History of St. Mary’s University


  • St. Mary’s University hosts the CCAA Cross Country Running National Championships on its beautiful campus. This is the first championship event hosted by St. Mary’s and featured participation from student-athletes from across Canada.


  • St. Mary’s University expands its award-winning Bachelor of Education program by introducing the two-year Bachelor of Education (Secondary) after degree program designed to prepare teachers at the secondary level (grades seven through 12) in Alberta schools.


  • St. Mary’s University introduces a new four-year Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Social Justice and Catholic Studies, a unique interdisciplinary program that encourages reflection on the injustices that characterize society, and upon the Catholic tradition and its engagement with the world.


  • Thanks to a generous donation by Tom and Debra Mauro, the historic St. Mary’s University was masterfully restored and converted into the Maruo Gallery, a multi-purpose space utilized for classes, small receptions and rotating art exhibitions.
  • The St. Mary’s University Women’s Lightning Basketball team captures the first Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) gold medal in school history.


  • St. Mary’s University commissioned and debuted First and Last by award-winning playwright and novelist Eugene Stickland. Having previously served as Writer-In-Residence at St. Mary’s, Stickland’s production marked the world premiere in the Heritage Centre.
  • Chosen from all universities and colleges in Canada, St. Mary’s hosted the Truth and Reconciliation National Educational Roundtable in January 2017. This three-day event marked the second annual gathering of representatives from every province and territory. Together they addressed the areas of teacher education, quality standards and curriculum updates including sharing the work done in their region to address the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action in education.


  • Coinciding with St. Mary’s University 30th Anniversary celebrations, the university officially opens the new Heritage Centre on campus. The The 4,700-square-foot, multi-purpose space was made possible through the generosity of Stan and Marge Owerko, Frank and Jeanne Vetsch and Ed and Agnes Rewucki who helped raise most of the money necessary to provide this amazing facility for the students of St. Mary’s.


  • St. Mary’s University launches the First Nations, Métis and Inuit (FNMI) Partnership with a formal ceremony and a Buffalo Robe Transfer from Blackfoot elder Casey Eagle Speaker to Dr. Gerry Turcotte.
  • Launch of the St. Mary’s Elders on Campus initiative with Casey Eagle Speaker (Blackfoot elder) and Edmee Comstock (Métis elder).


  • Alberta Premier and Minister of Innovation and Advanced Education, the Honourable Dave Hancock, has given approval for St. Mary’s University College in Calgary to change its name to St. Mary’s University. The change acknowledges both the university’s stellar 28-year history and recognizes its actual status as a fully-accredited university within the post-secondary Campus Alberta system.
  • The Alberta Ministry of Innovation and Advanced Education gives approval for a four-year Bachelor of Science with a major in Biology. The Honourable Dave Hancock, Premier of Alberta and Minister of Innovation and Advanced Education, gives approval for a four year Bachelor of Arts with a Major in History.


  • The Alberta Ministry of Enterprise and Advanced Education gives approval for a four-year Bachelor of Arts with a major in Liberal Studies. It is the first degree of its kind in Alberta. The program has been designed specifically for the 21st century student and job market.


  • St. Mary’s University introduces a new four-year Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Psychology. This brings the number of degrees offered to seven.
  • Through generous donations, St. Mary’s University College acquires a rare fine art edition of The Saint John’s Bible. A former gymnasium is transformed to house a new Collegiate Training Hall, with state-of-the-art cardio and weight training equipment.


  • St. Mary’s University College marks its 25th anniversary Dr. Gerry Turcotte is appointed St. Mary’s University College’s third president.
  • The former Midlands United Church is renamed Father Michael J. McGivney Hall at a dedication ceremony recognizing the contributions of the Knights of Columbus of Alberta, and the Supreme Council.
  • St. Mary’s University College initiates a site development planning process to identify guiding principles, development options and concept plans for its 35-acre campus.


  • The Catholic Women’s League endows the $1.2 million CWL Chair for Catholic Studies at St. Mary’s University College. Dr. Michael Duggan is appointed as the inaugural Chair.
  • St. Mary’s awards its first Bachelor of Education degrees.
  • Lightning Athletics is accepted into the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC).
  • St. Mary’s University College partners with the Ukrainian Catholic University to promote academic, research and cultural exchanges.
  • St. Mary’s University College is admitted to the International Federation of Catholic Universities (IFCU).
  • The Campus Alberta Quality Council (CAQC) evaluates and affirms the baccalaureate programs at St. Mary’s University College.


  • St. Mary’s University College marks its tenth anniversary on the former Father Lacombe Home site in Midnapore.
  • St. Mary’s produces the Canadian premiere of Speak Truth to Power, a play, photography exhibition and book which herald human rights defenders from around the world.


  • A Bachelor of Education (Elementary) degree is introduced. It is Canada’s first education degree specifically designed to prepare teachers for Catholic schools, and attracted full enrolment in Fall 2008. St. Mary’s University College is awarded a Calgary Heritage Authority Lion Award for restoration of the Le Fort Centre.


  • Renovation of the historic Lacombe heritage buildings is completed thanks to the generous donation of Ron and Tara Mathison. The buildings are renamed The Le Fort Centre in honour of Monsignor Joseph Le Fort.
  • Lightning Athletics bring home gold in men’s and women’s basketball and women’s futsal.
  • Three-year Bachelor of Arts degrees with concentrations in History and Psychology are introduced.


  • The Midlands United Church is purchased.
  • Restoration of the historic Lacombe heritage buildings begins.


  • For the first time in St. Mary’s history over 500 students were enrolled.
  • The St. Mary’s University College Library upgraded to an internet-based system that linked it electronically to the University of Calgary Library as well as to the Alliance/Nazarene University College libraries.
  • In the 2005 provincial budget, St. Mary’s became eligible to receive public funds.


  • In the 2003-2004 academic year, Lightning Athletics brings home ACAL gold in men’s volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball and futsal, and bronze in hockey.
  • The St. Mary’s College Act is amended. By Order-in-Council the Government of Alberta authorizes the college to grant three-year Bachelor of Arts degrees with concentrations in General Studies and English, and a four-year Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in English.
  • The Minister of Learning grants approval to designate St. Mary’s a University College. St. Mary’s University College holds its first convocation and awards its first BA degrees.


  • The Private Colleges Accreditation Board recommends to the Ministry of Learning that St. Mary’s College be authorized to grant a three-year Bachelor of Arts degree with a concentration in General Studies.
  • The College applies to the Private Colleges Accreditation Board for authorization to grant a three-year BA degree with a concentration in English and a four-year BA degree with a major in English.
  • Full- and part-time enrolment increases to 432 students.


  • St. Mary’s College submits its application for its first Bachelor of Arts degree to the Private Colleges Accreditation Board, Ministry of Learning and Province of Alberta.
  • Full- and part-time enrolment increases to 373 students.


  • St. Mary’s College completes an agreement with the Diocese of Calgary to purchase the 35-acre Lacombe site. The College receives eight acres as a grant from the Diocese and purchases the remaining 27 acres for $8.75 million.
  • Lightning Athletics men’s and women’s basketball compete for the first time in the Alberta Colleges Athletic League (ACAL). Women win gold. Athletics grows to include men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball and ice hockey.
  • Full- and part-time enrolment increases to 277 students.


  • Full- and part-time enrolment increases to 237 students.


  • St. Mary’s moves to the historic Father Lacombe Centre in Midnapore. A new library building is completed and named St. Basil’s Hall in recognition of the Basilian Fathers’ donation of the library and their general support of the college.
  • Dr. Terrence Downey is appointed College President.
  • There are 183 full- and part-time students enrolled.


  • St. Mary’s completes its last full year on the St. Anthony’s School campus and prepares to transfer the College to the Lacombe Centre.
  • There are 101 full- and part-time students enrolled.


  • St. Mary’s hires its first faculty, enters into an affiliation agreement with St. Francis Xavier University and begins to offer university transfer courses at St. Anthony’s School.


  • Dr. David Lawless becomes the first president.


  • St. Mary’s begins to offer professional development courses for teachers and education students in collaboration with the Calgary Catholic School Board.
  • St. Mary’s College Foundation is created.


  • Dr. John Thompson is named Executive Director of St. Mary’s College.


  • The Board of Governors decides to create an independent Catholic liberal arts college following the University of Calgary’s decision not to proceed with affiliation.


  • An affiliation proposal with the University of Calgary is prepared and on-going discussions are held with the University and the Catholic community.


  • The St. Mary’s College Act is passed by the provincial legislature.


  • Fr. Tom Mohan, CSB, Dr. John McCarthy, and Mr. William Dickie draft a charter for a Catholic College to be known as St. Mary’s and affiliated with the University of Calgary.

Honorary Fellows

The Honorary Fellow designation is an honour bestowed on distinguished contributors to the life and mission of St. Mary’s University. By naming honourary fellows, we honour individuals who have distinguished themselves by significant and sustained commitment to the building of the University through teaching or research, distinguished service on the Board of Governors or Academic Council, or donations of major gifts.

Dr. Ernest John McCullough
Dr. Ernest John McCullough2015 Honourary Fellow
Mr. Joe Ladouceur
Mr. Joe Ladouceur2014 Honourary Fellow
Mr.Gerald Watkins
Mr.Gerald Watkins2013 Honourary Fellow
Mrs. Geraldine Perry, BA
Mrs. Geraldine Perry, BA2012 Honourary Fellow
Mr. Peter Freeman, QC
Mr. Peter Freeman, QC2011 Honourary Fellow
Fr. James T. Mulligan
Fr. James T. Mulligan2010 Honourary Fellow
Fr. Thomas F. Mohan
Fr. Thomas F. Mohan2009 Honourary Fellow
Mr. John Thompson
Mr. John Thompson2008 Honourary Fellow
Mr. Frank G Upshaw
Mr. Frank G Upshaw2007 Honourary Fellow
Dr. David Lawless
Dr. David Lawless2006 Honourary Fellow
Madame Yolande Gagnon
Madame Yolande Gagnon2005 Honourary Fellow
Dr. Allan Markin
Dr. Allan Markin2004 Honourary Fellow