Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Mount Saint Vincent University: A Vision Unfolding, 1873-1988

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Mount Saint Vincent University: A Vision Unfolding, 1873-1988

Article excerpt

Mount Saint Vincent University.' A Vision Unfolding, 1873-1988. By Theresa Corcoran, S.C. (Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America. 1999. Pp. xvi, 368. $57.00.)

In contrast to the United States, where women's colleges flourished in the twentieth century, Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, remains the only degree-granting institution in Canada committed primarily to the education of women. The roots of this distinctive institution lay in a girls' academy founded in 1873 by the Sisters of Charity and a motherhouse normal school for young sisters which developed from it. By 1895 Mount Saint Vincent Normal School was authorized to award teaching certificates, but the Sisters of Charity realized that more stringent state teaching requirements were imminent. After two unsuccessful applications for a charter that would permit their institution to award the bachelor's degree, they took an unorthodox interim route to their goal through a 1914 agreement with Dalhousie University, a local nondenominational institution. After two years of college work at Mount Saint Vincent, students could complete their last two years of study and earn their bachelor's degrees at Dalhousie. Mount Saint Vincent College received its own charter in 1925 and awarded its first bachelor's degrees in 1927. It moved to university status in 1966.

The pivotal theme of Theresa Corcoran's study is the role of the Sisters of Charity in the institution's development. This focus has the unavoidable effect of making it a heavily administrative history. Certainly, the influence of these women, both individually and as a community, was significant and enduring. Not only did they establish and heavily subsidize the college, but they also dominated among its trustees, administrators, and faculty for much of its history. …

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