voices of acadia - 175th anniversary

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As Acadia University celebrates its 175th anniversary, we bring you stories and recollections of our people. This is the first in a three-part series. Enjoy.


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  • When I first came to Acadia from Florenceville, New Brunswick, in the late 1950s, I had no idea that Id one day find myself as Acadias Chancellor welcoming you to join us in celebrating the 175th Anniversary of Acadias founding.

    I certainly understood what kind of opportunities my degree from Acadia would allow me to pursue, but my journey has been even richer than I could have imagined. Since returning to Acadia in an active role as University Chancellor, I have come to appreciate that Acadias focus on ensuring students are well-prepared for whatever career choice they make has not changed. Nor has it in the 175 years since Acadia was founded in 1838. This institutional longevity, achieved through good governance and the consistency and dedication of faculty and staff who have helped us to fulfill our mission, is rare and deserves to be celebrated.

    Voices of Acadia is an appropriate way to tell our story through the recollections of our people. Many you will know instantly because they were your classmates and contemporaries or have achieved tremendous profile and personal success. Others you will come to know and be proud that they, too, are members of our Acadia family because they are on the verge of achieving great things.

    However, there is one common thread that connects us all: we have somehow been changed because of our connection to Acadia. I have the good fortune, as Chancellor, to meet with generations of alumni as well as every one of our new graduates who attend Convocation. If we think we have had a remarkable first 175 years, the next 175 look even brighter. Today, we are an institution with a global reach and a national profile that places us among only a few select institutions. This is because of our people and how their experiences at Acadia and in Wolfville have equipped them to be leaders both in their professional lives and in their communities. I am also very proud that our alumni are part of a network that supports and promotes one another and looks for new students for whom Acadia would be a perfect fit. We are truly fortunate.

    Please enjoy this collection of stories about our institution. I hope they will allow you to think about many more people who had an impact on your Acadia experience, and I invite you to participate in the many events we have planned for this year.

    In Acadia spirit!

    Libby Burnham (60, DCL 2000)Chancellor, Acadia University

    Global reach, national profile worth celebrating!

  • It is my honour to share the 175th Anniversary of Acadias founding with you through the pages of this special collection of stories about Acadia and its people. These personal perspectives reflect our storied past and rich tradition, but they also capture the Acadia spirit and the deep attachment to the school that continue to characterize our University community in 2013.

    It is perhaps difficult for us to appreciate fully the boldness of our founders vision in establishing, a quarter-century before Confederation, a college predicated on inclusiveness and a commitment to admitting students regardless of race, gender, or creed. It was a courageous enterprise, to be sure, and it propelled Acadia to be a leader in the admission of women and African-Canadians in the 19th century. It also laid the foundation for an academic culture that has produced leaders in virtually every discipline and profession including a Nobel laureate, Dr. Charles Huggins.

    This willingness to break new ground has made its presence felt in generation after generation at Acadia. Every time I speak to a new student, meet with our alumni, or encourage my colleagues to take on a new challenge, I cant help but think that we, collectively, are fulfilling our responsibility to honour and preserve the philosophy of our founders.

    You will find that the Voices of Acadia offer eloquent testimony to the unique and formative influence our school and its faculty have had on generations of alumni, and the lasting mark our alumni have in turn left on the world around them.

    I want to applaud all of those who have contributed to Acadias success over the course of our 175-year history. I hope you will find that the remembrances encompassed in this anniversary publication resonate strongly with you. These are our stories, and they give all of us cause for great pride in the distinguished history and promising future of our University.

    Raymond E. IvanyPresident and Vice-Chancellor

    Voices define Acadias past, present and future

  • As Chair of Acadia Universitys Board of Governors, it gives me great pleasure to acknowledge and applaud Acadias 175th Anniversary.

    Since its inception in 1838, Acadia University has delivered an exceptional educational experience to students that has enabled them to hone their academic and social skills, discover their potential and meet the challenges of an ever-changing world.

    Acadia has accomplished this by virtue of strong and visionary leadership from its Board of Governors, University presidents and many distinguished alumni, faculty and staff that have served the University and also anticipated its needs.

    The campus today is certainly different from its humble beginnings, but the spirit upon which Acadia was founded is as evident now as it was then. Students and professors still work cooperatively in classrooms, cheer together at sporting events, and model the fundamental tenets of lifelong learning and social responsibility held in such high regard by our founders.

    The voices in this anniversary publication tell Acadias success story, articulating its past, present and future through overlapping tones of fond reminiscence, academic excellence, artistic endeavour and scientific achievement. Each is a single piece in a brilliant mosaic that defines Acadias rich history and describes its value to the thousands of men and women who have graced this campus and gone on to become civic and community leaders both here at home and around the world.

    On behalf of Acadias Board of Governors, I invite you to share in and celebrate Acadias 175th Anniversary, and look forward to 175 more years to come!

    Paul Jewer (94) Chair, Acadia University Board of Governors

    Visionary leadership, outstanding achievement

  • Ive had a wonderful relationship with Acadia University for 40-plus years now: as a student, graduate, Board member and current president of the Associated Alumni of Acadia University (AAAU).

    I make no bones about it; I love Acadia. Im proud to be part of its incredible history and look forward to participating in many outstanding events over the next year as Acadia celebrates its 175th Anniversary. Its a great opportunity for AAAU members to join in, appreciate the Universitys rich heritage and celebrate our contribution as alumni to Acadias success.

    We are the gatekeepers and storytellers, well-suited to share the value of the transformative Acadia experience. In fact, the AAAU has a long and vital history that spans more than 150 years, and our membership includes business, social, political and community leaders who stand as shining examples of the quality and integrity that are the hallmarks of Acadia graduates. We are 27,000 strong and growing, proud to be associated with Acadia and happy to share in its anniversary.

    Keep in mind, our longevity and Acadias is no accident. It relies on strong leadership, foresight and an overriding desire to be the best. As these 175th Anniversary celebrations unfold, its clear that we have learned the lessons of the past and charted a course toward an even brighter tomorrow.

    The myriad voices contained in this special publication are a fitting testament to the unique experience Acadia offers, and they describe in so many ways our alma maters ability to forge an enviable present from a distinguished past. We have capitalized on our strengths, maximized our opportunities, and built a place that continues to attract the brightest and the best. Small wonder we can look ahead with great excitement and anticipation!

    I think its important for us, as alumni, to understand not only the value of our time at Acadia, but the lasting and lifelong effect it has had on each of us. I urge you to remember what Acadia means to you, and that we continue to celebrate and support it, particularly during this landmark 175th Anniversary celebration.

    Stand Up and Cheer!

    Hugh Bray (75)President, Associated Alumni of Acadia University

    Alumni attest to Acadias success

  • Acadia University

    Acadia University was born out of a growing desire on the part of some Nova Scotia Baptist leaders for access to higher education, and a mounting frustration with the exclusion from the colonys colleges of many of the regions youth.

    Celebrating 175 years

  • 1On November 15, 1838, meetings took place in Horton, N.S. (now Wolfville), and then in Nictaux, where plans were laid for the establishment of a college from which no one student or faculty would be barred on the basis of denominational affiliation. Plans went forward swiftly, and on January 15, 1839, the college opened with two faculty and 21 students in attendance, initially sharing facilities with the boys school, Horton Academy, that had been established in Horton by the denomination a decade before. What would become Acadia University was born.

    Through the 1840s, the college prospered modestly. The first class, numbering four, graduated in 1843 (Bachelor of Arts was the only degree then offered), and Acadias first building, College Hall, was built in that same decade, largely through the dedication and perseverance