SSU History & Facts
SSU AT A GLANCE AND HOW WE GOT HERE
QUICK FACTS ABOUT ST. STEPHEN'S UNIVERSITY
Founded in 1975
Chartered by the province of New Brunswick in 1998
Comprised of 3 schools
Offering 7 graduate programs
Online, hybrid-distance, and travel-study delivery methods
14:1 student to faculty ratio
Park Hall, the centrepiece of our campus in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, was built by a wealthy shipbuilder in 1867
St. Stephen's University respectfully acknowledges that we are located on the traditional, ancestral, and unsurrendered territory of the Peskotomuhkati (Passamaquoddy) Peoples, covered by the Treaties of Peace and Friendship.
DISCOVER / HISTORY & FACTS
The meandering pilgrimage of SSU
St. Stephen's University emerged out of the vision and sacrifice of many people. The first generation contributed a great deal to the establishment of SSU, but the early years were often fraught with challenges. Gradually the University emerged as a stable and respected institution of higher learning in Canada, chartered by the Province of New Brunswick. Over time, SSU developed partnerships and friendships around the world and has become known as an innovative learning community that places the highest value on justice, beauty, and compassion in an atmosphere that is saturated with creativity, kindness, and a broad and expansive appreciation of the various perspectives that individuals bring to their studies.
TIMELINE of ST. STEPHEN'S UNIVERSITY
SSU holds its first year-end celebration at St. Peter's Anglican Church in Milltown, NB.
1987 / 88
Despite SSU’s very small size, the Board of Governors permits recruiting for one more year after several faculty members share similar vision statements that have come to the surface through a contemplative workshop that was held at the University.
The first pilot project of the Theology & Culture program (initially called the Ministry Program, offering a Master of Ministry degree) begins under the leadership of Dr. Peter Fitch, who serves as the first Dean of this program.
St. Stephen's University is chartered by the Province of New Brunswick to award bachelor’s and master’s degrees and honorary doctorates. It is from this point on that academic recognition of SSU by other universities takes a major step forward. Soon after Dr. Peter Fitch receives his Doctor of Ministry degree from Fuller Seminary, the Ministry Program begins in earnest as a 2-year residential program in its first decade of existence. This will gradually morph into a modular program with three 2-week residential intensives and one 2- to 3-week study tours of biblical lands, plus directed studies, ministry projects, and theses.
After the retirement of SSU's first president, Dr. Gregg Finley and Dr. Peter Fitch serve as Interim Co-Presidents.
SSU adds majors in psychology and international studies as options alongside the humanities in the BA program. Dr. Lois Mitchell becomes Director of the International Studies Program. Dr. Gregg Finley becomes Academic Dean and Dr. Walter Thiessen becomes the Associate Dean of Arts.
2009 / 10
The Institute for Religion, Peace and Justice is launched under the leadership of Dr. Andrew Phillip Klager.
Dr. Bradley Jersak becomes Dean of the Theology & Culture Program, and the M.A. in Theology & Culture is added to the pre-existent Master of Ministry degree.
Dr. Margaret Anne Smith resigns after leading the university through two years of the pandemic.
Dr. Joe McGinn becomes the next President of SSU
The first students of SSU's four-year BA program graduate, and convocation is held at St. Stephen's Presbyterian Church.
(Peter Bresnen, SSU's first artist-in-residence)
SSU’s first Board of Governors is assembled to help stabilize the University after its first few challenging years.
On July 15, 1975, six brave students and a small group of faculty and staff launched St. Stephen’s University, with students living in Elm Lodge and classes in rented spaces in Union Street Baptist Church and Todd Mansion. The curriculum was based on a classical educational model andThe Great Books of the Western World with a perceived Christian worldview.
SSU purchases the old Park Hotel located at 8 Main Street in St. Stephen, which becomes Park Hall. Offices and classes will be held here, and Park Hall will become the centrepiece of our campus as the "big yellow house."
The student population declines from 25 to 15, and then to 3 full-time students and 1 part-time student. This challenging two years in SSU’s history becomes a pivotal juncture with respect to whether or not the University should continue to operate.
While travel was a part of SSU's original vision and the first students spent three months in Paris, SSU more fully integrates travel to Europe and Southeast Asia into our curriculum in 1988, and a desire for and attempts to build programs for ministry training begin in this year and continue to develop over the next few years.
Dr. Gregg Finley is appointed the Dean of Arts.
Bob Cheatley becomes SSU's second president. Over the next few years, New Brunswick changes its tax laws in order to accommodate SSU as a non-denominational private religious institution (the only one of its kind in the province).
Dr. Walter Thiessen becomes Dean of Arts (and Dr. Finley remains Academic Dean until his retirement in 2016).
Bob Cheatley retires and Jeremy Barham and Dr. Walter Thiessen share an interim role as the “Office of the President” (as President and Academic Dean). The School of Contemplation begins as a weekly interfaith experiential introduction to contemplative practice.
Dr. Margaret Anne Smith and Steve Robinson become Co-Presidents.
SSU suspends its residential undergraduate programs, and the Office of the President is shared by Dr. Bradley Jersak as SSU's new Principal and Dr. Andrew Phillip Klager as SSU's new Provost & Vice-Chancellor to lead SSU into a new era as a graduate school of theology, peace and reconciliation. IRPJ is also renamed the Jim Forest Institute for Religion, Peace and Justice.