From College to University: The Basilian Fathers and Assumption, 1950-1963

By Meehan, Peter M. | Historical Studies, Annual 1998 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

From College to University: The Basilian Fathers and Assumption, 1950-1963


Meehan, Peter M., Historical Studies


"The University of Windsor is a False Assumption." These words, emblazoned on a banner, greeted returning students to the University of Windsor in 1964. Perplexing to some, this sentiment held deep significance to the Basilian Fathers and their supporters as it bitterly expressed their failed effort to maintain a truly independent Catholic university. From 1950 to 1963, Assumption College and then Assumption University was in the midst of a monumental transformation. Assumption began this period as an affiliate of the University of Western Ontario, claimed autonomous status as a college with university powers, and finally achieved its much anticipated status as Assumption University of Windsor. The goal once achieved proved unsustainable. As one of its future presidents would remark, "partly by choice and partly by circumstance, a metamorphosis saw Assumption change from a self sufficient institution to a `Catholic College on Campus.' " (1)

Assumption College was originally a Jesuit creation on the grounds of Assumption Church, the first Catholic mission in Upper Canada. (2) After opening its doors to students on 10 February 1857, the Jesuits decided in August of that year that they would be unable to continue staffing the college. (3) On the advice of his counterpart in Toronto, Bishop Pierre-Adolph Pinsoneault of London turned to the Basilian Fathers, a French order strictly dedicated to pre-formation and scholastic instruction, for help. (4) Beginning with the Superiorship of Fr. Denis O'Connor (the future Archbishop of Toronto) in 1870, the Basilians began to entrench and consolidate their purposes in Windsor. With increased demand for a Catholic college for lay students, the Basilian school expanded from a minor seminary, offering lay undergraduate instruction as an affiliate of Western University, later the University of Western Ontario. By a 1919 affiliation agreement, the college became a member of the larger university's Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and began to concentrate on molding "as many students as possible into integral human beings, oriented to God and to a right conception of society." (5) Assumption College thrived in this environment, and enjoyed all of the benefits of connection with a larger and more established university.

The administrative years of Assumption College President Fr. J.H. O'Loane and his First Councilor, Dean and Vice President Fr. E.C. LeBel began a period of unrest for Assumption in its affiliation with Western, starting in 1946. (6) Of particular concern to Fr. O'Loane were returning veterans to the Windsor area at this time, who were causing an intolerable lack of space at Assumption. Fr. LeBel was set the task of investigating the potential for new growth potential in the near future. His report, "Brief Facts of Civic Importance Pertaining to Assumption College," (7) outlined the realities that would face Assumption in the midst of a burgeoning Windsor. His estimates for 1947 foresaw an additional 1,200 men and women per year that would come to depend on Assumption for their educational needs, well beyond the capacity enrollment of 1,250. He considered these needs to have been "far too great, far too sudden and far too violent to be met gradually in the normal manner." (8) LeBel began to make his case for at least an expanded version of the college to accommodate the expected post-war demand.

As Assumption entered the period of the late 1940s and early 1950s, it became evident that spatial problems were only the "tip of the iceberg" with regard to its difficulties. Fearful of the increasingly defensive position Western's affiliate colleges were forced into upon G. Edward Hall's presidency, the Basilians began to take stock of Assumption's long standing affiliation with the larger university. (9) Surely independence and autonomy in a university setting would be desired; Assumption had thrived as an independent institution under Basilian control for almost fifty years before affiliation with Western.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

From College to University: The Basilian Fathers and Assumption, 1950-1963
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?