
  20. ^ StFX University Scholarship Information
  21. ^ Aboriginal Bursaries Search Tool
  22. ^
  23. ^ The X-Ring, St. Francis Xavier University
  24. ^ X-Ring Eligibility Policy, St. Francis Xavier University
  25. ^ Message from the President, St. Francis Xavier University
  26. ^ Official opening ceremony for O’Regan Hall – updated, The Casket, September 7th, 2013
  27. ^ StFX receives funding for completion of the Gerald Schwartz School of Business and Information Systems, St. Francis Xavier University Media Room
  28. ^ Coady, StFX Host Historic Groundbreaking, St. Francis Xavier University Media Room
  29. ^ St. Francis Xavier invests another $11 million in residential campus, St. Francis Xavier University Media Room
  30. ^ StFX Official Athletics Website
  31. ^ CIS Rugby Silver Lining, St. Francis Xavier University Athletics
  32. ^ Canada Post Stamp

External links[edit]