About the University of Prince Edward Island

1 History

The University of Prince Edward Island is located in Charlottetown, the capital city of the province of Prince Edward Island. Incorporated in 1969 by an Act of the Provincial Legislature, the University has a long-standing tradition of academic excellence dating back to the early 19th century, with roots in its founding institutions, Prince of Wales College (PWC) and Saint Dunstan’s University (SDU). UPEI honours this proud legacy through a growing reputation for academic achievement, research innovation, community engagement, and service—locally, nationally, and internationally.

Consistently ranked as one of Canada’s top primarily undergraduate universities, UPEI offers a wide range of programs and degrees to over 4,400 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students from over 65 countries. The University is home to a talented community of educators and researchers including six 3M Teaching Award winners, and several funded research chairs—one a prestigious Canada Excellence Research Chair in Aquatic Epidemiology.

The commitment to education as a primary factor in PEI’s development can be traced to debates of the colony’s earliest legislative council. A particular champion was Lieutenant Governor Edmund Fanning (1786–1805). Fanning actively promoted the view that education was central to the colony’s progress, and that it should be seen as a priority, along with the enhancement of agriculture, fisheries, commerce, and population growth. In 1804 he personally donated the land on which PWC was to stand “for the purpose of laying the foundation of a College thereon.” Kent College, later to become Prince of Wales College, opened in 1820. A related predecessor institution, Central Academy, received a Royal Charter in 1834. In 1860 the Colleges were renamed for the Prince of Wales in honour of the visit of the future King Edward VII.

The predecessor of Saint Dunstan’s University, St. Andrew’s College, was founded in 1831 under the leadership of Bishop Angus MacEachern. Saint Dunstan’s College was established in 1855 by Bishop Bernard MacDonald on a large farming property that today is surrounded by the expanding city of Charlottetown. This property, including the historic SDU Main Building, serves as the University of Prince Edward Island campus. The campus consists of 28 academic, administrative, residential, and athletic buildings surrounding a central quadrangle. UPEI is well known for its respectfully maintained historic architecture, complementary modern structures, and red brick, well-manicured appearance.

The University’s campus is a reflection of the character of UPEI on many levels—a complementary blend of old and new, of tradition and innovation. Original SDU buildings have been renovated tastefully to retain integrity of design while meeting modern standards, and since 1969, many buildings have been integrated into the campus over the years, including the Central Utility Building (1972), Blanchard Hall (1973), Robertson Library (1975), the Atlantic Veterinary College (1986), the Chi-Wan Young Sports Centre (1990), the Wanda Wyatt Dining Hall (1990), the K.C. Irving Chemistry Centre (1997), the W. A. Murphy Student Centre (2002), Bill and Denise Andrew Hall (2006), Don and Marion McDougall Hall (2008), the Health Sciences Building (2012), and the School of Sustainable Design Engineering (2016).

The depth of UPEI’s academic heritage is reflected not only in the buildings and scholarships named in honour of education pioneers and benefactors, but also in personal, day-to-day connections. Graduates of SDU, PWC, and UPEI teach at the University, children of current and former faculty and staff attend UPEI, and many families proudly report multi-generational alumni connections to the institution. These connections span the globe. The University has a long history of welcoming students from outside the province and country. In 2016 international students from over 65 countries attend UPEI, comprising 21 per cent of the University’s student body. Over 24,000 alumni of UPEI, SDU, and PWC—whether in Prince Edward Island, elsewhere in Canada, or abroad—maintain a close sense of connection with their University.

UPEI has seen important developments in its programming over the past 47 years. The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and the schools of Business Administration (now known as the School of Business) and Nursing were added as the University expanded. Both within the Faculty of Science, a School of Sustainable Design Engineering was added in 2014 and a School of Mathematical and Computational Sciences in 2016. Bachelors’ programs, in many cases including honours options, are available in Arts, Science, Business Administration, Education, and Nursing. Master and doctoral degree programs were first introduced through the Atlantic Veterinary College, and, beginning in 1999, a Master of Science degree was offered through the Faculty of Science. In that same year, the first students were admitted to the University’s new Master of Education program. Programs added since 1999 include Master of Arts in 2003; Master of Applied Health Services Research in 2004; Bachelor of Integrated Studies and Master of Business Administration in 2008; Bachelor of Business Studies and PhD in Educational Studies in 2009; Bachelor of Wildlife Conservation, Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology, and Master of Nursing in 2010; PhD in Molecular and Macromolecular Sciences and PhD in Environmental Sciences in 2012; one-year Bachelor of Education in 2013; Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Design Engineering in 2014; and Bachelor of Science in Paramedicine in 2016. Co-operative education programs are available in Applied Human Sciences, Biology, Business Administration, Chemistry, Environmental Studies, Math & Computational Sciences, and Physics.

Underlying the University’s programs and activities is a commitment to rigorous study and inquiry, belief in the value of knowledge, lifelong capacity-building, and the development of the whole person—along with a sense of community at UPEI and in its local, regional, national, and international contexts. Faculty in all disciplines produce research and scholarly works of national and international calibre, while continuing to give priority to UPEI’s well-earned reputation for high-quality teaching characterized by individual attention.

The University of Prince Edward Island is fortunate to have been served by a succession of outstanding Chancellors and Presidents/Vice-Chancellors, installed as follows:

Serving as Chancellor:

The Honourable Thane A. Campbell, CC, MA, LLD

  • May 14, 1970

Gustave Gingras, CC, MD, FRSA, LLD, FRCP(c)

  • May 12, 1974

David Macdonald Stewart, CM, CStJ, KLJ, FRSA, FHS(c), Hon LLD, Hon DBA

  • October 1, 1982

The Honourable Gordon L. Bennett, OC, BSc, MSc, LLD, DCL

  • March 9, 1985

Doris H. Anderson, OC, BA, LLD

  • October 24, 1992

Norman Webster, CM, BA, MA, DCL

  • November 2, 1996

William Andrew, Dip Eng, BEng

  • March 6, 2005

Don McDougall, BComm, MBA, LLD

  • March 30, 2014

Hon. Catherine Callbeck, CM, OPEI, LLD

  • September 29, 2018

Serving as President and Vice-Chancellor:

Ronald J. Baker, OC, BA, MA, LLD

  • May 14, 1970

Peter P. M. Meincke, BSc, MA, PhD

  • September 23, 1978

C. W. J. Eliot, CM, BA, MA, PhD, DCL

  • October 19, 1985

Elizabeth R. Epperly, BA, MA, PhD

  • October 14, 1995

Lawrence E. Heider, DVM

  • August 16, 1998 (acting)

H. Wade MacLauchlan, BBA, LLB, LLM, CM

  • October 3, 1999

Alaa S. Abd-El-Aziz, BSc, MSc, PhD

  • July 1, 2011


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