Acadia University is located in the town of Wolfville, Nova Scotia, approximately 100 kilometres northwest of Halifax, the provincial capital. Founded in 1838 by the Baptist Community, Acadia's beginning was the result of the commitment and enthusiasm of a community determined to build a university. The University has been shaped by their spirit of hard work and dedication to the principles that everyone should have access to university regardless of gender, race or religious affiliations - a spirit which continues to guide the university today.
Acadia provides a high-quality education based on excellence in teaching and research. In 2007, it ranked first in Maclean's Magazine (tied with Mount Allison University) for Best Overall in the Primarily Undergraduate University category. Learning at Acadia happens in a stimulating environment that reaches beyond its state-of-the-art classrooms and laboratories and extends into the surrounding community. Acadia's average class has 26 students, which helps to maintain an intimate learning environment for students. The faculty's commitment to personalized education means students are continuously exposed to national and internationally recognized research initiatives. Acadia's undergraduate research experience and honours programs are some of the best in Canada.
In 1831 the Baptists founded Acadia in Horton, Nova Scotia.
Acadia University, established at Wolfville, Nova Scotia in 1838 has a strong Baptist religious affiliation. It was designed to prepare men for the ministry and to supply education for lay members. Acadia began as Horton Academy (1828), which was founded by Baptists from Nova Scotia and Queen's College (1838).
The two major Universities of the day in Nova Scotia were heavily controlled by Denominational structures. King's College (University of King's College) was an Anglican School and Dalhousie University, which was originally non-denominational, had placed itself under the control and direction of the Church of Scotland. It was the failure of Dalhousie to appoint a prominent Baptist pastor and scholar, Edmund Crawley, to the Chair of Classics, as had been expected, that really thrust into the forefront of Baptist thinking the need for a College established and run by the Baptists.
In 1838, the Nova Scotia Baptist Education Society founded Queen's College (named for Queen Victoria). The College began with 21 students in January 1839. The name "Queen's College" was denied to the Baptist school, so it was renamed "Acadia College" in 1841, in reference to the history of the area as an Acadian settlement. Acadia College awarded its first degrees in 1843 and became Acadia University in 1891.
The Granville Street Baptist Church (now First Baptist Church Halifax) was an instrumental and determining factor in the founding of the University. It has played a supporting role throughout its history, and shares much of the credit for its survival and development. Many individuals who have made significant contributions to Acadia University, including the first president John Pryor, were members of the First Baptist Church Halifax congregation. Similarly, the adjacent Wolfville United Baptist Church plays a significant role in the life of the university.
The original charter of the college stated:
This was unique at the time, and a direct result of Baptists being denied entry into other schools that required religious tests of their students and staff.
In 1966, the Baptist denomination relinquished direct control over the University. The denomination maintains nine seats on the University's Board of Governors.
On January 4th, 2008, Dr. Gail Dinter-Gottlieb decided to step down as President and Vice Chancellor of the University before her term expired. Her resignation was effective February 29, 2008. Dr. Tom Herman is currently acting President.
In 1996, Acadia University pioneered the use of mobile computing technology in a post-secondary educational environment. This academic initiative integrated the use of notebook computers into the undergraduate curriculum and featured innovations in teaching. By 2000, all full-time, undergraduate Acadia students were taking part in the Acadia Advantage. The initiative went beyond leasing notebook computers to students during the academic year, and included training, user support and the use of course-specific applications at Acadia that revolutionized learning at the Wolfville, N.S. campus and beyond.
Because of its pioneering efforts, Acadia is a laureate of Washington’s Smithsonian Institution and a part of the permanent research collection of the National Museum of American History. It is the only Canadian university selected for inclusion in the Education and Academia category of the Computerworld Smithsonian Award.
In addition, Acadia University received the Pioneer Award for Ubiquitous Computing. In 2001, it achieved high rankings in the annual Maclean's University Rankings, including Best Overall for Primarily Undergraduate University in their opinion survey, and it received the Canadian Information Productivity Award in 1997 as it was praised as the first university in Canada to fully utilize information technology in the undergraduate curriculum.
Canadian opinion leaders consistently place Acadia ahead of all other primarily undergraduate universities in the annual Maclean’s Magazine survey of post-secondary education. In fact, Acadia is the only university to have placed first in all four reputational categories: best overall, highest quality, most innovative, and leaders of tomorrow.
In October 2006, Dr. Dinter-Gottlieb established a commission to review the Acadia Advantage learning environment 10 years after inception. The mandate of the commission was to determine how well the current Advantage program meets the needs of students, faculty, and staff and to examine how the role of technology in the postsecondary environment has changed at Acadia, and elsewhere. The commission was asked to recommend changes and enhancements to the Acadia Advantage that would benefit the entire university community and ensure its sustainability.
Some of the recommendations coming from the Acadia Advantage Renewal Report included developing a choice of model specifications and moving from Acadia-issued, student-leased notebook computers to a student-owned computer model. The compelling rationale for this was the integral role technology now plays in our lives, which was not present in 1996.
The University was also advised to unbundle its tuition structure so that the cost of an Acadia education is more detailed and students can understand how their investment in the future is allotted. Acadia acted on this recommendation in 2007.
In September 2008, Acadia will move to a student-owned notebook computer version of the Acadia Advantage.
School spirit abounds with men’s and women’s varsity teams that have delivered more conference and national championships than any other institution in Atlantic University Sport. Routinely, more than one-third of Acadia’s varsity athletes also achieve Academic All-Canadian designation through Canadian Interuniversity Sport by maintaining a minimum average of 80 per cent.
Expansion and modernization of Raymond Field was completed in the fall of 2007 and features the installation of an eight-lane all-weather running track and a move to the same premium artificial turf used by the New England Patriots of the National Football League for its main playing field. The Raymond Field modernization was a gift to the university by friends, alumni, and the province. War Memorial Gymnasium also saw the installation of a new playing floor to benefit its basketball and volleyball teams.
In September 2006, Acadia University announced its partnership with the Wolfville Tritons Swim Club and the Acadia Masters Swim Club to form the Acadia Swim Club and return competitive swimming to the university after a 14 year hiatus. On September 26 2008, the university announced its intention to return swimming to a varsity status in September 2009.
The University seal depicts the Greek goddess of wisdom Athena in front of the first college hall.
The University also uses a stylized "A" as a logo for its sports teams.
Notable among a number of fight songs commonly played and sung at various events such as commencement, convocation, and athletic games are: the Acadia University alma mater set to the tune of "Annie Lisle". The lyrics are:
Carnegie Hall, built in 1909, is a large, two-storey, Neo-classical brick building on the Registry of Historic Places of Canada Acadia Seminary, built in 1879, is on the Registry of Historic Places of Canada.
At Acadia University, students have access to the Student Union Building which serves as a hub for students and houses many Student Union organizations. The building also houses The Axe Lounge, a convenience store, an information desk and two food outlets.
All students are represented by the Acadia Students' Union and the Union President for the 2008-2009 academic year is Kyle Steele who will be serving his second term after being re-elected. The student newspaper is The Athenaeum
Approximately 1100 students live on-campus in 11 residences:
The faculty of Acadia University have been on strike twice in the history of the institution. The first was February 24 to March 12, 2004. The second was October 15 to November 5, 2007. The second strike was resolved after the province's labour minister, the Honourable Mark Parent, appointed a mediator, on November 1, to facilitate an agreement.